A Month of Written Devotion for Melek Ta’us, the Peacock Angel
In Valerie’s Feri class, each of the students was asked to pick one of the gods we’d studied, and write a teaching ritual to introduce the god to our fellow students.
I picked Melek Ta’us because, at the time, I thought him to be the closest of the Feri gods to my beloved Dionysos. It wasn’t until later that I understood that Victor Anderson’s saying, “All gods are Feri gods” meant that I could worship Dionysos by his own name with the techniques I learned in Feri.
But, hey, it got me a new god for my altars, and who doesn’t love that?
My plan was fairly simple. Cast the Feri circle as usual, with all the usual preliminaries. Then don a mask I would make for Melek Ta’us, and ask him to tell a story about himself, through me.
No plan survives contact with reality, however.
I bought a mask, a cheap thing of white plastic, blue spray paint, and peacock feathers. I painted it with several coats more than I’d expected to need, and it took much longer to dry than I’d planned. I’d intended to glue the feathers on so that it looked like he was wearing a tiara made of them, but the thin plastic of the mask couldn’t take the heat of the hot glue. I ended up going with wads of clay-like epoxy, instead.
Eventually, I finished it. It looked good enough, so I moved to the next phase: Research. I was going to ask the god for inspiration, sure, but I wanted to make sure I had a store of information for him to draw on.
And, if I’m to be honest (and why not?), I didn’t entirely trust my mediumship. As with so many things, self-doubt is the first stumble of many.
I was remiss in practicing the standard parts of Feri ritual. I mean, I’d been doing it monthly for nearly a year, so how could I not have it down yet?
The night of the ritual came, and I did my thing. Hesitatingly and occasionally out of order, but I did it. The ritual was a shaky bit, and I needed prompting more than once. By the time I’d gotten to the teaching-story bit, my confidence was firmly shaken.
And the string on the mask broke. I’d planned to wear it and speak as the god, but this is a god who’s not about hiding from yourself. So I displayed it, people oohed and ahhed as expected, and I got on with the story.
The story I got on with was about how Melek Ta’us had been the serpent in Eden, and how he’d tempted Eve (and through her, Adam) with knowledge. He knew that the domesticated apes would never learn anything if they stayed in a pleasant garden where everything was handed to them.
I can’t claim it as entirely original–it’s a common assertion about the Angel–but I could feel him there, feeding me words.
Not as strongly as I felt the fear and embarrassment, unfortunately. I was certain I’d blown it. What words he got me to say felt like they had to be shoved through my clamped teeth.
After a while, I noticed that no one else seemed to think I was doing as badly as I did. They all listened, reacting in encouraging ways. When the story was over, they started asking him questions, and I got answers, though it all still felt like I was half-way faking it.
Maybe it was one of those things where the person putting on the show is so focused on taking care of things going wrong, that they don’t see what’s going right. Or maybe they were just playing along, bless them.
In any case, it went not as well as I expected, but not as badly as I feared. I filed it under “Learning Experience,” and went on.
If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I did eventually get an experience that was very loud, and very clear.
He’s still on my altar, so it couldn’t have been a bad start.
Ember’s doing it, too: MWD-Beginning