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Pagan Ritual

By Anna Franklin

Pagan ritual, whether it is an act or worship or magic, employs a specific series of stages, using symbolism and ceremony, to create a sacred place and state of consciousness whereby the participants are put in touch with forces outside themselves – the Gods. Step by step, we weave together the disparate threads of time, place and people using the beliefs, words, symbols, movements and intent of those involved to make the ritual pattern, a pattern by which we “establish a link and cultivate a dialogue between the microcosm and the macrocosm”. Ritual is a two way exchange between the microcosm (us and through us, our world) and the macrocosm (the greater Cosmos and the powers of the Gods).

Ritual is something that many new Pagans have difficulty coming to terms with; after looking forward to their first ceremony, they are often left with a feeling of disappointment. I sometimes have probationers who are drawn to the ideology of the Craft, but say to me “I don’t like the rituals” or “I don’t get anything out of the rituals”. They can be left unaffected while their fellow coven members are reeling under the impact of a powerful ceremony feeling divinely blessed and spiritually enlightened. They were all at the same event, so what was the difference? It may sound simplistic to say it, but you only get out of a ritual what you put in. If you merely observe and do not try to participate to your utmost capacity, then you will never be touched by ritual.


In order to work effective ritual, you need to understand why you are performing the ritual (its intent), you need to be fully prepared, purified and consecrated, able to understand the magical language (the symbolism and mythology) that the ritual employs, and you need to be capable of total concentration, able to focus your whole being on a single aim. You need to be able to relinquish your ego in order to become part of the group mind. Furthermore, the group needs to have effective techniques of opening up the channels to the Gods, and the individuals within the group the skill to receive that energy.


It has to be said that some covens, groves and moots are little more than communal meeting places, holding ad hoc festival celebrations that are little more than social events, paying lip-service to the relevant occasion. Such events are pale shadows of what rituals can be, merely touching the mental plane of ceremony, rather than connecting with the spiritual plane of ritual, and though it may satisfy and stimulate for a time, the effects of the ritual will not be profound, and will not last. It may sound very glamorous to call yourself a witch or a druid, but those titles have to be earned with study, commitment, time and effort in order to be able to move beyond the outer forms of worship. We live in a society that expects instant gratification, big rewards for little effort, and most resist the idea that self-discipline and hard work is necessary.


Continues in book...

THE PATH OF THE PRIEST AND PRIESTESS

The Craft is a mystery tradition that has formal degrees of initiation. In this, it differs from most other forms of modern Paganism.


Some Pagans condemn covens for their exclusivity, their systems of degrees and their titles of high priest and high priestess.  This criticism is understandable when we have characters like Lady Tiggywinkle, who read a book on the Craft a year ago and now she is a high priestess and has even written her own book about it. Or Darth Moloch who is magus of his own dark coven – or at least he is when his Dad lets him stay out late.  Such people have always existed of course, and are found in every branch of Paganism, but it is true to say that the Craft, with its hierarchies and titles, is a magnet for the egomaniacs and lunatic fringe.


However, the Craft degree system - and its hierarchy - provides a stable and firm foundation to assist individual spiritual progress. Candidates are enabled to develop at their own pace by a supportive group setting, under the guidance of an experienced teacher. As they progress, they become able to train and help the less knowledgeable – with each degree comes greater responsibility. Those groups that try to run as democracies where those with no know-how have as much say as those with a great deal, or those groups run by inexperienced [and all too often inflated-ego] individuals with no proper training tend to fall apart very quickly, as do those groups where people are advanced too quickly through the degrees. Over the many years I’ve spent in the Craft, I’ve learned the hard way that the traditional coven set-up is the by far the best way of organising and running a magical group. Every time I, in my ignorance or arrogance, have deviated from its rules, the consequences have been disastrous.  


Continues in book…


ISBN 978-0954753467

RRP £12.95

Published by Lear Books

CONTENTS


CHAPTER 1 – WHAT IS RITUAL?


CHAPTER 2- THE STEPS OF RITUAL


CHAPTER 3 – PUBLIC RITUALS

Small Public Rituals

Large Public Rituals


CHAPTER 4 – MAKING MAGIC

Intent and Reality

The Magician’s Worldview

The Laws of Magic


CHAPTER 5 – THE ELEMENTS


CHAPTER 6 – MAGICAL TOOLS


CHAPTER 7 – SEASONAL RITES


CHAPTER 8 - HANDFASTING

Handparting


CHAPTER 9 – NAMING CEREMONIES


CHAPTER 10 – FUNERALS AND MEMORIALS


CHAPTER 11 – INITIATION


Pagan Ritual by Anna Franklin

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