Rites of Passage

I’ll never forget reading a book about rites of passage in one of my college classes.
The entire class, in fact, was about rituals and rites and how we humans make sense of the world.  I read about some more culturally disturbing rituals, in which young men are required to “take their elder’s seed” into their mouths to receive the knowledge and strength of their elders (they perform oral sex on their fathers, uncles, and grandfathers).  But overall, the threads of that class — how a ritual is structured, the purpose of a ritual, and all of those things — I see them running through my daily life.

I witnessed a Ph.D. defense yesterday.  Well, the public part. They do the actual defense in private, but I had an opportunity to watch him tell a room full of people about his research. Although much like a normal presentation, an oral dissertation presentation has an additional layer of both nerves and giddiness. It’s not uncommon to hear jokes intended to up the ante, like, “We’ll leave all the questions to your committee,” or, “I’m sure they’ll talk about that later.”

Rites of passage are all around us.  From the training videos at national corporations like Target and McDonalds to the elaborate customs and decorations involved in handfastings and weddings, there are often symbols tied up in our everyday activities.

This line of argumentation or description may be helpful to you in your encounters with the non-pagan world. One of the more common arguments from others is that magic isn’t real, or even worse, magic is evil. Magic, if you remember, is the simple act of demanding change from the world. Any time that someone declares “I do” or “I will” in response to a question or statement, they are engaging in magic. From the court room to the DMV, magic and rituals are all around us. Pagans should not be demonized for calling what they do, what it is. The only difference is that the rituals associated with paganism are less common than the rituals associated with church on Sunday.

A Dedication Ritual

As part of my “Beginning Practice” series, I’d like to include a small ritual for dedication.  Obviously, you have to choose the ritual or method that speaks most strongly to you, but if you’re searching for a way to say, “Hey.  I’m Wiccan now.” to the world, this might be it.  Enjoy!

 

Dedication

 

Ready yourself by going to a quiet place where you will not be bothered.  You need nothing but yourself – if it is safe to do so, remove your clothing so that you can stand naked before the gods.  Use a compass or a modern resource, like Google Maps, to help you figure out where the four directions are (North, East, South, and West).  You can use note cards or this book, or memorize these words.

 

When you are ready, speak:

Great Deities, Lord and Lady, I come this night to recognize you, this night is my night, a remembrance of when I came into being.  I offer my oath to follow the Rede and the threefold law.  I offer my spirit to this oath.

Turn to face the North, if you are not already, and speak:

Earth, I greet you.  I wish to honor and work with you.

Turn to face the east, and speak:

Air, I greet you.  I wish to honor and work with you.

Turn to face the south, and speak:

Fire, I greet you.  I wish to honor and work with you.

Turn to face the west, and speak:

Water, I greet you.  I wish to honor and work with you.

Turn back to the north and speak:

Spirit, I greet you.  I wish to honor and work with you.  

Raise your hands, and speak:

Lord and Lady, I greet you.  I bid you recognize my union with nature, and ask you to lead me on my new spiritual path.  Honor me with your presence in all of the days of my life, and I will try to do the same.  

You may meditate, for some time, and pray or speak to the Gods.  When you are finished, thank the gods for their time.  The traditional closing words for ritual are:

Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.

Self Image in Circle

This topic might draw a few readers, but it is one that I find extremely important.  How you see yourself reflects strongly in how a circle casting will go.

Having a good body image is always essential if you walk the path that we do.  The gods speak to us, and they say, “you are the leaders of the world…when you walk forward, the world takes the step with you…but when you stumble, the whole world begins to fall”.  Being confident in yourself, how you look, your intelligence and your spirituality is the first thing that any one will see when they meet you for the first time.  If there is an uncertainty, it will be found.

Now that I’ve made it sound like every time you meet someone, its a test…let’s talk about the circle.  The Circle is drawn, as you know, with the basic method of purification, censing, sprinkling, casting, calling the quarters, then calling the spirits and Gods.  This layering of steps causes a magnification in all that you do within the circle.  Because the circle is a container for which to hold all energy raised within, the energy spirals around and around.  Think of it like a never ending funnel  that you send a coin down – it just keeps getting faster and faster, stronger and stronger.

This in mind, entering circle either unclean or unsure of what you’re meant to do is probably a bad idea.  When I was in sacred space with my High Priest, one thing he said struck me very truly, after the circle was done.

“These are your Gods.  When you speak to them, have pride.  You should never be afraid of them.”

He was right.  The reason I had spoken so softly in that instance, was not from fear, but more from awe.  It was the first time I had raised energy with my High Priest, and his voice had dropped unbelievably low, and the air had practically shimmered around us.  I spoke to the Gods silently, and instead of waiting for signs or feelings, they answered me back.

Needless to say, the point he brought up was very relevant.  If I had been frightened, or not confident in what I was doing, the effect would not have been as strong.  We would not have been as close to the other side as we were that night.

Have a great day!