Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Tools and Rules of Ritual

I tend to lean towards the simple when it comes to the accoutrements of ritual. I find myself routinely skimming through catalogs, both paper and online, checking out all the wands, clothing and altar tools, but when it comes to actually putting them to use in my own life, it's just not my thing. I'd never knock another witch for their own preferences but for me less is definitely more.

I don't have an athame or a wand, nor do I own a white handled knife. When I cast a circle, I use my hand and when I need to cut herbs I use an old knife that belonged to my father who was an executive chef. My utility knife has a very worn brown wooden handle and a blade that's been sharpened countless times over many decades, but it speaks to my heart and when I use it my father is right there with me. I will admit that I have thought about finding a lovely fallen branch and crafting it into a wand but I haven't yet done this, probably because I know that I most likely wouldn't use it in ritual. Perhaps one day I'll make one anyways.

My circle altar has no fancy statues or decorations. I don't use special silver and gold goddess/god candles, but one simple fat white pillar to represent them both. I haven't a special dish or chalice so my offerings of food are served up on a plain dish and in a simple cup. I do have a nice incense burner because I grind my own incense rather than use sticks, but that's about the only thing that I've purchased from a shop. My cauldron is an antique that took me years to find, plain cast iron without any fussiness, and used for centuries by women who came before me.

And in circle I keep myself as simple as my tools. I've read about a gajillion books by witches and I have to say that while most of the authors are extraordinary in their talents and knowledge, they're also all utterly delusional. While it would be wonderful to have the time to bathe in a tub full of purifying oils by candlelight prior to circle, who actually has that kind of time? I'm lucky to have the time to cast a circle at all. I try to always wash my face and brush my teeth beforehand, but if I have to choose between the time for ritual and the time for cleansing myself in preparation for it, I'm going to choose circle every time. And given that I bathe every day, I seriously doubt that I'm so filthy as to insult the divine ones. I don't wear any special robes or clothing, but I am always barefoot. I've read in a few books that there is a "rule" about never wearing any hair adornments while in circle, but when I had long hair I always wore it pulled back and out of the way. I'd rather be breaking some silly rule than setting my head on fire. Sometimes common sense far outweighs the romantic notions set forth by those who revel in making ritual as intricate as it can possibly be.

There's something to be said for stripping it all down to the plainest way possible. Remove the glamour and you're left with what is most important, what it's all about. What so many might find boring is what speaks volumes to my soul and that's good enough for me.

1 comment:

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