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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in public ritual

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The dazzling crown which sat on the Queen's coffin - BBC News

Well, I sure hope that pagans were watching attentively during the recent funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

Let's just admit it: for the most part, large-scale pagan ritual (at least here in the US) is, frankly, pretty execrable. Modern pagan ritual, handicapped by its default grounding in the Wiccan-style Magic Circle, only rarely—if ever—makes good ritual of scale.

Fortunately, nobody does ritual of scale like the English.

Some highlights from the royal funeral—from the parts of it, at least, that I saw myself:


The Cortege to St. George's Chapel

Ritual of scale requires choreography, and an eye for larger patterns. Watching the Coldstream Guards—and those with them—walking in unified lockstep as they accompanied the queen's body down the three-mile Long Walk to St. George's Chapel was deeply moving.

Takeaway: Many people doing the same thing together—especially moving together—in unison, has immense power to stir deeply


Carrying the Coffin Up the Stairs of St. George's Chapel

Surrounded by stillness, eight beautiful, burly young guys slowly bore the royal coffin, draped with the monarch's personal flag, the crown jewels, and flowers, up the stairs. The coffin never tilted with the incline of the stairs, but was borne horizontal to the ground at all times.

Takeaways: Precision matters. Use your resources to their best effect. Use available beauty to best advantage.


The Removal of the Crown Jewels from Coffin to Altar

One by one, the Royal Jeweler removed the Crown Jewels from the coffin where they had rested throughout the funeral. Then they were borne to the altar, where three purple cushions awaited them: first the scepter, placed to the left; then the orb, placed right; and lastly the crown, placed center. (Importance ritual principle: Save the most important till last.) Did you notice the order in which they were removed? Did you notice the different orientation of the three cushions? Did you notice that everyone handling the regalia wore gloves, with the exception of the consecrated priest?

Takeaway: Ritual of scale imparts a sense of meaning whether or not we understand the significance of every detail. Don't explain; symbolism should speak for itself.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gone with the Window

Hundreds of us, jammed into the hallway outside the hotel ballroom, waiting for the doors to open and the ritual to begin.

The power in the air was palpable.

Like atoms which, when compressed, generate heat, so too with bodies. You could taste the energy mounting, mounting, as more and more people pressed in.

Finally, the double doors swung open. With a cheer, we stampeded into the room.

Then the ritualist killed it.

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  • Tyger
    Tyger says #

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Prelude to a Public Ritual

 When enacting ritual in public, it's always best to make the directions part of the ritual itself.

Horns blow.

Procession to altar.


At the altar, officiant raises arms and chants:

Let all cell phones be turned off now: So mote it be.

Let all cell phones be turned off now: So mote it be.

Let all cell phones be turned off now: So mote it be.

(People join in third time.)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
When a Ritual Bombs

It's every ritualist's worst nightmare, and—if you stay in the field long enough—it will happen to you.

Your ritual bombed.

What do you do now, dear?

Well, the worst thing that you can do is to slink away shamefacedly with your tail between your legs.

The reason why this is the worst thing that you can do is that it breaks trust.

No. Instead you need to buck up, gird up your loins, and publicly confess.

“Well, that ritual bombed,” you need to say. “What I want to hear from you is what didn't work, why it didn't work, and how we can do it better next time.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Thinking Outside the Magic Circle

“I've never been to one of those kinds of rituals before!” the little girl enthused.

What she meant was a ritual with offerings and prayers. Clearly, the experience had come as something of a revelation.

We'd just completed our annual Offering to Minnehaha Falls. The priestess stands at the head of the Falls and makes the traditional threefold offering of water, meal, and flowers, while praying for life, sustenance, and inspiration for the People, for the year to come.

I don't know about where you live, but around here pagan ritual tends to involve casting circles, calling quarters, and raising cones. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's more to pagan ritual than summoning, stirring, and pointing knives at.

A lot more.

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  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Thanks for your lovely and well said column. As I learned long ago, it's not just about "church on Sundays" so to seak, it's havin

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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.

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Energy in Ritual: Different Flavors

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:

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  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    Thanks for turning me on to Thuri Calafia's work, Molly!
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    You're awesome, Shauna! I ended up buying Thuri's second book recently.
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    Thuri's first two books are reasonably good, I thought. Haven't noticed if the third one is published yet.
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    I have been to rituals that were barely on life support to me, whereas other people felt a lot of energy as well. I've also led so
  • Shauna Aura Knight
    Shauna Aura Knight says #
    Absolutely. I've been to a lot of rituals and I thought the energy was tanking, but others thought it was a great ritual. Expectat

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