Eco-magic Course:
Session 6. Ritual Work

Diary

Private and Public Rituals

Private rituals are generally easier as you're more in control of what's happening. But public ritual can be brilliant: Empowering for the organisers, those who attend, and the campaign you are focusing on. But to do it right takes a little preparation and care.

A few ground rules:

Be prepared for drunks, fools, troublemakers & psychologically vulnerable people. Obviously, this depends on how open the ritual is & the context.

Be very clear about the intent and structure of the ritual. Carefully explain before the ritual what is going to happen and why. Try to ensure that everyone knows what is going on; being in the middle of a working without a clue as to what is happening isn't very empowering! You may need to run through the ritual two or three times before people feel comfortable.

Everyone should be grounded at the start and grounded at the close of the ritual. Be careful to ground everyone properly before they leave, especially if it's a powerful working with people unfamilier with magical work.

Keep it simple and avoid monologues or long potentially dull sections. If you have a circle of 30 people and you spend 30 seconds carefully smudging each one you will have a very bored circle standing doing nothing for nearly 15 minutes! So, keep each part of the ritual brief and involve everyone wherever possible. The Dragon basic ritual is a good start.

Ideally have people who are prepared to act as watchers & can keep an eye out for anyone likely to freak out or cause trouble.

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Roles for Public Ritual

Reclaiming have created special roles to help at public rituals. Some or all of these might be appropriate depending on the ritual.

  • Crows oversee the ritual.
  • Snakes view things from the ground, the little, down-to-Earth things.
  • Dragons guard the perimeters of circles in public outdoor spaces. They don't directly participate in the work of a ritual.
  • Graces welcome people, guide them, keep aisles clear, get people standing, sitting, chanting, dancing, assembled for a spiral dance, as required.
  • Anchors help focus and contain the energy of the circle in settings where it might be prone to fragmentation and dissolution. They act something like tent pegs to keep the energy contained until it's time to release and direct it.

General Guidelines

All rituals need a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. This could be as simple as ringing a bell, saying a short prayer or dedication to indicate that the ritual has started. The middle is where you seek to achieve whatever the purpose of the ritual is. To end, make sure the ritual is properly closed. Again, this could simply be a bell ringing, or a "thank-you", or something more elaborate.

Spontaneity

Often during a ritual something comes up that encourages a departure from the predetermined plan. It's wise to be prepared to think on your feet!

Keeping a Record

It's useful to keep a record of your rituals so that you can repeat them in the future.
Its also useful (and interesting) to maintain a sort of Magical Diary to record when and what rituals you've worked, and what effects were observed or impressions gained.

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Key Elements of Ritual:

  1. Establish intention
  2. Plan the ritual
  3. Set up space
  4. Grounding and Purification
  5. Cast circle
  6. Invite the quarters and Deities
  7. Invite Folk
  8. Invoke God and Goddess
  9. Perform work
  10. Grounding and cakes & wine
  11. Give thanks
  12. Close circle
  13. Clean up space

Establish intention and plan the ritual

Agree a clear statement of intent. It should be spoken out loud at the start of the ritual, which helps everyone focus on why they are a part of the ritual. When formulating the intention, keep in mind:
  1. Why you are here
  2. What you intend to do
  3. How you will do it
  4. Who will do what
  5. When you will know that you have accomplished your purpose
  6. Know your time frame

Set Up the Space

Gathering everything that you'll need: candles, a lighter, herbs, etc. Tidy up the area a bit. Check that everything is close at hand. Avoid the possibility of interruption when you're working. Disconnect the phone and switch off the mobiles etc. Make sure everyone is clear about and comfortable with what's happening in the ritual. Some groups begin preparing psychically at least a week ahead of the ritual. If it's practical it will enhance the working. If you're working outdoors, check with the Spirits of Place that it's OK for you to work there. If not, move on.

Grounding and Purification

Ideally, everyone should be in a calm, relaxed, and reflective space. So, some warm-up exercises are helpful. If it's a small circle, and you have time, a Check in is a great start. Each person is given space to say how he or she feels, without interruption, for as long as they wish. This is an excellent opportunity for releasing tensions and generally clearing the air if there is any emotional stuff hanging around. Ground. Use anything that allows you to let go of distractions or stresses that keep you from fully participating in sacred space. Connect to the earth's energy.

  • A short meditation. (The Tree Meditation is ideal)
  • Chanting
  • Toning or humming
  • Breathing exercises
  • Body movement or simple stretching
It's important to Purify in some way. Use a sage smudge stick or incense, saltwater or sound to cleanse you and the space. The Broken Twig is a very simple and effective purification especially useful for public rituals. Each person picks up a small twig - or a larger twig if they're feeling especially yucky! Give the group a minute or two to put all their negativity into the twig. Then, on the count of three, each person breaks their twig and throws it behind them. Encourage people to use sound and get physically into it.

Cast circle

The circle is like a mixing bowl. It keeps unwanted stuff out, keep your magical energies focused, and creates a meeting place between the worlds.

