Friday, 11 January 2013

The many varieties of ritual...

Today I am sitting down to write the ritual for the Kitchen Witch Birch Moon/Imbolc celebration on Saturday 19th January (at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park - full details on the 'rituals' page of this blog).

And it got me thinking about all the various types of rituals I have had the honour of attending and how each group do things in different ways.

For the most part the rituals all seem to have a similar basic structure - for instance at every ritual I have been to everyone has stood together in a circle.  The circle being quite symbolic after all - the circle of life, creating a link and a bond, a circle of protection and containment etc.

Some of the druid rituals I have attended have started with a procession and been greeted by a gatekeeper and at some we have entered the circle and saluted the East.

I have seen (and done) circle castings of all sorts - with an athame, a sword, a wand even the end of a finger, with Kitchen Witch we tend to cast the circle using herbs, spices and flower petals (all natural and biodegradable).

I have seen quarter calls read from a script by volunteers but also called 'off the cuff'.

Most of the rituals I have been a part of have involved blessing and cleansing the circle with incense and water, at Kitchen Witch we tend to sweep the circle with a besom and then smudge with incense.

We also have cake (of course) some groups share bread or dried fruits, the Dorset Grove share amazing cream buns :-) and most groups will share wine, cider or mead.

I have attended and also been a part of rituals where a full script is used and rituals where no apparent script has been utilised.  I have to be honest one of the unscripted rituals I attended was a complete disaster, no one knew what they were doing and nothing ran together, it was in fact complete chaos and all attending became fairly bored :-(

One of the first ever off line rituals I attended was held by the Dobunni Grove and led by the amazing and wonderful Professor Ronald Hutton.  Not only did he greet us with a lovely welcome "we don't do hand shakes we do hugs"...but once we had told him it was our first off line ritual he made sure we knew what was going on, where we were supposed to be and what we were supposed to be doing for the entire ritual even though he was busy leading it.  That particular ritual was also unscripted, although obviously well planned out before hand as it ran like clockwork.

We do have scripts with the Kitchen Witch rituals, but we also like to add in a bit of ad lib and go with the flow as well.  The scripts just help keep the ritual flowing and keep it all together and organised.  We do of course like to add a bit of laughter into the mix as well - the Gods do after all have a good sense of humour ;-)

At the end of the day a ritual will only work if the energy of the people there is good and the energy of those leading it is as well.  It is all about the energy, a good ritual will work because people put their energy into it - it is a team effort.

Being heard when you are in the centre of the circle is a must, I have been to rituals where the person hosting has had such a quiet voice no one could hear what was going on, unfortunately the wind doesn't help with sound either.  The person or people in the centre, in my own personal view anyway, also need to look and act as if they are enjoying it - lots of enthusiasm and  energy required - that energy and oomph will hopefully also connect with those in the circle too.   When invoking deity or calling quarters it should sound like the person really means it and isn't just reading off their laundry list LOL

I love being in ritual, I love all the parts and different aspects of it, so many wonderful experiences - spiral dancing (sometimes successfully other times complete chaos), drumming, raising energy, creating magic, sending healing, sharing experiences and even on one occasion shooting water pistols and throwing sugar at those in the circle (it's a long story) - whatever it has involved I like to put my 'all' into it, after all a ritual has  a purpose whether it is for a Sabbat or Moon celebration or something like a handfasting, it is all about celebrating, connecting and honouring deity.

My own personal rituals are usually unscripted, I like to go with the flow and see what takes me, I am usually guided to do what works for the best.

Whether you are part of a group doing a ritual on line, off line or your own solitary ritual - always do what works for you, I am a great believer that there is no right or wrong way to do things, just make it special  :-)


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