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HomeBeginning Wicca, Classes, Witch Lesson 9: Ritual


Lesson 9: Ritual

Erin

Lesson 9 Part 1: Ritual format

In this section we will start working with rituals. I know, many of you have been doing things like this already, but many of you have not, so we will go over the basics of rituals and break them down into steps.

One thing that I want to stress as we get into this is, you can’t really screw up a ritual. About all you can do is to make it meaningless or knock you out of the “mood”. There is nothing (unless you are doing a spell) that you can do to really screw things up, so don’t worry. Relax.

Ritual serves the same purpose as myth. It is a language of symbols, most times the same symbols that you have on your altar, in your directions, and that you have in your divination. See, that is one of the big secrets of most Pagan beliefs, the symbols.

In and of itself, doing the rites and rituals don’t mean anything. The only meaning there is what YOU as the participant or conductor bring to it. That’s all.

So, if the ritual has no meaning, why do it? Simple, it serves the same purpose that every other symbol serves. It’s an outward expression of an inward state. It is a concrete representation of what you wish to bring to be.

For instance, you want to celebrate the Lord and Lady. So, you decorate the Altar with symbols representing the time of year, the way you feel about Them, what you wish to give them, and so on, and your ritual is centered around giving your Love to Them and making Them feel appreciated.

Too many Pagan get caught up in the “High Episcopagan” mind set of “I MUST do this action now, and say these words, and have THIS in my hand at THIS time” (said soto voce) that they loose sight of the MEANING of the ritual. The meaning they are supposed to bring to the ritual as someone who is trying to show their appreciation to the Gods.

So, if your sleeve catches fire when doing the rite, curse and yell, if you drop the platter of cakes, laugh and keep laughing. The Gods won’t be offended, in fact, they may even be joining you in your mirth. I have heard them laughing when I fell on my face during one rite because my robe was too long. Just about every practicing Pagan has something similar to share.

Disclaimer: Here I will be breaking down rituals into parts and explaining those parts, but this list is not all inclusive. I have probably skipped something, and I KNOW that I have not put every kind of ritual down for discussion. This is a *general* outline of what I have encountered in rites and rituals from 10 years of work. These kinds of rituals and ritual structure even carries over into other mainstream religions, so keep an eye out.

Definitions:

rite Pronunciation: ‘rIt
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin ritus;
1 a : a prescribed form or manner governing the words or actions for a ceremony b : the liturgy of a church or group of churches
2 : a ceremonial act or action (initiation rites)

ritual Pronunciation: ‘ri-ch&-w&l, -ch&l; ‘rich-w&l
Function: noun
1 : the established form for a ceremony; specifically : the order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony
2 a : ritual observance; specifically : a system of rites b : a ceremonial act or action c : a customarily repeated often formal act or series of acts
Function: adjective
1 : of or relating to rites or a ritual : CEREMONIAL (a ritual dance)
2 : according to religious law or social custom (ritual purity) – rit·u·al·ly adverb

Types of rituals:

Worship/Devotional/Celebratory: This is the type of ritual that takes place in Sunday Church. It is a worship of a God or Gods in which you generally give thanks for what you have, praise the God, and hear any messages that the God has for you, usually through the medium of the Pastor or Minister. This kind of rite is the single most common type of ritual there is. It cuts across all religions, faiths, ways, and creeds. Even many groups that you may not think about as being “religious” in nature. Things like the invocation at a football game, the Scouts, and other examples.

Meditation/Self Improvement: This kind of ritual comes about when you sit down to start a process to transform yourself into a better person or to get rid of habits or some like process. Meditation tapes are a good example. In some cases, so too is a visit to a Psychologist. Especially if just walking through the door of the office gets you into the mood. A “Sweat lodge” could also fall under this kind of heading.

Initiatory: This could go with the above type of ritual, but it can also stand upon it’s own legs. The best example of this kind of ritual I can think of is a baptism in the Christian Church. You go in to the ritual as one person, and leave it as another. A result of that initiation is for a while, you act as a different person. So too, in Paganism, we have the initiation and dedication rituals that do the same thing.

Spell work: This is the “ooie ooie” part of Paganism, the spells. Yes, casting a spell is a ritual all by itself, and one that is vastly different from those above. Pretty much, this could be considered the “prayer” part of a Sunday service in the Christian Church. It’s the “Coercion of God” or the “imposition of your Will upon the universe.” As such it is it’s own rite. Some of the basics to this type of rite will be similar to the rest, but the main part will be much different.

