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.

October Revisions

I no sooner finished typing up the October ritual than I realized that it wouldn’t be possible to do it as planned this year.  While not as physically demanding as some of my workings, the October ritual can be a bit challenging if I’m under the weather, but I’ve always managed it.  This year, however, I am largely immobile due to a knee problem and in a fair amount of constant pain due to the same.   I realized, after a failed attempt to shop for supplies, that doing a full-blown solitary ritual is out of the question for the foreseeable future.  I’m usually willing to push through pain and illness in order to get things accomplished, but this simply isn’t one of those times when sheer bloody-mindedness is going to work.  The October ritual, as I think I mentioned in the original post, is my most important and really isn’t optional as far as my practice is concerned.

I’d bemoaned very briefly on social media that I’d had to postpone my ‘Halloween’ plans this year because I wasn’t able to be on my feet long enough to make them happen.  An unexpected response to that post came  in the form of a phone call from Sam’s daughter, asking what she could do to help. I explained that there really wasn’t anything that could be done, as I was referring to something of a religious/spiritual nature.  If you can convey eye-rolling simply through tone of voice, she did… and reminded me that (in a momentary lapse of all reason) I’d given her a link to this blog so she was very much aware of what my Halloween plans were.  If you’ve ever lost an argument with a strong-willed teenager, you can probably guess the rest of the conversation.

In the end, I agreed to let her help.  I don’t know what form I was expecting this assistance to take, but it was certainly not what actually happened after I arrived at Sam’s house on Thursday.  Sam’s daughter had rallied a dozen people to assist with every aspect of the evening – from getting me into the house (lots of uneven terrain and steps) to laying out wards for the ritual space.  Not only did these wonderful people help me get through the mechanics of the work, they took an active part in it- breaking bread as silent group during the dinner,  lighting candles, reciting the names of their own dead, and raising their voices in song.  I am very humbled and grateful for their help and participation.

The span of those short few hours has given me a lot to consider and process. First, the personal, squishy stuff…  For those who might recall my previous posts about Sam, I want to share (and do so with his blessing) that he is healing well.  After months of physical therapy and being confined to a wheelchair, he surprised us all by standing, aided by crutches, during the reading of names.  Again with his blessing, I’ll add that we are beginning to work to bridge the gulf that has sprung up between us and that we talked privately and face-to-face after the ritual for the first time in months.  That he was willing to give help when it was needed in spite of a painful, silent distance between us says more about him than I can put into words.

Second, I just need to say very loudly and publicly that Sam’s daughter is an amazing young woman who deserves every happiness that comes into her life.  I know she’s reading this, so I’m just going to say that I am very grateful that I can count her among my friends.

Finally, I’m going to have to reconsider being entirely solitary in my practices, at least as far as this particular ritual is concerned.  I’m still processing the experience and I’m not sure yet where to take it from here.  I’d always believed that bridging the gap between worlds is more difficult when other living people are involved, particularly if those people are head-blind.  Thursday proved me wrong.

I need to give serious consideration to restructuring this as a shared ritual for future years.  Thankfully, I have a year to think about this particular aspect of it.  In the meantime, I have a gratitude ritual to prepare for November, including making a list of things and people for whom I am thankful.  There are many this year and Sam and his daughter will be at the top of that list.

Ritual Calendar – April (Belated)

I’m going to try to get caught up on the missing Ritual Calendar posts for April through August over the next few weeks, as time permits. April is a difficult one to outline in specifics, as it focuses entirely on my own work and path.  I’m just going to sketch out the generalities of what I do with some suggestions if you want to adapt this to your own practice.

April Ritual -Honoring the Work

Timing
  • Any time during the month is fine.  I usually try for the end of the month, as this is a ritual to be balanced with my work in late October.

Themes

  • Recognition
  • Rededication
  • Reflection
Purpose
  • Reflect on work done over last twelve months
  • Rededicate self to one’s work
  • Recognize any and all helpers in that work
Preparations
  • Gather supplies as needed. At minimum, offerings for the helpers, candles, etc.
  • Because this is my next-to-the-most-important ritual of the year, I tend to put a bit more advanced preparation into demarcating the ritual space, doing purification rituals, and choosing appropriate clothing and offerings.
Ritual- Minimalist Version
  • Reaffirm my commitment to do death/threshold work.  Provide offerings for deities and other helpers in that work.  (As this is one of the ‘big’ rituals for me, minimalist version will only be used in extreme circumstances).
Ritual- Full Version
  • Create  ritual space, using at both an inner and outer circle.  After closing the outer circle, set out a candle and offering for each deity and helper who has assisted with my work (or wishes to in future). Close the inner circle, placing myself within it. Light a candle to represent my work, allowing it to burn during the full ritual.
  • Invite attendees (i.e., deities and other helpers past and present) one at a time, turning to face their candle/offering vessel.
  • Declare myself and my purpose. Typically it goes something like this “I, Aisling Faa, born (name), called (nicknames/common monikers), devotee to Isis, child of (parents names), of the families of (insert family names), stand today to honor and affirm the work that has been chosen for me.”
  • Acknowledge any assistance relieved in the past year.
  • State what I believe to be my ‘work’ and await for confirmation from my patron deity.
  • Once confirmed, ask that any helpers not wishing to provide future assistance in doing this work make their feelings known.  Allow them time to withdraw.
  • In the event that there is a helper whom I’ve chosen not to work with again, thank them for their past help and ask them to take their leave.
  • Affirm my desire to continue the work with an oath and libations.
  • Thank  those still present for their continued assistance.
  • Break the inner circle and light the candle of each of the helpers.
  • Recenter self in the middle of the circle and open myself to any messages that the helpers would like to impart.  Remain in circle until the helpers’ candles have all extinguished themselves.  Break circle, carrying my own candle with me and allow it to burn until self-extinguished.

