I have decided to blog about our rituals as we celebrate each holiday. They have great significance and I think, power.
|Posted on August 8, 2017 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
We celebrated Lammas Saturday with a corn ceremony. Lammas is the festival of the first harvest, traditionally grains. In fact, the word Lammas is a short form of a Saxon name for the celebration “loaf-mass” when the first loaves of bread from the new wheat were presented and blessed in a harvest ceremony.
We decided to have a corn ritual, since we are new world people and we honor the original people of this continent, along with the riches this side of the world brings us. It is worth reading what Michael Pollan has to say about corn. Two of his salient points inspired this ceremony: 1. We are corn people because it is so much of what we each and 2. The interdependence of corn and people.
Pollan talks about corn’s domestication of the human race. It cannot grow on its’ own and must be planted, and at least in this hemisphere, people could not have existed without it. The history of people and corn is completely intertwined. It is the most planted and most eaten grain in the world. Even if you do not eat corn on the cob, corn is in almost everything produced, from the old-fashioned corn syrup in candy to corn meal on the bottom of the pizza. Pigs fed the corn cobs. Farm-grown salmon is fed corn pellets. The protein in our bodies can be analyzed to show that we eat a lot of corn.
For this reason, we decided to honor corn. We took roles as the Corn Maiden, Corn Mother, Corn Sage or the Spirit of Corn. In turn, the Corn Maiden celebrated the seed corn with a symbolic planting. The Corn Mother cut corn from an ear of corn and offered it as food to all the participants. The Corn Sage prepared the batter from corn bread, which was baked and eaten with dinner after the ritual. The Spirit of the Corn created a corn dolly, which we all dressed in a skirt, a hat, a sash and a corsage.
We raised the power over the corn and set it out for healing. We finished with a wonderful poem about the corn and sunflowers from Amy Lowell.
I don’t have a picture of the altar (I so often forget in the excitement of the ritual), but I do have a picture of the Corn Dolly.
|Posted on July 3, 2017 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
Here’s an update on our recent Litha or Midsummer ritual. Last year, we did a ritual during which we created a mandala of flowers. It was well-liked, but due to the date, we had a poor turnout. I wanted to do something like that this year for Litha. I like the idea of a circle to represent Litha. I like a ritual centered on activity, but one that also includes meditation. And I like the idea of something beautiful for high summer. So, the mandala was a perfect choice.
A member of our circle has a house at the Jersey Shore, which she offered as a setting for the ritual. Most of the New Jersey Shore line is composed of barrier islands. This means that the ocean is on one side of the island, with a white sand shore and the bay is on the other side of the island, with a marshy shore. This is a beautiful setting for a ritual. Just being there is like a ritual.
The location made me think of seashells as a material for the mandala. I bought a lot of seashells of varying sizes and brought a black tablecloth with me. The ritual was beautiful and moving. We created our mandala and did a meditation.
As we ended the ritual and opened the circle, a tremendous clap of thunder was heard and a summer storm pounded the island. It ended and cleared off in time for us to walk to the bay and watch the sun set over the water.
|Posted on May 28, 2017 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
I decided to go with a ritual honoring age and wisdom, since we are all over 55 now.
My circle includes folks no longer able to dance around a maypole… but this also means that they are old enough to be considered elders of the community and as such, sages. For Beltane, we did a ritual where we discovered our sagehood and honored our status.
This ritual is ideal for handicapped folks. Not only is it non-active, but factors that might cause issues for some older people have been minimized. We sat around a pool of water (made from horse watering trough). You could use a firepit for this, but we have a member with lung issues, for whom fire is a problem. This is a substitution that you could use in other rituals if you anticipate participants with asthma or allergies, particularly for Beltane or Lammas, when there is a lot of pollen in the air. I also used electronic candles for the corners to minimize irritants.
Some folks thought “perhaps I have not achieved wisdom… I keep making mistakes and sometimes the same mistakes... this is not an appropriate ritual for me.” I think we have all achieved some wisdom. Wehave figured out, to some extent, what works for us. We have found a spiritual path to walk. We have learned whose ideas make sense to us and whose ideas don’t. And we have made it this far in life. Just that is an accomplishment!
We told each other what behavior or idea we were changing as a result of becoming sages. Not to stop being angry, but to channel that anger into action on behalf of civil injustice, for example. Not to look backwards with regret, but forwards with joy. Not to count what was lost as we grew older, but to rejoice in what was gained. For each idea we abandoned, we threw a sage leaf in the water. For each idea we took on, we tucked a leaf into a small fabric bag.
