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  • Ritual nuts and bolts

    In the "Organized Pantheism?" thread, RavenStars said,
    Originally posted by RavenStars
    But it would be interesting to get new ideas and approaches to patheistic ritual, something we really don't talk about here. The nuts and bolts.
    Let's talk "nuts and bolts" of ritual. How we do it, what we feel is uniquely Pantheistic about it, anything else that comes to mind.

    I'm hoping RavenStars will wander in at some point and say more exactly what we're looking for here, but if not...we'll make it up! That's what we usually do, right?
    If you're lucky you'll find something that reflects you,
    helps you feel your life protects you,
    cradles you and connects you to everything.
    Dar Williams, "The Hudson"

  • #2
    Originally posted by Windsmith View Post
    In the "Organized Pantheism?" thread, RavenStars said,
    Let's talk "nuts and bolts" of ritual. How we do it, what we feel is uniquely Pantheistic about it, anything else that comes to mind.

    I'm hoping RavenStars will wander in at some point and say more exactly what we're looking for here, but if not...we'll make it up! That's what we usually do, right?
    Well, as I mentioned in the mythology thread, I'm curious as to how you use your personal mythology in your practice.

    More general questions -

    Do you perform rituals to celebrate particular phenomena? Much of what is awe-inspiring is more ongoing than ephemeral, meaning that I am unsure how you would. . . time. . . such a ritual, if that makes sense.

    Do you perform more general rituals but just incorporate pantheist imagery? If so, what rituals and what imagery?

    That's all I can come up with for now. This thread is actually pretty timely for me as I'm just struggling with the idea of ritual pantheism and I haven't quite gotten my ideas straightened out yet.

    Poledra

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    • #3
      Hmmm...I'll try to edit out the polytheism chunk of my rituals and just talk about the pantheist part.

      Generally, I first meditate, and then I go outside on a walk and sense the divine all around, concentrate on that divine we tend to ignore in every day life. Then I come back home and I pour some wine into my offering bowl. [insert polytheistic ritual] After that, I drink half the wine out of the bowl and pour the other half to the group and say something about how I am taking part of the divine into myself, and putting part of it in the Earth, and that that's really all the same. From the All to the All.

      Physically taking in a part of the outside is to represent the communion (in terms of community or sameness, not Christian commuion) of all in the universe. I can bring part of what seems like outside and make it a part of what seems like inside, and it's really all the same. I can pour wine out into the Earth, but I'm really just showing how the wine is the same as the ground in the forest.

      Other than that, I'll have spontaneous rituals. I have a particular chant I sing every day at sunset. Often I'll have little moments of recognition with a bird or a squirrel, or even a deer, to remind me that we're all part of the All. Even once with a house, actually. Also I consider studying to be a ritual because I am learning about the All.

      Edit: Oh, and the wine thing I try to do each weekend.
      Last edited by Heart of All; April 30th, 2008, 05:30 PM.
      Flame in Bloom-my blog on dancing and heathenry

      The fires in me can never be drowned. They cannot be snuffed, for even when they are denied air, they breathe, gasping in the endless firedance.

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      • #4
        Me? Remember I come from a Wiccan path which has a set ritual format. I have two books that come from other paths that have helped me somewhat. I'm celebrating Beltane this weekend and have decided to keep some of what is familiar to me since I don't know what else to do:
        Recognize the Directions
        Designate Ritual Space
        Declaration (I've got a cool quote to read)
        <insert fuzzy time>
        Magic Working
        End Ritual Time
        Thank the Directions

        Anyway, I'd love to find new formats that include things like myths and fostering sacred awareness. I know each of us relates to the All in different ways, I'd like to hear about them!

        I'd also like to hear how you bring the awe into your ritual. I've had it happen before. A moment of stillness after the words fade and the actions are held in suspension... and chills go up my spine. I'm probably asking too much, but what the heck!

        How's the Windsmith?
        The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.
        --Bill Watterson

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RavenStars View Post
          Me? Remember I come from a Wiccan path which has a set ritual format. I have two books that come from other paths that have helped me somewhat. I'm celebrating Beltane this weekend and have decided to keep some of what is familiar to me since I don't know what else to do:
          Recognize the Directions
          Designate Ritual Space
          Declaration (I've got a cool quote to read)
          I understand that you come from a Wiccan background and that has coloured your concept of ritual, but I've always had trouble with the concept of the directions (quarters) and their importance in creating sacred space. Honestly, I think we are always in sacred space, but I understand the importance of setting the proper mood and achieving the proper mindset, and so I see that as the purpose of "creating sacred space", but I must admit that I don't understand the directions.

          How do the direction figure into your pantheist world view? Why not welcome. . . the periodic table into your ritual? Or acknowledge the myriad of particles that make up the universe?

