OR When Magick Ritual Doesn't Work
What is participatory ritual? Well . . . Have you ever experienced a ritual where magick
Where the energy lifts the hairs on the back of your neck, and you feel something incredible shift as it is released?
Where synchronistic, wondrous events occur that you KNOW — deep within you — are caused by this ritual?
Did you even know this kind of ritual is possible?
A Variety Of Ritual Experiences
I had the good fortune to discover ritual and magick powerfully entwined.
When I first began to do communal rituals, I went to Circles arranged by groups of women. Each group had a very different style and the various rituals they created often had little in common, yet almost all were thoroughly inspiring and, well, magickal!
I’ve since circled with several different groups, and experienced a wide variety of ritual effectiveness.
Once you've experienced really powerful ritual, anything else feels empty and vastly disappointing.
- Some rituals have been very powerful.
- Others, rather tepid and disappointing.
- Some almost reached the magick, yet fell short.
- Most just weren’t focused on magick, but on other goals.
It's much the same as sex, or specifically orgasm — before you've experienced it, it doesn't bother you to skip it. But once you really know how sexual communion can expand you, it will always feel somewhat incomplete without orgasm.
Ritual that doesn't reach magickal transformation is just the same.
The Need For Magick
I feel privileged to have experienced, and participated in, so many different paths. But for a long time, I’ve been looking for something else. I’ve been craving MAGICK.
Not just for the thrill, or for the benefits it gives me, but because I’ve realised that the way I’m able to do healing in the world is through magick. And the more I understand how things work in the world, the more I'm convinced that magick and ritual are indispensable tools for planetary healing.
And the magick is always more powerful, for me, in groups.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about how magick happens: what helps and what hinders it?
A Ritual Flop
Twenty-five people in a circle; women, men, children. One woman explains the sequence, so we all know what we'll be doing.
But when we start, with chanting, celebratory singing, not even twelve voices raise in tentative song.
The energy droops and sags like a sail with no wind, dragging against the struggles of those trying to row ahead. We slog through what should be a light, joyous celebration as if we're plowing through mud, and we leave feeling unfulfilled.
Why is this such a common scenario? What went wrong?
Generating Entertainment, Or Sucking On "The Tube"
We live in a unique culture: we have overabundant movies, spectator sports, theatre, opera, video games, and of course the omnipresent television. There's (arguably) nothing wrong with these, but cumulatively they have one fatal flaw: they teach us to be non-participants.
People generally expect to be entertained, and it often doesn't even occur to us that it's actually our responsibility to entertain ourselves. Let alone others.
This mechanism is at work at parties, too. Think of the last time you went to a gathering, not really into it, but hoping it'd be fun. Chances are it wasn't, unless other people were putting out an extra effort to be entertaining.
We make our own fun, or we don't have any.
And if most of the people are making their own fun, they create a lot of fun for everyone. Like a feedback loop, the fun keeps bouncing off people and multiplying. The party takes on a vibrant life, and everybody talks for weeks about how great it was.
Ritual works exactly the same way. The magickal energy builds in a geometric progression, multiplied by each person who adds to the ritual.
"It Is In Giving Of Ourselves That We Receive"
This is one of the most important concepts to understand about ritual!
We usually go to rituals in order to fill some need in our lives, to get something out of it. How often do we consider that we go in order to bring something to others, or to the Divine?
Celu Amberston, author of Blessings of the Blood: A Book of Menstrual Rituals for Women
believes that participating in ritual is not a way to fulfill our own needs, but rather an opportunity to give something back, to give our energy and our love to the Earth.
I would add that in such a giving, we ourselves are filled.
As the 3-Fold Law
states, "What you give out comes back to you threefold."
Energy Is Ritual, Ritual Is Energy
Energy is the key ingredient in magick: building it, focusing it, moulding it, releasing it.
When the combined energy of a group of focused individuals comes together, the effects can be amazing. When we, each of us, pour our energies into the circle, magick moves!
The trick is, then, simple. The single most effective tool for satisfying ritual is each person's wholehearted participation in it.
If two, or four, or nine people are carrying the deadweight of ritual-observers, the energy goes into sustaining those non-participants. And if two, or four, or nine people are each pouring their hearts into the energy of the ritual, spirits soar!
A ritual with two dozen participants should be, and can be, incredibly powerful.
But the key word here is "participants."
What Holds Us Back?
Sometimes shyness, fear, lack of experience inhibit us.
It does takes courage to open up, to let yourself be seen and heard.
Yet without taking that risk, you remain closed to the Divine, your Deepest Self, and all the possibilities of magick!
Without stepping forward courageously and open-heartedly, we can't receive the gifts that are waiting for us. Take this small risk. It's really worth it!
"If You Can Talk, You Can Sing!"
As the African proverb goes: "If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing!" If you are human, you can create magick.
You not only can: you need to!
You can go into ritual with your whole heart and your whole body, as a gift to each other and the Earth, and you will come away refreshed, replete, and fulfilled.
Try this at the next ritual or party you attend!
With Brightest Blessings,
Next Article on Wiccan Ritual
Participatory Ritual: When Magick Ritual Doesn't Work