DISCLAIMER: Some parts of the
following rituals were taken and/or adapted from other sources. In
those cases a numerical link leads to the appropriate reference and
full credit to the original author. No copyright infringement is
intended and if the author disapproves of my usage of their work,
please e-mail me and I will take it down.
What's the Point of Ritual Anyway?
ask me why do I do it? What do I hope to accomplish through it? As
if there is some selfish profit to be gained. I have always been at
a loss for words at how to answer them. I do rituals to feel a sense
of wholesome connection, a unity with the cosmos, a serenity that
comes from knowing you are part of a grand harmony of life. It is a
ceremony of setting aside of space, time, and mind to commune with
the sacred, a way for us to shift our consciousness from the mundane
and to reaffirm our existence in a wider reality. To honor something
through ritual is to give it your full attention, your full
sincerity, and your full trust.
to attune myself with the turning of the seasons, to align myself
with the changing moon phases, to flow with the natural current of
energy abundant at that time instead of against it. I do rituals to
express my love to the less physical beings all around me, to show
that there are many who still value their presence, to thank them
for the wonderful job they're doing in sustaining our mutual
planet's ecosystems and ask how I could help. I do rituals to remind
myself that life is full of enchantment, and that deep wisdom can be
gleaned from things we often take for granted. I do rituals to
express physically what I feel in my heart, and I hope it brightens
the hearts of others.
believe rituals are done to appease wrathful deities. Indeed, in the
past it was believed that if certain seasonal rituals weren't
performed, the seasons would not change and the sun would not rise
(although this had more to do with "sympathetic magick"
than wrathful gods). My attitude about it is somewhat different.
The universe will go on with or without you, but by attuning
yourself with it through ritual you have a better chance of
understanding your place in it. Perhaps you will learn to surf its
waves rather than swimming upstream, and will enjoy the ride a
are the eight festivals honoring the Sun, and focus on the
changes in the God aspect of deity envisioned as spokes in
the Wheel of the Year. They celebrate the turning of the
seasons, and the cycles of birth, life, aging, death, and
rebirth as evident in nature. The cycle of the sun follows
the waxing and waning of light throughout the year,
following the God from his death on Samhain, his rebirth on
Yule, his growth and maturation through Imbolc, Ostara, and
Beltane as the days grow longer, his peak of vitality on the
longest day of Midsummer, his self-sacrifice through the
harvest during Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain as the days
grow shorter, and rebirth again on the shortest day of Yule.
Integral to his transformations is the Goddess who is always
by his side, to whom he is both son and lover.
solar holidays are a global phenomenon, the ones I list here
were adapted by Wicca and Neopaganism from the Celtic
heritage and have an agricultural theme. Though most people in
industrialized nations live far from such an intimate link
with the land, it is important to remember that sowing and
reaping are abstract concepts not limited to the fruits of
the earthly harvest. They equally apply to matters of
business, learning, and creativity as well. There are some
variations on the dates. Some are due to astronomical
reasons (the dates of solstices and equinoxes drift from
year to year) while others are due to a temporal gap between
old Celtic and modern western calendars. The Celtic year
starts from death, not birth, and the Celtic day starts from
evening, not morning. So the Celtic new year is actually on
Samhain (Halloween), and the holiday begins the evening
before the day itself.
course, each culture has its own plethora of holidays to
celebrate the seasons, and it would perhaps be better to
look into the festivals of your local culture, because they
would perhaps make more sense in your immediate environment.
It would also be wise to study the seasonal holidays of your
own ancestors. But in either case, the seasons speak in such
universal symbolism, that I doubt what you find will vary
greatly between each other in the essential ideas.
the dates in Southern Hemisphere!)
31-November 1) Yule (Winter
Solstice, circa December 21)
1-2) Ostara (Vernal
Equinox, circa March 21)
Solstice, circa June 21)
Equinox, circa September 21)
are the festivals honoring the Moon, and focus on the
changes in the Goddess aspect of deity: from Maiden to
Mother, from Mother to Crone, from Crone back to Maiden.
They celebrate the lunar phases and how life is affected by
them. Most people that partake in Esbats do so exclusively
on the full moon, but I honor both the full moon and the new
moon. Indeed, you could celebrate every quarter, every
eighth, or even every day of the moon cycle. Each cycle is
seen as a lunar month with unique qualities, and some tailor
each Esbat ritual to reflect these.
speaking, the waxing half of the cycle represents the
Maiden, and bears the energy of increase and invoking; the
full moon represents the Mother, and bears the energy of
climax and abundance; the waning half of the cycle
represents the Crone, and bears the energy of decrease and
banishing; and the new moon represents the transition
between the Crone and the Maiden, and bears the energy of
rebirth and new beginnings. Although the exact astronomical
date of a moon phase is most relevant, the days adjacent to
it could also be considered part of that phase, giving you a
three day window.