Tag Archives: ritual

Why perform ritual? 

“Do you perform it for their glory, or for yours?” Was the question that popped into my head as I poured the water from Monday’s ceremony into the kitchen plant. 

    A slight rewording from the question posed to Dr. Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but an effective one nonetheless. 

    That previous night had me perform a personal meditation in order to find an answer to something I was thinking through.  Well, more accurately, the meditation was the middle bit of my ceremony (to my fellow members of the Grove who wanted to know how it is I can recall the words by rote….. This is how).  And to perform the meditations and visualisations I use without the ceremonial bits feels…. Naked.

    This is how I do it: 

    1. Peace to the quarters.
    2. Cast the circle.
    3. Bless the circle with fire and water.
    4. Prayer to deity or deities.
    5. Awens.
    6. Middle bit.
    7. ‘Hour of recall….’
    8. Thanks to Deity.
    9. Uncast the circle.
    10. Declaration of the end of ceremony. 

        It’s mainly based on the general OBOD ceremonies, but I have found the form that works for me.  No flowers though.  Can’t be doing with taking from the plant realm for the sake of aesthetics!

          The Order encourages members to try things out and see how things work for them, even saying to stop something if it doesn’t work for you.  I have kept the above as it works for me.  Some of the wording is different and the words I say to deity are my own. 

        The ritual water I give to the household plants, a way of giving back and not wasting what was taken.

        There was a time I would perform this every day, and even though it did calm my being, I became stifled with the repetition.  So now, I like to do it with meaning, the ritual bringing calm and satisfaction to myself as well as honour and communication to those that are listening.  

        Do I do it for their glory?  Not really, as I have other personal rituals for giving thanks and honour.

        Do I do it for my glory?  Perhaps.  But when I perform the ceremony it isn’t for glory, it is a series of repetitious actions that allow me to enter a certain level of consciousness that allows me to find a stillness.  This stillness can be used to calm my fiery temperament, to gain insight or inspiration.  

        And even if there is no one in the ether, the ceremony still serves it’s purpose. 

        “There are FOUR lights!” Pic by Locksley2010.
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        Realignment

        June.  That was the last month I wrote something in depth. I have managed to write something every month or so, albeit in the form of a poem, a saying, or even a prayer. 

        Actually, I don’t feel the need to write anything in depth.  No examinations of what those legends may actually mean, no breaking down of Pagan concepts (Classical or Modern), no questioning of the values or ethics around us.  In fact there are so many people reeling from the political victory of Brexit and Donald Trump, there are plenty already questioning the world around them…. 

         Whereas my investigative flair has faded to nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Diddley-Squat.  

        During August, I feared I might have severed the link between myself and my spirituality.  Since the end of June, I dedicated myself to learning my lines for a theatrical performance.  In August, I did the same with another, both of them are now finished and performed.  Having embraced my acting self as my Bardic self, I have sought to regain and discover new skills for being the actor I want to be.  As well as discovering the actor I am turning into.  

        It would be wrong of me to say I ‘put my life on hold’ because of the two plays.  Sure, I became less socially active and my days off were dedicated to line learning as were my evenings after work and then there were rehearsals.  

        Performance is a discipline. It is hours of line learning, practicing the mannerisms of another person, working with the energy levels of your colleagues so the show does not lag.  Remembering where to be in the right place at the right time, thinking within a split second of a replacement word if you end up forgetting the correct one and doing all of this with a huge adrenaline rush once you are doing it.  To do that and more requires focus and discipline in yourself. 

        And so, I threw myself into this creative path.  To me, it feels so right to do so.  It has stoked my inner fires and is my main focus. Where I may not be performing my Bardic Rituals everyday (the last was before I moved house in June) I have come to understand this, at the moment, is not what I need in my life right now.  

        I still light my candles to my deities, ancestors and the spirits around me.  I still honour the seasons that pass and celebrate them; I still give offerings and have even done a little research into Japanese Fox spirits.  I have discovered my spirituality is in who I am, not just what I do.  This has also allowed me to view my spirituality, my beliefs and my self objectively.  And in this I have learned much, including belief in myself. 

        But for the time being, I will post when I can with what I can give.  

        After all, if one’s spirituality is only defined by one’s work with ritual, then what is ritual if not a performance? 

        Photo by Locksley2010

        Warrior’s Call- Lighting the Beacon, Sept 2015

        image
        From the Warrior Call FB page, Art by Tim Harris

        On Saturday night (26th September) I took part in another Anti-Fracking ceremony.  And, I didn’t organise it!  Although I did volunteer for calling South, it’s my favourite thing to do in a ceremony.

