- Procession in (optional)
- Leaving of Ego “at the door”
- Grounding/Centering meditation
- Honor the Earth Mother
- Honor the Sky Father (optional)
- Statement of Purpose
- Recreate the Sacred Center
- Call to the Beings
- Land Spirits
- Call to the Honored Being(s)
- Public offerings to being(s)
- Shared meal with being(s)
- Blessings of the Waters
- Other Workings as Needed
- Thank all the Beings
- Honored Being(s)
- Land Spirits
- Sky Father (if called)
- Earth Mother
- Recession (optional)
Steps 1 and 16: Procession/Recession:
If the gathering place for the ritual is not the ritual site itself, you may want to process in and recess out. This can be done in various manners, be it silent and meditative or with song and jubilance. We recognize that often it is easier or necessary to just meet at the ritual space. In those instances, a short song or drumming may be used.
Step 2: Leaving “Ego” at the door:
The purpose of this is to remind everyone that we are all gathering as equals and nobody is better than anyone else. Traditionally this is done by passing a vessel of some kind to allow the folk to put their ego into. When that has been done by everyone, the jar is then left outside of the ritual space so that the egos are not part of the ritual. After the ritual, members may retrieve their ego from the jar if they wish, but our experience is that it grows back.
Steps 3 and 15: Grounding/Centering:
Before and after the work of the ritual, a grounding and centering meditation or trance journey is performed. Before the ritual, this should focus on leaving the mundane behind and focusing on the work ahead. After the ritual, this should focus on leaving excess energies behind and bringing ourselves back to our everyday normal.
Step 4: Honoring the Earth Mother:
Within our religion, we are at our core nature focused. We therefore honor nature through the guise of the Earth Mother. This is the earth itself and can be looked at as the earth in its entirety or a local spirit of the land such as a river, lake, or mountain.
Step 5: Honoring the Sky Father:
The Sky Father can be seen as the counterpart to the Earth Mother. This being is often best seen as the weather god of whatever culture the ritual is working with. They can also be seen as the “head” god of the culture. This is not a required step as it may not resonate with your local group, or with that specific ritual.
Step 6: Statement of Purpose:
After we honor the ever-present beings, we need to clearly state why we are doing ritual. This clear statement of intent will help us focus all the following work to that intent.
Step 7: Recreate the Sacred Center:
Recreating the cosmos is creating the sacred center in your ritual site. How this is done will vary from culture to culture, but the most common element in all sacred centers is the fire. As such, your sacred center should contain a flame of some kind, be it a live wood fire, candle, or one of the electric candles when open flame is not allowed. In addition to the fire, you may add other culturally appropriate symbols to your center. For example if we look at the Celtic and Germanic people, a tree and well would be highly appropriate. On the other hand for the Greeks, you may want an omphalos and well.
Step 8: Outsiders:
At this point, we have stated what we intend to do and set up our sacred center. We now make an offering to those that would want to disrupt the ritual, or who are not aligned for the purpose of the ritual to step aside and let us worship in peace. When making the offering though, don’t physically make it yet, but instead hold on to it, outside of the ritual space. During the thanks and farewells part of the ritual, you should acknowledge the outsiders again, and make the offering if they did not disturb the ritual. This call and offering should be made with respect and not in any kind of adversarial fashion. Some beings that you are asking to stay away today you may want to come next time.
Step 9: Purification:
At this point, we do a final purification of ourselves to prepare for ritual. This is traditionally done by cleansing yourself with water followed by purification by smoke from incense or other similar material. If a well is involved in your sacred space, the water for the purification should come from the well. The incense should be lit from the sacred fire if possible.
Step 10: Call to the Beings:
We recognize three general classes of beings:
- Land Spirits
For the ritual, we make offerings to and ask all these beings to join us and help us fulfill the purpose we stated at the start of the ritual. The order that the beings are called to can change based on the purpose of the ritual.
Step 11: Call to the Honored Being(s):
At this point, we make offerings to and call whatever beings are the honored guest. There may be more than one being, and they may come from any class of beings we just called to join the ritual. While a balance of male and female beings may feel right to some, it is by no means required. Some rituals may be best to honor one being such as Imbolc honoring Brighid or Yule honoring Odin. Others may be best to honor multiple beings or an entire class of beings such as Samhain honoring the Ancestors as a whole.
Once we have made offerings and called them in, everyone should have an opportunity to make an offering to this being specifically, but also to any of the other classes of beings we have invited. This can be done easily in a small group with allowing the folk to make individual offerings to the earth or fire. For some cultures, the passing of a drink will be the preferred method of offering. With larger groups though, the amount of time this takes can be a detriment to the ritual. In these cases, having everyone come up en-mass to make the offering, or having multiple small circles of people to pass drink can speed this up.
Finally, once all the offerings have been made, we do a shared meal with the being. This traditionally is a loaf of bread where half is offered to the being and the other half is offered to the folk to share. As people have various food sensitivities and allergies, it is best to ask the folk before the ritual if the shared meal will be an issue for them. If it is, then it would be best to find an alternative that would work for them and either make that the meal for everyone, or sacrifice half of that to the being and pass multiple meals around making sure the ones that need that one get it. Again, with large groups, this can be a time sink that is a detriment to the ritual. Making the sacrifice and then breaking the rest up into multiple large pieces to pass around will make this go faster.
Step 12: Blessing the Waters:
Once we have done all the honoring and sacrificing to the being of honor, we then ask them to bless waters in return so we may drink their blessings. At minimum, a non-alcoholic drink should be blessed, but alcoholic drinks may also be blessed. Traditionally, the waters are passed person to person so they may drink from a shared cup. If there are concerns of illness or hygiene, the waters can be poured into individual cups. This too can be a slow part when you get to large rituals. When doing a large ritual, multiple vessels of the drink should be blessed and passed around starting at multiple places, or instead of drinking, plain water is blessed and this is sprinkled over the participants.
Step 13: Other Workings as Needed:
This is optional, but if there is some other working that is needed to be done, and the energy raised along with the honored beings align with that work, this is the time to do it. An example of this would be an Imbolc ritual to Brighid followed by healing workings.
Step 14:Thank all the Beings:
At this point, we are working in reverse and thanking all those we have honored in this ritual. The general order will be:
- Honored Being(s)
- Three classes of beings (Ancestors, Land Spirits, Deities) in the opposite order of how they were called
- Sky Father and Earth Mother
For the Outsiders, we also want to acknowledge their behavior. If they did not disturb the ritual, make the offering you showed them earlier. If they did disturb the ritual, reclaim the offering and don’t make it