We each received a “staff of sagehood”, a walking stick to symbolize our new status. Together we blessed the staves and honored ourselves. And walked the walk of the sage.
|Posted on April 18, 2017 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
Beltane is my favorite Wiccan holiday. I love its joyous sensuality and its celebration of nature. It seems to evoke the idea of beauty.
The holiday is close now and I am deciding on a ritual for my circle of older witches. It may be that dancing around the maypole is not the best idea for those of us with arthritic knees and breathing issues. Maybe a Belfire, built by the participants or a belfire to sacrifice our flower crowns to?
Perhaps a walking meditation is appropriate? In past rituals, we've used both a spiral and a labyrinth as devices for mindfullness. I could incorporate flowers into the meditation.
I once did an elaborate ritual involving phases of life. We built altars to youth, to the warrior within, to the nurturer within, to the wise elder and to the transcended spirit. I am considering this ritual if enough people are interested. This is fun and comtemplative at the same time. It had lots of music, too!
Once I get to a decision, I will blog it.
|Posted on March 27, 2017 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
Well, Ostara is come and gone… at least here in NJ, spring is getting underway after a late winter snowstorm and a cold snap colder than any this winter. We celebrated the warming of the earth and the lengthening of the day over the week with a ritual of symbols.
The ritual included a lot of singing… three songs because Ostara is a time of celebration!
This ritual was the journey to spring… through the cold and dark to the warm, sunlit springtime. The ritual was all about the symbols of spring replacing the symbols of winter. The journey was symbolized by a small boat carrying the symbols of winter at the start of the ritual. A fan represented the winter winds. A globe of blue light represented the cold light of winter. A blue bowl was full of snow and a small vase of bare branches represented winter water and the winter earth.
We set the boat afloat on a small sea made of a small tub of water. We docked our little boat on the east side of the tub of water, where we honor air. We exchanged the fan of the winter winds for a nested bird. This was a symbolic trade of the sounds of the harsh winter winds for the beauty of birdsong. We had a box of the symbols of winter and the fan was placed in the box.
Our boat moved to the south side of the tiny sea. South represents fire. Spring brings us longer days and yellow sunshine. We celebrated that by changing the globe of cold blue light. It was turned off and replaced by a globe of golden, warm light. The blue globe was placed in the box of winter.
Now, the boat floated to the west side and we considered the change of water when the spring comes. The ice and snow melt and the rivers run and dance in the warmth. We remove the top of the bowl of snow and sprinkle water to represent rain bringing snowmelt. The top of the bowl went in the winter box.
The brightening of the sun, the gentle winds, and the melting snow bring us to the north where the spirit of the earth is honored. The bare branches in the vase on the boat were removed and replaced by flowering branches to celebrate the greening of the earth. The winter box received last symbol of winter. Tiny seed packages were removed from the winter box and the boat resumed its journey around the sea to bring a seed package to each of the participants.
The ritual ended with raising the power and more singing and poetry.
|Posted on February 5, 2017 at 3:25 PM||comments (1)|
Last night was our Imbolc “makers” ritual. We celebrated Imbolc by honoring Bridget as the patron of smiths. In her honor, we created wands and became like smiths of the past, makers.. makers of objects and makers of magic.
We had 2 newcomers at the ritual – a longtime friend, who has an amazingly open heart and she brought a friend, who is a charmingly down-to-earth sort and a drummer! I am not much of a musician but the addition of a drummer to the other musicians and good singers who come to my rituals, brings a blessing to the circle.
We created beautiful wands, using clay, feathers, ribbon and crystals. I am sorry I didn’t get a picture before everyone left, but they were quite unique and evocative of each person’s personality.
In the ritual, we drummed and filled the room with the energy of the vibrations of the universe. That energy was used to empower the wands. We also sent energy out to the world for anyone who needs it and can accept it.
I neglected to get photos of the wands before folks left, but I have my own and my husband’s. After the ritual, I was looking at them and realized that they really did reflect our personalities. His dominant element is air and his wand includes a feather. My dominant element is earth and my wand has a snake.
|Posted on February 5, 2017 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
I did not get a chance to complete my record of preparations for Imbolc, so I'll do that now and then write about the ritual.
The ritual is to honor Bridget as the patron of smiths. What could we make that would be a magical tool and give us the mindset that we are "makers"? Wands!
