The winter solstice is less than a week away.
I’ll admit I’ve been focused the last couple months on other things, and I do need to spend some more time working out how to reconcile various facets of my belief. On the one hand, I crave tradition. On the other, I want the freedom to do what makes the most sense to me, in my heart. And I suppose that at the end of the day, I do have that freedom.
So anyway, I wrote back at Imbolc about a pantheist ritual I’d written. I figured I might post that since I’m typing it out so I can work on making some adjustments for the winter solstice. I’m not sure how this is going to end up for the solstice ritual but I’ll try to remember to post the final product.
This is my “General Formal Ritual, Pantheist” format, as it’s written in my BoW (minus the comments I’m adding in parentheses for this post, obviously). This is edited by me, based off of a pantheist ritual I found somewhere online. I will try to find that source so I can link to it and give them credit.
Basically, this is a foundation ritual for devotional practice if it’s practiced alone as-is, or, as I’m using it now, a framework for celebratory rituals. So far, as a practitioner of witchcraft, I have no intention to use this format for working rituals. That isn’t to say I won’t possibly edit it at some time in the future for that purpose.
I’m using this as a framework because it has many layers of depth, meaning, touches on many areas, and feels full and complete while remaining malleable. It will be obvious as you read the ritual, but just to state it for the record: this ritual is written with the assumption that the person performing it already has their own established practice/ways of doing certain things. It does not tell you step-by-step every little move to make and though to think. As the name suggests, it is a “general” ritual with pantheistic-leaning spoken parts. Any specifics here are written in my BoW for my own information, based on my own ways, so as always, feel free to make it your own.
So, here it is:
General Formal Ritual, Pantheist
PURIFICATION: Set up the altar, remove shoes, light illuminator candles. Other lights are off or dim. Light incense to purify self and space, to create the atmosphere. Start ritual with clean hands and face.
PROCESSION: Step back one step. Take a moment to contemplate what you’re about to do. Once you feel in the right mental space, step forward again.
CENTERING: Close eyes and slowly take several deep breaths. Perform grounding and centering exercises. Perform elemental exercises.
(I know for a lot of people grounding and centering are sort of ‘chores’ we have to do, especially if you come from a modern Western perspective of paganism (i.e. Wicca and the sort), but for me this is definitely one of the most important parts of my spiritual practice and any ritual.These are exercises that I have focused on and developed for myself over 13 years of practice and they’re pretty set in stone at this point as I’ve figured out what resonates best for me. I like to do this because it helps deepen my feeling of connection to Cosmos, what I’m trying to celebrate/connect with, and is one more step to putting me in the right mindset for ritual. These exercises are deeply rooted in my theology of spirit, and that is their purpose: it’s difficult to go day-in-and-day-out with this deep a sense of “the divine”, so taking the time to connect with that is very important to me.)
INITIATION: Ring a bell, clap hands, or make some other noise to formally initiate the ritual. Bells are ideal.
PURPOSE STATEMENT: Bow head, hands together, fingers upward.
“As light turns to dark, I take this time, in the midst of a hectic world, to stop, to listen, and to be. To honor nature and to renew my connection to the Universe.”
EXPLANATION: Take a moment to explain the ritual. What season or festival is it? If it is a festival, consider written explanations or stories that can be shared and reflected upon. Also explain, in your own words, your own intent for the ritual.
KINDLE SACRED FLAME:
“As the ancients lit the hearth fire, so I kindle this sacred flame now, as a symbol of the eternal and uncreated energy of which all things are.”
Light the main candle.
(My ‘main candle’ is the candle on my altar that represents Cosmos. I think I may have spoken about this before. I can write about it at length another time, but it is another central, important aspect of my regular practice.)
“That sacred, universal energy manifests in this physical realm.
The primal sea surrounds us.
The sacred land supports us.
The limitless sky stretches out above us.
The blazing sun impassions us.
“I am a child of the universe, my every atom is sacred stardust. I stand in gratitude to the stars above, who in distant past died, their elements evolving and becoming me. I am the divine Universe, conscious and reverent.”
(Again, this is an important part of remembering and acknowledging the theology that is the foundation of my practice.)
CREED: “The Universe is divine, the earth is sacred.”
(I have mixed feelings about this element. Sometimes I do it, sometimes I don’t.)
PRAYER TO NATURE:
“Sacred source of all life, who is both the starry heavens and the fruitful earth, I gaze upon your beauty in wonder and awe. Your presence is everywhere… Creative power, eternal renewer, from whom I was born and to whom I will return, may I live my life in reverence, gratitude, and awareness of you. May I see my place in the delicate web of existence, and seek not to do it harm, but to strengthen myself, and thereby honor you. You who nourish, I praise you and I walk according to your way.”
(To me, this is saying that I acknowledge that I am but one intensely small part of everything that is. It is a way of humbling myself to the unthinkable complexity of what I am a part of, and at the same time taking responsibility for my place (a conscious being with free will and creative power, but fully at the mercy of the natural world I exist in).)
WORKINGS: Do anything ceremonial, celebratory, meditational, magical, etc.
THANKSGIVING: “Thanks for this sacred time. May we listen and take heed to the guidance around us. With deep gratitude and reverence, thank you.”
(Giving thanks has always been another very important part of my connection with ‘God’. As a child I didn’t say nightly prayers for things I wanted when my mom reminded me to “say your prayers”, but I would clasp my hands, close my eyes, and send up thanks for everything I could think of. Sometimes this would take me several minutes – I never wanted to stop giving thanks. This is still an important part of my practice and I will usual spend several minutes in deep, silent Thanksgiving.)
END RITE: Take a few deep breaths slowly. Clap hands, ring bell, or make some other noise as done previously. Bow head and hands together.
“This rite is ended.”
Oftentimes it can be hard to step back into regular awareness after a strong, powerful ritual. In these cases sometimes I spend time at this point in meditation, maybe do some light stretching or yoga, I might even do more grounding exercises meant to increase my awareness of my surroundings, or have a snack or drink.
I don’t like to incorporate drinks or food into my rituals themselves because to me it’s just not the place to eat or drink. Ritual is a time for work or devotion, not snack time. I get the idea of using drinks and food to ground after ritual (as I just said), but I don’t like acting as if it were part of the ritual experience itself.
So that’s it, my basic foundation ritual. I have at times simply gone through this process in full, as written, just to almost casually renew my connection and awareness. In that case, it might only take 15-20 minutes to go through this entire thing. A longer, more meditative, celebratory ritual can easily take 45 minutes to an hour. I always think it’s nice to know about how long going through a ritual might take for planing purposes. We all have lives we’re living, after all.