Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Transitional Rituals in the Fellowship of Isis

Transitional Rituals in the Fellowship of Isis

We tend to forget that the Fellowship of Isis (FOI) is a religious organization, and like most others, it has rituals appropriate to various life transitions. These are generally presided over by the priesthood, as it is part of their duty as clerics serving the Gods that they do so. But they can also be performed generally by members who are not in the priesthood, when needed for a certain transition.

Perhaps the easiest to visualize are the Dawn and Evening rites from Dea/Maya. These are solo rituals that any member can perform. The transitions they celebrate are those from the beginning and ending of your day. It can be very empowering to try and celebrate these two rites at the appropriate times for a week as a mini-retreat, as they enhance one's spiritual receptivity.

More advanced transition rituals start with the Rite of Rebirth, which is the ritual used to initiate a candidate for the priesthood in the FOI. An initiation specifically creates a psychic space where the individual turns inward for reflection and self-examination, open to the input of spirits and gods alike. It represents a choice to serve the gods, and for that purpose to open oneself to hearing what the gods have to say to the initiate. Typically, an initiate will work in this altered, inward-directed space for close to a year learning what the gods want from his or her service to them.

Following closely the Rite of Rebirth is the Ordination rite, which recognizes the readiness of the initiate candidate to serve the gods as a full priest or priestess. It acknowledges their growth through the initiatory process, and codifies their service to the gods as expressed through their gifts given to the gods. Consecration as a priest or priestess marks the transition in this ritual.

A priest or priestess serves as clergy for the FOI, but their actions are not legal unless they are associated with a group such as the Temple of Isis, which has established a legal clerical center in the United States. So care must be taken with the next transitional ritual, the FOI Wedding Rite. Any priest or priestess can perform the rite, but you must have a legal clerical certification for it to stand as a legal marriage.

The next transitional rite comes from Panthea, and is designed to welcome a new child into the family. It is called Alma Mater: The Homing of Children. Here, the priest or priestess welcomes the child as part of the family, and the family gives the child gifts that signify the help they will receive growing up there. If we were speaking of Christian rituals, Alma Mater takes the place of Baptism of the child. One note: I have used Alma Mater as a vehicle for recovering my inner, wounded child after a long period of abuse, using my adult self as the one welcoming the child. It was a very healing process.

Another ritual from Panthea is used when an individual chooses to become an official member of an open Iseum or Lyceum. It is called Flamma Vestae: Initiation into a FOI Center. People can be associated with and Iseum or Lyceum without being a member as long as they like; however, if they wish to explore the inner mysteries of the FOI, especially the priesthood, they are encouraged to undergo Flamma Vestae as a sign of their dedication.

Porta Mystica: The Soul Enters New Spheres in Panthea acts as another initiatory ritual to place the candidate into an inward-focused, exploratory mode of being. It uses several guided meditations to expose the initiate to different spirituals "spheres" of learning, and teaches them how to regain those spheres with practice. It is for spiritual growth, when someone chooses to do so without committing to the priesthood. (Although it can practically be used as a substitute rite to the Rite of Rebirth if that ritual does not fit the candidate sufficiently. The end result always follows the intent of performing the ritual.)

Finally, Dulce Domum: The Soul Returns Home from Panthea is the Isian funeral rite, to be performed for those who have passed through the veil and whose lives are to be celebrated. It is a very powerful rite to perform and participate in, as it moves the soul through the afterlife for rebirth as an Isis or an Osiris. I have performed it a number of times, for many people and also for animal members of the animal family of Isis.

As to that, the animal family of Isis also has a transitional ritual, The Litany of the Earth from Dea. Anyone can use this rite to honor a pet or significant animal friend and induct them in to the animal family of Isis in which they are considered members of the FOI like everyone else. Much is currently being worked out on how to acknowledge these new members, but basically, you notify the editor of Isian News that your animal is now a member of the family, and it gets published there.

The other ritual mystery dramas are also transitional in that they are initiatory in nature, and place the candidate in the reflective, inward-directed state for spiritual growth, but they're different from these specific rituals in that they don't mark specific transitions in one's religious life.

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