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.