Ritual Calendar – June (Belated)

There are some ideas from my last post that I want to further explore, but I’m just not in the proper frame of mind to do so just yet.  In the meantime, I’ve promised myself that I will finish my ritual calendar posts before 2015 rolls around.  So, six months late, here are some thoughts on the summer solstice.  I feel like this needs to be fleshed out a bit more, but wanted to get the bones of it down.

June Ritual – Celebrating the Day

Timing
  • Perhaps unnecessary to say, but this should be done on the solstice.

Themes

  • Seasonal renewal
Purpose
  • Celebration of the solstice.
Preparations
  • Determine the time of the sunrise and sunset.
  • If doing the full ritual, plan for outdoor activities and gather any needed supplies.

Ritual- Minimalist Version

  • Go outside at sunrise and face the east. Acknowledge the rising sun and what it means to you.
  • At the end of the day, go outside and face the west. Give thanks for the gift of light.

Ritual- Full Version

  • Greet the sunrise by going outside and facing east.  Offer an acknowledgement of the coming light in a way that you feel is appropriate (prayer, yoga, etc.).  Confirm your commitment to celebrating the gift of sunlight throughout the entire day.
  • Spend the day engaged in outdoor activities.  If possible include a picnic or outdoor cooking (a solar oven would be ideal) and offer a part of the meal to any solar deities you feel are appropriate.  Whenever you can, reflect on how the daylight makes your activities possible.
  • If you can do so safely, use the sun to kindle a fire that will be allowed to burn throughout the night.  If this isn’t practical, allow a candle to sit in indirect sunlight during the day to infuse with the sun’s energy.  Light this candle before nightfall and allow it to burn through the night.
  • At sunset, face west and offer thanks for the gift of daylight.
  • As the darkness begins to descend, focus on the fire (or candle) you’ve lit, meditating on ways that you can carry light within yourself even in the deepest darkness.

Modifications and Notes

Outdoor activities can be adjusted to suit the abilities and needs of the individual practitioner.  The point is not to cram as much activity as possible into the day, but to simply get outside and honor the gift of extended daylight hours.

Weather will need to be taken into account, of course, and modifications made as necessary.  In the event that the weather absolutely does not permit outdoor time on the solstice itself, I’ll usually delay until another day when the weather is more suitable.

 

Ritual Calendar – November

November is winding down already and it’s time to think about this month’s entry on the ritual calendar cycle.  I’d mentioned previously that November’s ritual is purposefully abridged.  There has been some interesting behind-the-scenes feedback about the efficacy of abbreviated rituals. Some indignation has been expressed that small rituals don’t ‘properly honor’ one’s path or deities.

Embracing a ‘Go big or go home’ philosophy is a viable option only if you have the resources to do so. The couple of critics who have expressed dissatisfaction with my approach have missed a vital point – not everyone has unlimited resources to invest in a regular schedule of large-scale rituals. Lack of resources does not necessarily preclude someone from having a meaningful practice. More importantly, it is up to each individual to decide what constitutes a meaningful practice on their path and what level of ritual work is required.

Perhaps I need to be more clear in my intent: this calendar is for my own use and takes into account my own limitations and priorities, along with the expectations of those deities with whom I work.  The purpose of posting it here is not to declare that my method is the One True Way(tm). Rather, it’s just an opportunity to share one approach that someone else may find useful or adaptable on their own paths. If it doesn’t work well for someone else, that’s fine because it is not created for anyone else. In any case, I’m not going to post large-scale, expansive rituals simply because someone else thinks that’s the way it should be done.  So, without further ado, a little ritual of thanksgiving.

November Ritual – The Gratitude List

Timing
  • Any time in November, but well suited for Thanksgiving if you’re in the States.

Themes

  • Gratitude
Purpose
  • Reflection and expression of thanks.
Preparations
  • Gather supplies:
    • Pen
    • Paper
    • Blessing oil of choice (optional)

Ritual- Full Version

  • Spend some time in considering what it is that makes you thankful. Start with the big and obvious things, events, and beings in your life for whom you are grateful.
  • Write out your list.  This can be a simple bullet list or if desired, prose text that includes the reasons for your gratitude.
  • When your list is complete, say a prayer of thanks. If desired anoint the list with blessing oil and add a prayer of blessing for those on your list.
  • Place the list in a place where you can see it frequently and be reminded of it.

