Bringing Ritual into
By Lyon ŠJune 2004
Many people are drawn to the neoPagan paths because of the images of pop culture. TV
shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Charmed’ have put a new face on magic and witches. Gone
are the days of ‘Bewitched’ and ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’ when magic was a wiggle of a nose or a blink
of an eye. The new Hollywood
witch actually has to work at her magic. While these new TV images are closer to real people than the characters from shows
in the past, you and I both know we don’t spend our days fighting demons and monsters. I doubt very much whether any
of us has actually met a demon much less vanquished one.
After some study and conversations with more experienced witches, it becomes apparent
that being Pagan isn’t about casting love spells and warding off evil beings. Seeing beyond the Hollywood
glamour, you begin to realize you’ve stumbled onto a way of life. To many who choose a neoPagan path, it is their religion.
If you live in an area where there are other Pagans, you’ve been lucky and met
some of them. You’ve attended public rituals. Many witches and Pagans frequent on-line forums, bulletin boards and chat
rooms. The more experienced people that you’ve met generally take their chosen paths very seriously. They are full time
Pagans. You’ve seen them at open ritual or on-line and you want what they have. The only problem is you’re not
sure how to get there.
You’ve read a few recommended books. Maybe you’ve even read a few books
that weren’t recommended. Through those books you’ve learned about the Sabbats and esbats. You’ve learned
about circle casting and ritual tools. You feel great about your first Solstice celebration but that was ages ago. It’s
weeks yet until a Full Moon. You want more.
There are 365 days in a year. Even if you celebrate all eight Sabbats and all 13 esbats,
you’re still left with 344 days that aren’t holy days. Let’s say you add in all the New Moons and the quarter
moons as well. That would take care of a few more days. What about all the normal days which remain? Do you stop being Pagan
just because it isn’t a holiday? I don’t think so.
Being a Pagan isn’t something you take on and off with your ritual robes. Once
you start to follow a Pagan path, it becomes part of you. It becomes part of your viewpoint into the world around you. I know
for me, when I started to seriously follow my Pagan lifestyle, I started seeing things Pagan all around me. It was funny.
Sometimes I would see a rune or a Pagan symbol in the most obscure places, like the corner Quickie Mart!
The purpose of ritual is to bring us closer to the Divine. Many religions and philosophies
recommend daily prayer and meditation. There is no real reason why we cannot borrow the good ideas from other spiritual paths
and make them our own. The idea of daily prayer and meditations are excellent places to start increasing your daily connection
to the Goddess and God. After all, the very idea of having a spiritual life is to deepen that connection and understanding.
I think the best place to start is in the beginning. I begin my days every morning
with a prayer to Goddess. I ask for Her care and protection throughout the day. I also ask that She help me to be the best
me I can be for the day. Sometimes, I add to my morning prayer if I have something on my mind. I’ll ask for guidance
to help solve a problem that I have been struggling with. Or if I have an unusual activity like a job interview or a speech
to give, I’ll ask Goddess to give me the strength needed for that. I thank Her and get up and start my day.
Another way to reach out to the Divine is with gratitude. When was the last time you
gave a prayer of thanks? Think how lucky you are to have three meals a day. What a perfect opportunity to connect with Goddess
and God! You can make a blessing over each meal. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate. It doesn’t even need
to be out loud. In less than the time you need to prepare a meal, you can connect with your Gods on a regular basis during
the day. It can be a simple as saying “Thank you for feeding me today, Goddess.”
The act of giving back can also strengthen your connection to the Gods. There are many
ways of giving back. If you have a yard you can create a compost pile. My daughter loves to do her special chore of ‘feeding
Mother Nature’. Every evening she takes the vegetable trimmings and table scraps out to the compost pile. She enjoys
her evening conversations with Goddess.
Other ways of giving back include putting out birdseed and recycling. Giving of your
self to the community is another. These actions can include donating time or material possessions to local charities, participating
in blood drives or becoming active in community organizations that promote a cause you care about. The list of options is
as endless as your imagination. What makes these things Pagan is how you approach them. Make them special by adding a sense
of ceremony to them. Bless them the same way you would the cakes and ale on a Full Moon. (You share those with the Goddess
after circle, don’t you?)
At the end of the day, an additional opportunity presents itself as bedtime prayers.
Thank the Goddess for seeing you safely through another day. I use this time before sleep to review my day’s activities.
I make a note of where I am proud of my behavior and where I’d like to improve how I interact with my fellows. After
years of doing this, I can happily say, I am becoming better at the things I can be proud of. There are fewer days where I
feel like I caused harm to others with my words or actions.
Many Pagans keep a daily journal with their private thoughts and ideas. They use it
as a kind of mini ritual each day. Personally, I have never been able to keep a daily log of conversations with the Goddess,
after my morning prayer, I usually jump in to my day with both feet.
I have developed my daily ritual behaviors over years of trial and error. Some actions
have been added and some taken away over that time. In the long run the result is that thoughts of Goddess and God are never
far from my heart and mind. I am a Pagan all day, everyday. I don’t need to wait until the next holy day or Full Moon
to experience the joy being a child of the Gods brings to me. It is part of my every day.
Lyon is an Eclectic Pagan living in Eastern Missouri.
She has been following a Pagan lifestyle since the mid 1980s. An accomplished watercolor artist, she wrote and illustrated
“An Ordinary Girl, A Magical Child”; a Pagan children’s book for young readers, available soon. Lyon’s website http://www.handcraftedpagan.com is geared toward unique handmade gifts and fine art for the Pagan home. She lives with her husband, her
10-year-old daughter and one old cat of undetermined ancestry.