In each of these types of rituals, there will be elements that will be exactly similar to each other, and normally some practitioners will combine one with the other. For instance, using our Christian Church as an example, our dear minister may have the celebration service early Sunday morning, followed hard by the spell work section of the service (the prayer). There may be a break of several hours where he talks to different members of the congregation and counsels them (self improvement), after which there is a gathering on the lawn for the softball league (celebration again) and move right on into the baptism of a new member to the church. At no one time is the rites ended, but at different points the disinterested members are free to leave.

And here is where I come to the actual breakdown of the rites that Paganism use in their rituals. At the end of this lesson, I shall give you links to some rituals I have found on the Internet to show you what I am talking about in each part. While reading through those rituals, I would like you to mentally break them down into this order and see which parts are where.

Breakdown

Preparation

This is the stage where you gather that tools and/or the objects you need. It is here where you go over the rite in your head and figure out what you are going to say and what you will do. You set up the Altar and lay out the tools for easy use when you actually begin. You may even start a little earlier with a ritual bath to cleanse you and purify you in preparation for this ritual. You could even start earlier than that with a fast or diet or abstinence from certain vices, all with the goal of preparing you for the actual rite itself. Any research for the ritual should be done in this stage, drawings made for the ritual, and all other things that you need to do before you begin, so that there is no interruption once you start.

Consecration

This is the start of the actual ritual itself. Relating to Paganism, this is where you would bless and prepare the space for use. You would ritually cleanse the Circle of any negative influences, seal the Circle by “casting” it, bless the participants in the rite, and bless the area. Basically, what you are doing is making this plot of ground “holy” for the purposes of inviting the Gods to attend. It’s analogous to the cleaning frenzy many of us go through when acquaintances are coming over for a while. Usually once this part begins, you don’t leave for any reason, unless it’s a DIRE emergency.

Invocation

This is where you invite the deities or other entities to join your Circle, and bless it with their presence. I say “other entities” because there will be times when you want other astral beings to be present. Such as when Invoking the Watchtowers or Calling the Quarters. This also asks another being to be present at the Circle, and in some cases it commands them to be present. Use the invocation rather than a summoning. Remember this from a previous lesson? Here’s where it comes out. By Invoking, you ask them to help and to be present. You do have to accept “no” for an answer, because they may be busy. However, the trade off is cooperation. When invoked, goodwill is given and received, trust is stated and given. By summoning, you are treating these astral beings as slaves or servants, and a slave will never give you their help unasked.

Working

Okay, this is the actual “working” part of the ritual. Usually this is the specific rite that the Circle was cast for. Something like a worship service, spell work, and so on. The actual process done in this section varies from group to group, and even from person to person. It’s where you do all those esoteric things that you see done in movies and TV. A lot of times the above steps go by quickly, if only from repetition, this is where you take your time.

I like analogies, and here’s one. If a ritual can be likened to car repair, then the Preparation is getting the tools out and popping the hood, the Consecration is laying out the tools and hoping you don’t screw up, the invocation is yelling at the car for doing this to you, and the actual repair is this stage. This is where you slow down and take your time with everything. This is where you meditate, get your feelings together, figure out what you are doing, and so forth, and actually start the process that you got everything out for.

There are some that combine a lot of separate rites and rituals into one in this section. There are arguments for and against this practice, which I will go into more detail once we begin to look deeper into the way to “rearrange” this format. What? You thought this process was written in stone? More the fool you. No, this is all fluid, under some conditions. It’s best to stick with the format I give and follow it as much as you can.

Thanks

This is the Thanksgiving part. In our car repair analogy, this is where you say “Hot DAMN!” and celebrate. Basically, it is showing your appreciation to the Gods for what you have, and telling them that you will not take this for granted. It would be a shame to have it (whatever it is) taken from you through lack of appreciation. This is when I also show my appreciation to those other entities that I asked to the Circle, after all, they didn’t have to come. Also, if you have any offerings to give the Gods, Cakes and Ale, sacrafices, herbs, other things (no children, please) this is the time you would give it to them.

