One of the topics that comes up a lot is the question of whether it’s better to do ritual inside or outside, and why. This article talks about ways I look at where to do ritual, and offers some practical advice to make sure you look at all the different safety and logistical considerations.
What are you planning to do?
There are two ways to start looking at location – one is by looking at the weather, and deciding what you can do given that weather. The other is to start by looking at what you’d like to do, and deciding where the best place to do it is. I generally prefer the second option, because it’s the one I have a bit more control over.
How flexible is your timing?
If you’re working by yourself, you may have a lot of flexibility to find a good patch of weather that’s likely to last as long as you need to do your ritual work. By using the traditional ‘the full moon can be celebrated for 3 days, the day of the full moon, and a day on either side’, for example, you might be easily able to find half an hour or an hour of good weather at a time you’re free.
However, if you’re working with other people (who need to be available at the same time and probably need to plan other things in their lives around that), or if you want to do something at a very particular day/time (a particular astrological timing, for example), planning to work inside may make more sense, unless you’ve got reliably good weather.
How long do you need to be outside?
Different ritual practices take different amounts of time. If what you want to do is quite quick (say, under 10-15 minutes), you have a lot of options for outside time. Even if the weather is not good, you can usually bundle up long enough to stay warm and dry and safe for that long.
However, if what you want to do is going to take longer, it can be more complicated to be outside. If you need to use your hands, being outside for very long in sub-freezing temperatures without gloves is not good for your health. Meditating (or anything else that involves sitting quietly) can make you get cold very quickly, too. On the other end of the weather, a physically active ritual outside in high temperatures and humidity can get you into trouble with heat stroke quite fast.
What’s your location?
Someone’s backyard is a different setting from their living room – and both are quite different than a city park or a larger state park or rural area. You’ll need to think about different aspects of privacy, safety, and weather considerations depending on which one you’re in.
How much physical stuff do you need?
Some people’s ritual practices involve a certain amount of physical stuff – candles, altar tools, images, and so on. These things can be lovely inside, but outside, the wind and weather can offer a lot of challenges. If you’re working outside, you need to make sure that altar cloths are weighted down, that candles won’t blow out, that lighter objects won’t blow over or away if the wind picks up. And of course, it takes time to set these things up and pack them away, so if a storm blows in quickly, you may have to scramble to get everything under cover (and some things may get ruined.)
If you’re using much less in the way of physical objects (or they’re all things that won’t be damaged much by being wet), you have a lot more in the way of options for working outside.
Are there any restrictions imposed by the location?
For example, public parks can be a great place for outdoor ritual (since they give you outdoor space, but some covered pavillion options if the weather turns bad, plus things like bathrooms). However, parks often have their own restrictions. Some require a permit to use the facilities and it can be complicated to schedule those permits. Others forbid alcohol, glass, or other items.
Likewise, if you’re using someone’s private property, they may have limits on what you can do, or where you can do it. Or there may be other restrictions in place (like a burn ban if the area is very dry.)
What’s the weather like?
One of the most basic questions when we look at doing ritual outside is the weather. If you live somewhere where the climate is quite moderate for much of the year, you’ll have more reasonable choices than somewhere that gets either very cold or very hot for a chunk of the year. (Or both, as some places do!)
How stable is the weather?
Some places, the weather is not very predictable. Can you figure out what the weather will be like enough in advance that you can plan accordingly? Is it possible that a rain shower or other bad weather might blow in quickly and without warning?
In some places, the weather is generally quite mild and predictable. In other places, it can vary quite a lot on the same day in different years. (For example, May 1st here has been 65 F and sunny some years, and on others, it’s been 35F and a rain/snow mix). Many places have some seasons which vary widely, and some seasons that are more stable.
Do you have shelter nearby?
You might make different decisions about your plans depending on where you’re going to be. For example, you might plan to try and do ritual outside more often if you’re doing it somewhere with shelter (or an indoor location) that’s easily accessible, like working in the back yard, but moving into someone’s basement or family room if the weather turns nasty. If you’re going to be miles out in the country or a park with no shelter nearby, you want to be a lot more certain of the weather for the day before you haul everything out there.
