The Sabian Procedures
The Ceremonies of Dedication
The Sabian chapel service is used when there is occasion for a Ceremony of Dedication. This then takes the place of the address or inspirational program, in whole or in part. When there is a talk in connection with these ceremonies it should be in the nature of a testimony or eulogy on the one hand, or of exhortation and encouragement on the other, and its position in the order of service should be immediately before the dedicatory ritual itself. The celebrant, questioner and all individual respondents should be selected in advance by any process the given group finds convenient or pleasing. In general all present remain seated except when directed to rise in the course of the ritual, but those who speak should stand while making response or asking questions. All four ceremonies begin with the same opening statements and related queries, but each continues according to the proper part for the particular dedication.
In the rare case where it seems imperative to have more than one type of dedication at the same gathering the dismissal at the end of one is omitted and the celebrant continues with the altered question, "And to what additional spiritual task are we asked now to bring our consciousness?" Every effort should be made to avoid this contingency.
If at all possible and convenient the dedication of a life should be at the bank of a stream of running water, or in easy view of one. When this is not practical the symbolism may be preserved by appointing someone to bring pure water forward, or to pour it from one container into another, as reference is made to water as the most liquid of the elements. If desired the celebrant may use some of the water from the stream or any significant source to make a gesture of baptism during the moment when all in unison affirm the dedication out of the eternal ocean of potentiality.
If at all possible and convenient the dedication of a departure should be (1) at the side of the grave, (2) in the presence of the ashes of the deceased or (3) at some place where he has labored and expended himself. The celebrant should have a bowl or small container of earth for use in symbolizing the inert matter into which the physical substance of the departed one is to be committed. He should let this pass through his fingers while all present are making their acknowledgments in unison of the integrity of nature. While the dedication is made he may dust a little of the earth on his forehead, and thus symbolize the creative memory sealed eternally in the invisible fellowship through which the dead and the living are still to be linked.
If at all possible and convenient the dedication of a partnership should take place in surroundings of particularly sentimental association for the participants, or under circumstances of unusual spiritual significance for those who take part in the ceremony. A fire in an outdoor setting or an open grate, or a mass of candles otherwise, should be provided as a background for the ritual. As acknowledgments are made to the radiant energy of the cosmic fire the celebrant or someone appointed for the purpose should light candles left unlit to this point. As the dedication is given in unison, out of the endless fructification of all reality, the celebrant should light and present a special taper to each of those dedicated in this fashion. Each of them in turn, as he makes his individual affirmation, should blowout and then relight the taper of his partner or partners. Thereupon both or all shall hold their lights until they are told to resume their seats at the end of the dedication, at which time they shall extinguish them as best they can in a single and simultaneous breath. In this ceremony the partners shall decide in advance in what order they shall speak in accepting the dedication.
If at all possible and convenient the dedication of a project should be under circumstances that dramatize the significance of the particular vision in some exceptional fashion. If it is a house or other building or any sort of premises for which dedication is asked, the place for the ceremony is indicated of necessity. This also is the case if it is a shrine or religious edifice of any nature, a place for regular meetings, a center for such specific activities as a library or school, a dormitory or workshop of any kind, or the quarters for any type of business or manufacturing enterprise or for any sort of social service or community activity. The pattern is much the same in dedicating a series of meetings or conferences, or even a single gathering of unusual importance. For an intangible entity such as an association or a corporation, or an excursion or a mission, the representation is either through officers or individuals particularly involved or by papers of authority as a legal charter and the like. The eternal breath is best represented objectively by a dance or music, and those present may be requested to stand during the dramatization of its presence. Meditation and any form of religious devotions will serve if shaped for the given occasion to a point of sufficiently dramatic impact. During the statement of dedication in unison the celebrant should raise his hands in benediction, and seek to direct the inflowing blessing to give it a symbolical effectiveness.
The order in which participants speak up in rededication at the ceremonies should be arranged by the celebrant beforehand. It may be very helpful if other subordinate details are worked out in advance, in accordance with good taste and the inspiration of the moment, and indeed and at all times the goal in the performance of the Sabian rituals is the greatest possible degree of encouragement for individual creativity and the consequent manifestation of an eternal sustainment.