        I was especially glad to see that 32 people turned up.  Yep, 32! Coming from someone who has been co-organising public Pagan ceremonies here in Nottingham and knowing the old adage ‘gathering Pagans is like herding cats’ this is quite an achievement indeed.

        We made our circle in the shadows, with only the far off street lights of the stairs into the park and the cafe to help us see.

        The fire was lit and candles handed out to help focus energy and purity.

        An eager woman guided us through grounding before the Speaker told us of why we had gathered and how our cause was important.  The Caller called forth the blessings of the directions, even working the phrase ‘Frack Off!’ into the ceremony.

        Voices hummed and sang, the beating of the drum thundered in our hearts and it was time for us to summon the quarters in another way.

        “May the people of the Land rise up to protect the Great Mother, You WILL NOT FRACK!” I yelled in defiance followed by a roar.

        Our intention was to make a Cone of Power by moving Widdershins and making noise.  Some sang, some called out, others beat their drums or clapped.  I Morris skipped all the way around and eventually our voices became one:

        “You will not FRACK! You will not FRACK! We BAN-ISH you! We BAN-ISH you!

        Over and over again until we raised our candles and released the cone by blowing out all the flames.

        A sharing of thoughts and minds took place, perhaps a little too long for those who were older and needed rest.  Apart from that, we proved that for a cause people can and will come together and say “No!”

        The time has come for us to walk our talk, and those among the 32 did just that.

        Here’s a couple of links you might want to look at.

        The first is a site campaigning to save Sherwood Forest from a proposal to gain licensing to frack Sherwood Forest (yes, you read that right!): Here</a>. Click it and it will send you to the Government site where you can post your reasons and suggestions against fracking there.  Please hurry, the deadline is 23:30 tonight!

        The second is a video from YouTube’s ‘Sci-Show’ to see what actually goes into fracking… and what can happen afterwards.  Here.

        Waters of the World Ritual- March 2014

        image

        Pre-Full Moon. By locksley2010.

        I write this after just stuffing myself with Chinese food and orange juice, waiting to digest, I thought I’d drop in and recount today’s ceremony.

        Today was the Warriors Call ritual of ‘Waters if the World’.  Where Pagans are encouraged to gather and perform a ceremony that MUST at some point have a sacred plant placed into a river or the sea.  The idea being that this plant becomes a vessel for healing energy that then flows from where ever and eventually leads to the sea.  On its course the plant carries its healing and protective energy to help keep our water and air safe from the poisons of Fracking.

        I led the SpellCrafters Moot ceremony by the Nottingham Canal.  After the six of us had met, we went down the canal side and didn’t have to walk far to find a nice secluded area.  There was even a gorgeous gibbous moon lighting the way.

        We made a circle of ourselves and one lady said she didn’t like having her back to the water, so I took her place.  Strangely enough, I knew what she meant.  There was indeed a pull from the canal, as though it wanted me to step back and fall in…

        I had brought a nice young healthy Aloe Vera plant to act as our sacrificial vessel.  It was the offspring of its parent that I was given last year, so I thought it appropriate.  I gave the plant some of my healing energy and thoughts, passed it to the next person on my left and so on and so on until it came back to me.  I purposefully didn’t want us to call on the quarters because I wanted us to imbue the plant with blessings from the elements.  We were just about to bless it when we heard voices and a small group of hooded men walked our way.  Their voices carried until they walked around us in stoned silence (they reeked of skunk-grass-marijuana-whatever they call it nowadays) and carried on their way, looking back at whatever we were doing.  Back to the blessing we chanted for all four (spirit already flows through, plus its spirit we used to give the protective and healing energies back to the water in the first place):

        Air: From the gentle breeze around us.To inspire those who are opposed to Fracking and to find ways of fighting it.
        Blow, blow, blow, blow…

        Fire: From the reflected light of the Sun on our Moon.
        To keep the inner fire of keeping up the fight in the land as well as the anti-fracking campaigners.
        Glow, glow, glow, glow…”

        Water: The canal, which flows from and back to the River Trent.
        To accept our sacred plant and carry the energy given to where it is needed and to the sea to protect our waters and heal them too.
        Flow, flow, flow, flow…

        Earth: The ground beneath our feet
        To give the campaigners the fortitude, strength and endurance they need to keep fighting the evil of Fracking.
        Grow, grow, grow, grow…

        Afterwards we ceremonially dropped the plant into the canal, the moonlight causing every ring of the splash to be seen.  That’s when the ducks came to see if we had just given them food… sorry guys, not this time!

