Lessons From a First Ritual

hand bell

Every so often I get an e-mail that says “I’ve been asked to lead the next ritual for my CUUPS group (or coven or grove or other group).  Where do I start???”I usually refer people to this post on A Pagan Ritual Outline and this post on Common Ritual Errors and How to Avoid Them.  But as I mentioned last week, I think it may be helpful to talk about what happened the first time I led a public ritual.After almost ten years of solitary practice, I went to my first Pagan circle at Denton CUU … [Read more...]

Planning Special Rituals

02 20 Roman Forum

I’ve always loved ritual.  The opportunity to compose, lead, and participate in ritual is one of my favorite things about being Pagan.  So it’s no surprise I write about ritual a lot – here are some of my favorite pieces:A Pagan Ritual OutlineCommon Ritual Errors and How to Avoid ThemThe Challenges of Large Public RitualsLast week I saw a request for help on a child naming ceremony.  Then earlier this week I responded to a Facebook request for suggestions on composing a ritual for … [Read more...]

A Rite of Sacrifice

Danu Sacrifice 03.02.14 01

Work with a Goddess long enough and you learn to hear Her call.  You learn to pick Her voice out above the noise of contemporary society, above the words of teachers and friends, and even above your own thoughts and feelings.Sometimes what you hear is not what you expect.Though I am pledged to Danu, She has not been the strong presence in my life that Morrigan or even Isis has been, much less as strong a presence as Cernunnos.  But since last fall Danu has been more vocal, and earlier t … [Read more...]

Pagan Worship

Yule altar 2013

In my contribution to the recent discussion on polytheistic theology, I made several references to worship: Do you worship Poseidon or do you worship The Sea?Both are beautiful and powerful and I stand in awe of both.  It seems reasonable to me to worship both.If you say “I’m a polytheist:  I worship The Land, The Sky and The Sea” then I have no argument with you even though your approach is not enough for me.The more I work with the Gods as individuals – the more I pray, worship, me … [Read more...]

Integration – A Review

Pagan Pride Day - White Rock Lake, Dallas

Several years ago I stopped making New Year’s resolutions.  I found I rarely kept them, mostly because the goals I set weren’t in alignment with my true will.  I resolved to accomplish things I thought I was supposed to want, and I set goals with little regard to my desire (and in some cases, my ability) to actually do the things that would be required to achieve them.Instead, each year I select a theme – a high-level goal I want to keep in the front of my mind all year.  My theme is a destin … [Read more...]

Putting Mystery in Your Rituals

PPD 2013 12b

I’m in awe of Jason Mankey.  He can’t sleep, so instead of popping a couple benadryl and turning on SyFy till they kick in, he gets up and writes this excellent post on the necessity of mystery in ritual.  Jason discusses a ritual he attended that looked OK but just didn’t feel right: my friend’s ritual felt wrong to me because it lacked mystery. It wasn’t lacking mystery in the sense of “I know what’s coming next,” but mystery in the sense that it didn’t connect me to a higher power or idea. Ta … [Read more...]

Facilitating Religious Experiences

fire - October 2013

I get uneasy any time I find myself starting to say “Paganism is (fill in the blank).”  Paganism is many things and as soon as you go making definitive statements, someone else is there to offer a counter example.  But I feel fairly confident in saying that modern Paganism is an experiential religion.  Paganism isn’t something you believe, it’s something you do.  And when you do it just right, when the timing is just right, when the gods are looking favorably on us, the experience can be amazing. … [Read more...]

The Search for Excellence in Ritual

PPD 2013 23

I love ritual – I always have.  I love its beauty and pageantry.  I love its power and inspiration.  I love the way it communicates on many levels using all the senses.  Good ritual is magic.When I started practicing with Denton CUUPS ten years ago, I tried to learn as much as I could about how to plan and present good rituals.  Over the years I’ve put a considerable amount of time into learning from the best (what to do), learning from the worst (what not to do) and learning from my own expe … [Read more...]