There are many ways to cast a circle. For a public ritual, the Dragon style of passing a sacred object works well, though this can take a while if there is a large circle and each person takes time to connect. If in doubt, ask people to keep the object and the energy moving.

Alternatively, visualize a small ball of light in the middle of the circle. Now, humming or chanting, everyone puts energy into the ball, seeing it gradually grow until it expands outside the circle of people.

Inviting the quarters and Deities

Invite east/air, south/fire, west/water, north/earth and center/balance. Use words, movement, song, physical manifestations (i.e. dip your fingers in water to invoke west) or drums whatever. See Rituals)

Invite any deities you want to work with. Invoke the aspects of deity that suit your purpose. Invocation can be through spoken word, silent meditation, dance, song or any other way you choose. Perform the workNot every ritual will be about magical work; it might be a simple celebration.If you are working magic, state your purpose to the deities/god(s)/goddess(es), then raise the Cone of Power. Drum, dance, sing, chant, visualize energy, etc. After raising enough energy, release it and quickly ground. Put any magical energy that's still with you into the Earth.

Grounding and cakes & wine

Food is important after a ritual to ground you. It's a good idea to offer some to the Elements, Deities, etc. before you eat. It's a good space to share feelings and experiences and give yourself some to reflect upon, absorb, and assimilate that which you have experienced. Cakes and wine are traditional, but be sensitive to peoples needs and provide a non-alcoholic option especially in a public ritual.

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Deeper Questions

Inspiration:

Clarifying the intention:
  1. What is the inspiration for this ritual?
  2. What type of ritual is it?
  3. What effect do you want this ritual to have, and on whom?
  4. Clearly state the intention of this ritual.

Planning:

  1. What symbols are you using in this ritual?
  2. Write out a draft of the ritual itself.
  3. Logistics: Write out dates, times, deadlines, what needs co-ordination, and who needs to be contacted.
  4. Make a shopping list of materials you need.

Emotional Process:

  1. What feelings or issues have been brought up by the preparations you've done so far?
  2. Have any ethical questions arisen? Is there anyway this ritual could hold negative intention for anyone? How?
  3. What limitations (money, space, time) have you encountered?
  4. Working through these feelings, ethical issues, and limitations, what adjustments, if any, need to be made to your ritual plan?

Physical Preparation:

  1. What else needs to be co-ordinated?
  2. What materials need to be gathered?
  3. Details for arriving with helpers and checking that you have everything you need.
  4. Cleaning the physical space, what needs to be done, when, and by whom?

Manifestation:

The ritual itself, creating sacred space:
  1. What objects and actions will you use to clear and bless the space?
  2. What emotions do you need to clear from yourself? How will you do this?
  3. How will you center yourself?
  4. How will you ask for guidance in conducting this ritual? Using a circle with the four directions marked, write in how you will set up the sacred space, including location of your chosen symbols, where participants will enter and stand, and other appropriate details.

Setting the Mood and Declaration of Intention:

  1. What objects and actions will you use?
  2. What music and/or sounds will you use?
  3. What poetry and speech will you use?
  4. What will these things inspire in the participants?

Invocation and Direction of Higher Energies:

  1. What particular energies are you invoking, and precisely what do you want them to do?
  2. What words will you use to direct these energies to their purpose?
  3. What emotions will be touched, and what kinds of rhythms or music will help you accomplish this?
  4. What objects and actions will best represent and channel these energies and the emotions of the participants?

Blessing and Closure:

  1. With what gift of Spirit will the participants leave the ritual?
  2. What words or poetry can you use to name this gift?
  3. What music and sounds enhance the gift and mark the ending of the ritual?
  4. What actions and objects are you using to mark the end of the ritual? How will the participants leave the sacred space?

Grounding/Completion Breakdown of Sacred Space:

  1. What's left to be done? (Blessed food or drink needing proper disposal, for example.)
  2. How will you release the sacred space back to normal space?
  3. Emotional completion - How will you give thanks?
  4. When will you break down the circle, put things away, and clean up? Who will help?

Emotional Process 2:

  1. Did you experience any strong physical sensations during the ritual?
  2. What emotions were raised?
  3. What did you learn about yourself?
  4. How does your emotional experience relate to the myth enacted in the ritual?

Evaluation:

  1. What worked and didn't work effectively?
  2. How impactful was the ritual to those involved?
  3. If you were to do this ritual again, how would you improve it?
  4. What new ideas or insights did you gain about the nature of ritual?

Integration (inspiration):

  1. How were you inspired by this ritual?
  2. How can you use this inspiration to create change in yourself?
  3. What form do you imagine these changes can take in the world?
  4. What actions can you take this week to manifest this inspiration?
From
http://members.aol.com/celticknotcircle/rituals.htm

Resources:

Old Ways - Lessons and Materials. Recommended
http://www.oldways.com/education_list.html

How to Create Rituals
http://members.aol.com/celticknotcircle/rituals.htm

Creative Ritual
http://home.earthlink.net/~chandonn/Haven/creatrit.htm

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