Oops!…I Screwed Up Ritual (Again)

This morning, I am sitting here chewing on some muffins and drinking my coffee. Outside the door is a cloudy (sort of) day. I’m hoping for some rain to get a bit of relief from the 100F temps that we have managed to bump into here in central Tejas. As I sit here, I keep running possible topics over and over in my mind. This is a typical day for me when writing blog posts. I’m not as polished as some blog writers. I don’t have an army of blog posts waiting in the wings that I can choose from. I say “fuck” a lot. Rather I write it a lot. If you were physically around me, you would find I write very similar to how I talk. ::shrug:: That’s me. Warts and all. I’m far from perfect. Perfect is something I never want to be.

I guess that’s a similar approach that I have towards my own Paganism and Druidry. I make mistakes in rituals. I have no trouble laughing at myself out loud when I make errors. I flub lines. I mispronounce terms and names. I’ve even faced the wrong direction when calling a direction during a public ritual. That truly is me. I apologized to the leaders of the ritual, afterword. I could see in their eyes that they weren’t pleased. ::shrug:: I can’t make everyone happy. I have a difficult enough time doing that for myself. However, I have learned not to be too hard on myself after making mistakes. After all, I am still human. Not sure who to attribute the quote to, but “to err is human.”

I think that my ability to just fuck things up beyond compare, and then laugh at myself for doing so, is why I have two Trickster Gods that I work with. I know I have been quite the hoot with Them over the years. Sometimes in ways that I don’t really like. Yes, I do have a serious side to myself as well.

For the last…let me see (counting on fingers)…thirty-six years, I have been involved in the Information Technology world in one capacity or another. Gods, the fuckups I could tell you about. Some of them are so funny (at least to me), that I can barely get through them. However, I have worked for a lot of Type-A personalities over these years as well. People that just can’t remove the stick from their ass. None of them saw the humor in some of the mistakes that I made. All they saw was that their plans and projects rode over a speedbump that they did not anticipate. I have taken many an ass chewing over the years. Sure, it hurt my feelings a bit to get chewed out over those mistakes, but over time – I have looked back and still find the humor in those moments too.

Again, I think this is why I have two Trickster Gods that work with me. Plus, I still live by the mantra that my first supervisor in the Air Force taught me: “If no one is going to be potentially killed by your mistake, then everything will be all right.” There’s a reason I didn’t fix engines on B-52 Stratofortresses. ::grin::

All of this pulls from a question that Angie F., a US military member currently stationed overseas, wrote to me in an Email a few weeks back. She had found a set of blog posts where I detailed my time in the Air Force as a Pagan and started up what has become a running dialogue between the two of us. Eventually, she asked if I had ever made mistakes when doing my rituals or spell work. Well, I rarely do spell work (I mean REALLY rarely), so I responded back with some examples (including the one above) of how I have fucked up in a ritual. Consequences over those foul-ups? None from the Gods. Plenty from various people at the ritual.

I have been accused of screwing up “the mood” of the ritual with the things that I have done. Honestly, I have never done any of those moments as a malicious act. Most of the time, I get the lines right from the script. I add an appropriate inflection and tone for what I am trying to accomplish in my role. When I screw things over, its usually because I am trying to add too much to what I am doing or because I didn’t check on a pronunciation prior to the ritual. Simple mistakes. But I have had people get mad at me for not being perfect.

Personally, perfection is a myth to me. Its nice to talk about, but something always happens. Like the time we had a perfect ritual planned at a friend’s apartment. We lit the candles. We lit the sage. We had the perfect mood going (there’s that “perfect” word again). Then, the EXTREMELY loud fire alarm went off. We cleared all twelve units in the building. The fire department showed up. They checked every unit for a fire. They found none. They found the reside of our burnt ash on the table, along with the extinguished candles. We had the police brought in. We were suspected of having a massive weed smoking party. That one was not my fault, nor was I blamed for it – but shit happens. After everything had died down, and we were all sitting in the living room with rather sheepish looks on our faces, I commented that the Gods were probably rolling on the floor laughing their asses off. I mean, why not? Certainly, the Gods have a sense of humor too. Plus, we humans are so good at fucking things up in the most dramatic fashion.

So, what should you do when you screw up in your Paganism? I don’t know. My personal response is to laugh, take a step back, and do it again the right way. How you go about in that moment is really for you to formulate. I certainly cannot and will not ascribe what I do as “the way” to do things. I’m not that arrogant to think that I have the right way to do anything as it relates to anyone, except myself. However, I go back to my first supervisor’s statement – if your mistake is not going to kill anyone, everything will be all right. Stop. Take stock of the moment. Take a deep breathe. Restart. Or whatever sequence works for you. You will know what works best for you. Maybe not. Perhaps, you will need to do some trial and error with those moments to find what works well for you. Man, that’s called “learning”. And that shit is awesome.

Perfection? No thanks. Mistakes are a part of life. Some folks can view that as “sloppy” work. I see it differently. It’s a learning opportunity. You should, in my opinion, strive to be the best at anything that you do. However, if (and when) you fall short – don’t beat yourself up. Don’t give up. Get up. Dust yourself off. Strive to try to do even better next time. But never give up on being just who you are. That’s the special sauce that no one seems to want to acknowledge. Be who you are.

–Tommy

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