Tonight was a Gemini moon -- a tidbit I didn't know until I arrived at the full moon ritual downstairs, given my remarkable indifference to astrological trivia. The upshot is that it's a good time for things associated with the element of Air, most notably travel, communication, and abundance. The ritual was meant to focus our collective energies on these things and draw what we needed closer to us this month.
It wasn't meant to blow me out like a cheap fuse, but I got to appreciate a little bit of that as well.
Things started out innocently enough. Casting the circle, invoking the god and goddess, and a guided visualization to meet the goddess for some words of wisdom for the upcoming month. (Her message for me wasn't particularly verbal, and could be reasonably summarized as "Carry on.") Everyone had previously prepared a charm with herbal elements representing the things they wanted to draw to themselves, and we took our turns explaining them and then charging them on the altar.
Then we all linked hands. The ritual leader explained the next part, which would consist of gathering and focusing the energies that would be used toward our desires. We would all keep drawing and pushing energy clockwise around the circle, building it up, chanting ... wait a second, clockwise? ... and by then it was too late to do anything but frantically attempt some jerry-rigged internal rewiring and ride the thing out.
I have now been practicing magic for over a decade. You don't go that long without picking up both knowledge and habit. I've known for basically that whole time that I handle incoming energy more easily with my left hand and outgoing with my right; I've had ten years to reinforce that through habit until I'm virtually as polarized as a magnet. Naturally, in the wrong direction for tonight's work.
Some of my fellow mages out in the audience might be wincing at this point. "Polarization? Noob mistake ..." But I swear I've only let that go on for 10 years because it's never come up. I've been in a tradition that heron61 has coined "American Eclectic Magic," and my experience with willworking has all been individual, direct, and freeform; little concerns like "Which direction will energy move around the circle?" have always been a far-distant second to raw effectiveness. Tonight was, and I am not making this up nor undercounting, the third group ritual I've physically participated in during my whole decade of practice.
At least I had the skill to open myself up and let the group energy more or less blow through me.
Some impromptu self-readjustment after the hand-linking was done helped me stabilize, but I was halfway in la-la land for the rest of the ritual. (Which involved, mostly, a great deal of talking. I started restlessly eyeing the chairs on the other side of the room, but I figured I'd wait until the circle broke before beelining for them.) After long minutes of light-headedness and shaky legs, we uncalled the corners and drew down the circle, and I finally got my chance to bolt. Sitting down and letting all my muscles untense did a great deal to bring me back to mental focus; wobbling upstairs for my camera so I could take the picture of the candles helped me feel less useless. Even so, after the ritual broke up and the attendees scattered to be social, I had to stay close to a wall. I did a lot of leaning while I ate some snacks (more for the energy than the hunger; I'd eaten before the ritual) and listened in on social chatter.
My legs didn't stop trembling until I managed to talk with the ritual leader; I asked if future rituals would be clockwise, the story came out, and she snatched me some camphor and told me to breathe deeply. That scent is a powerful grounding agent, it was explained, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed. A few deep breaths and my calves returned to solidity. Thus reset, I was basically alright again, and a little energy and some time did the rest.
All things considered, it was a valuable experience. I'll have to start doing a little more energy work on a day-to-day basis to get back into shape for rituals. Maybe I can work on the polarity thing while I'm at it.