Unmaking the Circle

A lot of pagans and Metaphysics practitioners will have problems with my terminology, but that is what you are doing. You are unmaking the Circle. It’s the same thing you did in step 2, only in reverse. You open the Circle, say goodbye to everyone you invited (both physical and non-physical) and go your merry way. Many call this “Opening or Clearing the Temple”, “Grounding the Circle” and many other names. The practice varies from group to group as to how they do this in the specific, but there is usually some variation of drawing the energy of the Circle back into themselves or pushing that “wall” the Circle made down into the ground. Here is where you would have a party with different people, and perhaps do divination to see how it worked. You would also talk to those who attended to see what they felt. This is the social part of the ritual.

Okay, get up, walk around, this is the break in this section. There is more, and I want to get all this up in one post. I have even more information to give you in the next post. LOL So enjoy your freedom now.

Sample Ritual

In this section I will give you a REALLY basic sample ritual, so that you can see the different parts of the ritual. It’s not well written, so bear with me. I didn’t write this, someone I don’t know did.

The Prep phase is skipped, one assumes that you already did all that before sitting down to do this rite.

TO SET CIRCLE:

I consecrate this circle of power to the
ancient gods. Here may they manifest
and bless their child.

This is the consecration section, and in some cases the invocation. He mixes up these a bit.

TO ALTAR:

this is a time that is not a time,
in a place that is not a place,
on a day that is not a day,
i stand at the threshold between
the worlds, before the veil of the
Mysteries. May the ancient ones
help and protect me on my
magical journey.

BLESSING ON ARTICLES OF WATER, SALT, CANDLE, AND INCENSE.

Great Mother, bless this creature of Water to your service.
Great Mother, bless this creature of Earth to your service.
Great Father, bless this creature of Fire to your service.
Great Father, bless this creature of Air to your service.

This is more of the Consecration phase. This is definitely a sanctification.

INVOCATION OF ELEMENTS:

EAST : AIR

SOUTH: FIRE

WEST: WATER

NORTH: EARTH

I call upon you (appropriate element facing correct direction) to witness this rite and to guard this circle.

Here’s the invocation of the elements, but not the Gods. Note, here that the author of this rite is for a “Celtic sample ritual” which ignores the fact that the elements of the Celts are NOT what this guy has written down.

FINAL SETTING OF CIRCLE:

This circle is bound
With power all around
Between the worlds I
Stand with protection around.

More of the Consecration phase.

NOW IS THE TIME TO PROCEED WITH SPELLWORK…..

From what I am reading, this is the “working” phase of the rite. I have no idea what this rite was supposed to do, because this is republished as I got it.

BINDING OF CIRCLE:

By the powers of the ancient gods I bind all power within the circle into this spell. So mote it be.

DEPARTURE OF ELEMENTS:

(same directions as invocation)  Depart in peace, O powers of (element), my thanks and blessing.

CUT CIRCLE (motion of hand counterclockwise)

The circle is open, yet ever it remains a circle
around and through me always flows its
magical power.

This is obviously the “unmaking” section of the process, but he got it backwards to what I am comfortable with. The reason I am uncomfortable with this arrangement is that the Circle also protects the beings you ask to be present. With this in mind, you, having invited them there, are responsible for their safety while they work with you. So, you thank them, send them on their way, and THEN close the Circle. Doing it the way this gentleman suggests is tantamount to inviting a guest over and watching while they are mugged in your home and doing nothing to stop it or to help after the fact. I know that in many cases these extra-planar beings are capable of taking care of themselves, but it’s still the principal of the thing. Courtesy requires that you show respect to these beings in exchange for their help.

GENERAL THANKS:

Between two friends is this bargain made
A blessing to all who came to my aid.

And this is the actual thanks part of the rite. Usually in this part, one will also say something like “thanks for coming, go if you must, stay if you wish, in love and trust.” Meaning, you recognize that these beings are not yours to command, you allow them the freedom to come and go as they please.