          Why are the directions important?

          Hope I haven't offended, I truly just want to understand your point of view as it's something that has always eluded me!

          Poledra

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          • #6
            I keep looking at this thread with itchy fingers. I've given classes on the elements of ritual, written rituals for groups for years, and written specifically on pantheist ritual in numerous essays...but how to distill that into something fit for a thread...sigh.

            I also haven't had a chunk of time to sit and respond, just a minute here or there, and this is a subject near to my heart, and important, so I don't want to do a slap dash job.

            On the other hand, maybe the wisest thing I can do is just watch and learn from others.

            I know it's not a pan ritual, but I did wash my face in the morning dew...Happy May Day.

            cheddar
            In a love affair with sunshine

            Live this day like an altar to what you believe

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            • #7
              I too have a deep connection to the directions/elements. To put it simply they are symbols of everything that is, condensed into something I can handle and relate to. While I could memorize Tom Leer singing the periodic chart of elements and use it in ritual, I find that I'm more connected to a simpler symbol set. It's been discussed here that the four directions/elements are by no means the only pattern. Other cultures and systems are different. I did pick-up something interesting and haven't followed through with it, that the non-compass directions could be geographic anchors. But that's me. There are so very many ways to acknowledge the forces. My ritual would feel adrift without them.


              But I'd sincerely like to know how you start your rituals. Do you designate ritual space? How do you separate the beginning and end of your celebration from normal time?
              The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.
              --Bill Watterson

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              • #8
                Thanks for sharing your view of the elements. I'm still trying to figure out what's important to me when it comes to ritual so was curious how pantheists see the elements. I can understand how they would be representative and anchor you.

                Right now, ritual time and space are created only through intent. I used to cast a circle, but I didn't really get it. I didn't "believe" I was casting a circle, I was just doing it because I thought I should. I started my ritual for May Day yesterday by reading a poem, for example.

                I would also like to know how other people designate ritual space and start their rituals as I'm always on the lookout for things that speak to me!

                Poledra

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                • #9
                  My wife and I both come from more or less Wiccanish backgrounds, which strongly color our rituals. We are slowly moving away from that formality and realizing that, once we step away from how things "should be," anything can be. But old habits die fighting, so it's a long, slow process.

                  We do most of our rituals together, just us. We stand in front of our altar and hold each other. We each feel the other's arms around our body, and the other's body in our arms. We hear each other's breathing. We are aware of simply being, and of being together. That's the beginning of our rituals. That's our "circle." For us, it - and the invocation of the elements - is acknowledgement of sacred space and time, not creation. All space is sacred, all the time, but we get so caught up in daily living that we need to stop periodically and say, "Yes. This here and this now, this is sacred. We live inside it always."

                  We honor the elements in a very literal sense. In my personal spell work, I find their traditional symbolic associations very useful, but in ritual, we invoke the Earth, and the winds, and the Sun, and the oceans/rivers/rain/snow. We often do something about the plant cycle - how a seed is planted in the earth, warmed by the Sun and watered by the rains until it pushes up into the air. We talk about photosynthesis and transpiration. Aaaaand then we usually mention eating those plants and becoming part of the cycle (I never said we were "nice" about any of this).

                  We honor Anscestors and Descendants. Which set depends on the ritual focus. When we did our house-blessing ritual, we honored everyone who'd lived in the house before us and everyone who will live in it after us. When we had our "creativity" ritual, we honored everyone whose art has inspired our own, and everyone who (hopefully) someday will be inspired by our art.

                  We honor Time. That one's pretty specific to my tradition (Reclaiming). It's an ackowledgement that ritual is one of those activities where we "lose time" - those things you get into and think only a couple minutes have gone by but then discover you've been at it for hours. It's also an ackowledgement of the enormity of Time and of What Is. We are mere blinks, just passing through. We honor That Which Was long before us and will endure long after us.

                  And then we honor Mystery. That's the high-fallutin' word Reclaiming folk in my area use for the Divine. Some people mean individual deities, but we see it as the numinous in the world, the sense of awe and wonder we feel when we take the time to just be aware of What Is, and that we're alive in it, and holy crap isn't that amazing? For me, it's also the unknowable core at the center of the Cosmos, the five questions raised for every answer science finds about our species, our planet, and the Universe.

                  None of this is written out beforehand. We don't script our rituals. At best, we might have a rough outline if we wanted to do a lot of things and don't want to forget them.

                  What comes next depends entirely on our mood. For some rituals, we make magical crafts (we are suckers for talismans and magical jewelry). For others, we might just sit and talk about things of import; at Samhain, for instance, when we tell stories about our loved ones who've died. Sometimes we'll go outside for a walk, or into the living room to dance - an energy-raising ritual celebration of kinesthetics. We've even made and eaten ritual oatmeal on Saturday mornings when it's a New or Full Moon.

