This was my second seasonal ritual done “by the book” – the book being the Druidry Handbook, of course. The first, Alban Elued, was done shortly after I first learned that there was such a thing as Revival druidry, and I didn’t really know much about the symbolism I was using. I’m glad I did it because it gave a nice little taste – and you have to start somewhere, after all – but it lacked profundity. Samhuinn was more in-depth. It helps to have the opening memorized, but I need to memorize the seasonal ceremonies as well. I’m used to winging it a little in ritual. I’ll have an outline in my head and important points to hit, but usually what happens between formal opening and closing is improvised. It’s always worked well for me, and it’s nice to be able to shift on the fly to account for energy changes in groups.
Working from a script is kind of new to me. I see all sorts of things I want to add in. My husband joined me for this one, and I never like to feel like I’m performing for an audience – everyone in a ritual should have the opportunity to contribute something, so I gave him his space to speak and contribute, and I felt that this helped enormously. I feel like what I need to do for the seasonal rituals is memorize what is provided in the book, but leave spaces for improvisation and group participation. The ritual as written seems a little dry, with no room for sharing those “aha!” moments that come. I suppose it’s intended as a solitary ritual.
So, tonight’s ritual – we did it in the living room. I set up the altar, the four cauldrons, and decorated the altar with a white silk cloth, candles, autumn leaves, some mums from the garden, and an acorn squash. It looked nicely festive and seasonal. My cat came and sat under the altar table as she always does when I do ritual like this, and stayed the whole time quietly observing. I brewed mugwort and lavender tea for the Hirlas horn (which in this case was a nice ceramic mug, since I haven’t gotten it together to buy an actual horn yet) and my stone athame stood in for Excalibur, (since I also haven’t found budget room for a sword yet, though when I do it will be this one) I’ve gotten the opening memorized well enough that it went without a stumble, which was a great feeling. It was altogether a solemn, somewhat sad ritual, but we wound up talking about black holes and the creation of the universe, and how every ending contains a beginning, and the bigger the ending, the bigger the new beginning. Which for us right now is a very profound and comforting thought.
Overall it was a nice little ritual. I like wearing my robe and cord – it feels very… hmm… correct, I guess. I’m doing the bigger one for my eclectic pagan tribe on Sunday, the full moon, and it will be interesting to see how it compares. It will of course be completely different, but I’m most interested in analyzing why it’s different.