The Beauty of Ritual
Beneath the dark canopy of the evening sky they gathered. Their only light was that of the moon and the masses of stars that created a web in the heavens. The sweet musky smell of incense surrounded them. With a wand of sage they were purified, and the priestess anointed their brow with oil as they entered the circle. Soft haunting music played in the background. Words of power were spoken and sigils were made in the air.
Why? Why now? What is the purpose to all of this? Is there meaning to this ritual, or is it done just because it is written down somewhere, that this is how we do it?
I think that many of us begin standing alone in a room, filled with trepidation, wondering if we will do it right. Feeling a strong need to do ritual, that which pulls from deep within your body, your soul is aching to let go. Unsure of ourselves and yet so willing to try, we begin that first step toward ritual. I remember the first time I circled with a group. We were at a private residence and as they cast the circle outside, calling in the quarters. We (guests), were left inside and brought into the circle one by one. By the time they got to me, the "novice," I was vibrating so high I was about ready to jump out of my skin! As I stood in that first circle, the fact struck me, that not everyone else was operating on that vibratory level. I was surprised, what did this mean? Did they not feel the vibrations coming from the earth and the moon? Today, upon reflection, I think some of them did, and others did not.
Ritual, the casting of a circle, going through the motions, opens doorways to the past. Walking through that doorway can be a bit on the scary side but, it is also thrilling. When I do ritual, it is not the same each time. It is not done from a book but, from the heart and from the soul. I feel the ritual.
I believe firmly, that there is no right or wrong way to do a ritual. It must feel right to you. It does not matter if you cast a circle with a sword, a wand, or cornmeal, you just have to feel it. How do you "feel" a ritual?
Close your eyes and begin deep rhythmic breathing. Take long deep breaths, exhaling fully, allow yourself to get a " high" feeling by just breathing. Your consciousness will begin to shift. At first it will be subtle. You almost wonder if you are indeed feeling something different, or if you are just imagining it. As you continue to breathe deeply, your energy begins to transform and build. You may feel a fiery, shaky sensation or you may feel as if you are going numb all over your body.
Now it is time to cast the circle, when you feel it coming from within you. This process should be repeated for each of the four directional quarters. You should feel the Earth beneath you, it is heavy, difficult to move, now call North. Wind should be blowing across your face, taking your breath away with it as you invoke East. The heat and flames of passion should rise within you when you are invoking South. Feel the waves of the ocean crashing over you and pooling around your feet as you call to the West.
When you "speak" a ritual, let it come from within, gathering power in your solar plexus, bursting forth with the power of speech, giving strength to the words that are spoken. You are not just a simple human being standing there, you are the element, you are part of the cosmos! Feel it and allow the emotion of it to move your soul! It is a beautiful, empowering, and wonderful experience, all at the same time. There is nothing else like it, the beauty of ritual!
Ritual is an evolved process. At first we begin by following guidelines written down somewhere in a book of one sort or another. Eventually, that changes as things do, and so does the ritual which is being performed by humans, who grow and evolve themselves. Here at the Temple, through the years, we have changed our rituals many times and grown with each change.
Recently we have changed our rituals to a more formalized structure that is indeed very ritualistic and dramatic. It is also very beautiful, filled with a certain grace and structure that gives a deep meaning to those of us involved. Each time we perform our ritual we will grow stronger and our spiritual beings will evolve yet another step. For myself it is both an exciting and an enjoyable experience. When I walk away from it, I feel complete, full, and serene. The beauty of the ritual itself has begun to encompass my spiritual life and taken it to a new level, for this guidance by the Universe, I am grateful.
As the ritual writer of the group, ritual for me begins at the keyboard of my computer. I will have an idea of where I want a ritual to go, or the story that I wish to tell during that particular ritual. Somewhere between the striking of the keys, the reality of the world slips out and what comes out of the printer is usually not what I had envisioned. As I write, I can "see" the members of the group, taking on the roles that they play during the ritual. I can "see" them invoking, calling, speaking, and acting out the ritual. The story of the ritual takes on a life all of it's own, giving itself shape and form. The results of this are gratifying, though not necessarily all of my own creation, I usually feel that divine intervention has occurred.
When we do ritual I like to get very grounded, one way to do this is to hug everyone before the circle even begins. As you enter the circle, when the Challenge comes, know the answer that lies within you heart. Know why you are there, standing in a circle. Be clear on your own intentions.
I feel the power as it builds. As we perform the ritual drama itself, I am frequently moved by the drama to tears or to laughter. Ritual for me is a joyful experience, afterwards I feel energized. To me ritual is an art that we remember how to live and in the living of it we find joy and beauty. It is my hope that these thoughts that I have shared with you, will inspire you to new heights and ritual will take on a new meaning for you too.
Last updated Wednesday, September 23, 1998 08:11 AM. Copyrighted Temple of The Triple Goddess, P.O. Box 38113, Phoenix, AZ 85069-8113. All rights reserved.