As pagans we try out best to live in harmony with all of nature. If we listen carefully, our purpose in this life time will be made clear. The more connected we are with the Gods and the elements the quicker our spirituality will develop.
Ritual is a wonderful way of connecting with the Gods, the
elements, and all who have ever worshipped them, and all who ever
will. But we do not need to wait until the Full Moon or the next
Sabbat to make this connection. Opportunities surround us.
If we wish to consider ourselves magical beings then each action we take is a magical act. Thus, the Three Fold Law applies to all we do.
Steps of Ritual:
What does a ritual consist of?
While there are no hard and fast rules, most rituals begin with creating Sacred Space. Depending on tradition, this may be accomplished by sweeping, asperging, censing, sprinkling salt, smudging, chanting, singing and/or casting a circle.
The four elements: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, are acknowledged and invited into the circle in the form of spirits, elementals or guardians.
The guests of honor: the God and Goddess of your choice are invited in.
Someone states the purpose of the ritual.
The body of the ritual may consist of honoring the God and Goddess, working magic, telling stories, meditation, divination, and or just talking.
There is usually a blessing and sharing of cakes and ale, (juice and cookies, or some other representation of the bounty given to us by the Gods).
The ritual usually closing with thanking the God and Goddess and the elements for joining in the circle. The circle itself may be taken up or allowed to sink into the Earth. And of course, we mustnt forget the hugs and kisses as we merrily part.
When designing your magical day you may want to try and incorporate the elements of your own ritual format or experiment until you find a way that feels right to you. The following are suggestions for having a magical day:
Creating Sacred Sapce:
Do this every night before you go to bed. Tidy up your room and be sure there are pleasant things to look at as you go to sleep: a piece of art, photographs of loved ones, spiritual objects, etc. Say hello to the god and goddess, thank them for what you have learned through the day and ask that problems you are working on be solved while you sleep. Know that the answers will come when you wake up. With this settled you can release all tension and worry and center and ground as you lie in bed. Feel the peace spread outward filling your whole room, creating the sacred space to enjoy as you sleep.
Calling the Quarters:
Get out of bed and, if possible, walk outside or open a window. Face East. Raise your arms and stand with your legs apart so that you form a Star. Stretch and take a deep breath, following that breath as it goes deep into your lungs and hold it. Really experience the Air. Let the breath out, and as you continue to breathe, think of those things which you associate with air (freedom, youth, new beginnings, intelligence). Feel the air cleanse you and become part of you. Light some incense if you like. Thank the Spirits of Air.
Depending on the time of day and the weather either light a candle or feel the Sun shining down on you. Feel the warmth. Draw the warmth into your body. Feel its healing power, feel it energize you and burn away any negativity which may be surrounding you.
As you take a shower or wash your face really feel the Water as it flows over you and through your fingers. Here is the very water of the Goddess womb. Let it fill you with a deep sense of calm and security. Feel Her love and nurturing as it brings you courage to face another day.
This next part may be done indoors if necessary, but will feel better outside. Feel the Earth beneath your feet, better yet feel it with your hands as well. If you can not go outdoors hold a large stone or crystal in your hands and connect with the place in which the stone or crystal once lay. You could also place your hands on the Earth in a large potted plant. Ground yourself, feeling your roots growing down into the Earth. Feel the solidity and silence of the Earth. Let it fill you with strength and confidence and the wisdom of the ages.
Welcoming the God and Goddess:
Try to do a Self Blessing every morning and see how you begin to look at things differently. The Blessing may be done by touching each area of your body with your finger. You may want to anoint yourself with oil or water as you do it. Dew is also nice. You can also act out the Blessing or turn it into a dance. If you are having difficulty getting to know the gods and goddesses see Class 7, #6 - Meeting the gods.
(Top of head) Bless me Lord and Lady (God and Goddess, or whichever
names you prefer) for I am your child.
