Wicca - Too Many Rituals?

Discussion in 'Pagan' started by BeautifulMadness, Nov 23, 2005.

  1. BeautifulMadness

    BeautifulMadness New Member

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    OK, first off, I am completely new - both to this site, Wicca itself (I was initiated two years ago but I'm still pretty much a newbie!) and to researching it's roots, so I apologise if I get anything wrong!!

    Basically, I've recently been thinking about Wicca and which parts of it I don't quite agree with - mainly the way it's going. It makes me really sad to see so many people of such a supposedly open-minded religion insulting Christians and having a go at the 'fluffies' - c'mon, I bet you were one once yourself :p I also don't like how everything is a ritual. I see the necessity of consecrating things, casting the circle, but I don't think every single thing has to be consecrated. Elements don't need to be called in my opinion - they are all already there, as are the God and Goddess. I don't think they need to be called to every spell I do - they are watching it anyway. I simply ask for their blessing on it, or call them if it is a very special spell. I know I don't need to formally, stiffly call them in someone else's words from a book to have them with me. My point? I don't like too much ritual. I think it is too stiff, too impersonal and detracts attention away from the focus and purpose of your actual spell. Does anyone else even remotely agree with me?

    I've heard that Gerald Gardner actually pretty much made up the rituals found in early Wicca as the rituals of the ancient, dying-out religion he based Wicca on were (depending on which account you read) either non-existent or insubstantial. To me, this suggests that, as an eclectic Wiccan, I am perfectly within my rights to research what little ritual WAS around then (if any) and leave out the vast majority of the things Gardner and Valiente made up. But could I still be called a Wiccan, even an eclectic one, if I was taking out some of the most important rituals? I've explained my reasoning for thinking that they aren't all important, and I'd just like to state that, if I did go on to practise this, I wouldn't mutilate the religion in anyway or completely get rid of ritual. I'd just bring my worship and ritual back to basics and certainly not read out of a book or follow a set pattern - religion should come from the heart and soul :)

    I'm sorry to have rambled so much. I just basically want to know if anyone agrees with me, or at least understands why I feel how I do? Any advice?

    Blessed Be!
    Rach xxx
     
  2. morningstar2651

    morningstar2651 New Member

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    Have you ever read Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton? It's a good book that takes a scholarly look at the history of Wicca. Gardner adapted a large portion of Wicca from ceremonial magick. In ceremonial magick, a banishment is peformed before the four quarters are called. The benefit of doing a banishment and calling quarters is that you have more control over the elements involved in a working.

    If someone is going to bash a religion, then they ought not call themselves tolerant & open minded. If someone is going to call themselves tolerant & open minded, they ought not bash a religion. I am reminded of a quote by Crowley, found in the chapter titled De Discipulis Regendis (On Directing Disciples) from Liber Aleph vel CXI: The Book of Wisdom or Folly.
    ". . .Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. See thou constantly to it that this be not broken; especially in the Section thereof (I dare say so) which readeth Mind Thine Own Business." -- Aleister Crowley.
    I tend to be blunt when confronted with fluff. Everyone is free to believe whatever they will, but they ought to be able to distinguish the difference between fact, fiction, and belief. I've had someone boast to me about communicating with the ghosts of witches burned in Salem...
     
  3. brucegdc

    brucegdc Moderator

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    My thought is that if you find the rituals irksome and unnecessary, they are - for you. If you're working as a solitary, that's great. Some people have a need/desire for the trappings of ritual to get into the proper mindset - and that works for them. Group workings tend to get the trappings because some folks expect them.

    You can cast a circle merely by going "poof" and it's there. Been there, done that - it does work. I find that the ritual setting helps me focus - which is, after all, it's intent.

    You might enjoy reading "The Science of the Craft" by William Keith - he goes into a fair bit on why ritual helps, in his opinion - and why it works, as a focussing mechanism for the participants.

    Of course, ritual also doesn't need to be stiff & impersonal - in fact, to my mind, a Wiccan ritual shouldn't be - it's designed to bring you closer to deity, and if I wanted to worship a stuffy & impersonal deity, I'd be some other faith. Our circle tends to laugh a lot during ritual - not surprising, given that the altar trappings may include wall plaques of the sun & moon which sing. (You are my sunshine for the sun, and That's amore for the moon) (We have a wierd sense of humor around this crew). Wicca is a celebratory system - and we like to keep it light.
     