Modifications and Notes

  • As this is a reflective work, I don’t find warding or demarcating the ritual space necessary.  These steps can be added per personal preference.
  • If you have the inclination or are of a creative bent, you can also look for less obvious additions to your list. For example, a broken leash and an ill-mannered dog because that combination allowed me to meet a really amazing person (who is also the subject of much gratitude).
  • An alternative to the list would be a visual collage with representations of the objects of your gratitude.
  • While I do list deities on my list, this is not designed to be a ritual of giving thanks directly to them.  Offerings of thanks to deity are done separately and tend to be very specific to the deity and the situation.

Ritual Calendar – May (Belated)

Catching up on the ritual calendar posts hasn’t been as easy as I’d hoped, as life finds other ways to keep me busy.   May and November are both abridged rituals, as they both follow on the heels of major rituals the month before.  There is not a longer version to either of these, as I’m often still processing the previous month’s working when these roll around.

May Ritual – Releasing the Muse

Timing
  • Any time in May.

Themes

  • Creativity
Purpose
  • Encouraging creativity and the fruition of ideas.
Preparations
  • Gather supplies:
    • Any combination of herbs of inspiration and creativity – mints and citrus are good choices
    • Burning bowl or cauldron
    • Charcoal Tabs
    • Paper
    • Pencil with an eraser
    • Pen

Ritual- Full Version

  • Light the charcoal tab in your burning vessel and while it heats, draw a box in the middle of the paper.  Inside, place your name, a stick figure, or other representation of yourself.  Around the outer edge of the box, write the things that are keeping you from your creative goals (e.g., “stress”, “lack of time”, etc.).
  • After you’ve finished, drop some incense on the charcoal.  As it burns, erase the words that hold you back, one at a time.  As you erase them, envision the barriers disappearing.  When all of the words are gone, slowly erase the box itself, leaving only your personal representation.
  • Drop a bit more incense on the charcoal and as it burns, use the pen to trace over your name and then begin writing words in a spiral pattern that flows out from the end of your name and surrounds it.  These words should all have positive connotations and be related to your creative process. Include also ideas and words that you hope will apply to the finished work. For example, a spiral for someone writing a novel might include terms like “words, plot, character, ink, chapters, revisions, editing, rave reviews, NY Time’s Best Seller, book signings, etc”.   As you create the spiral, fill it with hope and positive energy.
  • Pass the paper through the incense smoke and hang it in your creative work space as a reminder of your goals.

Modifications and Notes

I haven’t included warding or demarcation of ritual space with this one, as I don’t find it necessary for this particular working.  These can be added if you prefer, as can offerings or petitions to deity.  For me, I actually prefer this one to be free of any other entities, partially due to the very intense amount of deity interaction that accompanies my April ritual.

Ritual Calendar – September

Summer has gone by in a blur and whirl of activity, mostly of the mundane work variety.  It’s a good time to begin getting back on track with the ritual calendar (or at least post the current month!).  I’ve quite happily located my brainstorming notes on these, so I have some clue now where I was going with them.

 

September Ritual – A Reaping

Timing
  • Any time during the month. For me, this is a good one to coincide with the equinox, when I usually make a harvest  celebration meal.

Themes

  • Fruition
  • Harvest
  • Gratitude
Purpose
  • Recognize the work that has been done
  • Continue positive change
  • Express thanks for any assistance that might have been given
  • Honor the elements
Preparations
  • Gather supplies as needed.
  • Before beginning, look back at March’s ritual and recall what it was that you wanted to manifest at that time.
Ritual- Minimalist Version
  • Collect whatever fruits, leaves, flowers, seeds, etc.  that you can from the plant that you put into the ground in March.  Prepare them for storage over the coming months (press the flowers, dry the herbs, etc) as you contemplate the changes that you set out to make in March.  Reaffirm your commitment to make those changes.
Ritual- Full Version
  • Delineate ritual space as preferred around the plant that you sowed in spring.
  • Enter the ritual space and call upon any deities or other helpers that have assisted you in manifesting this change.  Express your gratitude as desired  through offerings, prayers, etc.
  • As you collect the parts of the plant that you wish to use, honor each of the elements:
    • Hold the plant  in your hand and say “With air, I have breathed life into you.”  Blow gently on the plant.
    • Touch the earth at the base of the plant, saying “With earth, I have rooted you.”
    • Hold the plant up toward the sun and say “With fire, I have guided you upward.”
    • Pour water over the plant while saying “With water, I have  nourished you.”
    • When all has been done, state over the harvested pieces “With spirit, I have changed you.”
  • Spend some time contemplating the ways in which your desired change has manifested itself.  If there is still work to be done, take a moment to petition for further assistance.
  • Offer thanks as appropriate.  As per your particular practice, break the ritual space and exit the area.
  • Dry, freeze, press, or otherwise store the harvested plant for future use.  If possible, find a way to utilize the harvested pieces during each of the next six months.

