One Coven’s Ritual Etiquette Guidelines

One Coven’s Ritual Etiquette Guidelines February 4, 2017

Blessed Imbolc! Today our coven gathers in feast and celebration of the high point of winter, where we set our intentions for the Great Work of Magick over the coming year. We welcome our members to restate their vows of membership, make oaths of service, and welcome to join us–for the very first time–this year’s Seekers. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy being in circle with new witchlings at their first group ritual… The excitement is contagious.

Imbolc Altar 2016 with all of our Dedication Candles alight. Photo by Heron
Imbolc Altar 2016 with all of our Dedication Candles alight. Photo by Heron

We are a training coven with a mission to provide quality instruction and guided experience for those seeking the path of witchcraft. After Yule each year, we open the doors to people who are interested in training with us. Those we invite to join us tonight at Imbolc, have already attended 5 weeks of introductory classes with us, read extensively, established a meditation routine, and begun working through exercises independently. They’ve also been through an interview process with our coven members. They had to ASK us for continued training, and prove that they are serious, responsible and ethical–we also make sure that there will be energetic compatibility.

In our coven’s training program, the next step is “dedicating” to a Year and Day of study and practice in Witchcraft with our group, with the intent to seeking the inner initiation as a Witch. After tonight, our seekers will be considered “dedicants” in our circle, and will be invited to all of our Sabbats while they study through the remainder of the 48 Outer Court classes.

I’m tickled fusia by our incoming class of 11 beautiful witchlings, and I look forward to welcoming them to my home for a feast, and then standing side by side at the Crossroads of our sacred temple. But before we begin, we go over our Ritual Etiquette Guidelines.

Every coven has their own, unique ways of doing ceremony and their expectations of behavior, but I firmly believe that clear communication, in writing, is a beneficial foundation for a magickal relationship. So this is what they’ve all been given:


 

Ritual Etiquette Guidelines within The Sojo Circle Coven

1. Four Rules:

At all our events, but especially while in sacred space, remember our four rules for personal sovereignty:

  • Don’t burn the witch.
  • Don’t be the asshole.
  • Don’t be the weak link.
  • Must be present to win.

2. Inclusion in Ritual is a Privilege

Invitation to share sacred space at our Sabbat celebrations is a privilege reserved for those seekers within our tribe whom we believe to be responsible, discrete, sober and relatively healthy (not suffering from a contagious illness, or in a weakened physical condition.)

One should be in reasonable emotional/mental balance at the time, and capable of participating with an open mind and heart. In other words, you enter into our company with loving intentions, and in a trustworthy manner.  If we have reason to believe otherwise, that invitation can be revoked at any time.

3. There will be no Observers

All attendees of our Sabbats are expected to participate in the ritual to the best of their abilities, following the direction of the ritual leaders, and respectful of their hosts and their property. There will be no observers. Occasionally, we open a sabbat to friends and family, but due to space constraints and the inherent intimacy of Witchcraft rituals, this is not always possible, so please get prior clearance with the event leaders/hosts before inviting anyone who is not a current student or coven member.

4. Pay Attention

Our rituals can be fun, frolicking and full of mirthful laughter, or they are reverent, somber and challenging, according to the season and purpose of the rite. However, mental, spiritual, and energetic focus of all participants needs to remain on the business at hand, appropriate to the purpose of the rite, and following the direction of ritual leaders. Let all your movements, actions, utterances, even thoughts (as much as possible,) support that shared goal.  If a personal need arises that distracts from the group focus, honor your need, but please use subtlety as you attend to them.

5. Try New Things, But be True to Yourself

Physical movement, chanting, singing, sharing will raise energy, create the magick, and develop shared intimacy with each other and Spirit.  Follow along, allow yourself the freedom to occasionally “look silly,” push the edges of convention, and possibly your “comfort zone,” but adjust as necessary to be true to yourself.

At no time should you feel coerced to do anything in violation of your ethics, sovereignty or free-will.  You are in charge of you.

A Sojo Circle ritual outdoors. Photo used with permission
A Sojo Circle ritual outdoors. Photo used with permission

6. Alcohol and Dietary Restrictions

Alcohol of some sort will be in the chalice during rituals, usually wine; however, do not feel obligated to partake of alcohol.  You may pour out your sip in libation on the ground (if outside) or in the libation dish on the altar, then pass the chalice as usual. Same goes for the cakes. If you have a dietary restriction, like a gluten intolerance, you may provide your own special “cake,” or choose to offer that in libation. Again, you are in charge of you.

7. Honor your Physical Needs

If you need to step to the edge for a breather, alter your movements so as not to harm yourself, to sit, need a bathroom break, or to follow your intuition, please do so in the least disruptive way you can find. In case of emergency, let someone know right away!

Once in circle, only leave circle if your health and well-being require it. Enter/exit through the eastern gate. Energetically open the gate, then reseal it behind you. Imagine that like parting a curtain, or passing gently through a soap bubble. Visualize the sphere resealing behind you as you leave. Once you leave, please do not reenter circle; wait until the ritual is complete to rejoin the celebration.

8. Deosil and Widdershins

Clockwise movements are called  deosil (jed-sil) meaning, sunwise, build energy, so be mindful of your movements as you walk around the circle, and turning on the spot, passing items. We take turns going around the circle clockwise. The exception to this is when we are deconstructing, or reducing energy, we move widdershins, or counter-clockwise. Follow the cues of the ritual leaders.

9. Call and Response

Out coven utilizes “call and response.” When the person speaking ends with power in a phrase such as “So mote it be!” “Blessed be!” “Hail and Welcome or Farewell” it is customary for the circle to echo that phrase in response, with power in the voice. Just follow along.

10. Command versus Invitation

In both visualization, intent and the spoken word, remember that there are some spiritual beings ever-present, and we do not presume to “command” them when and where to go.  We extend an invitation and honor the presence of Gods, Angels, ancestors that beneficial and protective, and various spirit guides, etc. When the rite is complete, we express gratitude and a release of “stay if you will, go if you must, but depart in peace” to say goodbye. They are sovereign beings themselves and can be very helpful if they continue to walk with us.

On the other hand, there are the raw, wild, elemental planes of energies that are commanded into the circle as we “call the quarter” and use the invoking pentagram to open the gate.  Elemental energies lend their powers to the working and help to energetically construct the temple. At the end of the rite we “close the quarters” by dismissing those elemental energies and sending them back from whence they came.

We DO NOT want elemental energies still present outside of the construct of the circle. So, we express gratitude, then say “Hail and Farewell,” then use the banishing pentagram to close the gates behind them. To me, this is more like turning on a faucet, or a lamp. When done, we need to turn off the flow of that energy or their could be a flood or a fire, etc. This is an important distinction, and the owner of the property where we meet will be especially grateful for your consistency.

11. Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

Know that we hold you in perfect, unconditional love, and recognize that everyone in this teaching circle are still learning at different points along the path of the Witch. We are subject to occasionally forgetting something, stumbling, getting tongue tied, or making an “error,” but there is no reason to be fearful of “getting it wrong” or let that fear stop you from participating and trying new techniques.

We will gently, lovingly, help new seekers learn these techniques and follow along with the flow until you are a pro and can create and lead your own rituals. In the interim, we ask that you simply ask for guidance when you need it, and accept the helpful nudge or reminder with grace. That is the only way we can improve.

All are safe in our temple.


Imbolc Blessings!
~Heron

 


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