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This is the fifteenth entry in a series on a set of Pagan guidelines known as the Ordains. The Ordains, as we know them today, can be found in the works of Gerald Gardener. Maiden’s Circle uses a simplified version that has been edited and altered to reflect our core beliefs.
“Witches realize that the energy created through worship and rituals manifests as a circular stream of positive energy.”
Back in March of 2018, we posted a blog all about ritual in our Pagan practice. But, as I re-read over that entry, I realize that I missed one crucial reason we Pagans use ritual. In “The Dramatic Witch,” I discuss the physical reasons one may use ritual—it helps us focus; and I mention that we use ritual to connect to the Divine and to mark special occasions.
Still, I neglected to mention the main reason most of us do rituals: to raise energy for a specific purpose. Yes, it is used for all the above, but usually that includes building some energy through ritual acts. Whether that’s energy of healing at a funeral, the energy of celebration at a party, the energy of positive manifestation at a full moon—ritual allows us to stir it up and send said energy out into the universe.
In Wicca, many of our rituals involve chanting, lighting candles, calling corners and, sometimes, even dancing. These acts serve to build energy that, for many, is downright tangible. With the energy built, we are able to send our wills into the ether. That ritual-made energy heightens the likelihood that our request is heeded—whether by Deity, angels, or a vague universal greater consciousness—because it allows us to form a deeper connection through ritualistic focus.
Just as in our post where we touched on the Law of Three (which, as it’s defined, isn’t necessarily something I agree with*), we understand that the energy that’s sent out has its way of boomeranging back at us. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything bad or good that happens to us is a result of our own energy, but it does mean we need to be more aware of what energy we intentionally release into the universe.
Because ritual creates such a boost of power, the things we send to the universe are that much stronger.
Imagine that your thoughts, wishes, or mundane intentions are droplets of water and the “universe” is a full swimming pool. The energy we send out on a regular basis (through thought, wishes, etc.) may create some ripples, but they won’t drastically upset the overall pool.
Now, imagine the energy of ritual creates enough water to fill a large tub. That will certainly make a difference! In fact, if we aren’t careful, we risk the “pool” overflowing and getting soaked. That is, if we don’t shield ourselves and take care what energy we build and release, we will suffer the consequences.
This happy Law isn’t so much about the consequences, as it is about the continuous beauty and positivity ritual can bring into our lives. When we go into a ritual space—when we dance together, sing, worship, and create, either alone or with others—we leave feeling more joyful and content with our lives.
Or, at least, that’s my experience. In the groups I attend, most people express some sort of relief, pleasure, or joy after rituals. Those pleasant sensations travel with us and, with repetition and regular upkeep in our own time, they can transition into every other aspect of our lives creating a truly endless cycle of positive energy.
Like every other Law in this collection, this one cannot be looked at through a universal lens.
There are many practitioners who are not ready for or open to the positive energy that ritual may bring, even though they attend the rituals in search of it. For some reason, they struggle to carry the comfort of ritual into their everyday life.
I have a few theories as to why that is, but the reasons tend to rely on the individual. In group ritual, we’re exposed to other people’s auras. Our energy interacts with theirs, and so those joyful feelings touch us during the ritual. If, however, one is unable to create that positivity within themselves, this group positivity will naturally fade soon after the individual parts from the circle.
That’s why it’s important to practice ritual regularly, including worship of Deity or other beings if our practice calls for it. We can use ritual to cultivate positive energy within ourselves, to create steady growth and access the good that’s available to us. Through frequent solo practice, we can come to know ourselves better and come to understand what it is our souls need to tap into that positive energy inside of us.
Rituals can be solemn and somber, or they can be silly and light. Whatever the mood, regular rituals can be truly life-affecting. They can change things for the better and enhance any magickal or spiritual practice. Someday, I hope we’ll all see how ritual can enrich our lives.
What are your favorite rituals? How often do you perform rituals? Do you work with groups or alone or both? Let me know in the comments!
*Disclaimer: The Law of Three generally states that the energy we send out will return to us threefold. While I do believe that sending it will cause us to receive energy in turn, and the nature of said energy may determine what we get, I think too much reliance on this idea can be dangerous. I don’t believe that everything bad that happens to someone is some reflection of the energy they’re putting out or that they asked for it. That seems unfair and implies that people in war-torn countries, abusive situations, or suffering chronic illness are somehow attracting their suffering.
Some people believe these things because of the Law of Three or the Law of Attraction. I believe the LoA and LoT can be used to improve one’s life, but it is not the end-all of a well-rounded spiritual practice. I’d much rather consider it the Law of Reaction, which falls more in line with the more logical idea that an action creates a reaction, prompting us to ask why a specific “reaction” or event occurred.
With love always,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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What is Ritual?
We engage in ritual every day. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a ritual is “a set of actions or words performed in a regular way, often as part of a religious ceremony.” This includes the series of tasks we take every morning or at night before bed and certain acts we do without even thinking about them. Of course, this is a Wiccan-leaning Pagan blog, and so I’ll stick to that in this post.
In Wicca, one can find rituals for just about anything. We have rituals for each of our holidays, called Sabbats, as well as to celebrate the full moon, which we call Esbats. Most Wiccan rituals include some form of Grounding and Centering, as well as Calling the Quarters—but they can be as simple or complex as we desire.
Why do we perform Ritual?
Ritual allows us to focus our intentions and provides a source of comfort in the familiar. The repetitive actions form a sort of anchor that’s important when performing any kind of magick work. This anchor frees us from distractions so that we can work in a relatively “pure” space.
The reasons differ for every ritual, but they are almost always meant to mark a specific occasion as a special one. Whether it’s to celebrate a commitment to our partner or to prepare for a big presentation, rituals remind us that we are entering a unique phase and that we should remain aware. They allow us to focus deeply on our goals, strengthening the power of our intentions.
Pagan rituals come in hundreds of variations, depending on the practitioner/s and their tradition. We use ritual to connect with nature, with our Higher Selves, and with Deity. We use ritual to celebrate joyous events and to recognize solemn events with a show of respect. Many of us even imbue our mundane, morning routine with a little magick, making it yet another ritual that helps us connect with the Divine.
What’s a Dramatic Ritual?
One of my favorite types of ritual is also one I have yet to try. That is the Dramatic ritual—a ritual that is performed in the style of a play. Most Pagan rituals have a certain level of drama to them, with our candles and robes and intricate altar tools. But the Dramatic ritual is a full-on performance—with stage directions, lines, and actors.
What makes this different from a normal play is the content of the story being told, the worship-based activities, and the participation of everyone in attendance. These plays tend to feature coven-members and often have some form of trance/meditation for all involved as part of the performance.
Personally, I’ve always felt a sort of magick when performing, so the idea of bringing that into my personal practice just rings a bell for me. It seems like an ideal and fun way to worship. It also seems like an amazing bonding exercise for coven members. The Dramatic ritual is certainly at the top of my ritual bucket list, along with many others.
Whatever kind of ritual you prefer, I think every Pagan can agree that ritual is an important and beautiful part of our various practices. Ritual can be found in just about every tradition, because it speaks to a basic human need. It allows us not only to connect with the Divine, but with others as well in group ritual. It gives us community experience and a trigger to deepen our focus.
What, if any, rituals do you do every day? Is ritual an important part of your practice? If not, why not? What do you do to stay connected to the Divine/your spiritual self?
Send me your responses or comments!
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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