(Third eye) Bless my mind that I may know of your truth and wisdom.
(Throat) Bless my voice that I may speak with kindness.
(Heart) Bless my heart that I may feel your love and allow your light to shine forth.
(Genital area) Bless my womb (or seed or body) that I may be made aware of all life.
(Knees) Bless my knees that kneel at the sacred altar.
(Feet) Bless my feet that they lead me always on the path of right and reverence.
(Hands) Bless my hands that they be instruments of creation and healing.
(Top of head again) Bless me with your presence this day Lord and Lady for I am your child.
Feel free to modify the Blessing anyway you like. If you need to make a speech that day you could say something like, Bless my voice that I may speak with eloquence and surety. If you have a test coming up you could try, Bless my mind that I may think clearly and remember well.
Body of the RitualFind the magic in the mundane.
Think about the elements as you go about your normal everyday business:
Experience the Air as you watch the trees sway and the clouds and birds move across the sky. Even as you feel Air blowing from a fan or heating or cooling duct know that the Spirits of Air are with you.
Think about the magic of Fire as you drive your car it keeps the engine running. When you eat a hot meal or drink a hot beverage the Spirit of Fire touches you and you are energized.
Experience the element of Water as you put a load of laundry in the washing machine, drive through the rain, pour a glass of water or fix a cup of tea.
Throughout the day whenever you have the opportunity to walk on the Earth, or even on pavement feel the Earth beneath your feet. Consciously connect with Her and the Strength of the Earth will be yours. If you must be indoors all day carry a stone or a crystal with you to hold whenever you need that connection.
Throughout the day, consciously connect with the elements wherever and whenever you encounter them.
Some Magical ideas for releasing tension and anger and/or healing:
Swim in the Oceanthe soothing waters of Mother Earths womb wash your troubles and anger away. Take a ritual bathdo some research into aromatherapy and use appropriate oils in the bath.
If a ritual bath or swim are not convenient just hold your hands under running water for a minute or put a bit of water in the basin and feel the tension and negativity drain from your hands into the water. Adding a pinch of salt to the water helps. Focus your anger into a spot in the air in front of you, encase it in a bubble and envision it floating away. Take time for yourself and DONT feel guilty.
Ground: Touch, sit, or lie on the Earth and send your anger down into the fiery core of the Earth where it will be burned away.
Swim in the Ocean and focus on the healing and nurturing aspects of the Mother.
Remember: Healing energies are all around us in the Earth, the Moon, the Sun, plants and trees, rocks everywhere. When you are feeling weak draw these energies into yourself. The Goddess makes these gifts available to all who have shown Her sensitivity and understanding. Use them just dont forget to say thank you.
Cakes and Ale:
Every time we have a bite to eat is an opportunity to reconnect with the Gods and the elements. Before you dig in, pause a minute and either think or say the following:
For the seeds that grew them,
For the cows that gave the milk, for the chickens that laid the eggs,
For the lives of the animals whose bodies will nourish ours,
For those who planted and tended,
For the Wind, the Sun, the Rain, and the Earth that nourished them,
For those who harvested, milked, gathered and slaughtered,
For those who carried, prepared and delivered,
I thank you Lord and Lady (God & Goddess, or specific names).
The food blessing should be modified according to the type of food you are blessing. The idea is to acknowledge all the hard work and sacrifice that went into your meal. We are actually thanking the seeds, animals, plants, etc. themselves as well as the gods for all that we have.
As you say the blessing aloud (or in your head) envision someone sowing seeds, milking the cow, kneading the bread. Try to picture how these things are done now with modern technology on some occasions. And for variety try to envision how they were accomplished hundreds, or even thousands of years ago. If it were not for those ancient farmers we wouldnt be here now.
