Monday, 30 July 2007

Questions for Pagans - Part 2

Pagan Rituals

What is the most basic form of ritual in your Pagan tradition?

How do rituals play a part in your form of Paganism?

If you didn’t practice rituals would you be considered non-Pagan?

Can rituals be a guiding influence both inside and outside of the community?

Do Rituals have a transformative effect on you as an individual and as a group, and can ritual “break through’ to the otherworld, another realm or reality?

Have you ever met anyone, or heard about, anyone become mentally ill by participating in a Ritual.

Can ritual be in any other way dangerous?

I’m standing on the smoking balcony at work, facing South.

I gently open up all my chakras, from the bottom up, and put down roots through the concrete to the Earth below.
I give a little pull, and the energy of Goddess comes rushing up through the soles of my feet, lighting up each chakra as it ascends to a white fountain out of the top of my head.
Whirling my crown chakra a little faster, I open to the clean bright energy from above, washing down through my body.

I am connected to Earth and Sky, perfectly poised between Yin and Yang, fitted into my place in the world with joy.

That’s probably the simplest form of ritual I practice now.

When I started, I was a member of a Wiccan coven, and the simplest ritual would involve the casting of a circle at the very least-probably also candles and incense.

I still use a great deal of Wiccan ritual as the words are well known to me by now, leaving me freer to feel the production of magic and the presence of the Gods. Tried and tested, I guess.

Rituals involving circles, calling quarters, candles and incense are good ways for me of centering, narrowing down my focus.

As I have mentioned, being a solitary or only celebrating with my partner gives me more freedom and confidence to connect correctly and to go deeper in my communication with the universe.

Most Pagans do practice some form of ritual, but it can be as simple as hanging between Earth and Sky, or scattering an offering of seeds from a pouch. Free form religion at its best.

Then of course there are the ritual tools, a big draw for some people into Paganism!

Just look at that sleek black Athame, that wicked broadsword for circle casting! The silver or brass candle sticks and elaborate swinging censors, the sinister looking pentacle!

Let’s get real here-these trappings attract their fair share of protoPagans into the mainstream – and I haven’t even started on the flowing robes and voluminous hooded capes, have I?

The glitter and the bling can be dangerous in themselves-they can hook you in without a thought for the elemental energies you’re supposed to be using them to call.
Dangerous elemental energies? Only if used heedlessly.

A surfeit of fire, water or a too-close fitting of an archetypal Deity energy at the wrong time could be hazardous to one’s mental health. This is where a trusted teacher or friend comes in handy. Most of them have been there, and can give tips on avoiding turning into a bad-tempered Goddess or an air-headed Sylph for 24 hours.

But that’s about the size of it, from a mental illness point of view. I’ve never heard of anyone who was reasonably sane going off the rails due to ritual alone.

Transformation is a big raison d’etre of ritual, in my opinion.

In a well-knit coven the entire circle of celebrants can become infused with the power of the Gods-I’ve seen it happen.

Personal transformation, while a long term, ongoing work, is helped and fixed by specially designed rituals- a good working gets right down into your soul.

The old saying is magic works by transforming the practitioner - very true.

Here’s another one- “At first, I thought I understood how magic worked. Then I understood that it was a load of cobblers. Finally, I clicked that it was a load of old cobblers that works.”

Which is not to say that all Pagani practice magic (Or –oh gods! Even magick), or that it’s even necessary.
But transforming yourself into someone you’re comfortable with, and having a go at shaping the world into a better place to be are laudable aspirations for any religion or spirituality.

Pagan ‘gods’

How do Pagan ‘gods’ have an active role in your life?

Do some pagans create their own gods?

As I mentioned in Part 1, the number of ‘isms’ covered by the Pagan umbrella is legion.

Your understanding of Deity is key.
I have been a Hard Polytheist, a Soft Polytheist, and an Atheist in my spiritual Pagan journey, and have come to understand that how you name your thealogy just doesn’t matter.

It’s just you and the Gods, whether you hold them as real or archetypal, when it comes down to the wire-and no other Pagan is going to make judgment on that.
It’s personal, and we respect that in each other-although that doesn’t stop a lot of discussion on the matter going on! Makes for a dynamic religion.

When I started, I was by circumstance introduced to a pair of Deities peculiar to the Tradition I was initiated into.

Later, I was advised to get to know the Gods of my ancestors- so I took on Cerridwen of Wales and Cernunnos as my primaries.
Later still, I called on Deity in extremis and the lady Hecate came to me-where She has been ever since. As Her compliment, I adore Anubis as a male-force guide and protector.

Which puts me in the position of having a mixed pantheon to defend- but I don’t. Defend it, that is.
They are my own and I am theirs- we reflect each other n all things, and this is the way I understand the God forces best.


Are there any more worthwhile things I might need to know?

You might need to know that you are the arbiter and judge of your own soul. Don’t ever let that responsibility fall to another human being.

When all is said and done, it’s just You and Them-and You are Them.

But I suspect that you already know this

Pics: Ritual Tools! ; Cernunnos ; Cerridwen ; Hecate ; Anubis