Ritual Form, Formulation, and Friday Fun

Earlier this evening, around 9pm, I participated in a ritual designed to help participants attune to the elements and then draw closer to those elements that they felt needed strengthening in their daily lives. There were about 20 of us in attendance. Tonight’s ritual was the culmination of my first adventure into planning and executing a public ritual for that many people. I have worked with groups of about 10-12, at the most, in a private setting, but 20 and public was a new frontier. Ultimately, it was very (very) manageable though because there were several – about seven – of us on the planning team. So I had the added benefit of learning what it’s like to work with six other people to brainstorm ideas, divvy up ritual roles and the like. Sure, I have worked with others before to plan ritual but typically it was about four people doing the heavy lifting with one or two others filling minor roles.

Because the ritual was tonight we, the ritual planning team, have yet to receive formal feedback but overall the response was positive. I was in charge of developing and guiding the elemental attunement meditation. The balancing was composed and orchestrated by Ian Phanes. Two attendees expressed a favorable opinion of the attunement and one of my fellow ritualists, Mr. Scorpio (who I mentioned in a previous post by the same pseudonym), also commented that it flowed nicely. I would like to lead more guided meditations (and hopefully pathworkings, which is like journeying, only instead of going out to the Otherworlds you go into your own spirit to seek out places for improvement and healing!) in the future, so I enjoy accepting ritual planning opportunities that allow me to build those muscles.

As you may have guessed from the focus of this evening’s ritual, it followed a Wiccan structure because it was what the majority of the planning team was familiar with. I realized tonight that though my personal practice has not been Wiccan centered in quite (quite!) some time, I still function well energetically and spirituality in Wiccan space. Well, I guess you never forget where your old bedroom is in your parents’  house! You know, I did not feel compelled to stay there indefinitely but it was definitely a nostalgic moment. We, the ritual planners, are however considering working within Druidic/Celtic ritual structures a la ADF. I personally appreciate the ADF Druidic/Celtic style of ritual a little more than the Wiccan style but am not really adverse to either ritual form. ADF rites are refreshing because they have a clear focus on deity, ancestor, and spirit veneration which can sometimes be muted in the Wiccan style, depending on the ritual leader, the overall focus of the group, the day of the week, and the color of everyone’s underwear. The ADF ritual style is stable and everyone knows what they are there for: To honor the kindreds (aka the Gods, the Ancestors, and the Spirits). Which pantheon of Gods is about the only thing that changes.

I was actually driving around with another Pagan friend yesterday, Rtemis4 from The Catskin Sisters, and we had a long conversation about how reliable (some would say rigid) the ADF structure is. While my personal practice could not be solely ADF style ritual, it certainly works for me eight times in the year when the sun is moving across the sky and the earth is changing her robes. The reliability, simple elegance, and reverence of a well-done ADF style ritual (in any of its incarnations: Hellenic, Roman, Norse, and Celtic) warm my heart on holy nights year-round! I must be completely transparent though and confess that I can wrap my spirit around almost any ritual form that is reverent, empowering, and beautiful. Any form that works to set human beings in right relationship with the other powers that inhabit and shape the Worlds is alright by me. My experience of Wiccan ritual has not always been in the vein; that may be why I moved away from that form of ritual in my personal practice, in favor of (modified) Norse, Hellenic, Roman, and insert culturally grounded ritual form here rites. As I mentioned above, I still like Wiccan ritual forms; however, they do not seem to have as much spiritual resonance for me in their straight-from- a-Wicca- 101-book form. “Not as much” is not none though!

Tonight’s very Wiccan ritual was fun and offered me an opportunity to test out my guided meditation skills. I hope to have another chance to practice and it is unlikely to come about in an ADF style ritual or in any of the (modified/soft) reconstructionism contexts in which I work.

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6 thoughts on “Ritual Form, Formulation, and Friday Fun

  1. I’m glad the ritual went well.

    Guided meditation/journey work is definitely compatible with ADF ritual structure. I know of several groves that do that occasionally. I’ve done journeywork as part of an ADF solo-rite before. Apple Branch tends to do a very pared down ADF ritual, but there’s a lot more that can be put in there.

    • Get out! I just visited the ADF site, for like the first time in over a month, and I noticed the meditation link. Thanks for pointing this out, Ashley. Woohoo!

      • Oh, there’s even more if you dig. Much of the content of ADF’s website is members only, but there’s an Order that’s entirely about trance journeying (and most of their rituals are standard ADF format). One upcoming is about the cult of the dead. There’s yearly collections of rituals, many of which are high day, but also personal or magical. In fact, the Core Order of Ritual has an optional magical workings section; Bonewits talks about that a good deal in his Essential Guide to Druidry (which bases a lot of work off of the ADF style, natch). It comes after the main offering but before the blessing cup.

      • Sweet! When I officially join ADF, I will have to go-a-clicking in the members-only areas in search of these tasty guided meditation/trancework/journey morsels. Yum!

  2. If I am Mr. Scorpio, feel free to use my name 🙂 I had intended to write about the ritual, too, but what with my family in town for graduation, the time just didn’t seem to present itself. Maybe I’ll reflect from a little bit more distance this week.

    • Yep, you’re Mr. Scorpio :-D. I had not spoken with you about using your name on the blog so I wanted to preserve your anonymity, until I had officially obtained permission. Let me know when you write about the ritual; I will visit your post!

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