  4. BeautifulMadness

    BeautifulMadness New Member

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    Yes, I completely understand what you're both getting at, and agree with the majority of it. Especially the final point by brucegdc (I love the sound of your coven, but unfortunately we don't have one at all near me). That's exactly why I personally find ritual so stuffy - Wicca, like you said, is supposed to be light, and although I'm hardly widely-read on the subject, 9/10 of the rituals I have read about, taken part in or been told about really do seem stuffy to me.

    I'm not putting ritual down or saying it shouldn't exist, because I realise that some people really do enjoy it and need it. And it would be impractical to rid my practise of Wicca entirely of ritual :) It's just a personal thing, and perhaps it will go away with time as I am new to this. I find there is too much to remember, that I feel like I'm not really saying what I feel, and instead of focusing my energy on my spell, I am thinking, 'do I really need to do this?' or 'am I doing this right?', which is obviously detrimental to the spell...

    I would have nothing against coming up with my own rituals and my own things to say, but I just don't know where to start. I'm the first to admit that I haven't seen enough rituals (you have to see it to feel it, really :)) to truly know where to begin.

    So perhaps I should change my question? Does anyone have any recommendations of rituals that seem less stiff, or that they really enjoyed? Or any help on anything to do with ritual, basically? Or where I could start with writing my own? Another reason I find it hard is because I am so awful at visualisation...I read somewhere that having the tools on the altar would help me to focus as I can't visualise very well, but I really do find that, although preparing everything gets me into the right frame of mind, having to think about so much and saying the words of someone else just detracts attention from the spell.

    Morningstar2651 - (laughs). Well, I've never had anything quite that bad but I've been talking to 'fluffies' online before and mentioned a BoS and had things like 'yeah I have a BoS too it's on powerpoint it's soo ace it has the greatest love spells in there' or been told that their BoS is better than mine and then being asked 'what's a BoS again?' :rolleyes:

    I simply think it's better to encourage them; throw some good websites or books their way, talk to them. If someone had given me a good sharp slap when I started out in Wiccanism, then perhaps it would have done me some good, but I think it would have been more likely to have either driven me right away or kept me firmly in the 'fluffy' category. :p

    I've heard Triumph of the Moon recommended; I'll certainly look into it!
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Namaste,
    Not knowing anything has never stopped me from saying something...sometimes to my chagrine. Just reading it seems like in other circles of thought ritual are meant for exactly what is stated, focus, intent, but also because it takes you through steps that have other benefits that aren't clear for sometimes years...and sometimes for pomp and circumstance, and some need it, some don't.

    The other thought is how much of it is mystical...ie while you are saying or doing x externally it is actually an allegory for y internally?

    Lastly....what is fluff and fluffies?
     
  6. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    if you are interested in basing your wicca on a sound philosophical basis which doesn't involve bitching out christians or fluffies (by which i would mean the sort of fools who buy silver ravenwolf's books or think that merlin stone is a reputable historian) i would recommend amber laine fisher's sterling book "philosophy of wicca". amber's a mate of mine (and visits here occasionally, actually) and i flatter myself that her dialogue with me had a certain influence on the development of the book.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  7. Scarlet Pimpernel

    Scarlet Pimpernel demned elusive

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    "Fluffies" or "Fluffy Bunny Wiccans" are those who (are perceived to) have a superficial knowledge of/approach to Wicca, gleaned mostly from watching "Charmed" or "The Craft" or some such, or those who think that if they wear a pentagram and black, flowing clothes then they are Wiccan, or those who think that "Nothing bad can ever happen to you if you just project positive energy." It's generally considered a pretty derogatory term. Personally, I think we've all started out from a place of ignorance. What's to be avoided is remaining there. Although if people get what they need at that moment by being a "fluffy bunny," that's fine - it doesn't affect my approach to Wicca in any way.

    As for your main question, BeautifulMadness, I almost always write my own rituals, or make them up on the spur of the moment. You can find lots of stuff on the internet about the elements of ritual if you want tips on writing your own. There are sites that explain what the purpose is of each step in a ritual, so you can make informed choices about how you want to change things. I'm sorry, I have a list of my favorites of this type of site, but I am not at home right now, and the list is. I'll try to remember to bring the list and post it here. A very good book is "The Sabbats" by Edain McCoy (I don't generally like books by Llewellyn publishing, but I think this one is a good basic book) - it has a chapter on creating your own rituals. As a matter of fact many books on Wicca have chapters on creating your own rituals or spells - go to your local bookstore and start browsing.

