Ritual and Ritual Preparation
brought to you by the Children of Ra Temple
- Avoid interruptions during a religious or magical rite -- take the phone off the hook,
lock the doors, post a "do not disturb" notice. Depending on how your animals
and/or children react to ritual, you may have to make other arrangements for them during
this time. However, remember that an interruption wont ruin your ritual unless you
let it. In fact, our church was named by an "interruption" who stopped by
without knowing that we were in the middle of a ritual and ended up an uninvolved observer
(and dog sitter). For circumstances like this, it helps to develop a psychic pause button.
- Whenever possible a ritual bath (or jacuzzi!) is beneficial to wash away everyday
tensions before entering sacred space. In addition to being a spiritually as well as
physically cleansing event, immersion in water links us with our most primal memories. If
you dont have access to water, you can use incense, or a bell, or few minutes of
light drumming or meditation for the same cleansing effect. The goal is to enter the
circle with a clear mind and an untroubled heart; youre trying to meet your friends
(including Deity) on a higher/deeper level than in day-to-day life.
- Ritual dress can range from ritual nudity (skyclad), to formal hooded robes in colors
appropriate to the ritual, to whatever you feel most comfortable in. In our group, we
usually opt for the latter; most traditional groups Ive visited work robed. Many
English-based traditions work skyclad, as do many solitaries.
For those inclined,
physical nudity symbolizes honesty, openness and intimacy, as well as the freedom from
slavery mentioned in the Charge of the Goddess. Personally, I find spiritual and mental
"nudity" an even more intimate goal for group practice.
In addition to ritual dress (or undress), ritual jewelry such as pentagrams, amulets,
good luck charms and Deity images are often worn. While these are symbolically useful,
remember that your power, luck, and connection with Deity is within yourself, not the
jewelry. Losing an item, while emotionally painful, shouldnt be spiritually
- Are you interested in solitary or group practice? Actually, this is almost an immaterial
question since this is a book of how our group practices, and we all practice solo
at one time or another anyway -- like when a rainbow appears while driving home on that
last day before a long vacation, or that brilliant Full Moon slips through the clouds and
into your bedroom window.
Obviously, we enjoy group practice -- the presence of
like-minded friends can enrich your spiritual experience -- but there are a few caveats.
First, the presence of others can be inhibiting, so try to concentrate more on your
spiritual communion with Deity and your circlemates than whether youre "acting
weird." Also, beware of a love interest who takes an interest only because you do.
Conversely, beware of becoming interested in someone solely because they share your
spiritual beliefs. Finally, working in a group may lead you to start feeling that your
solo work is inferior or wrong, but nothing could be further from the truth, as long as
what you do alone works for you. What works is whats right, and vice versa.
- An important part of ritual preparation is setting up the working altar. This physically
prepares the area to become sacred space while simultaneously psychologically preparing
the participants to enter that space. In addition to our standard tools (candles, incense
burners, knives, wands, God and Goddess statutes, a chalice, a plate and a peace pipe), we
add photos and/or artifacts of missing circlemates and other loved ones as well as any
jewelry, amulets and artwork we wish to bless.
- The actual ritual activity is the least dogmatic and most spontaneous portion of all and
is up to however the group feels on that occasion. Sometimes we just meditate together;
sometimes we have extremely energetic drum circles. Occasionally we formally invoke the
God and/or Goddess; we almost always do magic. While our primary tool is music -- both
pre-recorded and live -- the selections and the order change from ritual to ritual,
depending on our goals and moods (and sometimes on which tapes we can find!).
- The timing of rituals is also up to the group. Traditional circles practice together on
Full and/or New Moons, the Solstices and Equinoxes, and the cross-quarter days (midway
between the Solstice and Equinoxes). The Solar rituals are known as Sabbats; the Lunar,
Esbats or Moons. Traditional Moons usually include invoking the presence of Deity for
communication and doing magical work; the eight Sabbats are more a celebration of the
Turning of the Wheel of the Year than magical work, and often include a potluck feast.
Moons are usually held at night -- preferable at moonrise -- while Sabbats usually begin
during daylight and sometimes last until the following dawn.
Church of Amazement ritual
times (like our rituals themselves) tend to be very untraditional. If part of the group
happens to be together and in the mood for ritual, well have one. In general we try
to plan rituals close to the actual Esbats and Sabbats, but due to varying work schedules,
we have to stay flexible. The hour usually depends on who gets off work latest that day --
we occasionally end up starting at the "traditional" witching hour of midnight
(which is far later than the traditional groups Ive visited start). We also call for
a ritual when anyone in the group has a particular magical request, like healing or a job
As an auxiliary note to time spent together in ritual, I should mention that our group
also tries to spend some quality time together outside of ritual. We consider each other
family and therefore share important times other than ritual with each other. Often a few
of us will get together and share a new movie or a special music store or bookstore, and
we try to attend local Pagan gatherings as a group. As in any good relationship, circle
siblings should be friends first and foremost, no matter what else they become to each
- At the end of ritual, residual energy usually rushes around within you and the circle.
This should be grounded, or reprogrammed to fit smoothly into your normal energy scheme.
One way of doing this involves actually touching the ground and visualizing the energy
returning to the Earth. A complementary method is the ritual sharing of food and drink.
Eating kicks your body into a (literally) down-to-earth mode. In addition, sharing a meal
provides communion among group members, especially when blessings are passing along with
the plate and cup. To expand this ritual sharing to include all four basic elements, you
can pass around a peace pipe as well to represent air and fire. Within our group, we call
this the Elemental Feast.
- Once the power has been grounded, it is important to return the ritual area to its
normal state as well. Before disassembling the working altar, the circle should be opened
or "uncast". Instead of dispersing the energy and breaking the circle, we ground
it by visualizing it sinking into the floor beneath us while saying:
As the circle sinks into the earth
Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again
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