My husband showed me some dowels he was working with and I had an idea that they would make wonderful wands. I looked around the internet for shapes and provided him with some ideas. He shaped them into "blanks". I assembled a collection of polymer clay, crystals, beads, feathers, ribbons, and other craft supplies for use.
I developed a ritual that started with a "pre-ritual" where we each selected a blank wand and decorated it to reflect our inner selves. The next step was to write a ritual to bless the wands. I decided on drumming to raise the energy needed to empower the wands.
So, now I have a structure to write into: first, we will create our wands, then we will have a ritual with drumming to raise the power, then we will bless the wands."
|Posted on January 12, 2017 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
After consideration and consultation with my circle, I have decided to design a ritual around making something. Imbolc is the Festival of Bridget and making something would honor Bridget as the patron of smiths. The structure of such a ritual is simple. We create something at the kitchen table, move to the living room for a more formal ritual where we bless the creations and return to the kitchen for dinner and, if we are using polymer clay, to bake the created objects.
The idea is to find something that takes about a ½ hour to create and doesn’t required a lot of artistic skills, since while we are all artists, some of us excel more in poetry, massage or dance than visual art. You also want something that can be put on the altar right away rather than waiting for it to dry and perhaps be ironed.
There are lots of options on what could be created. Amulets, either polymer clay objects or tiny bottles containing herbs or other objects. Polymer clay could be used to make dishes for incense or candle holders. We could paint fabric for use as altar cloths. In this case, I would probably use fabric markers instead of paint, since we don’t want to wait through the drying time.
Once I decide on the object we will be making, I will post the preparations on the object and the writing of the ritual.
|Posted on January 6, 2017 at 2:20 PM||comments (0)|
I’ve been asked how I develop a ritual, so I thought I would blog about that process.
Imbolc is less than 4 weeks away and I am starting to think of a theme for an Imbolc ritual. Imbolc seems to bring out the creativity in me. In the past, I have done rituals on ideas around Bridget, as a healer, as a fire goddess and as a smith, where we created amulets (out of polymer clay, not out of metal, but the idea was the idea of being a creator). I have also done cleansing rituals to remove worries or clean your mind of old, useless ways of thinking. I have done rituals on new ways of thinking… about infinity or life paths. And we have done the traditional ritual of drawing down the moon.
So, what aspect of Bridget should I honor? Or should I shake up some thinking? Perhaps dancing? I like dancing, but I am constrained by my space. I am writing this on the first snowfall of the year and looking out at the snow, so perhaps something on looking forward to the end of winter.
I find inspiration by looking around me, at the snow or the night sky or the golden tones of sunset. Nature is a good jumping off point for a ritual. Perhaps an ritual on snow melting and looking forward to the spring?
I also may look at an object and think “I could design a ritual around brooms or marbles or garbage cans.” We did a very effective ritual using mini brooms to brush our worries into small garbage cans. It soundsfunny and it was, but it worked.
What I am trying to achieve is an interactive event with some drama, some humor, some uplifting moments. Perhaps this brings a participant a new idea or new way of thinking. Perhaps they find themselves calmer or more alert. Perhaps, occasionally, someone comes to an “AHA” moment, which is what ritual is all about.
|Posted on December 20, 2016 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
With all the unhappiness and strife in the country today, I thought a Yule ritual for peace would be appropriate. We long for peace within ourselves and also among the people of the country and the peoples of the world. We want to make peace with the Earth and provide for our children a safe and livable world.
We decided to create a symbol of peace and interdependence to bring our hearts to a peaceful place. We filled our hearts with peace and then send that peace out to those who can open their hearts to it.
That symbol started as a large circular frame. During the ritual, we wove ribbons of many colors across it, symbolizing the interdependence of all people and the need for a framework of peace to bring the world to a better place. We added a 5-pointed star to the center of the weaving to bring the spirits of intelligence, strength of will, emotional stability and wisdom to the work for peace. The 5th point brings the spirit of the peoples of the world – their striving for peace and freedom.
We sang of peace: “The Peace of the River” and “Let there be Peace on Earth”. We read poems and personal statements. We ended with Chief Seattle’s observation that “Whatever befalls the Earth - befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life - He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
In this season when we celebrate “Peace on Earth and Good Will to All”, may all our hearts be calm and may we go forward as peaceful warriors bearing the banner of Freedom and Justice for All.