    One of the things that I find most beautiful about Wicca is that there are no absolutes - the point is to find what you find meaningful. I definitely agree with brucegdc about how one can cast a circle - the intent is what matters most, I find. And bruce, I would love to know where you got those wall plaques - they sound wonderful!
     
  8. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    True, even gets "stuffy Catholics" to lighten up and laugh a bit...maybe that's where "guitar mass" came from. ;)

    v/r

    Q
     
  9. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    I give a hearty second to the recommendation for Amber Laine Fisher's "Philosophy of Wicca." Another one that I think would be good to read is Deborah Lipp's "Elements of Ritual." Ritual isn't going to be effective if it's just being followed by rote. For the symbolism to mean anything there has to be some basic understanding. Once you start to understand the symbolism then you are much better equipped to decide for yourself what parts are necessary and what parts are extra, and how you can change things around to suit your own personality better.

    In my opinion by-the-book repetition of things is something that is important in religions that are based on a Holy Scripture which is considered to be unchanging. Wicca is not one of those types of religions. We don't have a Holy Scripture. The Book of Shadows from the time Gardner had his first coven was meant to be a personal workbook and spiritual journal. Fred Lamond (who was in Gardner's coven back in the 1950s and 1960s) talks about this a bit in his book "Fifty Years of Wicca." I suspect that those who treat the Book of Shadows as some sort of unchanging text are carrying over attitudes from prior Christian or Jewish religions those individuals were involved in. There's nothing wrong with religions that do have an unchanging Holy Scripture or other form of central absolute authority -- it's just that Wicca is not one of those.

    On the relatively minor note of whether to evoke the elements and the Lord and Lady during a ritual, I consider them an essential part at least in my own Wiccan rituals. They are part of declaring the ritual space special (being "between the worlds" is an important aspect of it for me) and is also a way to welcome balance. It's also a way of showing respect to the elements and the deities. I know They are always around, but it's polite to show Them special respect especially if I'm about to ask Them for a favour!

    A couple of other books that are good to inspire thought about spirituality, ritual, and integrating it in our daily lives are Dianne Sylvan's "The Circle Within" and Venecia Rauls' "The Second Circle." They do a good job of explaining how Wiccan spirituality in particular is much more than just following some recipe book of rituals.
     
  10. Barefootinthegrass

    Barefootinthegrass New Member

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    I started off trying to make sure I got everything just so, and found it very stressful! Now that I've been practising a while, I've stripped it down some. I honour the goddess by wandering around outside, and when I do magick, I get on with it, rather than taking 2 hours to get to a spell that requires ten minutes! :rolleyes: Magickal baths before hand, special clothes for during, I just don't need it. I suppose I prefer a more 'practical' magick. :)

    There are more traditional Wiccans who will argue that I'm not a 'real' Wiccan, because I'm eclectic, and solitary, and self-intitated...
    Sadly I've come across just as many intolerant Pagans as there are intolerant members of any religion. I guess humans are just humans.

    Whatever ritual or spell you're doing...ENJOY it! I don't sit and read out of books, and I've fallen about laughing on many occasions! Wicca isn't set in stone. There are as many different opinions as there are Wiccans. There's no leader, no King Kev style spokesperson. Do what feels right for you. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. As a solitary, there's no problem. You answer only to yourself. As is so often put forward, Wicca is about personal responsability. You are capable of thinking for yourself and dealing with any consequences...almost like being a grown-up!:eek:
     
  11. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Ah, the crux of the matter. One does not answer to one's self only. Once must answer to all those one affects. The caution is that even if one feels they are helping another (being benign and benificient), one may in fact be harming another, or depriving another of an important part of their life.

    Should for example, my mate decide to "ease my pain", and does so, I may lose out on an important lesson in my life that I would otherwise have learned had I continued to endure the "pain" I was going through.

    I believe that is the reason for the one absolute rule in Wicca, that must never be broken under any circumstances..."Harm no one, and do what you will".

    What I think that means is to do no harm to the spirit of a being.

    There is a movie out on DVD "The Butterfly effect", I think is the title, that demonstrates this poignantly. What ever we do, affects and effects changes in the lives of others, regardless of our intentions.

    Even Wicca needs dieties for guidance, in order to not disrupt the growth of another (or self). Without such guidance, the main rule of Wicca can become violated.

    my thoughts

    v/r

    Q
     
  12. Barefootinthegrass

    Barefootinthegrass New Member

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    Hi there.

