Ecstatic Ritual

One of the items on the House of Danu Gorsedd agenda that caught my attention was the workshop on ecstatic ritual.  I consider myself a good ritualist, but the rituals I compose and present tend to be introspective, worshipful, and/or celebratory.  Ecstatic ritual is one of my weak points… quite possibly because ecstasy requires giving up control, and that is something I find very difficult to do.

Thorn Coyle led the workshop and the Lughnasadh ritual the next day.  She said she was trying to cover in two hours what she normally covers in a full weekend.  That’s simply not possible, but I learned – and experienced – a lot in a short period of time.

I took a few notes.  The first was that good ritual connects with us on three levels:  the animal level (intuition, emotion), the human level (intellect) and the divine level (gods and goddesses).  It requires that everyone is fully present and contributing.  And it requires something to get people energized:  chanting, drumming, dancing, toning, etc.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of having everyone engaged.  Not only does this add to the overall energy of the working, it helps minimize distractions.  Knowing that there are no distractions and that everyone is taking things seriously makes it easier to turn loose of some of that control and let the gods come through.  If you can see that everyone is singing and dancing and getting into the ritual, you’ll be less worried about looking stupid – you’re more confident that others understand what you’re doing and why.

And I can’t overemphasize the importance of getting everyone energized – that’s what enables a shift in consciousness (classical occult definition of magic:  a change in consciousness in conformance with the will). 

This is real, first-hand religion.  This isn’t some academic speculation on the implication of the nature of God, this is (and was) a direct experience of God/dess.  Or in this case, the direct experience of a specific god:  Lugh

It was one of the strongest religious experiences I’ve ever had.  And it wasn’t just some spiritual high (though it was most certainly that!) – it contained real wisdom and real direction and some real answers to some very real questions I’ve been struggling with. 

Thanks to Lugh for speaking to me.  Thanks to Thorn for facilitating the experience.  And thanks to everyone at the Gorsedd for participating and for creating an environment where I felt safe enough to lower the shields and let the magic flow.

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.

  • http://www.catharineclarenbach.com C atharine Clarenbach

    I have found Thorn's work very helpful in many contexts — I enjoy her books, found her a wonderful spiritual director at a crucial turning point in my spiritual life, and have loved her workshops. I have yet to participate in ritual with her, and hope I get to do that at some point.

    What do you think has made your strongest rituals strong? I'm doing some hunting around the Intarwebs and irl, asking folks about the ceremonies that have touched them most deeply. I've just been introduced to your blog and am still going through the archives; I'd love to hear what you have to say on this topic.

    Blessings — Catharine

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