Links for research

A General Ritual
Protective Ritual from The Guardian’s Grimoire
A Handfasting
The Chocolate Ritual
Ritual of the Mists
A Wiccaning Removed
Fall Equinox Ritual Removed
Dedication of a Sword
Full Moon Binding Ritual
Warding
Basic Ritual
~~~~***** Consecration of Tools ****~~~~ Yes, this is the ritual I told you I would get for you when we started the Rituals portion.

Finishing up and assignment

Okay, with all that information there, you should have enough information to write your own ritual. SO….. ASSIGNMENT: Write your own ritual. I want it to be a ritual for the consecration/dedication of a child (who is still an infant) just after they are born. It should introduce this child to the Gods, not initiate them into a working group. Blessings for the child as they grow are acceptable. From start to finish, using all the steps I outlined above. Post it here with the rest of your assignments, and we can take a look at them. And don’t be worried. I have written rituals and so have many others. Be sure to include who says what, what actions are done, and son on.

The format I want to see it in is this:
Person Speaking: What they say.
Actions taken, including objects moved, picked up and so on.

For reference, you may see things that say HP or HPS and these stand for the High Priest (co-leader of the Circle or working group) and the High Priestess (or the co-leader of the Circle).

Have fun with this!

Lesson 9 part 2; Variations on the basic ritual

Having discussed the basic structure of the rites and rituals that you may be called upon to perform, here we will discuss the variations of that same structure. Just as there exceptions to the rules of language in most spoken languages, so too are there exceptions to the language of Ritual.

Make no mistake about it, ritual is a language, with all the same goals within the practice of speaking.

What is the main purpose of speaking or for language? To communicate an idea from one person to another with the greatest efficiency. This is how ritual is like a language. The main purpose of ritual is to transmit an idea from your conscious mind to your subconscious mind as efficiently as possible. In order to do that, you speak to the subconscious mind in a language it understands, symbols.

So, having now become versed in the basics of the language of ritual, you are ready to move on to the point of learning when the rules don’t apply.

Discarding the “Preparation” phase: This is a bad idea in a general sense. The preparation starts your subconscious thinking about the symbols it will see, and thus it makes the whole ritual stronger. Plus, by including the preparation in the ritual, you don’t have to worry about things like “did I get the matches for the candles? Or will I have to dig them out from between my toes?” (Believe me, this is the single most common mistake in ANY group ritual situation. It’s always good for a laugh.)

Then why would you want to discard this phase? Think for a few moments on this and stop HERE! Did you come up with some good answers? Here’s the ones that I am thinking of: a) if the Altar and all the necessary items are already laid out, and b) if the ritual or rite is needed NOW!

There have been numerous times when B has been prominent for me, emergencies like healing or luck spells for my family, where every second is precious, you don’t want to mess around with carefully gathering your herbs and laying out all your tools. That’s when you want to grab the bare necessities, like salt, a glass of water, a cigarette (for the incense) and a lit match and go. I have done things this way more than once. As for A, well that implies that you already did all the preparation at the end of the last ritual you had, or that you are a compulsive neat-freak… (A place for everything, and everything in it’s place….) In that case, congratulations, you will not have to worry about half of the things most of us have to worry about when we start a ritual.

This can, however, backfire. Suppose that you do not want your friends and family knowing that you are interested in the occult. Having your altar set up 24/7 is counterproductive to that since it is always out. Which will make it almost a certainty that someone close to you will see it. However, if this is not a concern, Congratulations!

Discarding everything BUT the working part of the ritual: Sounds dangerous? It can be, but I bet you do something like this everyday without thinking about it. Tell me, who out there gets out the knives and cutting board, all the meat, the milk, a placemat, the five piece place setting, the 16 pieces of silverware every time you go into the kitchen? Anyone? No, you don’t, and in some cases, you should not do an entire ritual when you are doing things that don’t need to be done ultra ritualistically.

One time would be when for one reason or another you can’t do the whole ritual, but you still want to be in the ritual mindset. Like when you are taking herbs from nature as offerings to the Gods in other rituals. Going out into the woods and picking the herbs is a ritual act, but Casting the Circle and Invoking the Deities is kind of not necessary for this activity. You do need to thank the plants and herbs for their gift to you, and perhaps leave some milk or something for the plant, but doing an entire ritual to pick sprigs of parsley? Kind of silly, if you ask me.

Another time would be when you are preparing something else to be used in a ritual later. Like if you were working on a tool or making a holiday dinner for after the celebration. You don’t want to have to stop before the dinner starts getting fixed and lay out your Altar and start chanting and celebrating just so you can cook the meal. That is what the ritual itself is for. So, you discard everything but the work, and keep that ritual mindset in your head while the food is being cooked. Besides, you don’t want all your crazy relatives coming in and out of the Circle while they help you, do you?

