As I’ll be teaching a number of workshops on ritual facilitation at Pantheacon, ConVocation, and Paganicon, I thought I’d offer up one of my articles on leading rituals that is included in my book, Ritual Facilitation.
Raising the Sacred Fire: How to Build and Move Energy in Ritual
Together we are singing, moving, dancing, chanting, and drumming around the fire in the center of the circle. The energy builds and slows then rises up again. I move the drum beat, and the drum beat moves me. We draw closer; I look into the firelit eyes of people around me and we smile as we sing. We drop the chant down to a whisper, then bring it back up again. Our song is a prayer for transformation, a prayer for our individual gifts to be transformed on Brigid’s Forge into their highest potential. I am singing for my gift, and for the gifts of everyone there. Our prayer is singing, movement, rhythm, and our shared intention. The chant moves into a tone that rises and falls like a fire at the bellows until we hold the silence together.
Why do we do ritual? What is the purpose? Why is ritual so important to us? I have to say I’m in agreement with some things that mythologist Joseph Campbell referred to. Ritual is important and it is often missing from our lives; I believe that rituals can help us with healing from things like break ups, keep us in touch with the seasons, and that in general, ritual is something that people do and must continue to do.
On the other hand, as one person put it on an email list, a lot of ancient rituals probably looked a lot more like a kegger than any formal ceremony, and many of our ancestors seemed to like to party.
When do you raise energy in rituals? Why do you raise energy? And what do you do with the energy you’ve raised? What happens in a ritual when big energy is raised and nothing’s done with it?
I think with any ritual, so much is based upon the intention of the ritual work. And rituals rarely have just one intention. Is the ritual to do an act of magic, to honor the gods, to acknowledge the season, to do personal growth/transformative work, to build community, to acknowledge a rite of passage, to facilitate a grieving process.