Modifications and Notes

  • As common sense is not always common practice, I think I should probably say that you’ve chosen to plant a potentially poisonous plant in spring (e.g., foxglove), harvesting and storing the plant is not recommended. This ritual can be done without removing the plant or its parts.
  • Using edible herbs or plants allows you to incorporate the harvest into dishes throughout the coming autumn and winter. Rosemary is my go-to plant for this ritual, as it is a). a symbol of remembrance (important to my personal path), b). easily dried and stored, and c). one of my favorite culinary herbs.
  • In the even that you did not do the March ritual or that your plant never came up or died (it happens, don’t read too much into it!),  you can substitute another plant you’ve sowed or, in a pinch, use a purchased plant.

Where Did the Words Go?

I haven’t been ignoring this blog, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  At least once a week, I pull up a blank post and… stare at the screen for thirty minutes to an hour before throwing my hands in exasperation.  The same thing happens when I sit down to my other blogs, my personal journal, the fiction piece I started last January, and anything that requires stringing together coherent sentences.  Writer’s block has taken up residence in my brain and has refused to budge for weeks. I’m just going to plow through and try to put some words down, even if it’s just getting down a couple bullet point updates and making a few tentative plans. 

  • Monthly Ritual Calendar: It’s a project that I still want to pursue, even though I haven’t been keeping up with it.  One slight problem – I’ve lost my brain-storming notes and have completely forgotten what I’d planned to do for most months. By the end of September, I’ll have to either find those notes or start again.  In any case, there will be a write-up before month’s end.  If I can find my notes, I may be able to catch up with the months I’ve missed.
  • Gods and Such: There has been a general lack of deity interaction lately. My practice doesn’t rely on regular contact, so lack of it is not particularly concerning.  I suspect that this will change with the arrival of fall.
  • Sam: There have been a couple of behind-the-scenes inquiries about Sam and how he’s progressing.  By all accounts, he’s recovering well and back at home, but still has a way to go.  Prayers and gentle energy would be appreciated according to his daughter.
  • Temple of MSB: No updates from the trail… sidelined with an injury that makes walking or running on uneven terrain just dangerous.  Hoping to be able to get back to it this fall.
  • Thinky Thoughts about future projects:  I have vague notion that I need/want to do some shadow work over the coming winter.  I’m not sure exactly what form that will take yet or what the focus needs to be.  The notion is still very vague and unformed.  Something will come to me I’m sure. If not, I’ll scratch this off the to-do list.

That’s all for now, as the writer’s block is still strong enough that typing more than ten words leaves my brain struggling. 

Ritual Calendar – March

I realize that it’s no longer March, but better late than never, right?

 

March Ritual – Seeds of Change

Timing
  • Any time during the month.  Note that this one requires a commitment to care for a plant over time.

Themes

  • Change
  • Growth
Purpose
  • Manifest growth
  • Create positive change
  • Honor the elements
Preparations
  • Gather supplies as needed. At minimum, seeds and water needed, along with a suitable location to plant the seeds.
  • Before beginning, determine what change is most needed and/or desired in your life over the long term.  This working takes time to manifest, so slow changes are usually best for this working.
Ritual- Minimalist Version
  • Plant seeds in an appropriate place while visualizing the change that you want to manifest.  Imagine the elements providing the seeds with the energy that they need to grow. Envision this change any time you water or feed the plant.
Ritual- Full Version
  • Delineate ritual space as preferred. Keep in mind that the space will need to contain the spot where the seeds are to be planted, so if sowing them directly into the ground, plan your ritual space accordingly.  Within the ritual space, place any garden tools you might need, the seeds, and a container of clear water.
  • Enter the ritual space and call upon any deities or other helpers that are appropriate to your path and/or the changes you wish to make.
  • Dig a hole in the ground (or pot) in preparation for planting.
  • Hold the seeds in your hand and say “With air, I breathe life into you.”  Blow gently on the seeds (take care that you don’t drop them).
  • Hold the seeds up toward the sun and say “With fire, I guide you upward.”  Place the seeds in the earth and cover them, saying “With earth, I root you.”  Pour water over the ground while saying “With water, I nourish you.”
  • When all has been done, state over the newly planted seeds “With spirit, I change you.”
  • Spend some time imaging the plant as it grows and changes and as it does, envision the changes that you wish to make manifesting themselves.
  • Offer thanks as appropriate.  As per your particular practice, break the ritual space and exit the area.
  • You’ll need to weed, feed, and water the plant regularly to provide energy to this working.  As you do this, you can speak the words “By earth and water, by air and fire, by spirit sealed, manifest the change I desire.”

