Tags: ritual


Why Rituals Work

Why Rituals Work
By Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton, Scientific American, May 14, 2013
Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work. While anthropologists have documented rituals across cultures, this earlier research has been primarily observational. Recently, a series of investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Braided Wheel Tradition

Charge of the Goddess

I didn't see this in the tags so I thought I'd post it.
Charge of the Goddess

(High Priest)
Listen to the words of the Great Mother,
Who of old was called:
Artemis, Astarté, Dioné,
Melusiné, Aphrodité, Kerridwen,
Diana, Aranrhod, Breed,
and by many other names:

(High Priestess)
Whenever you have need of anything,
once a month, and better it be
when the moon is full,
you shall assemble in some secret place
and adore the spirit of Me
Who is Queen of all the Wise.

There shall you assemble,
you who whould learn the mysteries,
yet have not won their deepest secrets;
to these will I teach things
that are yet unknown.

You shall be free from slavery,
and as a sign that you be free
you shall be naked in your rites.
Sing, feast, dance,
make music and love,
all in My Presence,

for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit
and Mine also is joy on earth.
For My law is love unto all.

Keep pure your highest ideal;
strive ever towards it;
let nothing stop you or turn you aside.

Mine is the secret door
to the Land of Youth,
and Mine is the cup of the wine of life,
that is the cauldron of Kerridwen,
that is the holy grail of immortality.

I am the gracious Mother,
who gives the gift of joy
unto the hearts of My children.

In Life I give knowledge
of the spirit eternal,
and beyond death I give peace and freedom
and reunion with those
who have gone before.
Nor do I demand any sacrifice,
for behold, I am the Mother of all things
and My love is poured out upon the earth.

(High Priest)
Hear now the words of the Star Goddess,
the dust of Whose feet
are the hosts of Heaven,
Whose body encircles the universe:

(High Priestess)
I who am the beauty of the green earth
and the white moon among the stars
and the mysteries of the waters,
and the desire of the human heart,

I call upon your soul
to arise and come unto Me.
For I am the soul of nature
who gives life to the universe.
From Me all things proceed
and unto Me they must return.

Before My face, beloved by all,
let your innermost divine self be enfolded
in the rapture of the infinite.

Let My worship be
in the heart that rejoices,
for behold, all acts of love and pleasure
are My rituals.

Therefore, let there be beauty and strength,
power and compassion, honor and humility,
mirth and reverence within you.

And you who seek to know Me,
know that your seeking and yearning
will avail you not,
unless you know the Mystery:
if that which you seek,
you find not within yourself,
you will never find it without.

For behold,
I have been with you from the beginning,
and I am that which is attained
at the end of desire.
goddess and god

Yay Summer!

Blessed Litha!

My ritual group met this past weekend. We did a quiet little ritual my coven sister wrote.

First we took some construction paper and crayons and made "Sun Symbols". We drew on the paper what we thought represented the sun. Then wrote what blessings we wanted to call into our lives on the rays of our suns.

One person charged the salt & water (the water was from a spring on the property consecrated to Aphrodite) and blessed and purified the group and the space.
Another person charged the fire and air (a White Sage bundle) and blessed and purified the group and the space.
One person had Breath of God ointment he used to anoint our third eye. That was very nice, to put it mildly.

We cast the Circle "Heart to Heart". That is when everyone holds hands then the first person brings their left hand to their heart then to the heart of the person to their left while saying
"Heart to Heart I Cast this Circle".
Then that person does the same to the person to their left, and so on all the way around. [You can also do it "Hand to Hand" In that case you start off not holding hands and say "From my hand to your hand I cast this Circle" while taking hold of their hand.]

We called the Quarters in the usual way.

