There are numerous causes for performing a ritual. It can be in observance of the Wheel of the Year or the monthly lunar cycles. Women can create blood rituals to mark their courses; and other important rites of passage–birthing, coming of age, handfasting/divorcing, saging/croning, death, etc–can be ritualized as well. Some Pagans, Wiccans, and witches also like to do rituals for the deities they work with and for other practices, such as for blessing objects. Rituals can last from five minutes of thanking a deity to several workings over a long period of time, such as for a women creating, carrying, birthing, and carrying for a child.
For whatever reason you desire to perform a ritual, planning is essential to its success. Depending on personal practice, convenience, and importance, the amount of prep work varies from five minutes to weeks of gathering materials. Some can even take longer, especially for organizing a handfasting. Despite the length of time, all prep work should go through a few steps:
- Identify the Purpose: Why are you doing this ritual? What are your motivations?
- Consider the Elements: Do you need to do a ritual cleansing first? Will you need to cast a circle? What tools will you need? What deities can you call on for aid? How much time do you have to dedicate to this practice
- Check Your Supplies: Do you need a particular incense, herb, oil, or other tool? Do you have it on hand, or do you need to buy it? Just as importantly, can you afford it?
- Documenting: Do you need to write out a liturgy or can you free form it?
- Research: If you need to, do you need to ask advice or do some readings before creating this ritual?
Once you have finished the ritual, sit quietly and reflect on the experience. I like to journal about the ritual, which I can go back and read in preparation for future rituals.
© Ariadne Woods
Most witches, Wiccans, and Pagans follow the Eight Great Celtic Sabat model (although there are thousands of other traditions. Read The Grandmother of Time by Z. Budapest and The Pagan Book of Days by Nigel Pennick for more information). The benefit about following the natural world is the major holidays are nicely spaced throughout the year. Getting bummed after Yule? Imbolc is right around the corner. We are constantly celebrating life and the Earth and our faith.
Yet, I have found that try as I may to celebrate every holiday, I have noticed a pattern about how I approach the Wheel of the Year:
- Yule: Christmas (a very important day in my family) is a few days away and since that’s such a high stress holiday I am too wiped to stay up with the Goddess as she births the God.
- Imbolc: Very informal celebration. This year I had my friends over for mead.
- Ostara: I always seem to forget about it.
- Beltane: One of my favorites, but it always falls on finals or reading days. I do make an effort to do some sort of ritual, though.
- Litha: I go to a local farm festival with my mom every year and go home for a late night ritual. One of the best days of the year.
- Lammas: So. Much. Baking. Always a laid back holiday.
- Mabon: I adore Mabon. Never miss it.
- Samhain: I celebrate it, but I always seem burnt out due to a variety of reasons.
I do not treat them all with the same amount of pomp and circumstance. I mean, it’s not practical for me. I have school, work, family, friends, boyfriend, extra curricular activities, taking care of myself, etc. The prep time is not always there.
What ultimately drives celebratory worship is the connection to particular times of the year. For me, I feel at home in summer and fall holidays. They speak to my soul in such an empowering way, which is what matters the most about sabat celebrations. That connection is key because that is what allows the worshiper to benefit spiritually from the ritual.
© Ariadne Woods
One of my favorite lines from The Charge of the Goddess says “Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.” This concept epitomizes freedom, creativity, and independence in Goddess worship. While structured rituals have their place within Paganism, the deities recognize that there are no restraints on the sacred practices.
Now I don’t think everything we do glorifies the Goddess. Laundry, for one, is as mundane as life gets. Acts of dishonor, deceit, and most forms of criminality are violations of personal and sacred ethics, therefore the God and Goddess aren’t going to like performing them in their name.
The question at hand is what constitutes worship outside of the circle? I think the answer is personal. Since the inherent principle is from within, only you can know what glorifies the Goddess.
For me, there are a few activities that honors the Goddess:
- Dancing alone or with friends
- Climbing trees
- Taking walks in my local park
- Making food
- Taking long baths
- Drinking tea on my porch
- Keeping in touch with friends and family
The key element to personal worship is intent. Keep the Goddess and the God in mind and the act will be seen as what it is. A beautiful expression of love and worship.