10 Things I Love About Witch Ritual

10 Things I Love About Witch Ritual March 3, 2016

Last Friday I stepped into ritual space for the first time in nearly a month. Between mundane holidays, Pagan festivals, and an assortment of other things its’ been hard to get the coven together with any sort of regularity. Getting back to doing the work reminded me just how much I love Witch Ritual!

The power, the scents, the energy, the magic . . .it’s all intoxicating and my life suffers when I’m away from it. It’s what keeps me going and prepares me for the challenges ahead. Witch ritual is a truly special thing and I feel blessed that it’s a part of my life!

So mote it be!

"Mucius Scaevola in the Presence of Lars Porsenna"  by Matthias Stom.  From WikiMedia.
“Mucius Scaevola in the Presence of Lars Porsenna” by Matthias Stom. From WikiMedia.

Listen to the Lord & Lady Call Their Children (Chant)

I love music, but I’m not musically inclined, as a result my rituals generally don’t feature a whole lot of singing or chanting. However my coven always opens our rituals with the same chant, and it serves to both ground our coven and prepare us all for the magic and energy yet to come. There’s something hypnotic about repeating many of the same ritual bits over and over, and it helps me to shut off my rational mind and focus on the work at hand.

In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust I Welcome You Once More to Our Ritual Space (Friendship and Family)

When the calendar gods cooperate our coven meets about every two weeks, and when that pattern is disrupted I find myself longing intensely for the companionship and camaraderie of our coven. A true coven is an extended family where I’m free to be myself. I don’t have to worry about being “on” or handling everything myself, we’re all in it together. Many circles love to use the phrase “perfect love and perfect trust” but it’s a mantra we take seriously. I love and trust my coven and that’s the way it should be.

Blessings Be Upon Thee O Creature of Air (Incense)

We don’t typically burn a lot of incense in our house because my wife is allergic to it. However our coven has its own special incense blend free of glue and binders that works for her and the rest of us, and the smell of it is practically transformative. The moment we light it in ritual I’m nearly instantly transported to ritual space. The sent of our special incense reminds me why I love the people in our coven so much and immediately prepares me to walk between the worlds.

I Conjure Thee O Circle of Power! (A Well-Cast Circle)

How do you know you’re in a well cast circle? When the temperature in the circle goes up about ten to twenty degrees! This is not a joke either. When the coven gets together to chant the chants and dance the dances the mercury in our ritual space goes up and up. But the moment we take the circle down, and long before we open a door, that temperature drops substantially and quickly. Circle goes up, temp goes up; circles comes down temp goes down, and since it doesn’t happen every time it’s related to just how well we’ve cast our circle.

"The Judgement of Paris" by Enrique Simonet, from WikiMedia Commons.
“The Judgement of Paris” by Enrique Simonet, from WikiMedia Commons.

We Do Summon, Stir, and Call You Up! (The Mighty Dead)

We keep a shrine in our ritual room with pictures of our Mighty Dead upon it. Those Mighty Dead are all Craft elders, individuals like Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, Cora Anderson, Morning Glory Zell, Margot Adler, and the many others who have influenced our practice of Witchcraft and Paganism over the last twenty years. Most of them don’t show up very often after we cast the circle, but sometimes I can feel just the slightest hint of a presence while reciting The Witch’s Rune or when speaking about Gerald Gardner.

Then Ye Shall Assemble In Some Secret Place And Adore the Spirit of Me, Who is Queen of the All the Witches (The Goddess)

There is nothing like The Charge of the Goddess for establishing mood, and when my High Priestess (and wife) reads and recites the words of the Charge the feeling in our circle is electric. I became a Witch because I needed the Goddess in my life, and when I feel apart from Her all it takes to draw me closer is to hear the words of the Great Mother, and that chasm is overcome. The Goddess is truly alive and magick is afoot!

Hail and Welcome! (The Goddess and God in the Circle)

I feel as if the deities I hold dear are a part of my daily life, and I’ve been known to mumble to Dionysus and others while at my keyboard, but they rarely feel closer than when I’m performing ritual. Certainly there are times when they don’t show up for whatever reason (I’m sure they are busy!) or only cast us a sideways glance, but when they come roaring into circle full of power and might their energies not only contribute to our rites, they transform us as Witches.

The other night when calling to the Horned One, I stopped to picture him roaming the meadows and woods of where I live. In my mind’s eye he pranced between mighty redwoods awakening the very earth under his cloven hoofs. Off in the distance I could hear the faint sound of panpipes . . . . . Witch ritual brings our goddesses and gods to us in a way I’ve never experienced anywhere else.

Dawn by William Adolphe Bouguereau from Wikipedia Commons.
Dawn by William Adolphe Bouguereau from Wikipedia Commons.

And Now We Celebrate the Most Ancient of Magics, the Magic of Joining (The Great Rite)

For me the Great Rite has always been about the joining of two energies, and in many traditions those energies are expressed through the Goddess and the God (with the cup representing the womb, and the athame the phallus), but I’ve never believed that the “great joining” is exclusively about the female/male dynamic. When two forces collide new things are often created, and that idea can be expressed in a multitude of ways. Out here in draught-stricken California I often focus on rain and earth, because if we don’t get rain the earth will not grow and thrive.

We Now Bless This Bread and Drink As It Was Done in Days of Old (Cakes and Ale)

For many the ceremonies of Cakes and Ale and the Great Rite are linked, and while we tend to perform them one after another both of them mean different things to me. Cakes and ale (or wine) is a celebration of what comes from the magic of joining. Cakes and Ale honors the gifts of the natural world; and with the use of a libation bowl, a chance to say “thank you” to the Goddess and God for all they’ve given us. Does it serve to ground us all after a working? Certainly, but it means so much more to me than that.

Merry Did We Meet, Merry Do We Part, and Merry Will We Meet Again (Goodbye!)

There’s something satisfying about finishing up good work. While I often don’t want the circle to come down, come down it must. That I can leave our ritual space knowing that we’ve walked with the Lord and Lady and celebrated the magic and mystery of Witchcraft makes the goodbye much easier.

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