Modifications and Notes

  • Using salt to mark out the ritual space boundaries is not recommended, as this can kill vegetation.
  • Plants should be chosen carefully and can be done by using magical correspondences.
  • If beginning a plant from seed isn’t feasible, this working can be done using a small plant and transplanting it into the ground or a new pot.

Ritual Calendar – February

I’m a bit behind on this one, so for the next few minutes, let’s just pretend that it’s still February, shall we?   I did an abbreviated variation on the minimalist version in the midst of having several people unexpectedly show up at my door, wanting solace from the grief of losing a friend.  It ended up being an improptu raising of our glasses in celebration of life as we sat on a sunlight patio.  Perrier isn’t my normal choice of water for this one, but it worked well on the fly.  Hopefully, next year, I can do the complete ritual.

February Ritual – Drinking in the Light

Timing
  • To be performed on a sunny day any time during the month.

Themes

  • Rejuvenation
  • Vitality
Purpose
  • Banishing the winter doldrums
  • Re-energizing in preparation for coming of spring
  • Shifting the balance away from the shadow/dark work of late fall and winter
Preparations
  • Gather supplies as needed. At minimum, water and a drinking glass/bowl are needed.
  • If doing full ritual, prep offerings.
Ritual- Minimalist Version
  • Fill glass/bowl with clean water.   Allow glass to sit in direct sunlight for as long as possible.  While the sun is still out, drink the water while envisioning that it carries the sunlight into you.  Imagine that the liquid light is filling you, banishing away the darkness that is no longer useful and illuminating you with radiant energy.  Give thanks as appropriate.
Ritual- Full Version
  • Dress for ritual by layering white clothing under black (black coat over white clothes is fine).  Alternatively, you can dress in black and go skyclad as the ritual progresses, but this may be a challenge in cold parts of the world.
  • Delineate ritual space as preferred. Within the space, place a bottle of clean fresh water, a drinking glass or bowl, one or more small candles to represent fire, offerings for patrons and/or sun deities (if desired), and an ignition source for candles.
  • Enter the ritual space and call upon any deities or other helpers that are appropriate to your path.  Petition for blessings as you fill the glass with water and hold it up to the sun. Set it down and allow the sunlight to reflect up on the water.
  • If making offerings, do so before proceeding.
  • Light candle(s) and focus your intent on burning away of that which no longer serves you. As the candles burn down, feel yourself being emptied of any negativity, any unnecessary darkness, and anything that does not serve you well.  As you do, shed the layer of black clothing.  Feel the emptiness within yourself as you proceed.  Do not try to fill this space as the candles continue to burn.
  • When the candles have completely burned out, pick up the water vessel and as appropriate, state your intent in doing this ritual. Drink the water and visualize the light filling the emptiness.  Feel yourself being energized as you do so.
  • Offer thanks as appropriate.  As per your particular practice, break the ritual space and exit the area.

Modifications and Notes

  • Colors and number of candles may be altered as appropriate for individual symbolism.  My choice is usually three candles – one each red, yellow, and orange.
  • Appropriate images may be included as candle carvings or drawn within the ritual space.
  • Your intent may vary as needed.  For me, it’s something to the effect of “I drink in the light that I may find my way through the darkness in which I must walk.”
  •  In reference to the phrase “unnecessary darkness”:  For those of us who do shadow work, keeping touch with the darkness within is important.  Be selective in how much you let go of based on your own workings and knowledge of self.