I crave ritual. I crave grace. I crave water.
There is no sin or falleness in Paganism. Those things that drive Christians to seek grace do not exist for us. What we do have is impurity. Pagans of old were obsessed with purification rituals, with bathing and with cleansing. In my tradition we purify ourselves before ritual by taking a ritual bath. With prescribed words, oil, salt, fire and smoke we prepare ourselves to meet the Gods. We will dress according to tradition, make ourselves pleasing and favorable.
I crave that today. To cleanse my body and soul, to say the prescribed words and wear the prescribed garments. I crave water. I crave ritual. I crave grace.
Grace is a Goddess. Grace is not merely a Christian concept. Not merely Hindu kripa, but an actual Goddess. Actually there are three of them, but the Greek word for grace is also used as a name for Aglaea, the youngest of the Graces and wife of Hephaistos.
Charis/Aglaea represents “splendor” and her children by Hephaistos are “good repute”, “acclaim, “prosperity” and “welcome”. She is not grace in the terms of mercy or clemency. She is favor, good will, moral strength, hospitality. For a Pagan to be in a state of grace is to be a welcome guest, a good guest, a polite guest. A guest who has bathed and put on fresh garments before visiting. A guest who honors you by taking care in their appearance so that they may bring honor to your household. A guest who is courteous and kind and generous.
I am not always a good guest in Circle. Sometimes I ask to be smudged off with sage rather than taking my ritual bath. Sometimes I am preoccupied and distracted in Circle. Sometimes I am careless in my appearance. Certainly this isn’t bad or sinful, but it doesn’t exactly merit me a gold star.
There is something satisfying about going down to the Circle to pray, studying about that “good old way”. Circle is like baking, all the ingredients must be right for that sacred space to appear. Flour, eggs, salt, heat and time are important but perhaps it’s Spirit that is the yeast. There have been nights when I didn’t feel Circle. I was not mindful. I was not present. The ritual was good and the space was sanctified but I wasn’t really there.
Going into Circle mindful, open and ready isn’t possible every single ritual. We all have off days. We’re human. Sometimes though when you really need that connection then you know you have to cultivate that awareness of Spirit. When you need to engage the Sacred you have to prepare yourself to meet the Sacred. I crave ritual. I crave grace. I crave water.
Water is magical. It refreshes us. It cleanses us inside and out. It can makes us cold or warm instantly. It is fluid, moving, living, sparkling. It is the Living Waters of Her Womb. We are surrounded by water. The seas surround the continents. The atmosphere, thick with humidity in my state, is a roiling cauldron of inspiration holding us so fragile and lovely in the dark vacuum of space. We crave it. We crawled out of the ocean and occasionally we get the urge to crawl back in. Emerald Rose speaks of this longing in their song “Take Me Down To Her Water“. We cannot live without water. It truly is a holy and magical substance. I crave water. I crave ritual. I crave grace.
For those of you who will worship, chant, dance, sing and conjure beneath the full silvery moon tonight I wish upon you the blessings of water, ritual and grace.