Then we called Apollo with this chant:
Hail Apollo, Shining One,
Drive the chariot of the sun.
Bring light and love to everyone.
Then we called Demeter with this chant:
Hail Demeter, we call to You,
There is much we want to do.
Give us strength to see it through.
Then we exchanged sun symbols randomly and each meditated on the sun symbol we had received. While chanting:
Sunny Days!
Blessed Rays!
So much to Praise!
We blessed the cakes [strawberries and cookies] and wine [1997 Merlot] with the traditional BlueStar bread blessing song by Kenny and Zipora:
Dear Lady bless
These cakes we share.
Accept the love
Your crafters bear.
We reap your bounty
And praise your name,
Part in your love
And meet again.

Lord's blessings on
These cakes we share.
Lord where you dance,
Please lead us there.
In Greenwood groves
Beneath your sun,
All love is shared
All hearts are one.
We passed around the plate and chalice saying:
May you never hunger.
May you never thirst.
We thanked the Demeter and Apollo.
We thanked the Quarters.
We released the Circle.
The end.

We each could do what we wanted with the sun symbol we got.   I chose to put mine in the group Book of Shadows.

Annual Peeps Ritual

I attended a local Peeps ritual today, run by Gail Wood the Author and Wiccan Priestess. She lives near me.

The Peeps ritual is an annual ritual to welcome Spring by being silly and sharing Marshmallow Peeps.
Saturday April 9, 2011, 2:30 in the afternoon, A dish-to-pass feast will follow

What’s your Peeps Name? Do tell us! Put on your fun clothes, your glad rags, and your colorful gear. Costumes are welcomed and encouraged. Bring your sense of fun, wonder, and humor for a ritual in celebration of the sweetness of life.

Please bring a dish-to-pass, your drink of choice for the feast that follows. We will have a drawing of wonderful items including some surprisingly peep-a-licious items!
One of the things that struck me about the ritual was the kinds of people who attended. It was mostly older woman with families. There were lots of small children and a few men at this event. The Wiccan community is not made up of young Goth girls, as is often portrayed in the media. Because this is a silly ritual many people were dressed in colorful costumes. The ritual had the usual Wiccan form but all the invocations were Peeps themed and intended to provoke laughter. Just because we are serious about our religion doesn't mean we have to be solemn.

It was a nice way to connect with community and celebrate the renewal and warmth of Spring. Laughter and shared community is a valid path to the divine.

EDIT: A bit more about the ritual.

I've been thinking about the ritual and how the form differed from the form I use.

We gathered in a local community center with food to share. Folding chairs were placed in a circle with an altar in the North and quarter shrines around the edges decorated in elemental colors: yellow for east/air, red for south/fire, blue for west/water, green for north/earth. The North Quarter shrine was behind the altar.

Having an altar in the north is common to most Wiccan traditions. My tradition, Braided Wheel, derives from BlueStar. We put the altar in the middle. I think an altar in the middle is a better design because it re-enforces the circular motif of Wiccan sophiology.

When everyone had gathered the Priestess told us a bit about the ritual and taught the songs we were going to sing.

The ritual began with a woman and a small child dancing around inside the circle while we sang "Bringing in the Peeps". I'm not sure what this was about. I sometime have a Processional chant at the beginning of a ritual, if there is a procession, or a grounding meditation and a candle lighting but this was not any of that.

Then there was an elemental purification. Each element was invoked, starting in the East to purify the circle. Using aspect of peeps such as fluffiness, spiciness, meltiness, sweetness, and enlightenment.

Then the circle was cast with a very nice rainbow wand.

Then the quarters were called. starting in the North, which is a feminist Goddess worship tradition. Most Wiccan traditions, including my own start in the east. Which is not a big deal really. But why was the purification not also started in the north to be consistent? I'm a stickler for consistency. The people doing the quarter calls were dressed in the colors of their quarter. The west person was dressed as a pirate :-). There was also an invocation to the fifth sacred thing, spirit, the woman who did that call stood in the center of the circle and wore purple, the traditional color of spirit.

For big rituals I like to have the people doing the calls stand on the opposite side of the circle from their direction (we call that a "cross call"). That way most of the attendees are in front of them and hear what they are saying. And the person calling the opposite quarter can light their quarter candle for them. There were no candles at this ritual, probably because of rental rules for the space.