Some things you especially want to think about include:
Heat: If the temperature will be over about 90F, you want to think carefully about heat illnesses (heat exhaustion, heat stroke) and sun burn. If you’re going to be outside for more than a handful of minutes, you should plan to make sure you have plenty of water, and that people can sit/rest in the shade if they need to. Young children or people taking some medications can also be especially sensitive to heat.
Cold can also be quite dangerous very quickly. While extreme cold is obviously a problem, the most common time to have problems with hypothermia is if the temperature is in the 40s to low 60s (F) and drizzly/damp. An extended ritual outdoors in this weather can be quite risky for people who don’t dress for the weather or who are sensitive to cold.
And of course, if it’s very cold (below freezing, basically), you don’t want to expose your skin to the weather for any length of time. This means that anything that involves delicate hand motions (writing, lighting candles, pouring liquid, passing food or drink around, using tools, etc.) is probably better kept for better conditions or inside.
Wind can also complicate things. Besides the problems noted above with managing altar items and tools in a strong wind, wind also makes it harder to hear what’s going on, and it can make a cooler temperature feel much colder.
Rain is both pretty miserable to be out in, and can make cold much worse, especially if people are wearing cotton (which stops insulating when it’s wet) as opposed to wool (which will continue to insulate.) And of course, it makes it hard to do anything that involves paper (reading a meditation, divination decks, etc.)
Severe weather is also important to take into consideration. Does your area get severe thunderstorms blowing in quickly? Tornadoes? Forest fires (and the related smoke?) Blizzard conditions or flash floods? If that’s the case, you’ll want to know how to handle those conditions if they come up, and have a back-up plan if they’re predicted.
How much privacy do you need?
One of the other big factors in working outside is privacy. Sometimes, this isn’t a big deal. For example, wandering outside, sitting down, closing your eyes, and meditating doesn’t look that unusual if you’re in your backyard. However, setting up several altars outside, chanting, saying ritual phrases, and using a range of tools is a lot more obvious.
What are you planning to do? How obvious is it to an outside observer that you’re doing something religious or spiritual that might be new to them? A quiet meditation or libation can be done without attracting a lot of attention. A more formal group ritual with singing, different responses, or lots of obvious tools may not be a good fit for your back yard if your neighbors can see everything.
Who can see you? Neighbors you have a good relationship with, or someone who’s been looking for an excuse to make trouble for you? If you’re working with other people, do they feel comfortable if someone notices what you are doing together?
How much noise and distraction will there be? You might be fine with the fact your neighbors can see you – but what about if they have a party that night? Would you be comfortable doing what you plan with lots of different noises coming from the party?
How will you handle questions? Groups doing outdoor ritual often designate one or two people to answer questions (from curious passerby, park police, etc.) If you’re working in a backyard, you will want to be prepared to talk to your neighbors if they have any questions. Often, the unknown is a lot scarier to people than the known, so having a brief, simple explanation like “I’m having some friends over to honor the first day of spring” can smooth things over a little. Knowing your neighbors and being a good neighbor in other ways can definitely help a lot too.
Are there any safety concerns?
All locations have some safety considerations, but working outside offers some additional things you should think about in your planning. Working in your backyard is usually pretty safe (and if it isn’t, help is nearby), but if you choose to work in a more remote location (off the track in a park, or more rural land), you’ll need to have additional plans in place.
- Do you have any health conditions that are more complicated outside? For example, someone with asthma or allergies may be more prone to problems outside than inside. Those with mobility challenges may find working outside a lot more tiring, even if the site is accessible to them (and they aren’t always.)
- What would happen if you hurt yourself and needed help? (Anyone can twist an ankle!)
- Are there any concerns from wildlife (bears, coyotes, mountain lions, snakes, etc.) Do you know how to handle these in the best way possible, and how to get help?
