Archive | February 23, 2012

The Ritual or How many Priestesses does it take…

The Ritual


How many Priest/esses does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Okay how many people do you need to put on this ritual? As many as it takes to get all the jobs done. Don’t try to do it alone. You need people to call corners, and the deity. You will need people to do the meat of the ritual such as a guided meditation, craft project, blessing and purifying, spellwork or to raise energy. These people can all do double duty but if this is your first time as many people as you can get is best.

Assign people or ask for volunteers for each job and have a back up person to help if something happens to the first person. There is nothing like being in charge if a large event and landing in the Emergency Room at 2:00 in the morning and realizing you are the only one who knows where everything is and who is doing what; or that you are the one with the keys to the building or site.

Write everything out and distribute it to all participants. You can even work out the kinks via email between planning meetings.

The first few times you do a public ritual have people write out what they are going to say and memorize it. After you have done this a few times you can be extemporaneous but wait until you feel comfortable.

If you have included a chant or song in your ritual practice it with all the participants before the ritual starts. Make sure everyone can see a copy of the lyrics if it is long enough to make it difficult to remember. Have some one designated for each part if it is a round or canon.

If there is something you want everyone to do such as go up to the altar for a blessing or any action where in a small ritual you would do it one at a time, have multiple stations. Have something else going during this like a simple chant. If you are having a particularly large group and the action will take a while even with multiple stations have more than one chant. Nothing is a bigger turnoff to public ritual than having to sing, “We all come from the Goddess” for an hour. You will have rebellion at the very least and lose the energy you are trying to raise at worst. You could even have people leave and never come back because they think you are a bunch of first-rate primal bores.

If you are having a fire have one person in charge of it at all times. Make sure you have built safely in a safe place. For instance, don’t build it under a tree. Have a bucket of water and a bucket of sand. Sometimes sand will smother a blaze faster and with much less hazard than water. If you have a very sappy log water may even make the problem worse. If you haven’t done it before practice before hand or find an ex- Girl Scout to do it. Keep it small. It’s safer and better for the environment. Fire is a major air pollutant. If you are going to have a ritual where people are going to jump the fire, how about doing the jump over one of the small cauldrons or over a lantern. Flaming Pagan is generally not part of the Cakes and Ale at the end of ritual. And who wants to explain to an emergency room doctor what you were doing dressed like that. Miss Kat has had to put her keester in a lake after everyone noticed that the butt of her jeans were smoking.

Have a designated greeter or two. Please choose a person that is outgoing and can make people feel comfortable from the very beginning. New or shy people have a hard enough time getting the courage up to go to and event. Please don’t scare them off before they get in the door.

Have a person designated to corral the food offerings and take charge of serving and cleanup. Better yet have a team of people to do it. It’s very bad manners to leave one person with a messy kitchen or area to clean up.

Have one or two people at the most in charge of the event. Democracies and consensus are nice for running an organization but one person needs to coordinate all the chickens running around with their heads cut off.

When it’s time for the ritual to begin have an explanation time. You may have new people who have never been to a public ritual. You may have guests from other traditions. Explain the history of the holiday. It will also settle the participants down if they are having a major case of stage fright.

If you have a plan most everything will go smoothly and it goes even better if you can manage to have a rehearsal before the ritual. Don’t run every minute of the ritual just the order and things like the chant. Try the craft project before hand if you’re having one a few times so you know all the ins and outs of it. It saves embarrassment in the long run.

Some things you should to know about doing ritual; Try to be sensitive to the flow of energy; you may have to change things as you go along. Be flexible! Don’t expect to be perfect but expect to have gotten as much out of the doing as if you were a participant not just a priestess. Most important of all HAVE FUN!

After you are all done get together and brainstorm what went right and what went wrong. Give yourself a pat on the back because public ritual done correctly can be very difficult and very hard work. If you tackle it deserve a pat on the back.

Preparing to put on your first public ritual

Oh Braveheart, you’ve decided to put on your first public ritual. There are some things you need to decide. Is this ritual at a gathering such as Pagan Pride or Merry Meet? Is this an open ritual done for your local pagan community? Who are your potential attendees? What do you have to offer? Is this is a group of strangers? Do you know these people from past gatherings? Is it a mixed group of known and unknown quantities? Are you only going to be open to certain groups of invited people?

First, make a plan. What do you want people to go home with? Are you celebrating a holiday? A healing Circle? Is this a political Circle? If not, what the heck are you doing it for? Decide how long you want this ritual to last. Anything longer than an hour to an hour and a half becomes taxing and begins to resemble an early American Puritan service. If it’s to be longer advertise it as a vigil. After an hour and a half you run into barriers like bathroom breaks and bad knees and backs and babysitters. You also are limiting your attendee’s abilities. If you want people to stand for a long length of time you inhibit accessibility.

Do you need to reserve space? You can’t just show up at a public park without reserving space. You may want to alert local authorities that you are having an event. This depends on your local political climate. Suggestions for spaces include your local Unitarian Universalist Church, public group campsites where you can rent an entire campground, public beaches and parks, Community recreations centers. Sometimes even local libraries and banks have spaces for non-profit groups. Doing ritual in people’s houses should be avoided if possible. You are opening up the householder for all kinds of liabilities such as stalking and other unpleasantness.

Have a clear idea of what you want accomplish and break it down into its component elements. Have an outcome or objective even if it’s to go home with a fun arts and crafts project.

Buy more supplies than you need. It’s better to have too much than not enough. Do you need a small donation to cover the supplies and/ or the rental of the space? Can you get some of it donated? Do you need or want a sponsor such as a local metaphysical shop? Do you need to ask people to bring food to share? A lot of groups also do a community service project with their gatherings. Do you want to collect clothes or toys for a women’s shelter? How about food for your local food bank? Those are easier to collect than money for a cause and are more immediate in their effects.

Do you have enough parking? Are you telling people they need to carpool?

Make sure you have enough people to cover each task. Do not try to do everything unless you like sitting in corners and muttering dire things to yourself.

This to some will look like you are limiting the spontaneity or cramping some free spirit’s style but the best things are always well planned. That is how you make it look easy. Preparation is everything!

All this and we haven’t even gotten to the ritual yet.