A week ago, I and others in the pagan community put together a memorial for the Tsunami victims in Japan. The goal of this ritual, was to create peace between the Kami and the people, to assist those who died to the summerlands, and to invoke Divine aid in keeping the reactors from meltdown. I wrote the ritual and since it was for the larger pagan community I Incorporated both ADF druidic elements and wiccan style elements. One of the reasons why I got to lead this ritual was that I have studied Japanese for four years in school and lived in Japan for two years. I speak it fairly well. We wanted to do the invocations in Japanese, thus it fell to me. I first wrote the invocations up in English and then in translated them into Japanese as best as I could. It has been a while since I had translated and had forgotten how trying it can be. In the end, I felt that I did a good job. This ritual was "thrown" together in a matter of two days, and I had a lot of help. Due to the short time line I didn't have time to memorize the invocations. Reading invocations or ritual elements tends to be a pet peeve of mine. Most people can not read off a piece of paper without being monotone and having a piece of paper crammed in ones face since it is dark and hard to see speaking in a monotone voice just looks silly and sounds bad. Trust me when I say you'll never see a Catholic priest do that! At the closest they have these ornate books to read from. Even Buddhist monks read off ornate scrolls. "Scrolls! that's it!" I thought to myself. I'll print the invocations in large font and make them look like scroll's! So I did. I printed four invocations in large font, luckily they all fit on one page. I then taped dowls I had laying around on the bottom and top and rolled them up. I had two in Japanese to be read by myself, and two in English (the translations) to be read by my beautiful wife. I chose to make some impromptu tassel things from hemp and attached them to the English translation scrolls so that they could be easily told apart during the ritual and we'd know which scroll to pick up.
I practiced reading them in a dramatic fashion so as not to come off as monotone before the ritual a few times. I feel that it came off very well during the ritual. Just they way one holds a scroll at the top and bottom keys people in that something different, some thing special is about to be read. In fact I think it went so well, I am going to make use of reading from scrolls a regular part of my ritual practice.
After the invocations and offerings, people gave offerings of their own. Some to the Kami, some to the victims. Some were put into the lake, and some into the sacrificial cauldron to be burned once I got home (we couldn't have fire by the lake where we were). After that I had those gathered who would, place healing energy into a tall white candle at the center of the alter (see picture above). Then I took up the candle and asked that Amaterasu bless the candle with healing for the people and the nuclear reactors. Then the candle was lit. From that candle we lit tea lights that were placed in 7 hand made Japanese style floating lanterns. These lanterns were made by a new member to our pagan community. They were amazing, and done within 24 hours. She brought them to me, and I did the Kanji on the side. I am no calligraphy expert by any stretch, but I am pleased with my work.
The wind came up at the time of lighting the tea lights and this caused delays and I started to loose the attention of some of the members of the circle. I realize now that I should have foreseen this as a "slow" point in the ritual, and filled in the time by picking a song for the people to sing while the lighting was going on. We did get all seven going eventually and put them on the lake. The idea is that the light will guide the drowned spirits to the summer lands. When the lanterns were on the lake, we sang a song I got off the ADF website. My wife came up with a change to the last line to better fit our working. "Strong like an ocean, gentle like the rain, river wash our tears away, and heal our hearts this day." It was sung as call and response and followed by a few minuets of silence.
We then went back to the circle, bid farewell to the directions and the gods of the occasion, and the right was done. I received many compliments on the working and that felt good. I too am pleased with it, considering how quickly it came together and I learned some very good things.
The blessed candle of healing, well it sits on my alter, and I light it each day for a time releasing the blessings into the world and watching the news.