        Once we powered down our circle, bells rang in the distance, a sign of success?

        Will it all work? Time will tell.  I really, seriously think Fracking is a threat to our ecology, our water and our land. Its a fucked up idea that must be opposed in any way we can.  Whether its armchair activism and signing petitions (that’s me), physically getting down to a Fracking site and protesting (not yet) or ceremonially and magically resisting (just ticked the box on that one), we must fight!

        Whilst eating, I have begun watching John Boorman’s ‘Excalibur’ from 1981.

        I have just paused it to digest and write this blog.  In the last ‘chapter’ Merlin had walked away with the baby Arthur.  Uther in pursuit has just been killed but not before thrusting Excalibur into the stone, sealing the fate of the land with his son… Perhaps, the land itself does need for us to ‘retrieve’ the ‘sword of power’ in order to heal the land and expel tyranny.

        Enter the Dragon

        Normally I’d post this in the ‘Synchronicity’ category, but because something happened this morning, its going straight into ‘Weirdry’.

        Where to start? At the beginning….

        It was the last week of August this year, on the Monday, in fact when I settled on the idea of performing the Bardic ‘Fire Weaving Ritual’ on the last day of August, Saturday the 31st.  So I asked the Druid Plant Oracle if this would be an auspicious time to do so.  In short,  the reply was in the ‘yes’ category.  I try not to use yes and no questions with any oracle as the answer can be vague at best, or raising more questions at worst.
          The next day, Tuesday, was Léithin Cluan ‘s leaving party.  Because its unlikely she’ll be joining us at Yule, she gave some of us our Yuletide gifts in advance (not everyone as she was collecting them throughout the year).  Mine was a small dragon statuette .  She’d named it ‘Alfred the Great’, I called him (of course it was a him) Bubba.  Bubba sits proudly in the fire section of my Altar at home:

        image

        Bubba the symbol of the Dragon Spirit.

        So not only a gift from my friend, but a sign of the gods, a dragon symbol to say “Yes, perform the ritual”.

        On the Saturday, on my way to the St. Anne’s allotments to perform the ritual, I went through the Arboretum and found this image:

        image

        Two more dragon’s, technically they are fire-breathing wyverns (Wyverns are two-legged, dragons are four).  Another sign.  The ritual went fine and dandy, I just found it strange the spirit of the Dragon made itself known.  I’ve never worked with it before or called upon in, but somehow the Bardic fire course has opened up that communication… something I had to use this morning.

          My wife, who shall now be known as Pipes on this blog (as in nice set of… she’s a singer y’see.) Went out last night for an open mic acoustic night.  Around midnight she called to say she was going jamming and let me know when she’s on her way home.  Fair enough, and I go to sleep.
        I then wake up at 4am and there’s no sign of her there.  I look down stairs, no one around… so my mind starts playing tricks.  I get my phone, no sign, so I call and leave a message of the “Where the fuck are you?” Kind.  I leave a text, give it a few mins (OK, 30 seconds) and call ten more times.  No answer.  I start thinking the worst… getting a grip I get my oracle and ask where my wife is.  Not expecting an exact answer, just a clue.  I didn’t understand it (at that time in a morning, who would?) So I break my rule and ask a yes or no question: Is she safe? Two cards pop out, both talking about creative endeavours and pursuing her calling. 
          Aha! So she’s OK and still making music? I feel a bit better but I still need to know.  So I called on the dragon.
          I lit my Altar candle and breathed in and out deeply three times and invoked the fire as I often do, then stared directly into the flame and said:

        Oh Spirit of the Dragon, I ask you to please find my wife and get her to call me.  If she is safe and asleep at a friends place, awaken her.  If she is in danger, give her the strength to get away and call me.  Where ever she is get her to call me.  This I ask of you.”

        I let my nervous energy be the fuel for the connection with the spirit.  I paid in advance with an offering of tobacco and blew out the candle flame.  Looking at the time it was 04:30.  I get a text message from Pipes at 04:43. It worked! OK, it was a text, not a call but it was still contact.  Pipes was fine (drunk and stoned) and still jamming.  Apologising for worrying me, she was now getting a taxi.  She did get home and she was alright (a little drunk and high).  Thank fuck!

        I get the idea it worked because my instinct of protection was what linked me and the dragon together.  That and Pipes works with the dragon anyway, which was why I called it.

        I won’t use the dragon every time because I don’t think it will warrant it.  But the need and cause must be great to get its attention… at least that’s what I think right now.

        All together now:  “Anaal Nathrack…”