One other time when you may want to discard everything but the working portion of the rite is when circumstances demand discretion, or the physical area you are working in will not contain the entire ritual. Like when you are plowing the garden to make it new and fresh the next year. This is a ritual act, celebrating the fertility of the Earth and readying it for the next time it will be called upon. As such you want to consecrate the garden for the Goddess so She can do Her work in it next year. However, you have a relative who is made extremely uncomfortable by your beliefs, and wishing to give them room and time to accept them, rather than force those beliefs on them, you need to skip the ritual. You can always come back and consecrate the garden later. So, how do you accomplish staying in a ritual mindset without all the brouhaha?

I’m glad you asked that question. It shows initiative and that you are paying attention to the lesson. Good job and well done. Now, if there are no other questions….

Okay, here’s where your mind and imagination comes into the picture. In these kinds of circumstances, you would have to use your imagination to conjure up (for you) the appropriate mindset. Many would do this by praying silently to the Gods as they work, others by remembering other rituals in which they had that ritual mindset and “holiness” and bringing that same mindset to the front simply by remembering. Or any number of various ways, such as creative visualization, guided meditation, and by simply deciding to be in that mindset. This will take practice, so don’t rush it. We’ll go more into depth in another lesson.

Now, having looked at getting rid of sections of the rites, let’s look at changing some sections or changing the order of those parts.

Changing how you do things: This is one of the easiest things to do, in that you simply change some aspect of the ritual into something else. For example, You are used to working in your Circle fully clothed in ritual robes and with all of your jewelry on, so this time try it with only your street clothes on, or with nothing on. Or instead of invoking the God first, as you have always done, invoke the Goddess first. Instead of uncasting the Circle by calling it back into your athame, ground the Circle into the earth instead.

Basically, all this type of variation on the ritual does is keep things fresh. We all fall into a rut, and “old habits are hard to break”. But when you change up certain aspects of the ritual, you keep them fresh without causing damage to the overall structure of the ritual or the purpose of it (namely to get you into a mood).

Some slight variation when doing the actual ritual is a good thing as it brings spontaneity to the ritual. One of the biggest complaints that many traditional practitioners of religion complain about is the loss of spirit in the ritual. Sitting there, in the pews and hearing the minister drone on in the service about this and that… it gets boring. Bringing a sense of life by changing things up can freshen that rite up and make others pay attention. This can be as simple as having different people doing different things.

One example of this is having the “audience” actually do part of the ritual, such as the invocation of the other entities (those spirits that will be present other than the Gods). By having different people doing this from ritual to ritual, it can keep the people’s attention on the ritual, rather having it wander off onto the state of their checkbooks.

Changing the order of the ritual. Suppose you have someone who desperately needs to go to see a relative in the hospital. They have come to the ritual to ask that there be a quick healing spell done so that they can sleep a bit better at night. As much as they want to stay for the Handfasting that is taking place later, they can’t. So, you do the consecration, invocation, the healing rite, thanksgiving, open the temple enough to let that one person go, do the Handfasting and then unmake the sacred space.

See what happened? All the elements are there, and all that really changes was that the Thanksgiving part came before all of the “working” parts were done. But this is also an extraordinary circumstance. Things like this happen, and no one can really prevent them from happening. So there are “safeguards” built in to allow someone to safely leave and come back into a temple that has been created. We will go over that more in depth next lesson.

Changing the dimensions of the sacred space. Okay, so you want to have a ritual, and you are currently babysitting a friend’s puppy. You don’t want the sacred space to become contaminated by the dog coming and going from that area (although I don’t personally think animals detract from a rite, there are purists who do think that) or your child is toddling around and getting into things. How do you still have the rite without the sacred space or circle eroding from someone who comes and goes from that area like there was nothing special about it?

You make your entire house a sacred space. It’s not too hard to do. Basically you simply cleanse the space again, and during the consecration phase, instead of the immediate area you are in, you simply imagine the entire house (or apartment or yard or what have you) as being included in the boundaries of what is made pure.

That means that if you are going to be doing a really special ritual, that the other occupants of the home you are in also have to be blessed and cleansed. Sometimes you can get away without doing this, like in the above example with the relative, but most times it’s good to have them prepared too.

Okay, that was changing the ritual, and now we will talk about another variation of the ritual.

