It occurred to me the other day that, although I consider myself a devout Pagan, I really do not have much formalized ritual in my life. I have had experience in circle, I have tried my hand at a few things, but I do not have the everyday “formalized” rites that other Pagans use. I do not have an athame (that’s right, no athame), I have no wand, no formal altar (well nothing obvious at any rate). Are the formalized rituals truly a necessity?
End a paragraph with a question, start the next with another…what am I if I have no formal ritual? Hmmm, let’s see. I believe in the life force of the universe, the energy that permeates everything and everyone that connects us in ways that we still need to comprehend (but probably never will). I believe that the Gods and Goddesses are personifications of said energies, and that many through ritual build and develop this connection. Not a bad start I think, definitely Pagan in notion. So why do I not perform the rituals that have been formalized by so many in print and on the Web? Ritual is not necessary for everyone. *Shutters at all the thoughts sent my way* Let me explain. A very devout Roman Catholic raised me, that’s right – Christian with a capital “C”. Every Sunday we (my brothers and I) “had” to attend mass, a very ritualized mass. I have an inner dislike for so much formalization now. But that is my choice. I do not need the ritual to feel the connection to the divine; I see it everyday in my children, in my plants. I see it in the way I treat others and in the way they treat me. I see it when I walk down the street and people smile and say a simple hello. I feel it in the breeze and smell it in the rain. In case you did not notice I am a very spiritual person.
I do have my ritual moments; do not get me wrong. I have performed a circle with others – just this past Lughnasad we had a wonderful circle beneath a beautiful night sky, and plan to have another for Mabon. I have performed my own circle, with some quite serious and not so serious moments. I shall digress for a moment and describe my first circle for you. It was quite a beautiful day, though the grass was wet and my knees got quite damp as I knelt in it. I opened my circle; a nervous energy within me. I called to the elements to watch over me and invited that the God and Goddess to do the same. It was a breezy morning and my candles had a difficult time staying lit, but my elemental candles burned quite well. I kept it simple, asking for help with a few things. In the midst of my attempt at all seriousness my little grey stripped cat came mewling into my circle, I had to laugh and realized I was becoming too serious. I tried my best to meditate (I seem to have a difficult time grounding), and everything was quite dark as I kept my eyes closed – then she came; it was a very brief visit, but the Crone flew in and out of my sight, a dark shadow of a bird with her. I’m still not sure why she came or what type of bird was with her. I am a mother and would have thought the Mother aspect of the Goddess would visit before the Crone, but I felt quite pleasant when I saw her; I think the bird may have been a crow – I have been finding a lot of crow feathers of late. I ended my circle shortly there after. There were no bells and whistles, and I did not expect any. Frankly I think those who first begin their journey into such things expect too much and sometimes leave it out of disappointment. They expect to see and do things without the practice and honing of the mind that is necessary.
I’ll get back to the subject at hand now. As you can see I do perform some ritual. I do not have all the “tools” that many authors and practitioners call for, and truly they are not necessary to the practice *shutters again at the thoughts sent my way*. Ritual tools are not necessary but they do enhance the experience. Consider them more as directional devices for the energy of the divine. Mouthful I know. Although I feel they are not necessary, they do bring a greater control to the person practicing, and they do focus the energy more deftly then without. Making your own tools is always preferable to buying them, but not always practical. So if you read that you must make your own – take the information with a grain of salt – there is no “must” in Paganism. As well, some of the best circles and rights are performed without tools, a total commune with the divine if you will.
The beauty of being Pagan is the fact that you have the freedom to believe and practice as you choose, not as someone preaches to you. You can choose to follow a certain branch of Paganism or any type of Paganism; it is YOUR choice. If you feel ritual is as necessary as the air you breathe that is YOUR choice. No one can tell you your way is less or more then any other way of worship. Paganism is as individual or as communal as the practitioner chooses it to be. That is why there are covens; that is why there is a Church of Wicca, and different fellowships, etc. I can not seem to harp on that point enough – how you choose to worship is up to you, do not let someone influence your choice. Meditate on it if you have to, search within yourself for what you feel is right. For that matter something that was right for you at the beginning may not be right for you ten years down the road (or one year for that matter), but it will be your choice and decision to change if the need be there. WOW, now I feel like I am preaching, and for that I do apologize, I tend to get carried away at times; my husband feels my enthusiasm tends to frighten people at times.
Whether or not ritual is necessary is up to who is practicing. For now my choice is to keep things simple. I guess I do have some daily rituals – watering my plants and whispering prayers to them, showing my children the bounty of the earth and why we should protect it, even writing for me is a form of ritual. But for those who are in the closet and feel they can not worship the divine properly because of this – fear not, the divine is within you and all around, in my eyes so long as your heart stays true and you know your belief is strong that is the best and purest form of worship to be found.
I hope that my little article has given insight to one on the journey (and perhaps even to those already far along the path). I give it from the heart.
Share some of my interests? Want something added? Want something removed? Please let me know! Just click on the name below to send me mail: Crowwitch