You may chose to make a libation to the Gods occasionally or
even for each meal. When choosing your offering remember: You
are making a libation to the Gods to thank them for providing
your meal and to show them that you trust them to provide you
with food in the future. Therefore, a libation should include
the nicest pieces of each type of food. These should be carefully
placed on a plate, not just heaped in a bowl as though you were
slopping hogs. The entire plate can be set outside under a tree
or in some bushes, or carefully slide the food from the plate
onto the Earth. Do not just toss the food. Tossing is fine if
we are feeding the animals, but remember, this is a libation to
the Gods. Liquid libations can be poured directly on the ground.
Some people reserve a special place in their yards for leaving libations, or you could leave them in different places until you find one that feels right.
Closing the Circle:
A ritual bath can be a way of preparing for ritual, a ritual by itself, or wonderful way of unwinding at the end of the day. Here is one way to prepare a ritual bath. Feel free to modify it and add oils of your choice:
Items needed for ritual: Incense, dish of salt, white candle, a pitcher of water (rain, ocean, stream or a mixture of the three). Clean the room thoroughly and layout your best, fluffiest towels. Fill the tub. Light the candle. Turn out the room lights.
Wave the incense in a deosil motion above the bath while saying, Spirits of Air, bless this Water. Help me breathe away any thoughts that cloud my mind. Help me to remember the song of the Sky Father and to be filled with Your gift of freedom. Blessed be.
Move the candle deosil above the bath while saying, Spirits of Fire, bless this Water. Your inspiration is felt in all acts of creativity. Let me feel my creative energies renewed. Blessed be.
Again, moving deosil, pour the chalice of water into the bath and say, Spirits of Water, bless this bath. As you are the tears of the sorrow and the joy of the Mother, flowing from Her as the tides and the rain, let me feel the love of the Mother in these Waters. Blessed be.
Sprinkle the salt into the bath with a deosil motion (three pinches is good), Spirits of Earth, bless this Water. Cleanse away fears and stress as I enter. Let me feel the warm embrace of the Mother Earth, and know that Her wisdom is for all to share. Blessed be.
Stay as long as you like and feel the stress drain away. You may find the ritual bath a good place to meditate.
Ideally, meditation should be part of your daily routine. Try to set aside at least 15 minutes a day for meditation, it is the key to magical and spiritual growth. And of course an hour or two would be much better. The more often you meditate the more quickly you will become acquainted with yourself, the Gods, and the powers of the Universe which are available to you. See our page on Meditation for further help. If you are having difficulty meditating try a guided meditation tape such as Starhawks, The Way To The Well.
Just before bed is a good time to write in your journal. Be
sure to include any messages or revelations which came up as part
of your meditation. Also be sure to include any changes in your
perception of the world as you become a more spiritual person.
Try to write in your journal every day so that it becomes a habit, even if it is only a line or two.
If you want to remember your dreams better, say so aloud before you go to sleep: I will dream tonight and I will remember my dreams in detail. To increase your chance for meaningful dreams that you can remember: Get enough sleep, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sleeping aids.
Be sure to write your dreams down in your journal or a separate dream journal as soon as you wake up. Keep a penlight handy so that you can record dreams when you wake up in the middle of the night without waking your self or anyone else up too much.
Jewelry, Tools, Etc.:
Please ask (and wait for an answer) before touching anyone elses jewelry or magical tools or Tarot Cards. It is tempting to touch when a friend shows up with a pretty new necklace or chalice, but remember: they may have gone to a great deal of trouble cleansing and charging it for a particular purpose and may have to do it all over again if anyone (even a friend) touches it.
While the only hard and past rule in Wicca is An it harm none do what you will, most pagans ascribe to the rule: Dont haggle for magical tools. This is a natural extension of Harm None. When you haggle the seller may feel compelled, against his or her own will, to drop the price.
Driving & Bumper Stickers:
Bumper Stickers are wonderful ways of letting the world know who we are and how we feel about things. Display your, Born Again Pagan and The Goddess is Alive and Magic is Afoot proudly. BUT, please think twice about giving rude hand gestures, or allowing others in your vehicle to (even to deserving jerks), while you are declaring your paganness to the world. Like it or not, when you are openly pagan, you represent all of us. Please do it with pride AND decorum.
