Posts Tagged ‘Tending the Dead’


Fashioning Ritual

October 22, 2009


This is my busiest time of year — not that I’m complaining. I usually teach at a conference in mid-October. Often, I’m prepping for Nano (although I’m skipping it this year due to deadlines). And we’re getting close to Samhain, which means ritual and more tarot readings than usual.

I’m doing different rituals with different intents for a variety of clients, as well as creating the ritual for Cerridwen Cottage’s Rituals for Gaia, which will be a posted series of sabbat rituals for the coming year. And, I’m working on my personal rituals for the year, which include the days of Tending the Dead and the Ceremony for the Ancestors. (If you want more information on the way I Tend the Dead, please click here).

It’s a unique challenge to work on different rituals simultaneously. Usually, I have plenty of time to create a ritual, perform it with the client, , rest up, move on to the next. But, this year in particular, I’ve ended up with more ritual bookings around Samhain. Since the individuals are different, the ritual is different.

Each individual’s needs and intents are taken into account, and the unique ritual is fashioned with that in mind. The use of pantheon, guardian, etc. is factored in; the supplies necessary; how many will participate. While seasonal rituals with similar intents can contain similar elements, using too much of a boilerplate dilutes the impact of the ritual. So every ritual has to be fashioned carefully and uniquely.

This year, they have to happen simultaneously.

How does one do that? My way is only one way; I don’t want to pretend it’s “the” way. I take notes when the client and I talk about the ritual. I make sure I know patron, pantheon, comfort level with ritual work, experience with ritual work, and any allergies, which is just as important as need and intent. If you’re using incense or oil in the ritual to which the client is allergic, it’s going to negate the ritual.

Then, I take some time meditating/visualizing the result for which the client hopes, and work from there. Obviously, it’s an intent that harms none and doesn’t interfere with free will, or I wouldn’t agree to do it.

I start with the basic structure: Casting the circle, calling in the directions, the actual work of the ritual, thanks, and closing. Then, I fill it in, according to the specific purpose of the ritual and affinities of the client. Usually, it percolates for a few days, and then suddenly, it’s as though a veil lifted and it becomes very clear. I rush to write it down while it’s still clear, and then put it away and edit it over a few days, much the way I do with any piece of writing. You want it to be succinct and focused. It needs to be something in which the client can participate (because you’re not there to perform For the client, you’ are working WITH the client) without feeling lost and without needing weeks of preparation.

Also, once the ritual is written, go over it and make a list of what each participant needs to bring, and what the client should have on hand (cups, dishes, etc. to hold things) so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute. Try to get the list to everyone four or five days before the ritual, and run through the checklist when you set up the space, and before you cast the circle.

Sometimes, looking at a full calendar can cause anxiety, but once you start to sit down and work on specifics, you feel the internal shift, and you feel it when you’re on the right track.