New moon nights are dark. This makes it a great time to look inward, be quiet + still, to journal and rest. As we start a new cycle, like harness the energy of renewal with a little ceremony. Not familiar with a ceremony? It's not as daunting as you might think. To keep it simple and straightforward, this article is written like a party invitation. Enjoy planning your party -- I mean ritual!
Who: You! Your friend! Your lover! Your blood or chosen family. Your community. Who ever you want to witness this moment, intention, feeling or event. Solo rituals can be super powerful! Do not underestimate the value of your own presence. If you're looking for a buddy or witness, I recommend choosing a person/people who you trust and will be willing to go deep.
What: Ceremony is anything done with intention. It can be simple, it can be silly or serious. Personal ceremony can be done in the kitchen, in the bath, at an alter, outside or anywhere that feels appropriate to what it is that you are honoring. It can be nice to have something to set the mood like a candle or sacred plants (note: all plants are sacred). Do not let yourself feel empty handed. Your pointer finger makes a lovely magick wand. City-bound? Your body can be a stand-in for nature, after all you are a wild, wondrous being!
When: New moons, full moons, anniversaries, days or nights you don't have work. A lot of what makes a ritual powerful is the intentionality of it. Choose a time that feels right and stick to it. Carve out time from your busy schedule, put it on your calendar. Mentally, emotionally and physically prepare for it in advance; parties are always more fun when you gather supplies, clean the house and have the perfect playlist ready. So, what tools will you need? What will your offerings be? Who or what are you honoring? What will you wear to make this ritual special?
Where: The earth is a temple if you want it to be. Where does your intuition draw you? I have done ritual in a large field with many, many people. I have done rituals at the ocean and in my bath tub. I have done rituals on the tops of hills, at my kitchen sink, in my bedroom and in community spaces. They can be public, private, spontaneous or planned out to a T. If you're going to be in a public space, how can you show others not to interrupt you? Before you go deep, be sure to create the boundaries of your physical space.
How: Rituals are like books, they have two covers on either side and a juicy middle. They have an intro, then an intentional action (or two), and an outro. They don't have to be fancy or elaborate, in fact simplicity is potent.
Deets: So, what exactly does that look like? In the neo-pagan tradition I was taught to "cast a circle" by calling in the elements and four directions. If you want to try this, stand in a circle or alone, facing each direction as you call it in. Again, it can be simple or elaborate:
Earth - North
Air - East
Fire - South
Water - West
Once the circle is cast, you call in Spirit, the ancestors, the descendants, all that is above, all that is below, the web, and/or anything else you feel should be called in; deities, spirits, etc. This will vary ritual to ritual, group to group. Remember, it's all about intention -- I can't say that enough. Once you feel like you've prepared your space, you can open it up to your intentional action.
What do you want to do? Sing a song? Read or recite a poem? Say a prayer? What is this ritual about? Who does it serve? When I do a bathing ritual, the intentional action is relaxing in my tub. It can be nice to sit very still and meditate, ask for messages from your guides or, move your body -- embody the intentional action. This is the part of the ritual that often has the most potential for transformation. This is when the tears come, let them. This is where you make a promise to yourself, or your lover, or the earth, or all three. You can make plans for this part, and certainly try to follow them, but also leave room for spirit to show up and guide you.
Once you feel that you have throughly sat in your stuff, or washed away your worries with the ocean's tides, it's time to wrap up. Most often, you go in the way you came out, so, thank all the spirits/beings that you thanked at the end of your intro, then thank Spirit, thank Water - West, thank Fire - South, thank Air - East and finally thank Earth - North.
At this point, it is often said in the neo-pagan community, "The circle is open but not broken, what happens between the worlds changes all the worlds. Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again!" What this means is that your ritual is over but it will have lasting effects. You are also thanking all the people who participated in the ritual with you. You can try saying this, or make up your own ending verse. Do what feel natural, intuitive, comforting, clearing.
After ritual, you might want to journal, or wash your body. You might feel emotionally exhausted or invigorated. Listen to your body/spirit/being.
Remember, anything can be ritual. Washing the dishes after dinner, taking your tincture, going on a road trip. Have fun and many blessings on your next ritual!