When invited to attend a Circle ask if you can or should bring anything (site fee, candles, covered dish, juice, chalice, eating utensils, etc.). Also, be sure to ask how to dress for the event.
Do not bring uninvited guests with you and do not reveal the location of the Circle to anyone without permission.
Ask what time you should be there AND what time the ritual will begin. This way, you can be there in plenty of time to relax, center and ground before ritual. And, conversely, if you are unexpectedly detained, you will not walk in on the ritual already in progress which is usually not acceptable. Ask what to do if you should arrive latethere may be the option of waiting in a certain area and joining everyone for refreshments or feasting afterward.
Ask what time the ritual is expected to end, but dont expect a firm answer. When we enter the Circle we are between worlds, and beyond time and space. Rituals take as long as they take. Two hours is probably average, but they can be shorter or much longer. Having someone in Circle with a time constraint can be distracting and disrupts the energy flow, so if you arent sure it may be better not to attend.
Most covens have rules on what to bring or not bring into the Circle. If you are not sure, ask. Watches or other electronic devices are usually not allowed since they may disrupt the energy flow. Also, please do not bring food, beverages or lit cigarettes into the Circle and do not chew gum.
If you have a request for healing or other magical work please talk to the Priest or Priestess privately before circle.
Please visit the restroom before circle. Although you may leave the circle in an emergency it can be distractingand you might miss something interesting! Ask before Circle what the procedure is if you need to leave.
Remove your shoes if possible it is much easier to ground
when in touch with Mother Earth. Apply insect repellant if needed.
As you enter the Circle move only deosil (clockwise) until you find a place.
InThe Spiral Dance, Starhawk said, Those who would practice magic must be scrupulously honest in their personal lives. In one sense, magic works on the principle that it is so because I say it is so. For words to take on such force, you must be deeply and completely convinced that is identified with truth as you know it. To a person who practices honesty and keeps commitments, As I will, so mote it be is not just a pretty phrase; it is a statement of fact. (see also: Honesty)
Most of us could use a little improvement. Whether it is developing a good habit (meditating, exercising, eating better, smiling more, reading) or getting rid of a bad one (smoking, passing rumors, complaining), we do not always need an elaborate magic ritual to accomplish our goals.
As part of your Full Moon ritual start a new habit of making Lunar Vows. A Lunar Vow is something you promise the Gods you will do for a month. Such as, I vow, before the Gods this lunar cycle, to finish reading Drawing Down the Moon, or I vow, before the Gods this lunar cycle, to say something nice to someone at least once a day.
If you make vows in a coven setting each person is obligated to remind the others about their vows and to help with keeping the vows if possible.
Be sure to write your vow in your journal and keep track of your progress.
A rite of passage enables us to integrate the art of noticing into each days experience. . . All moments of your individual experience may be perceived as moments of growth and initiation. Any moment you choose may be marked with a rite of passage. (From Celebrating Life - Rites of Passage for All Ages by Tizpora Klein).
How we can celebrate rites of passage:
Each life-changing event can be cause for acknowledgement or celebration. Rites of passage can be celebrated alone or with a close friend or with a large group. The ritual can be simple with few props, or as elaborate as you choose. You can even celebrate rites of passage with non-pagan friends (they do not have to know that the event holds a magical significance for you.)
The following is a list of a few of the events which can be considered rites of passage.
Conception Birth Dedication to the Gods Initiation Menopause Becoming Grandparents Death Retirement Miscarriage Wiccaning First Solid Food First House or Apartment First Steps First Day of School Abortion Puberty Receiving Drivers or Pilots License Handfasting (marriage) Graduation First Union First Visit to Another Country First Job Betrothal (engagement) Eldering or Croning