- Can you identify poisonous plants, as well as places wasps, biting ants, scorpions, or other insects that can cause problems live?
- Do you need to pay attention to mosquito or tick carried illnesses? How will you handle that? (These days, this is just as much an issue in suburbia…)
- If you’ll have a pet with you, do you know how to keep them safe as well?
- Are there burn bans or other seasonal considerations you should be aware of? (Air quality warnings, severe weather advisories, and other area warnings are important too.)
- Do you have appropriate training/resources to handle bathroom needs, food safety, and other related things safely as needed? Do you have a complete first aid kit that will be on site?
- If you’re going to be a fair distance away from help (like in a state park), is someone there trained in first aid, and can people give clear directions if you do need to call an ambulance or other help?
Working with others:
Working with others can be a wonderful thing – but when we do, we need to remember that they may have different needs or requirements than we do. We also (as noted above) need to remember that we’re going to have to schedule in advance, so we may not have the best weather.
Things to be especially thoughtful about:
- Are there people who are sensitive to cold?
- Or those who feel the heat or overheat easily?
- Are people all in good health, or do they have some health considerations that change based on the environment?
- Is anyone who’s going to be there at particular risk due to age? (Both older people and those under about the teen years can be especially vulnerable to heat, cold, air quality, or other climate or outdoor health issues.)
- How much energy do they have? (Working outside generally takes more energy and exertion, because it takes more effort to set things up, move things, etc.)
- Do people need a chance to sit down? If so, they’ll need to bring folding chairs outside, which takes extra energy and planning.
- Does anyone have mobility issues that limit their access to the site? Some people can’t handle hills or rough ground easily.
- Does anyone have allergies to pollen or anything else that may make them miserable to be outside? (Pollen, smoke, molds, etc. can all have a big impact.)
- Do your plans allow for enough food, drink, water, and other necessities? What about bathroom facilities? Is everyone comfortable with these options?
Even if you decide that you don’t want to do your entire ritual outside, you do have some other options.
A portion outside: One common option is to set up circle inside (and do the formal ritual bits or the ones that are sensitive to weather inside) but to have a portion of the ritual that takes place outside, such as a brief walking meditation, gathering of items for later in the ritual, etc.
Ritual inside, feast outside: This is perhaps the most common option: the formal ritual takes place inside, but if the weather’s at all reasonable, people have their post-ritual food and social time outside. This is a great way to experience the change in season and nature while not being at the mercy of the weather for your actual ritual plans.You can also include some seasonal activities (preparing a garden, a nature or herb walk, star-gazing, etc.) as part of the events.
Have a bad-weather plan: And of course, it’s possible to have an alternate plan for bad weather. For example, you may plan to do something outside, but have a fall-back if the weather looks bad. (This option works particularly well for times when you can usually expect good weather, but not always.)
There are some complications for this, especially for group work. To make it work, you need:
- A ritual plan that will work as well inside as outside (this depends a lot on what you intend to do.)
- A suitable indoor space. If you need to rent space, you’ll need to rent/pay for it whether you use it or not, which may make this less appealing as a choice than if you’d be using someone’s basement as a backup.
- A clear way to communicate changes to other people involved (remembering that they may be out doing other things before coming to ritual. In these days of cell phones, this is a bit easier than it used to be). If the two locations are in different places, and people need to coordinate rides/public transit, this can get especially complicated.
- If you’re using a space that’s not regularly used by the group as a backup, the people there need time and warning to get it ready for use (by tidying, cleaning, etc.) This means that a last-minute change of location is not a great idea.
What I do:
My basic principle is that I think it’s more important to do ritual than it is to be outside. I do most of my ritual work inside, due to a combination of weather and health concerns, and privacy considerations (I live in the middle of a city.)
I do include outdoor time in my religious and spiritual practice, but I do it mostly outside of structured ritual, so I can be more flexible and adaptable to my own needs and the current weather. (If the weather’s lousy, it’s easier to find a few minutes for a quick walk and bundle up than it is to do a whole ritual, too!)
