This past weekend, I spent several hours cleaning up a backyard that had been gifted to a local Pagan group. It’s a bit of a mess, and even with the generous volunteer labor we have, it’s going to take some time to completely restore. When it’s finished, there will be space for ritual and gardening, for gatherings and joy. I’m hopeful that it will be a positive space.
The group that gathered to begin this cleanup was full of seasoned Pagans, people who had been on the path for years. I tend not to notice this kind of thing at our typical full-on, well-planned rituals; they are written by experienced ritualists and are well performed by those assigned to their roles.
But this was a new thing altogether, something I’ve had little experience with outside of my own solitary rites.The majority of those present were Wiccans or practice similarly, so Quarters were picked and the Priest and High Priestess addressed the God and Goddess, respectively. The ritual was entirely impromptu, given to honor the land around us and to ask blessings from the spirits there on our work.
A bottle of mead was passed around, each of us pouring out a bit as we addressed the spirits at each Quarter. It was such a simple ritual, completely unscripted and unplanned. But its authenticity was powerful, like a shining ray of sunlight that cut through on a cloudy day. It felt smooth and right, as if the beings we were addressing paused and made time to listen to our words.
I found myself thinking this is what ritual is supposed to be. I’ve had this experience before, but I found myself surprised that it happened now, at this ritual that could have so easily been a slapdash, half-hearted effort. I feel as if it may have been the novelty of it that really made it stand out. Doing something different that went outside my comfort zone, even if only slightly, woke my ritual senses and caused me to connect in a deeper way than I usually do.
I suggest this for anyone who is able, either in their individual rites or in public ritual, to make a change. If you’re used to making up your own prayers on the fly, find or write a scripted one and stick with it for a while. If you feel as if you can’t come up with an impromptu ritual, there’s no time like the present to try it out!
As for me, I’m going to treasure the memory of this day for a long time. Like unexpectedly ending up in a long conversation with a new friend, this kind of thing doesn’t come around every day. But when it does, it’s worth taking notice.