    I'd just like to point out that the 'Do as thou will, if it harm none.' saying is NOT a 'rule' in Wicca, it is in fact advice. It is something Wiccans try their hardest to live up to. Such a 'rule' would be impossible to live by. You cannot live and breathe on this planet without the possibility of harming something. There are consequences to absolutely everything a person does, be it magickally or otherwise.

    I for one, do not use magick 'willy-nilly', I always consider if it might cause harm and if it's even neccessary in the first place. A responsable witch will always consider what she or he does carefully.

    Wiccans believe in the law of three fold return. Whatever you put out there (magickally or not) will be returned to you threefold. A harsh lesson.

    We are not without responsabilty and we most certainly do answer to our deities. The divine, however you might see it, is always there to be answered to. I apologise if my earlier post led you to think that I believe I must only answer to myself. This is not the case. I meant it in referance to how a solitary Wiccan choses to honour the divine/practise their craft. It is a very individual thing indeed.
     
  13. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Greetings,

    Then your concept of Wicca is different than mine, or what I've been told by the priests/priestesses as of late. I was told unequivicably that this is a "golden" rule, not "advice". There is no way around it. The price paid is way too high, to consider otherwise.

    I may not be Wiccan, but members of my family are, and they speak this "absolute truth", in action and deed, as well as words. Else I could not accept their ways...

    They say it is the one absolute rule that governs Wicca.

    So mote it be.

    v/r

    Q
     
  14. Barefootinthegrass

    Barefootinthegrass New Member

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    :)

    There are many opinions about the ins and outs of what Wicca is, some Wiccans will hold opinions which directly contradict another's opinion. Happens all the time. With the greatest of respect to you and your family, I have been taught that the Rede is advice, not a rule, in terms of the origin of the word Rede (the Wiccan Rede).

    Please also remember that the priest/ess's you know will be the priest/ess's of their covens, they aren't a higher authority over any other Wiccans. Wicca doesn't work the same way as Christianity.

    Blessings.
     
  15. BeautifulMadness

    BeautifulMadness New Member

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    Maybe I've got it wrong, but I thought that Barefootinthegrass meant you only have to answer to yourself (in the way you do your ritual) as opposed to answering to a coven? In other words, yes, you ARE answering to the divine etc, but you are not answering to other people's opinions on the way you conduct your rituals. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong :)
     
  16. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Wow, that makes for serious thought. And I find that unsettling as well.

    The rules are, there are no rules...? Anarchy at best...

    v/r

    Q
     
  17. Barefootinthegrass

    Barefootinthegrass New Member

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    No, not anarchy. Personal responsability. The having of morals and a good grasp of right and wrong does not depend on being religious.
     
  18. Barefootinthegrass

    Barefootinthegrass New Member

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    Thankyou! that's exactly what I meant. Perhaps I could have worded it more clearly.

    Blessings.
     
  19. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Of course not (forgive me if I implied such). But as you just stated (para), morality is "subjective", as opposed to being objective or black and white. This is where we disagree. Religion has nothing to do with doing what is right...agreed. It simply re-inforces what we perceive as correct.

    And even in Wicca there are absolutes. Unlike other magic(k)al ways of life, Wicca promises one absolute..."harm no one"...

    For one like you to come along and call this absolute rule nothing but "advice", is nothing reassuring. That means you are subject to pull the plug anytime you wish, and without notice. You destroy the very confidence you wish to build in people. You hamstring your own cause.

    Now, I am nervous about my own family members and Wicca.

    v/r

    Q
     
  20. Barefootinthegrass

    Barefootinthegrass New Member

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    Please don't be nervous of them! I'm sorry if I've upset you. I don't mean to imply that by saying it is advice that I feel I can disregard it at any time. That's certainly not the case, I assure you. As I've mentioned already in a previous post, I and every other Wiccan do my very, very best not to harm anyone. This is because to intentionally set out to harm someone is wrong. I know this because I am a decent person who has been well brought up by her parents.

    Anyone who calls themselves a Wiccan and yet sets out to harm another is, in my opinion, on the wrong path. No Wiccan, I state again, will set out to harm anyone.

    In calling the saying 'Do as thou will if it harm none' advice, I'm refering to the origins of the word Rede.

    In a sense, I suppose I was nit picking. We do live by this saying as if it were a rule...because we CHOOSE to. Because we believe it's right. It is part of what defines us as Wiccan.
     

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