However, some of my decisions are based on the fact that it can get lethally cold in Minnesota in the winter (and the bugs and heat in the middle of summer are not always the most fun ever, either.) If I lived in a different place, I might well make some different choices.
One question that comes up from time is how to remove old energetic ties and energetic entanglements that no longer serve us. My own approach to it is pretty pragmatic: clean all the things, see what’s left, and figure out how to untangle that. Cutting is a last resort, because it has some ongoing consequences.
The methods I describe below are designed to clear out anything that isn’t serving you anymore, rather than focusing on cutting ties with a specific person (I generally think it’s more useful: sometimes we’re being limited by energetic ties we don’t know are there.)
However, you should be aware that doing this kind of work can change relationships in ways you didn’t anticipate. You may find that some relationships in your life become closer, others become unexpectedly distant. Because this method is relatively gentle (except for the one place where I note otherwise), if you don’t want that outcome with that person, you can generally fix it with some attention and time.
The practices below mostly assume that you have some solid skills: If you don’t have these yet, you should learn them first and get some practice.
My basic theory on energetic connections goes like this:
1) We are all connected, in a very loose way, because we are all part of the larger world and environment.
2) However, some of us are more tightly connected than others, because of choices we’ve made. Some choices create closer ties than others.
Going to the same high school as someone creates some ties, but for most people most of them are relatively weak. Being married to someone is a much tighter tie. Having sex (or fooling around) with someone is somewhere in the middle. Working with someone for six months is a fairly light tie, but working together for five years is a much stronger tie.
Magical and esoteric groups, or any setting where there are strong emotions, major life-changing experiences, very new situations, or anything similar can create a very deep relationship tie very quickly. (Think summer camp, too.)
3) As we grow and change, some of those ties fall away easily. Others don’t. That doesn’t mean that those ties are bad or wrong – just that if they’re no longer serving us, we might not want to continue adding energy to maintaining them.
4) Very occasionally, someone will get a tie into us that’s really hard to shift. A family member who knows just how to push all our buttons. A boss whose actions take a sharp swipe at our confidence and self-assurance. Anyone who shifts our view of ourselves, or ability to stand tall in our own identity. In these cases, we may want and need to detatch in order to do the stuff we care about – but we may need a bit more effort to do it than getting rid of outgrown ties.
When you might consider this kind of work?
- You’ve had a major change in a relationship that means someone who meant a lot to you has either left your life, or the relationship is so different they might as well have.
- You are tidying up loose ends as you transition into a new stage of your life (as part of a physical move, a new dedication to a particular path or a next step on a path).
- You feel that there are specific old entanglements that are keeping you in patterns that don’t serve you, and you want to release them so you can move on.
I generally review my life at major transitions (physical moves, new jobs, other noticeable changes in my life), but also do a quick review at least every year (usually around my birthday) or six months (if I’m going through a range of smaller changes.)
What do you need?
Useful tools vary depending on your preferences, but I’m fond of:
- a handful or two of sea salt (table salt will do)
- a soap you consider particularly refreshing and ‘new’.
- incense you consider purifying and cleansing (sage is classic, but there are lots of other choices. If incense is a problem for you, you don’t need this.)
- music that reflects the kind of changes the new openness might bring me.
- comfortable clothing that helps you enter into a ritual mindset. (For the approaches below, flowing sleeves and long skirts are less practical, but see the notes below.)
You should also include at least one tool that helps you reflect on yourself and what you want. For some people, this is a journal. For others, it’s a divination tool (Tarot, runes, something else). For some people it’s a pad of art paper and markers/paints/whatever.
You also want whatever other things you’d normally use for ritual or magical work. For some people that’s altar clothes, candles, incense, statues, and more. For some people that’s their favorite tree outside. (You will want a bit of privacy for this.)
A good place to start is from as energetically clean a place as you can. Generally, I suggest:
Center and ground.
Focus on balancing your energy: letting out anything that is no longer serving you, taking in things that allow you to grow and heal.