                  And sometimes we kick even that much form to the curb. Every year we go to the Living Green Expo. It's this weekend. Rather than trying to whip together a May Day ritual, we said, "You know, this event means a huge amount to us. Let's make it our ritual." So that's what we're going to do. We'll cast our circle, probably during our hour-long bus ride to the Fair Grounds, and we'll turn the entire weekend into a May Day ritual festival, celebrating our committment to the Earth and to each other (in addition to being very close to our wedding anniversary, this is also a great place to find ways to improve our house. It's an exercise in nesting).

                  When the ritual is over, we check in with each other to make sure we've accomplished everything we wanted to. We say "Thank you" to the elements we honored at the beginning. I don't know if that's anthropomorphizing; it's not like we expect them to say "You're welcome." But even if they don't understand it, were grateful that the air and the Sun and the water keep us alive, and that the Earth keeps us from hurtling into deep space. Saying "thank you" is just plain polite. Then we kiss, and the ritual is over.

                  I feel like I've only given a broad overview here. I wanted to get into nuts and bolts, but now I think I'm just skimming the surface. So, please, if folks want me to go deeper, pick some aspect and tell me to start digging!
                  If you're lucky you'll find something that reflects you,
                  helps you feel your life protects you,
                  cradles you and connects you to everything.
                  Dar Williams, "The Hudson"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wow, Wind!
                    That was.....Amazing.

                    I really like that you honor Ancestors and Decendents. I've been in traditions where ancestors are revered, but I guess the view point there was that ancestors get reincarnated in one's decendents. I really like your idea, though.

                    I also like the idea of beginning a ritual by just holding your loved one. That must be a very powerful catalyst for your ritual workings, as love is a very raw emotion.

                    I hope to learn more from you in the future.
                    "In the secrecy of his study, with "spells of waving arms and woven paces," the conjurer-juggler becomes the sorcerer who attempts to draw forth elemental powers and make them obey his behest."
                    -Arthur Chandler

                    "Big men use small words, and small men use big words"
                    -Winston Churchill

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                    • #11
                      Yeah, WOW Wind ! I love the way you begin your rituals together, creating your own circle of sacred space that's filled with love and awareness of your connection to the circle of life. Awesome.


                      To Poledra - I've been Wiccan for about 19 years and I've never felt that calling the quarters (elements) had anything to do with actually creating sacred space, they are called to guard and protect that space and to simply be a part of our special time and place just as they are always a part of our lives. It's just that we take a moment to connect with them and realize how much a part of our everyday lives they actually are. Much like inviting the God and Goddess to join us and taking the time to connect with them.

                      Very much like having a friend or family member that you may call once or twice a day and exchange emails or messages with, but every now and then it's nice to invite them to dinner and actually sit down and talk with them and enjoy their presence.


                      I'm part of an Eclectic Wiccan Grove and it's been hard weaning the group away from having a written ritual to just being part of the moment and going with the flow, being less formal. Still following the basic format because we understand the reasons for that format, but being more free to call the elements and the God and Goddess as real beings rather than archetypes, which I hope will make it easier to connect with them.
                      ____________
                      If you make a customer happy, he'll tell 3 other people.
                      If he's not happy, he'll tell 20 others.



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                      • #12
                        I used to cast a circle. But that didn't seem right. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it felt hollow.

                        I still set the directions, with the elements in the correspondences I prefer, because they are very meaningful to me. But I add above and below, Father Sky and Mother Earth, which correspond to acting and grounding, extroversion and introspection, protecting and nurturing. These aren't elements, per se, but I think they take what the elements offer and reflect the yin and yang of all of them. And there's a central direction of "in," which is Spirit, the element wherein they all come together. As I light candles for the four directions, I invoke them. Then I invoke Mother Earth and Father Sky. Then I light the Spirit candle.

                        Then, I channel the Golden Egg. This concept was introduced to me by a teacher who was a Buddhist monk a long time ago. It used to be a white shield of personal energy I put up around myself for protection, when I was less experienced. But this teacher taught me about how the energy around us can create a shell which is permeable to what we want to let in and solid to what we don't. It also allows or doesn't allow out. It glows with the richness of who we are, which is why I see the shimmer of gold now where once it was simply white.

                        I stretch the Egg and open it outward to where it meets the elements and the directions and the markers I imagine or set for them, opening myself to the concept of liminal space, the space between what is real outside of me in the full of light I can see every day and what is real within me or in the depth of the dark I don't yet know. This is where ritual centers: liminal space. The circle does that for some. For me, the Egg opens it out more.