Then the priestess invoked the goddess and her priest invoked the god. They stood facing their altar in the North. With everyone on the circle behind them also facing north. That is one of the reasons I like to have the altar in the middle, so everyone will be facing the middle for the divine invocations. Instead of being arrayed in one direction behind the priestess and the altar, like a traditional Christian congregation.

Then the Peeps were invoked and presented. There was a spiral dance. (a central altar might have been a problem for a spiral dance, but this was a slow and stately spiral dance not a game of "crack the whip") Then we sat for a meditation. Then the priestess and the priest performed the symbolic Great Rite. Then the dismissals were done in reverse order.

Since this was a silly ritual when it came to the end and the Priestess said "Merry meet, and merry part and merry meet again" I said "Mary Tyler Moore". That is a bit of an old joke in the craft but some people have not heard it before.

Peeps Altar!
Braided Wheel Tradition

Liturgy: "Invocation to the Ground of Being" by Starhawk, and Symbolic Great Rite

This is one of my favorite invocations.  It can be done by two people or by a whole group  with each half alternating.

 "Invocation to the Ground of Being" by Starhawk

Nameless One            —              of many names
Eternal                        and ever-changing One
Who is found nowhere—but appears everywhere
eyond                                         and within all.
Timeless                      —   circles of the seasons,
Unknowable mystery   —                  known by all.
Lord of the Dance        —            Mother of all life:
Be radiant with us,      — Engulf us with Your love,


See with our eyes,
Hear with our ears,
Breathe with our nostrils,
Touch with our hands,
Kiss with our lips,
Open our hearts!
That we may live free at last
Joyful in the single song
Of all that is, was, or ever shall be!

I was having trouble finding the wording for the  Symbolic Great Rite on the internet. So is here is the version my group uses.

The two officiants each hold a Wand in their Right hand and a Chalice in their Left hand. They stand facing each other holding their Wands over their partners Chalice, and alternate saying the lines.
"Be it known that no man is greater than a woman."
                      "Nor is a woman greater than a man."
"For what one lacks..."                                             
                                          "...the other can provide."
"As the Wand is to the Male.."                                  
                          "...So the chalice is to the Female."
"And when the two are joined..."                              
(lowering the wands into the Chalices)
                                  "...They become one in truth."
(Simultaneously) "For there is no greater magic in all the world than that of love."

Anticipators' Yule

The group I practice with is made up of people who live all over New York State. Some of use work regular day jobs but others work nights and weekends. And some have young children to care for. Some of us have to drive three and half hours to get to our meetings so we meet somewhere where people can stay overnight. We try to meet at least once a month but we can't get together just any time we like.

We met this past weekend for what we called "Anticipators' Yule". Our community has been celebrating "Procrastinators' Beltain" on Memorial Day weekend for almost twenty years. So it seemed fitting.

We invoked Persephone and Hades and burned lists of things we wanted to divest ourselves of.

One of our members came up with a nice energy raising chant for the magick.
The wheel turns
The fire burns
The God returns
The sun is reborn

We used a Traditional BlueStar bread blessing song
Dear Lady bless
These cakes we share.
Accept the love
Your crafters bear.
We reap your bounty
And praise your name,
Part in your love
And meet again.

Lord's blessings on
These cakes we share.
Lord where you dance,
Please lead us there.
In Greenwood groves
Beneath your sun,
All love is shared
All hearts are one.
Braided Wheel Tradition

Small Group Wiccan Ritual Form in the Braided Wheel Tradition

The Wiccan ritual is fairly straight forward but there is a surprising amount of variation in practice. I'm not just talking about the words used but the actual order of the steps. In the Braided Wheel Tradition we do the purification first, many traditions do it after the Circle casting. Some traditions combine the Circle casting with the Quarter calls. I know one tradition that does the Circle casting after the Magickal work. Some traditions start the Quarter calls in the North instead of the East, that doesn't even touch on the controversy over the permutations on: East, Air, Wands, South, Fire, Athamés. This makes even a simple list of "what to do in ritual" a bit controversial. Evan so, sometimes it helps to just have a list of what the steps in the ritual are. If you do it differently just cut and paste it to your preferences.

