(One of my series of posts on coven life in practice)
One really good question – and one I found myself getting hung up about – was “How often are we doing ritual?”
How I was trained
I’d been familiar with the training circle I trained in, which did ritual for the full moons (usually a bit shorter: 1-2 hours in actual ritual, plus prep time before and some social time/potluck meal after) and Sabbats (often longer: 3 hours for the ritual, give or take, and a more elaborate setup.)
Samhain required a good 4 hours of setup, and ritual often ran 3 or more hours. It was a gorgeous ritual, but it was physically exhausting, as well as emotionally a wringer. (As you might expect for a Samhain ritual.)
My initial thoughts
If that makes you tired, I’m right with you! I’m pretty sure I can’t do that anymore, at least not without really paying for it later. (I’m fortunate in that some kinds of ritual exertion are less tiring for me than they would be outside of circle, but I don’t like to keep betting it’ll be true.)
Another aspect is working with students as the only initiate. If they have a weird experience that needs to be talked through, or something goes awry, I need to make sure I have enough reserves to help with that and get them to a more stable point. That’s part of the commitment of being their teacher!
Our scheduling specifics
As I mentioned in another post, our scheduling is currently drive somewhat by childcare for one of my students – having a consistent day (middle of the day on a Saturday) works for her, and works for us, even if doing a lunar ritual at noon still feels a little weird to me.
The larger question is “how do we do the other scheduling?” Naturally, if we meet every other week, we’re not going to be meeting close to every full moon, or even necessarily within a week of a given Sabbat.
After giving it some thought, I decided for right now that we’ll do the 8 Sabbats (on the closest reasonable date). I have a slight preference for doing the Sabbat ritual slightly before the Sabbat, but this varies a little depending on the feel of the season for me. (This is so they can then do a little more on the day themselves if they’d like. Same for me.)
In the months with no Sabbat ritual, we’ll do a full or new moon ritual, depending on the scheduling, so they can get some experience doing different kinds of rituals, with different kinds of focus.
Once they are at the point where they can cast circle themselves, I’ll be sending out information for a thing we can all do independently for the full moon in the months we’re not together, and talk about afterwards.
What happens once they stop being Dedicants, if they’re initiated? That’s a good question. Some of the scheduling issues will remain, so we’ll figure out what makes sense, but maybe we shift to doing longer rituals (with no class after) some weeks, and a discussion/class on a topic on the others. Maybe we come up with a different plan. We’ll find out!
How this is working
So far, this is working pretty well for us. Meeting about two times a month, every month, seems to be a reasonable amount of time. We’re getting through about as much content in classes as I was hoping to, with a comfortable amount for questions and things that come up in the course of doing things.