Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A "Seven Levels of Life" universal Arrow of Light Ceremony

Below is an Arrow of Light Ceremony I wrote for our Cub Scout pack this year.  A lot of the usual ceremonies are based on Indian lore, but we live in an actual Indian area (Minnesota) where it is controversial for non-Natives to dress up as Natives.  One of our families is Ojibwa and they find it offensive.   (I can understand that, since, as a religious Jew, I have mixed feelings about Christians wearing Jewish symbols.)

So I researched alternatives.  I looked at a lot of other Arrow ceremonies that were posted online to get ideas, and then created my own.  I liked the "Seven Virtues" that many packs use, but the order of the Virtues as they did it seemed rather odd to me in my own tradition (Judaism.)   Putting "love" at the top is probably based on Christianity, where love is considered supreme.  But in Jewish thought, the Mind is above the Emotions.  Although this is not a "Jewish" ceremony per se, I wanted it to make sense in my system of thought while still being universal enough for others to relate to.

 So I used a Jacob's Ladder motif, where the seven rungs of the ladder correspond with Seven Aspects of Life (and the chakras, if you know yoga.)  The ladder rests on the Earth and goes to God Above.  Symbolically, we are climbing it together. 

To do this ceremony, the main prop is a candle holder for seven candles.  It need not be curved like the symbol.  We used a small birch log (about 5 inches in diameter) with seven holes drilled in.  You also need an eighth candle for the "Spirit of Scouting" that is used to light the others.  This is separate from the log -- A regular candle holder worked fine.  Set it in front or to the side of the main holder.  We used all blue candles, but you could also use rainbow colors, or alternating blue and gold, or whatever -- there are a lot of possible variations.  Here is a pic of how ours turned out:

You need a table, perhaps with a blue-and-gold cloth, for setting the candles on.   And matches!  (Yes, I've actually goofed on that one in the past.  A checklist of props helps!)  I though of making a large poster of a ladder with the themes to put on the wall, but time got tight and I never got around to it.  (There's always next year.  From bottom to top the order of themes is:  Action, Feelings, Self Control, Heart, Speech, Wisdom, Faith.)  And be sure to print out scripts so participants can read it in case of stage fright.  Feel free to use this ceremony and/or adapt it to your own needs.

Arrow of Light Ceremony for Pack 185 
Audubon Center of the North Woods 
Pine County, Minnesota 

 Cubmaster: This candle represents the spirit of Scouting, the light we carry along the trail. (Lights the extra candle). The Arrow of Light is the highest award a Cub Scout can earn. It is the only Cub Scout award that he can wear on his Boy Scout uniform after he crosses over. An arrow that is straight and true will hit the target. This is why we all want to be straight arrows. We will always aim to do our best.

 Webelos Leader: Stop and think about the inner meaning of the word Webelos. It means “We'll be loyal Scouts” – loyal to our country, loyal to our home and family, and loyal to God. Now, as we look back down our Cub Scout trail, we see how bright the path we followed really is. It is bright because you Webelos have helped to make it so. You light the trail through Cub Scouting by doing your best and giving goodwill to everyone you meet on the path.

 Third Leader: The Bible tells the story of how Jacob was crossing the desert and went to sleep on a hilltop. He dreamed about a ladder that reached from earth to heaven, with angels going up and coming down it. Jewish tradition says that this ladder has seven rungs or steps. Each rung has a special lesson attached to it. Seven is a sacred number in many traditions. There are seven days of Creation, seven days of the week, and seven candles on the Arrow of Light symbol. The rays of the Arrow of Light stand for wisdom, courage, self-control, justice, faith, hope, and love. We have combined these with the seven rungs of Jacobs’ Ladder, to create a ceremony that is unique to our Pack. Together we will now climb Jacob’s Ladder.

 (Leader hands Spirit of Scouting Candle to the First Reader.  After each person reads and lights his Arrow candle, he passes the Spirit Candle to the next person)

 First reader: The first rung represents the earth, where the bottom of the ladder stands firm. As Scouts, we take good care of the earth. We leave no trace at our campsites. We are helpful and clean up litter that others leave in order to make the world a better place for everyone to live in. (lights candle)

 Second Reader: The second rung represents our good feelings and love for each other. A Scout is cheerful, friendly and kind. He welcomes new boys into the Pack. He greets everyone with a smiling face. He is kind to animals and happy to help others who are less fortunate than he is. (lights candle) 

Third Reader: The third rung is for self-control. Control means knowing when to stop. We follow instructions. We learn to be quiet and listen when others are speaking. We are willing to listen to ideas we do not agree with. Learning to control ourselves makes it easier to work together as a team. (lights candle)

 Fourth Reader: The fourth rung stands for a brave heart. Being brave does not mean you are never afraid. It means you face your fear and do what must be done. A Scout is strong-hearted, kind and loyal. He stands up for his friends, family, and country. He treats everyone fairly. (Lights candle) 

Fifth Reader: The fifth rung is for good words and good speech. A Scout is trustworthy. When he makes a promise, he keeps it. When he says “Scout’s Honor” he always tells the truth, no matter what. He does not gossip about others or say bad things about people. He does not use curse words. He is clean in thought, word, and deed. (Lights candle)

 Sixth Reader: The sixth rung stands for wisdom. In Scouting we learn many new things. We teach each other and share our knowledge about the world and about ourselves. But wisdom is much more than just learning facts. Wisdom means using our knowledge in the right way. (Lights candle) 

Seventh Reader: The seventh rung stands for hope and faith in serving God. Faith is when you believe in something, even if you cannot see it or prove it is true. A Scout is reverent. This means he does not make fun or laugh at religious beliefs. He serves God on his own religious Path and respects the ways that others worship, too. He understands that Scouts around the world serve God in many different ways, but all are praying to the same Creator of the Universe. (Lights candle)

Cubmaster: When these seven rungs are true and straight like an arrow, they make a path of light that stretches from earth to heaven, just like Jacob’s Ladder. When we remember the lessons of each rung, we can become like the angels who climb from earth to heaven. We become Good Scouts, trustworthy, strong, and true.

Pack 185 Webelos receiving their Arrow of Light
March 8, 2015  in Hinckley, MN