Adding pieces to the ritual. In this, you are not adding components to the ritual so much as adding parts to the “working” section of the ritual. Basically it would be something like Prep, Cleansing, Invocation, Healing ritual, Handfasting, Dedication of a child, Initiation, Celebration, Thanksgiving, Dismissal, Unmaking.

In this, you have multiple parts in the “working” portion that can go together, but which can also stand on their own. This is perfectly acceptable in most practice, although if it is a Sabbat celebration, you really should only do the celebration rather than all the extra stuff. Anything else can be put off until the next regular meeting, or if it can’t wait, can be done after the celebration. By doing this after the celebration, I mean that you go through the whole ritual, right up to the unmaking, for the celebration, then start all over from scratch for whatever is left.

The reasoning behind this is simple. During a celebration, the area that is consecrated is likely to be violated multiple times, by the celebrants. While this is not bad, remember the energy work we did so long ago? During a celebration, a lot of that kind of energy is put off by the participants. It collects, and at the end and unmaking portion, that energy is gathered up and put into the ground for the Earth’s fertility.

Well, because all that energy is there, it acts as a lure to other planar beings that feed on that kind of energy. They just wait around for a hole or something to occur in the “shields” or wall you put up around the sacred space to open, and they take what they want.

During the other rituals, increase that energy output by a factor of 10. I have had a celebrant faint from the energy during a Handfasting I was conducting, and that was while she had a knife to her throat during the vows. A hole in your protections at a time like that can be disastrous. So, you re-consecrate and re-invoke and do the actual working. You don’t have to do the entire thanksgiving portion of the rite, it can be simple as “thank you for coming again”, but it is nice to acknowledge their return again.

Okay, that’s it for this week. Here’s your Assignment: Go out looking on the internet or in some of the books you have for different rituals that you may want to hold. Mentally identify the different sections that you have in there, and decided if you want to use it in the future. If you do, write it in the notebook you have and title it. If you need help on what kinds of rituals you may need, take a look at Daven’s Book of Shadows for some suggestions. You won’t need every ritual, but it’s good to have a “Wiccaning” or Child’s Blessing ritual in case of need a few years down the line.

Oh, and post the rituals I had you write last lesson here so we can all see them.

Another thing to keep in mind when writing down these rituals, you don’t always have to have every component of a ritual in the actual instructions for the ritual. IE: I have the Erecting the Temple rite in my Book of Shadows (which is the consecration and invocation in one) the rituals themselves written down on separate sections, and the “Cakes and Ale” rite (which is the Thanksgiving part) and then the “Clearing the Temple” portion (Unmaking and thanks again) all broken out into their own “mini rights”. This is because these three portions are the most commonly done in any magickal practice that there is. You can put them down on their own page so that you aren’t writing over and over again “Invoke the Gods by saying….” It’s however you decide to do it.

Lesson 9, part 3: Advanced Rituals

In this segment we will look at some of the different advanced techniques that we can use for (and in some cases, instead of) rituals.

One of the first things that need to be discussed is Ritual Etiquette.

I know most of you were probably raised in the Christian Church, and in that Church, there were certain rules of conduct that were expected from those attending. During the service you sat quietly, didn’t talk back to the minister (unless you happen to be Southern Baptist), you didn’t applaud; you didn’t stand up and try to play with your brother, and so on.

These rules were the etiquette that was required by the Church you were attending. These rules were similar to what was expected in a Library. Or at a courthouse or a classroom.

Well, here they are again. Rituals have their own Etiquette that needs to be followed so that everyone participating can have a good time and get into the ritual mood.

There is a full list Moon Manners: Etiquette for Group Rituals

Some don’t go as far as to try to follow or enforce these rituals of etiquette, but it comes out with a point that many don’t think about. When you are invited to someone else’s ritual, you are agreeing to abide by their rules of conduct. As such, you have to have a clear idea of what they want and are doing. If you go nude in your rites, and they don’t, you better have some clothes handy to cover up with.

The next thought on rituals in general is what’s called a “guided meditation”. In a guided meditation, you are listening to someone else talking and you are meditating on what they are saying. It’s guided because they are the ones who are telling you what you see. This can be immensely transformitive for someone who has not been through anything like this before.

Once upon a time, I went to a spiritual center and hung out there almost all the time. It was a nice place, I attended classes there, helped with mailing newsletters, and so forth. One lady there did counseling and taped journeys of the soul. I asked her what she did exactly, and she offered to take me through one of those sessions. I said, “Sure, why not?”

What happened to me I remember to this day, better than 7 years later. Basically she laid me on a couch, and put some headphones on my ears and started a tape. In there, I was invited to relax, let go and see what the voice on the tape was telling me to see. And boy did I.