Wash your various selves.
Have a bath or a shower, focusing on washing away any energy or energetic ties that no longer serve you. Take it seriously – scrub yourself the way you would if you’d been camping for a weekend, or out playing in the mud. Get between your toes, behind your ears, and everywhere else you can think of.
As you scrub, focus on the unwanted energy washing away from you and (when you open the drain, if you’re in the bath) flowing out through the drain, flowing far far away and dissipating. If you’re in the shower, this is even easier.
I generally prefer to throw a handful or two of sea salt in the bathtub (it’s a great psychic cleanser) along with a couple of drops (3-5) of an essential oil that helps with cleansing and purifying (both lavender and rosemary are cheap and have lots of uses. Right now, I’m using a blend of juniper, fennel, and grapefruit a lot. There’s a folk tradition of putting a bottle of beer in the bath, and I’ve found that pretty effective, too. Shower users can use a salt scrub, or hang a small muslin or felt bag of dried cleansing herbs (hyssop, lavender, rosemary are good choices) under the shower spray.
Get dressed in a way that helps you be your best possible self.
Best possible self in the sense of what you want to continue to become. If you’re making a transition from ‘stay at home mom’ to ‘back to the workforce’, dress in clothing that at least somewhat reinforces that. If you’re leaving behind a relationship that’s no longer working, consider wearing something that ex really didn’t like – but that you love on you. That kind of thing.
Spend time reflecting:
What stuff in your life do you want to let go of? Do you feel any resistence to doing that? Why? Why not? What would help you feel like you could move on?
For example: if we’re moving on from a romantic relationship that had – like most of them – some really good stuff, and some really hard stuff, we might want to hang onto the good memories, but recognise that we need to move on, and let go of what might have been. We might spend time looking at photos or listening to songs that remind us of the good times, or writing a list of the things we’ll miss. But then we might go and continue, and write a list of why we’re done now with that relationship, what we’re *not* going to miss, and what we’re looking forward to as we move on.
The exact questions you’re going to need to ask yourself depend a whole lot on your situation. In some cases, like the example above, it’s pretty straightforward: there’s a clear ending to work with. In other cases, it’s going to be a lot fuzzier: you may know you need to do *something*, but not really what you’re trying to change.
Journalling can help here, using prompts like “I wish I could….” or “I miss…..” or “I remember when …. made me happy.” Start with things like that, and free write for 10-15 minutes. Look at what you come up with, and see if there are any patterns, or things that keep coming up.
Divination, if you have a divination method you feel at least somewhat competent with, can also help. (Or get help from a friend with more experience. Some online forums also do a reading exchange.)
Look at what keeps coming up. Any time I plan to do a major clearing out of old ties, I pay extra attention to what things I keep circling around in my life. Often (because I’m a big reader), I start seeing a similar theme in a range of books, the things I’m drawn to reading. Some people find that their playlist is out to get them: certain songs show up all the time. If you do regular divination, you might find the same cards showing up a lot. You may hear the same word or phrase coming up in unexpected places. Things like that.
These shouldn’t be the only thing you use to make decisions, but they’re often worth exploring in more detail. What is that thing, what does it mean to you? Why?
Here we get to the meat of the practice.
First, take inventory. Working your way slowly over your body in your mind, examine your aura and energy by whatever sense works best for you (or more than one sense.)
Take your time and slowly identify any spots that seem dirty, sound fuzzy or off-key, feel mucky or sticky, or that feel tense, tied up, or tangled. Don’t feel like you need to do anything about them the first pass: just identify where they are.
You may find that a specific sensation, emotion, or even person comes up as you look at a particular spot – if it does, make a note of it, and go back to your scan. Good notes can help you decide what to do later.
Make sure to cover your whole body: it’s usually easiest to start at one end (the top of your head), work your way down your back, under your feet, and back up the front (making sure to get the sides of your legs, the underside of your arms, etc.)
Spots of particular interest include:
- Chakra points (you may want to do more research, if so.)