                        From there, ritual unfolds the way it does. I don't usually plan anything except the cakes and ale or bread and wine or food and drink of whatever sort. That is an offering to the energy of the Egg, my Spirit, and my guides. I may meditate, or chant, or divine, or perform in some way. It depends on the moment and where I am then.

                        Then I just pull the Egg back in, gently releasing the elements, asking the guides to go or stay as they will, thanking Mother Earth and Father Sky, and extinguishing the candles.

                        That's basically it.

                        Peace
                        Working for Peace Pruning the Rambles

                        :hahugh: Banner made by me :hahugh:
                        Definition of skepticism: Don't believe everything you think.

                        In wildness is the preservation of the world ~Henry David Thoreau

                        Pantheism Path Forum Guide

                        In memoriam, Basha: 4/1996 - 12/2007 * * * In memoriam, Tika: 9/1996 - 3/2008

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for all the perspectives on the elements, you've given me a lot to think about!

                          Poledra

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Eleisawolf View Post
                            I used to cast a circle. But that didn't seem right. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it felt hollow.

                            I still set the directions, with the elements in the correspondences I prefer, because they are very meaningful to me. But I add above and below, Father Sky and Mother Earth, which correspond to acting and grounding, extroversion and introspection, protecting and nurturing. These aren't elements, per se, but I think they take what the elements offer and reflect the yin and yang of all of them. And there's a central direction of "in," which is Spirit, the element wherein they all come together. As I light candles for the four directions, I invoke them. Then I invoke Mother Earth and Father Sky. Then I light the Spirit candle.

                            Then, I channel the Golden Egg. This concept was introduced to me by a teacher who was a Buddhist monk a long time ago. It used to be a white shield of personal energy I put up around myself for protection, when I was less experienced. But this teacher taught me about how the energy around us can create a shell which is permeable to what we want to let in and solid to what we don't. It also allows or doesn't allow out. It glows with the richness of who we are, which is why I see the shimmer of gold now where once it was simply white.

                            I stretch the Egg and open it outward to where it meets the elements and the directions and the markers I imagine or set for them, opening myself to the concept of liminal space, the space between what is real outside of me in the full of light I can see every day and what is real within me or in the depth of the dark I don't yet know. This is where ritual centers: liminal space. The circle does that for some. For me, the Egg opens it out more.

                            From there, ritual unfolds the way it does. I don't usually plan anything except the cakes and ale or bread and wine or food and drink of whatever sort. That is an offering to the energy of the Egg, my Spirit, and my guides. I may meditate, or chant, or divine, or perform in some way. It depends on the moment and where I am then.

                            Then I just pull the Egg back in, gently releasing the elements, asking the guides to go or stay as they will, thanking Mother Earth and Father Sky, and extinguishing the candles.

                            That's basically it.

                            Peace
                            I love the "egg" concept, it's what I've always seen my personal shield as being. In the early years I saw my egg as being clear bottle green but I think I was giving it that color. I haven't given it a color for a long time now, but I haven't really looked to see what color it is now. Gonna have to check that out...
                            ____________
                            If you make a customer happy, he'll tell 3 other people.
                            If he's not happy, he'll tell 20 others.



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                            • #15
                              Wow! This is great! I love what everyone has to say---it's very exciting!

                              We'll cast our circle, probably during our hour-long bus ride to the Fair Grounds, and we'll turn the entire weekend into a May Day ritual festival
                              Windsong, I'm finding I have a hard time wrapping my mind around mobile sacred space. I think it's because I feel myself rooted in time and place when I cast. I'm curious how it went. You mention the time distortion thing which I've had happen a few times. So even then maybe I'm not rooted in time. Maybe it's a Wiccan mindset, I just don't know.

                              About the golden or jade egg. I read about the idea of casting a circle then bringing this energy up to form the top of the egg and down to form the bottom. But I've never heard expanding a circle out from Center. The few times I've seen a circle was something like super fine fairy sparkles or lit neon tubes, but only in my imagination. I actually don't cast looking for or using special effects. I cast circling three times while chanting to make sure I'm present in ritual space. I'm not quite sure what ritual space means right now, but I'm experimenting to see what works and how it feels.

                              I did realize something while I was sitting after ritual. I carefully prep with a script, and a list of things for the altar, not that I follow either absolutely. When I set-up I make sure there are no distractions and I focus on what I'm doing. No big deal? Well, I realized that this is a kind of prayer for me. It brings me into ritual. I am unable to meditate due to mental health issues. At times in the past I would wash my hands and face which was suggested in a book. But I never though of the set-up process as part of the ritual.

                              Oh, I did want to mention the use of a bell. Does anyone else use them during ritual? When I remember, I like to use them as an audible way to start and end ritual, as well as when certain magic rites are ended. I'd love to get a tuned bell someday.
                              The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.
                              --Bill Watterson

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