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good luck charms, physical nudity, hooded robes, ritual jewelry

Ritual and Ritual Preparation

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  1. 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 won’t 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.


  2. 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 don’t 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; you’re trying to meet your friends
    (including Deity) on a higher/deeper level than in day-to-day life.


  3. 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 I’ve 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, shouldn’t be spiritually
    devastating.



  4. 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 you’re "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 what’s right, and vice versa.



  5. 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.


  6. 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!).


  7. 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, we’ll 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 I’ve visited start). We also call for
    a ritual when anyone in the group has a particular magical request, like healing or a job
    search.


    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
    other.



  8. 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.


  9. 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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Suggested Web Resources

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Pinikpikan | Ritual Preapration of Pinikpikan | GoBaguio.com
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