At the end of the one hour, I was crying like a baby. I was able to purge many negative thought processes out of myself with it. I was able to accept myself as a good person, simply because I was alive. I didn’t have to kill my success and myself simply because I didn’t deserve anything. And I got better.

That is what Guided Meditations can do, and often DO accomplish for those who go through them. It is a form of self hypnosis in which the person listening to the voice only interacts with what they are told is there. Because it is entirely in the client’s mind, they can choose just how much cooperation they give and they are entirely safe, where they may feel threatened if they went to a psychologist or a hypnotist.

What does this have to do with Rituals? This IS a transformative ritual in and of itself. By going through these, you can get rid of things that are holding you back. Take a look at this ritual and tell me if you think it would be good. Flame and Shadow

Now think about that meditation being read out loud by someone who cares for you, with pauses and emphasis placed on certain words and so on. It can be something that makes a tremendous difference in a life, but only if you cooperate with it.

The next set of thoughts on rituals grows out of the previous thought. There are times when you want to do a ritual, but you can’t go through all the chanting and dancing and pulling out the tools and so on. That’s where a ritual done in your head is a good thing.

“All in your head” rituals don’t require any props, no tools, you aren’t restricted to the time of day or the environment to help or hinder. But this kind of ritual does take a certain mindset. You have to have your “ritual space” inside your head all the time.

Basically this means that you have to create what many refer to as an “Astral Temple” for use in times like this. This is a created environment on the Astral Plane that you can go to when meditating. Because it is yours, it can be a reflection of whatever you wish it to be.

An example of this is a moonlit field, or a trail in the woods, or a wind-swept plateau, but it should be someplace that you feel comfortable being, one that evokes a sense of reverence toward yourself, the Gods and Nature. Here is where your imagination and training in meditation come to the fore. The better imagination you have, the more probable it will be that you can evoke this state of mind.

Finally, the last set of thoughts on ritual is how to enter an already cast sacred space and exit it without doing too much damage. Here is where Raymond Buckland comes in handy.

The illustrations that I will include come from Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. Most of this description does too, but I have paraphrased the instructions so that I’m not plagiarizing. :lol

First thing first, let’s assume that you are already inside the sacred space. Exiting is not too hard. You take your Athame and “cut” yourself a doorway. You draw the athame across the boundary once, working from the outside in, and then do so again on the other side of your body. (Illustration A and B) You leave and do what you have to, and when you come back, you wave your athame along the boundary three times, reconnecting the sanctification lines (the three times are for Once with the Salted Water, once with the Incense, once with the Sword or Athame. Illustration C). To keep this “weak spot” you have just made from being breached, usually you would draw either a 5 pointed star or some other sacred symbol in the air in front of you, on the surface of the “shield” that was created when the Circle was made.

How to leave and enter a Circle properly.
How to draw a star.
And that’s all there is to that.

The reason that you would do this is if you wished to go to the bathroom, or you just HAD to answer the phone that is ringing off the hook and so on. However, if some magickal working is planned and has already started, DO NOT LEAVE THE CIRCLE UNDER ANY CIRUMSTANCES! A lot of trouble was taken to set up the containment and protections for the participants, and opening the working area like this could allow things to come in and start messing with the rite.

This is dangerous for any number of reasons, and a good rule of thumb is to not leave once the rituals have started unless it is really an emergency.

Okay, now that I have scared you to death. Let me recommend that you all start copying rituals into your notebooks. There is no assignment on this lesson, but it’s a good thing to have many different rituals hanging around the house. Personally, I find that it helps to do a ritual from a book so many times that you don’t have to think about it any longer, but my wife likes to change the rituals every time. She does a “free form” ritual in which she knows a bit about what she wants to accomplish, but she lets the spirit guide her as to the particulars. To each their own.

So, here is a copy of MY ritual notebook. It’s called “The Tree”. There are three types available here, one in PDF format, one in a ZIP file, and one for access on the Internet. I’ll let you decide which to look at. For those of you on Apples, either the Internet or the PDF version will probably be your best bet, as the ZIP file is a Microsoft Word Document.

Daven’s Book of Shadows From here, you can find the three files I’m talking about. The index page has all the information available to you with hyperlinks to different sections, and in the case of the Sabbats, there are articles discussing the holiday first, then the ritual. All the other downloads available on this page are there for you to download at your discretion, but I would prefer that you not get them just yet. Once this course is complete, they will be made available to you.

Take care, till next time!

Stars light your path.

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