- Spots on your shoulder blades or on your back.
- Areas of old injuries or pains that are strongly associated with someone specific in your past for some reason.
- Anywhere that just doesn’t feel right.
I’ll note: it’s possible that this scan will turn up spots that aren’t quite right, but that aren’t related to energetic ties. (It could be a physical injury, illness, or something else to pay attention to.) If you’re a heavy computer user, your neck and shoulders aching could be feeling the burden of lots of connections – but chances are, it’s probably that you’re spending a lot of time looking at a screen. Physical stretches, varied exercise, etc. might be all you need.
You may want to take a break here. As you build a baseline over months and years, it’ll be a lot easier to figure out what’s normal for you, and what’s something to pay extra attention to. When you’re starting out, taking a break between doing this inventory and making any changes can help you get clarity about which things are actually a problem, and which things are parts of other things in your life.
You may come to feel (with some time for reflection) that specific spots feel directly connected to specific people or events, while others don’t.
This is the other core part of the practice. I generally suggest a light but firm intention here, of removing those things that no longer serve you, while leaving those things that do. Don’t get too specific: you may not know yet which things those are.
Go slowly, and if something starts feeling like it’s the wrong choice, back off. You can always come back to that spot later. It’s much easier to do multiple passes (doing a little bit, taking a break, seeing how you feel, coming back a day or two later) than to rebuild connections once you’ve broken the energetic tie directly.
The one-person method is a bit harder to do, but can work if you have sufficient focus and direction of energy. Basically, go back over your body, bit by bit, and as you hit a tangle, muddy spot, or fuzzy spot, you slowly focus on the energy clearing and becoming clear, light, and freely moving. In some cases it may feel like releasing a kink in a hose, so that water can run easily again. In other cases, you may find that releasing that thing is like cutting a piece of string connecting you to something outside of you.
Before you release something like that, take a moment to take a deep breath or two, and let your mind roam a little. Does this feel connected to someone in specific? Is releasing that energy what you really want to do (releasing the tie entirely can change your relationship with that person quite a bit). Or do you want to take the information, and use it to sit down with that person and work out any problems in your interactions face to face?
You may well find that some spots are a lot easier than others. I generally find it’s harder to reach places I can’t reach physically (middle of my back, for example). You may need to repeat the whole process a couple of times over the course of a week or two.
You may also find spots that make you feel happy – that are connections to people you love, value, and want to keep in your life. You can renew these areas by directing a little energy to help make them sparkle and flow easily – buffing off a piece of metal with a soft cloth, rather than scrubbing.
The two person method requires someone else who’s good at directing energy. It’s traditionally done with an athame in a number of trads, but you can also do it with your hand. Either way, the person doing it runs their hand or blade at a 90 degree angle to your body. (So, if they’re working on your back, the flat of the blade or flat of their hand is parallel to the floor, and perpendicular to your body as you’re standing up.)
While they’re working, they’re focusing on scraping off or flicking away (depending on whether they’re using a blade or their hand) any bits of aura and energy that are stuck, grungy, or too tangled to be of use. (So you need to trust them quite a bit – both to recognise the good stuff from the bad stuff, and to act in your own best interest.)
This method is often a good bit quicker in my experience than doing it all myself, and there are spots other people find much more accurately. Starhawk and Hilary Valentine describe a general version of this in their book Twelve Wild Swans.
If you’re focusing on a specific person (for example, removing ties with an ex, or someone else you’re removing from your life for good reason), you can focus on that person, and you may feel a very strong physical sensation in a particular spot on your body. (You may not, too, and that’s okay.)
Focus on removing the connection to that person without malice or hatred – you’re pruning a rosebush or weeding your garden. It’s not personal, it’s not emotional, you’re just clearing the way for something new. (Strong emotion will help feed the connection, anyway, which is not what you want right now.)
When you remove a strong connection like this, it can be easy for the connection to try and re-attach. To help prevent this, once you’ve removed it, smooth over the spot where it was until there’s no rough energy for it to reattach to.
