One thing that has been lost in many modern religions is the powerful experience of the personal ritual. It is one thing to know a religious or spiritual truth; it can be quite another to actually experience that truth in a deep and meaningful way. Ritual is perhaps the oldest and most sucessful way of bridging this gap.
Rituals are the Pagan/Witch/Wiccan way to hold their ceremonies much as the Christians go to Church for Prayer Circle or Mass. Pagans /Witches /Wiccans have many rituals for birth, naming, coming of age, marriage, divorce and funerals. It varies from tradition to tradition, as it does from Protestant to Catholic to Jewish.
One of the things you may need to keep in mind is 'allergies'. Instead of using the oils and incense, try using 'symbolization'. For example: instead of using the actual flowers, buy artificial flowers. If you are needed to use a certain herb, look up that herb and its properties.......what is its element?...can you draw a picture of it? Symbolization is everything. I am sure the Goddess and God would not be offended by your alergies and what you need to do to make a ritual work for you.
Designing a ritual is much like writing a term paper for school. You need to set up an outline of: who, what, where, when, why and want.
Who do you want to participate in this ritual??? Just yourself? A close friend? Your partner?
What will you use to assist you in your invocation? Words are powerful and will work alone--extemporaneous prayer, recited poetry or prose--but consider trying some more physical ritual elements as an addition to (or a replacement for!) the words. If you have had little experience with these, you may feel silly when you first start. Don't. Remember that there is a very good reason that these aids have been used my many different cultures for thousands of years--they work. They can be invaluable in removing you from the world of your everyday life and involving you directly in the ritual.
There are many types of ritual items that have been used over the millenia--incense, candles, flowers, stones, food, drink, clothing. When possible, always look for connections that are meaningful to you. There are many reference works on symbols that list the associations that various cultures have made with colors, scents, and shapes over the centuries. If these work for you, fine,-but don't be afraid to designate your own meanings or to change them as appropriate. The important thing, once again, is what meaning does it have for YOU?
I've mentioned some of the more popular items here. But remember these are only starters. It is vitally important to add your own items and make your own combinations. Ritual is not a matter of reading 'light a stick of sandalwood incense and two pink candles' and following the instructions. The REAL power of ritual comes from what YOU bring to it. Be on the lookout for possibilites that will have specific meaning for you. If you notice a particular stone, one that seems to "speak" to you in some way or that serves as a reminder or symbol of something for you, pick it up. Use it in ritual--hold it in your hand as you pray or rest your incense upon it. If you are looking for strength and courage in a new business venture, try placing a business card on the altar as you pray. If you are trying to remove an emotion, influence, or person from your life, try writing the name or word on a slip of paper, concentrating all your feelings, entaglements, worries, and temptations into it, then burning it and watching the connection to you float away on the smoke.
Perhaps you always wear a specific piece of clothing or jewelry, always begin with a short prayer or invokation, or always include a special color of candle. It's fine to have constants--you may even want to repeat the exact same ritual at times--as long as the ritual does not become boring. Once you stop thinking about what you are doing, you've simply found yourself yet another form of mundane routine.
Consider the physical space you will use. This can be anything from your desk to your room to a park to a mountain retreat, depending on the ritual, your needs, and their availability to you. If at all possible designate a sacred space for the ritual. This can be as simple as envisioning a protected circle around you as you sit at your desk or closing the door of a room or as elaborate as a circle physically inscribed on the Earth or in the Air with candles or incense. The space need not be permanent--it only need last as long as the ritual itself--but make a point of designating the space as sacred when you begin and then releasing it back to the world when you are through.
When do you want to perform this ritual? Consult a calender, an almanac or horoscope. Will your ritual be best performed at full moon, waxing or waning moon? Do you want to do this ritual during the day or at night? At a specific time?
To design a ritual for yourself, first start with a goal - what is it YOU want to do???? Some examples are: healing yourself, healing the Earth, celebrating an event or achievement (no matter how "minor"), seeking strength for the present or the future, improving your relationship with Dieity, relaxing, de-stress, deepening your own spiritual understanding.
Decide what form of Deity you want/need to 'invite'. To 'evoke' means to summon or call forth a presence.
To 'invoke' means to instill their nature within ourselves thru prayer. To 'petition' means to ask and pray for something from a specific diety/being. To 'command' means to demand. What do you need from Her/Him/It/Them--healing? strength? support? a chance to experience them? to explore them? to seek solace in your moment of despair?
So take some time to design and carry out a ritual, no matter how short or 'trivial.' Have some fun with it if you like, ritual need not be serious to be meaningful. And yes, there is a time for the 'serious' ritual' and the 'fun' ones. What I am suggesting here is that YOU make the ritual meaningful to YOU.
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