I recently facilitated a large, public ritual at a local state park. A lot of friends and old regulars came, and we were lucky to have a few new faces, too. One of our surprise guests was a young mother who we have known for a few years but don’t get to see very often. She comes to events when she can, but I really only end up seeing her once a year or so, at most. Much to my surprise, she brought her kids with her to the ritual. They’re sweet, clever little devils, and they have a history of being somewhat rowdy and in need of a lot of re-direction.
The children came rushing up to the altar as soon as the family arrived at the park. This was one of those moments where Childless Trivia thought in panic “Ooh... right… kids…!” I took time out to speak to them about the altar, making it very clear to them that they could look to their heart’s desire but touching was absolutely forbidden. The children nodded solemnly and then went to go play on some rocks, immediately forgetting about candles, statues, and various other temptations.
What impacts the amount of energy in a ritual and the type of energy? And what's the difference between the energy in a private ritual and a group ritual? I recently saw a Facebook post about the topic and my response was long enough that it seemed more appropriate as a blog post.
The conversation centered around this quote from the book Dedicant by Thuri Calafia:
I’m going to my first public Pagan (or Wiccan) ritual, but I’ve never been to a ritual before. What should I wear? What should I bring? What should I expect in the ritual? What should I make sure to do (or not do) so I don’t accidentally insult someone or embarrass myself?
Public rituals are a good way to get your feet wet if you’re new to Wicca or Paganism. You can meet others who share your interests, and you can begin to learn about how rituals work and feel by participating in them. Public rituals usually feel a lot different from smaller, private ones, though, so if it’s possible, I recommend you try both kinds. I’ll cover private rituals in a later post.
I normally write about daily rituals and devotional practices, the kind we all do or all can do if we are so called to. Today, however, I'm going to focus on one of the largest, longest running public rituals I know of or have ever had the pleasure to participate in - Reclaiming's 35th Annual Spiral Dance.
This question turns up in my inbox regularly. Sometimes when you’re searching for something, and particularly when you’ve been searching for a long time, a part of you wishes someone could just give you the answer so you can move on to the next step. I get it—really, I do. But the truth is the only person who can and should be answering this question for you is you.
One of the coolest things about Wicca, in my opinion, is that it makes you ask the hard questions and decide things for yourself. If you decide to pursue Wicca as your spirituality, you’re embarking on a path that’s not in the mainstream and doesn’t have a centralized leadership, structure, sacred text, or set of teachings. Exploring Wicca means jumping into the deep end without many of the usual societal supports. Nobody can truly tell you how to do it, although helpful people might be able to provide some guidance on the way. I realize that’s very uncomfortable sometimes, but nobody ever said spiritual growth (or any other kind of growth) is comfortable. If we’re too comfortable, we’re not likely to create change.