Modifications and Notes

I’m going to start by saying that, unless you’re at least somewhat seasoned with rituals involving multiple deities/entities, do not try this one at home.  Start small if this is something beyond the scope of your experience.  If you have a patron, get a feel for working with them alone over a number of rituals before inviting others into the space.  Allow them to guide you on who it is and is not appropriate to invite into circle and when you should begin doing so.  Work up to more complex rituals.

In the event that you do decide to take this one on, know that there is a lot of flexibility in how you handle this.  However, I do recommend that you make a practice of confirming with your patron deity the nature of the work that’s expected of you prior to affirming your willingness to do it.  Know that you can say “Gee, I think I’ll pass on that” but be prepared to offer up some idea of what you’d be willing to do instead.  If there is specific work that you want to do, you can petition to be allowed to do that.  You may or may not be allowed to pursue your interest (or it may be tacked on to whatever the gods already have in mind for you).

Depending on who you work with, you may not need to set up a double circle… or you may want to keep both circles closed through the entire ritual (in which case, you’ll need to light the helper’s candles prior to closing the inner circle).  In my work, I prefer to keep the inner circle intact until I’m as certain as I can be of the intent of those present.  While I’ve not had a problem with anyone refusing to leave, I’d suggest familiarity with at least one banishing ritual in the event that someone’s idea of ‘help’ might not be in line with yours.

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.

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.

Up From The Ashes

Sometimes, just when I think I know exactly what I going to do and just how I am going to do it, a juggernaut comes from out of nowhere and lays me out flat.  This is often followed by long periods of staring blankly into space while all the gears and wheels inside my head try to mesh together again in some sensible functioning way. Today, apparently, is one of those juggernaut days.

This morning I was certain that I’d finally got down my ideas for the February addition to my ritual calendar.  It’s a lovely, light working, something to help ease the heaviness of winter and to encourage a bit of self-care for SAD.  Everything was laid out beautifully in my notes, just waiting for me to type it up. When I tried to open the file this morning, it was gone.  Not moved. Not accidentally sent to the trash.  Just gone without a trace.

This is not a big deal.  I have enough of the ritual memorized that I still write it up without the notes and so I opened WordPress.  When I did, a post in the feed caught my eye – Between the ribs from Rock of Eye.  Before you click, I should probably say that this might be disturbing to some readers.  It disturbed me, but not for any of the obvious probable reasons.  I read the post three times in between pacing and muttering “shit” a lot to myself.   Hours later, I’m still twitchy because this particular juggernaut blindsided me with something that hits too close to home. That someone else has experienced this makes it more significant and less easy to dismiss as a misfiring of an overly creative mind.

I usually write about things here that I think would be useful to other eclectic seekers.  What I don’t talk much about are the very deepest, grittiest bits of my path, because they are deeply personal and interwoven with my relationship to my deity in a way that is far too intimate and intense to put into words. Alex’s post laid out one of those things that I’ve refrained from talking about here – a desire to meet death at the hands of one’s deity.  I’m still not sure that I’m ready to discuss this with any depth here, but I will say that I have had this same experience, a vision of dying at the hand of my deity.  In my case, it was not a steel blade, but a complete and utter consumption by fire, a destruction to ashes.  That’s all I’m going to say on the matter for now, just an acknowledgement that it happened.

As I’ve thought about the above experience today, a message from Her has come through loud and clear – that while the planned February ritual is “acceptable”, it is not what I should or need to be doing.  My impression is that what I’d planned was a little too light, a bit too nice, a bit too sweet, and a bit too likely to have zero impact.  While I’m still trying to work out what it is that She wants, I know that it relates to that vision and to (metaphorically) burning myself down to ashes and seeing what rises from them.   The mechanics of how I’m going to accomplish this are not clear to me at all, nor is the exact purpose of doing so.  So from having a full ritual for the month, I’ve come full circle back to having only the vaguest idea of what to do and twenty-seven days to figure it out.  No pressure, of course.