Rest. Reflect. Repeat as needed.
Connection with the world, with other people, is complicated. Chances are, you’ll want and need to repeat this regularly. If you haven’t ever done it, you might want to check back in with yourself in a week, a month, three months, and see how you feel. As you get more experience, you’ll get a better sense of when you might want to do it again.
You might also be interested in two posts on my blog (this will take you away from the Seeking area of my website):
Both use some of the techniques described above as part of a larger ritual work.
As you read various books and websites, you’ll start seeing (if you haven’t already) long lists of how this plant is associated with this planet, or that deity, or that day of the week, or that concept (love, prosperity, healing, whatever.) These are called ‘correspondences’.
One magical theory is that it is easier to reach out and affect (change) the world if we use something that is connected to what we’re trying to do. We can’t reach out directly and touch everyone who might give us money, for example – but if there’s a herb, or stone, or whatever that’s closely associated with that thing, we can go and do something with that, instead.
Continue reading Correspondences
There are lots of resources out there that talk about planning a ritual in greater length, but I wanted to include at least an example here. (For those wanting more, Amber K and Azrael K’s RitualCraft is a great starting place.)
So, for an example, let’s take the new moon closest to when I’m writing this (on January 4th, 2011, to be precise.) I’m using it as an example both because I want a little more planning of what I’m going to do, but also because it happens to have some interesting aspects to it. (This ritual is going to be solitary, but I’ll talk a little more at the end about planning group ritual.) I’m writing on Saturday, (January 1st), so I only have a couple of days to put everything into action.
Continue reading Example of planning ritual
I’ve talked a bit about potluck options for food and drink after a group ritual, but there’s another aspect worth discussing. Many people include food or drink as part of ritual itself. In some groups and practices, this is part of the Great Rite (blessing the cup and bread). In other groups and practices, it’s part of a simpler, more general, shared blessing and symbolic community meal.
The question is, though, why food, and what food?
Continue reading Ritual food and drink
Many people following a Wiccan-based or religious witchcraft path celebrate both the Sabbats in some form (the solar holidays), as well as the Esbats, or lunar holidays.
In many paths, the Sabbats are seen more as a celebratory time (a chance to pause and reflect on the seasonal change, while the Esbats are seen as a more practical time: a time to do magic, divination, and other workings. You don’t have to follow this (lots of people include some divination, magic, or other workings in their Sabbat work, for example), but it can be a good way to start figuring out what you’re doing.
Continue reading Esbats
I’ve talked elsewhere on this site about taking care of your own energy, but what about your space? Just as you do, the space you live in picks up energy and emotions. Often, we bring these things in ourselves, with the stress we bring home from work (or school), from news stories, or from things we actually do at home.
The good news is that just as you can cleanse your own energy and smooth things out, you can do the same thing with your home. A little regular attention goes a long way toward making your home welcoming, peaceful, and enjoyable.
Continue reading Home, sacred home…
Another example of something we might learn to do is casting a circle or getting started with ritual. For this page (unlike the candle page), I’m not going to give you all the information – but I am going to suggest some places to start, and an order to try learning about things in.
Continue reading Example: Casting a circle
One question that often comes up is why we cast a circle in the first place. There are a number of possible answers to this, and which ones apply to what you’re doing depend a lot on you, what you’re doing, and some other things I’ll talk about below.
What’s a circle?
Good question. For the purposes of this page (and this site), let’s define it as a temporary space with clearly defined energetic boundaries that provides a known space for ritual, magic, or similar controlled change.
Continue reading What’s a circle for?
One question that people often have is about the role of initiation in initiatory traditions.
Basically, in order to join an initiatory tradition, you need to go through specific experiences that help you join with and work with others in that tradition. The experiences themselves can (and should, in this case) change you. But the preparation changes you, and the choice to become part of that larger community also changes you. In other words, while the actual initiation ritual is often a very meaningful time for people, it’s what happens before that, and especially what you do with it afterwards that count even more.
Continue reading What is initiation?