Becoming a member of The Assemblage of Areté may improve our lives and the world, but only if we choose to live in accordance with the commitments we make during the Fire, Water, Air, and Earth rituals.
One of the key features of our weekly convocations is the dedication ceremony. Meant to either remind members of the commitments that they have already made, or to encourage those not initiated yet to look forward to participating in the membership rituals for themselves; the dedication is a reverent moment of personal contemplation for all who witness or partake in it.
The dedication ceremony has three simple phases to it, which cover each of the metaphorical elements symbolically used by The Assemblage of Areté:
First, the Narrator of the parish introduces and prepares the four elements for those in attendance: lighting a fire to remind the parish to seek an enlightened world, pouring water to remind us to keep ourselves clean of wrongdoing, hanging a towel to remind us to raise our flag for others to follow, and shoveling some earth so that we will remember to tend the world as the garden it is.
Second, the Narrator invites those in attendance to step forward to the altar, to dedicate themselves to the ideals represented by each of the four elements, and for the members to rededicate themselves to the commitments they previously made for themselves when they undertook the rituals of membership.
- To do this, participants begin by quickly passing their hand through the flames lit by the Narrator, in similitude of walking through the fire of the flamewalk.
- Then participants dip their hand into the pool of water poured by the Narrator, representing the baptism of our bodies.
- Next, participants dry their hand on the towel which has been hung, imagining the sweat wiped from their brows as they reach the vista of their pilgrimage.
- Finally, the participants reach into the pot of earth and withdraw a small stone, which they keep with them in their pocket throughout the week; until either they visit their stewardship and labor to maintain it (if they have one to maintain)... or if they do not yet, they keep the stone with them until they do something to make the world a quantifiably better place that week, leaving the pebble there at the site of their good deed.
Third and lastly, the Narrator brings the dedication to a close by exclaiming the words, "Heroes, Be Excellent to Each Other!" to which all in attendance reply with, "...And Party On!"
Typically there are then additional segments of the program for that week's convocation which the Narrator proceeds to; which could include sermons, group discussions, weekly challenges, or the "Honoring of Heroes" which is a chance for us to salute the good deeds and qualities of others whom had inspired us that week.
Newcomers sometimes wonder whether they should participate in the dedication... the answer is that it is up to them! The words of the dedication state that "...if you will dedicate yourself to these ideals, of your own free will, and because you believe them to be good, step forward into a vigilant life!" So if you believe in what each microcosm in the dedication symbolizes, then we encourage you to make that belief an active one by dedicating yourself to those principles with us! If you agree with what the dedication represents, we'd also encourage you to speak to your Narrator about becoming a member, or a member at a deeper stage of commitment!
Meanwhile, if you do not feel comfortable participating in the dedication for any reason, or if you are only comfortable engaging with portions of the ceremony, then by all means restrict yourself to just the portions you wish to participate in, or refrain from participating entirely. Attendees of our convocations should never judge one another for their level of participation or non-participation in the dedication. All the same, we hope you'll agree that the ritual represents commitment to excellent principles, and join us in continually dedicating ourselves to them!
Photograph for "Dedication" provided by William K. Campbell