Fragment of a conversation about rituals

Fragments of one of my emails discussing ritual and ceremony…

“….The Pagan “Eight fold wheel of the year” ceremonies do serve as a great way of bringing Pagans together, building shared experiences and a sense of community; but that is not their primary function. The primary function of the rituals is to help bring the practitioner, consciously or sub-consciously, into greater harmony and understanding of the rhythms of nature (the seasons, birth and death, waxing and waning etc) and by doing so we, hopefully, begin to appreciate and understand our relationship with the Earth and nature; and ultimately bring a greater respect to how we treat and interact with our environment.

The individual rituals that are part of the OBOD course work are designed to give you a reliable and effective way, through the use of archetypes and symbolism, to connect with aspects of your sub-conscious mind. By doing so we can gain access to a great store of knowledge and information, allowing us to become aware of a wider range of patterns and connections in our surroundings, our own thought processes, our emotional and behavioural reactions; this in turn gives us greater insights, understanding, and to a degree, control, of who we are and how we choose to live our lives. Once we have more control and understanding of our own lives, we can have a greater and more positive impact on the world around us….”

“I can totally sympathise with your experience of group ceremonies. Group ritual can be a truly wonderful and spiritually powerful experience. However, it relies on the correct balance and interplay of the group dynamic, and of course your personal comfort and confidence levels…”

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3 Responses to Fragment of a conversation about rituals

  1. tree girl says:

    I wish that I could enjoy rituals as much as you describe here. They feel awkward and contrived to me. But I grew up with a complete absence of ritual, we didn’t even celebrate Christmas. If one was living in a community of people that practiced these rituals it might be easier, and safer?

    • cthulhudruid says:

      Having a group of friends that you are comfortable and confident with can really help make seasonal rituals and ceremonies special. But, you can still have powerful and effective rituals and ceremonies by yourself, there is a good argument that these ‘solo’ rituals are the most important to your personal growth and experience.

      If you feel that any given ceremony is too contrived or doesn’t feel right, you have a number of options. You don’t have to use a ceremony written by anyone else (I can’t remember the last time the Grove used a pre-scripted ritual). Research the ceremony/season you are aiming to do and pick out the themes that interest you and work a ceremony around them. Not every ceremony/ritual has to be elaborate or formal but can be quick and simple and just as effective.
      Not every seasonal festival needs a ceremony, you can just do something as simple as put aside some time to light a candle and say a few words or go for a special meal with friends etc (my partner and I try to go away for a day for Summer solstice, and always go for a curry and beer with friends for the Winter solstice) as long as you acknowledge why you are doing a certain special thing at a certain special time of the year then you are connecting with the rhythm of the Earth. The more you repeat these actions and observances year on year the stronger the connection will become.

      If you feel awkward performing ritual remember that the secret is practice.When you are first learning ritual try not to over analyse, be too self conscious or too self critical. Just keep repeating the steps of the ritual until you’ve got them right (allow yourself plenty of mistakes – these will get less as you go along). Once you get the ‘feel’ or the ‘flow’ of the ritual and you can do it from memory you can start to free your ‘conscious concentration’ and let yourself experience the ritual. One of the points of the ritual being a ritual is to act as a mild self trance – you are using practised formula to put yourself into a certain ‘mind-space’ (the opening of the ceremony) and using another practised formula to bring yourself out of trance again (closing of the ceremony). The more you practice the basics the smoother and more effective it will become. I guess its a bit like learning a musical instrument: at first it’s difficult and you make lots of mistakes, with practice you can follow written music, eventually you get to a level where you can improvise and compose your own music.

  2. cthulhudruid says:

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