This ritual structure works for small groups of thirteen or less. Solitary rituals have a slightly different shape as do rituals for groups of 14-100 and groups of 100 and more.
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Sometimes it helps to just have a very detailed step by step description of what goes on in a small group ritual.

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Braided Wheel Tradition

Circle Casting with Athame and Fire

A coven sister of mine likes to use these very pretty Circle Casting and Circle Dismissal chants. I don't know who wrote them and she says they are not a set (they were not written intentionally to go together) but they work well together. She sings them more than says them.

As I will and through this blade
Do I draw this magick fire.
Harken well ye elements five,
God and Goddess from afar,
Build we now this sacred space.
Joy be shared by all of us.
Raise the temple in this place
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

Fire out of magick made
We (I) draw you back into this blade
Until we (I) call thee forth again
To serve us as the sacred flame.
magic, wicca, herbs, witch, pagan


Hello everyone! This is officially my first post to this community, so I thought I would introduce myself. My pen/craft name is Marcus Briarstone, and I am a writer for a pagan informational website known as Craft Haven.

I am male, 26 years of age, and identify myself as an eclectic pagan. I do not follow a specific path as I find courage, strength, and harmony with most forms of earthen spirituality. I write to inform people of pagan history, celebrations, recipes, spells, and ultimately our common ground with many other faiths. It is through such that I find a sense of contentment; I drive myself to constantly update the website and provide accurate information through it, as well as my tweets on Twitter, and my posts here on Livejournal.

The website is a baby for now. There is a ton of work to do. My goal is to have it fully fleshed out with several hundred articles by the end of this summer--accurate and thought provoking articles.

I hope you all have a grand day. Thank you for reading this.

goddess and god

"Zeus Be Nice Now" by James Davidson

"... [Rincewind] thought that the most accurate definition of any priest ... was someone who spent quite a lot of time gory to the armpits.
Twoflowers looked horrified.
'Oh no,' he said. 'Where I come from priests are holy men who have dedicated themselves to lives of poverty, good works and the study of the nature of God.'
[...] Rincewind gave up. 'Well,' he said, 'they don't sound very holy to me.'"

-Terry Pratchett, "The Light Fantastic" p 62

Zeus Be Nice Now by James Davidson
London Review of Books | Vol. 29 No. 14 dated 19 July 2007 | James Davidson

Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum · Getty, 3014 pp, $1215.00

Polytheism and Society at Athens by Robert Parker · Oxford, 544 pp, £27.50

In Sparta they sacrificed puppies for Ares. In Colophon the goddess Hecate got a little black dog, while it was inferred that Helios, the sun god, would rather the animals killed in his honour were white. Once a year on Mykonos, a sheep and ten lambs were offered to the river Achelous: the sheep and two of the lambs were sacrificed at the altar, the other eight lambs in the river. In Paestum, Hera, goddess of marriage, was offered uxorious geese. Visitors to the shrine of Persuasion (Peitho) on the island of Thasos in the northern Aegean were advised that it was forbidden to offer the goddess a goat or a pig. But pigs were the preferred offerings to Demeter and her daughter Persephone; all around the classical Mediterranean, archaeologists have come to realise that a layer of pork chops means they have stumbled on a sanctuary of the goddesses of agriculture. Unusually careful sifting of the earth in Demeter’s sanctuary in Corinth, however, revealed that her worshippers were also fond of fish, although it is not probable that they sacrificed them to the goddess before eating them – hard to tell with fishbones. A tuna was certainly sacrificed to Poseidon in the Attic parish of Halai. And someone or other was so proud of the big fish he offered to Zeus Pankrates – discovered in 1952 and now buried under the statue of Harry Truman in Athens – that he commissioned a stone frieze to mark the occasion. Well, it could be a fish or it could be a large Cornish pasty – the sculptor was not a master of his art.
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