A ritual is like cooking: sometimes, you have the resources to make a three course meal. But it’s likely that you may only have the time and ability to scramble eggs or grill a cheese sandwich. If every meal had to be a three course meal, you probably wouldn’t cook very often. Simple meals can be every bit as nutritious as an elaborate feast, just as simple rituals can be as powerful as elaborate ones. By allowing yourself to periodically keep them simple, you may find yourself even more spiritually nourished in the long run.
I led the main ritual at Sunfest in Vernonia, OR earlier this summer. Three women held the energy of the Goddess while ritual attendees visited them for to receive blessings on different parts of their life. While I received a lot of positive feedback, I also heard that it was “too simplistic.” Because the “simplistic” remark came to me second-hand, I couldn’t ask the person for more information. Did they mean it was ineffective? Or boring? Or too “surfacey”? I wanted to ask because simple rituals are not automatically ineffective, boring or “surfacey.” In fact, they’re often anything but those things.
1.) First of all, there is nothing simple about working with the Divine.
You’re bringing in a God or Goddess for fuck’s sake. The Gods are complicated and They complicate things. In the Sunfest ritual, we had three women bringing in three aspects of the divine. As if holding that energy weren’t complicated enough…we were supposed to include some kind of scripted drama dance? Play the banjo? Summon butterflies a la The Craft?
If you’re already working with big energy, don’t need to add seven incantations, open twelve portals and lead a chant in an ancient language you don’t even speak. You will need focus to maintain the energy you’ve already raised.
2.) People are busy–keeping your ritual simple helps make them happen.
I work two jobs. My husband works full-time. He’s also in school, I’m also writing a book. Our non-working hours are few and precious, and we’re tired by the end of the day! Yet we’re committed to keeping a regular spiritual routine. At the end of a very long day, simply looking up at the full moon together, taking deep breaths and setting personal intentions for the moon-th is much more feasible than writing and conducting a long ritual. If we always had to do a complicated ritual, we’d definitely do far fewer rituals than we do, now.
3.) When leading a large, public ritual, simple is better than elaborate.
There. I said it. Look, we’ve all been to the Pagan Pride Ritual where the ritual leaders take us through a long, complicated ritual. Very often there will be newbies there who don’t know what’s going on–leaving them confused and unfulfilled. Keeping public rituals simple also keeps them accessible for people just starting the path, as well as families with children. When doing a large, public ritual, stick with easy chants, basic intentions, and simple actions that folx can easily enjoy. Avoid giant soliloquies (which most people aren’t likely to hear, anyway, if the ritual is outside) and keep them short and sweet!
4.) Simple rituals leave more room to focus on the intention.
If Magick is about manifestation of intention, simple rituals give you even more space to focus on the change you want to make. If you don’t have to think about whose line is next or remember the specific banishing movements, you can channel more of your personal energy on shaping the intention.
They don’t all have to be simple…sometimes elaborate is the way to go.
Back to the cooking metaphor, if you only ate scrambled eggs at every meal, that would get boring, too. (I don’t think I personally could ever get tired of grilled cheese sandwiches.) For a holiday or a special occasion, you may want to do something bigger. Hell, you may even just feel like being fancy, and you’ve got the time and resources to make it happen. The same will be true with rituals. Sometimes you’ll feel called to do something complicated and elaborate.
But very often, you may find yourself doing something simple.
And that’s okay.
Better than okay–simple can be good. In some cases, simple is even better.