Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
June 30th. 2013 ...
How To Feel The Energy Around You
Planning A Ritual
Why Pagans Might Benefit from Counseling Techniques
The Weight of Contemplation: When the Silent Self Grows Louder
June 23rd. 2013 ...
Magick and Play
Tarot Spell for Protection
Moon Musings and Planetary Preponderances: RE-fuse, RE-duce, RE-use, RE-pair and RE-cycle
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
You Can't Please All Of The People, All Of The Time
Article ID: 10594
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,826
Times Read: 5,542
RSS Views: 71,321
Author: Diana Rajchel
Posted: March 12th. 2006
Times Viewed: 5,542
I once attended an eclectic ritual where the priestess, in an attempt to be “universal”, took time to invoke everything she could think of... in the known universe. While this seemed to work for her regular attendees, it didn’t just turn me off; it confused me as to the spiritual purpose. I was continually distracted by two thoughts. The left brain: Did she actually say unicorn? Right brain: But wouldn’t the dragons EAT the fairies? Center brain: Aren’t fairies actually kind of mean?
Yes, I know I was being ungenerous, and I’m well aware that anyone who chooses to priestess a ritual puts him or herself “out there,” for public criticism in the same manner as any live performer, artist or writer. However, the artists don’t have their equally delicate egos protected the way we protect the egos of our priesthood, and in the name of being “safe” and “accepting” we abandon, at its inception, the possibility of priesthoods from various Pagan religions developing real skill in ritual design and public execution.
I’m just not evolved enough to control my immediate emotional responses to a ritual. I don't have proof, but I'm positive I'm not alone in this. I think there are lots of schmucks running around whose brains run off at the worst possible moments of ritual. I am convinced some things work, and some things don't. You could say I've made a study of it.
I learned many lessons about the failings of eclecticism after working with two student organizations and taking my volunteer opportunity, working with Twin Cities Pagan Pride, to observe as many rituals as I could manage. I’ve seen some rituals succeed and others fail. I've led a few that were tragic flops and a few public rituals that I led spontaneously were – even to my surprise – successful. Eclecticism in deliberate practice has its place, but eclecticism is often misused as an attempt to satisfy and represent everyone. That is not the purpose or intention of the Pagan spiritual eclectic approach.
Here are the messages I have taken from the rituals that have succeeded:
Don’t even try to please everyone.
The Wiccan ritual format is meant for Wiccan ritual. If you are not Wiccan yourself, just do what you actually practice, and invoke who you actually know.
Know what you're doing and why you're doing it.
If you are Wiccan, understand the standard ritual format before doing a public ritual. Don’t treat it as “fill in the blank,” and if that's all you think it is, please reconsider performing a public ritual. Every single aspect of the ritual from circle-casting to element calling has a specific reason and purpose.
If you are just exploring Wicca, I advocate holding off on public ritual until you've made a formal commitment and studied – and been regularly challenged in your beliefs – for a few years. I would guess most Pagans expect and respond to challenges from the non-Pagan religions out there; it's the challenges that come within the Pagan stratosphere that test your mettle the most. If you can't answer an Asatruar's question on Wicca's views on respect and how it's earned, or you're a Druid who can't quite explain to a Stregha why the solstice is so darned important to you, you probably need to take more time understanding what your path truly involves before making those rituals public. It’s all a matter of your reputation and how you want people to perceive you.
Make your guests welcome by introducing them.
Explain what you’re doing beforehand. Perhaps not in deep religious detail, but a quick word about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, what you hope to achieve and how the attendees can help is good. This has two typical challenges: the first is the person who wants to know WAY more than you can reasonably answer and still do the ritual within a decent time frame. Promise that person, and keep that promise, to answer more thoroughly afterwards. Yes, you will be tired after leading a ritual, but answering the public you don't necessarily select is just as much a part of the responsibility of hosting a public ritual as is the actual service itself.
The second will be a new person who may feel really insecure and out of his/her element, who will also ask lots of questions; it’s generally good to have a designated hitter not leading the ritual to answer questions and soothe those people as needed. You may still need to answer a few questions, and for that person, focus on deflating as much superstition about your practices as possible. In a phrase, make it seem boring when you talk about it. This approach will seem reassuring to those terrified and out of their natural (religious) element.
Be respectful of your attendees’ time.
There are circumstances where long, intense rituals are paramount. A ritual for the general public is not one of those times. I’ve attended and participated in two six-to-ten hour rituals that were for the public. They weren’t pleasant, they weren’t enjoyable and I was moved alright, but not in a spiritual way. Even two and three hour public rituals tweak me, and I suspect I'm not alone.
Ritual is about emotional effect. Emotional response has a limited endurance – which is why people who have persistent emotional states are advised to seek treatment. If you want people to leave a ritual feeling a specific way, you can't tax them. Make your impact, and then send your magic into the world, through the happy buzz of attendees who were affected by a well-done ritual.
If you feel you must, mix traditions.
Be very clear what you're doing and why. If you're mixing pantheons in invocation, know who you're invoking, why, and I strongly recommend you do a trial run on any such invocation at home so you can find out for yourself whether that's a really good idea in public. Again, prepare to be questioned – questions aren't acts of disrespect, they are attempts to understand. Most of the time.
For instance, I've noticed invoking Kali-Ma along with Pan or other variations of a Horned One has gotten popular in a few circles and this is something I'd question right away; perhaps there's some reasoning (like they're both lords of death) behind this. More often, though, when I've asked, the response I've gotten is that they “resonate” without any further investigation or analysis from the person that it resonates with, or (actual, terrifying to me response) “they seem really cool.”
Resonating is great; it's a key from your spiritual center that something merits further investigation. But sorry Regis, resonating does not mean it's your final answer. I've also run this trend past a few non-superstitious Hindus I know; while I didn't hear the phrase “cultural assimilation,” this practice was widely viewed as a bad idea, and no matter what books non-Hindus may read about the evolution of Kali-Ma, I wouldn't presume to understand her better than people who live within her original cultural context.
Please don't just take it out of a book.
I've attended a few rituals where someone just meshed together ideas from a book here or a book there. This refers back to the “fill in the blank” approach to specifically Wiccan ritual. I've watched as people invoked purely fictional deities, made inappropriate offerings or mixed up elemental associations without any evident reasoning. Eclecticism, contrary to popular interpretation, does not mean “anything goes.” Part of experiencing this mortal coil is working with its parameters, and the same goes for ritual practices.
Ultimately, my favorite rituals have been rituals representing one specific tradition, and I haven't even needed to share something in common with the religion behind the ritual. They are as they are, and they are eclectic in the hospitality they extend to the outsider. The mixed rituals just lose that emotional zing I need; I often walk away from these public eclectic attempts a little sad. It looks to me like the true, politically incorrect, naked heart of the ritual creator is lost to some inclusive philosophical politic.
It was true in high school, and it's true in the Pagan community, which can be like high school, only sometimes worse (and often so much better): Be who you are, not who you think everybody wants you to be.
Copyright: Copyright Diana Rajchel 2006. Please do not reprint onto websites or periodicals.
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Author's Profile: To learn more about Diana Rajchel - Click HERE
Bio: Di Rajchel contributes to the Llewellyn Magical and Wicca Almancs annually. She holds a 3rd degree initiation in Wicca, she has served on the Twin Cities Pagan Pride Board and she has practiced Wicca for ten years. Presently, she is a consultant-volunteer for the University of Minnesota Pagan Society. They have a lot of eclectic rituals.
Other Articles: Diana Rajchel has posted 5 additional articles- View them?
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