Worrying too much about ritual?

Sometimes I complain that I don’t have a lot of time for what I see as proper rituals. You know, anything involving a magic circle, books, a dedicated altar, or specific ritual tools or materials. I often see this as a disappointment, but nowadays I’m beginning to feel like I worry too much about ritual, probably because of my expectations for what ritual is, failing to realize that there are small rituals that can be done that are just as valuable and/or worthy of spiritual merit.

Perhaps I have set up the idea of ritual as something grander than it has to be, limiting ritual and just how flexible it can be, and thus denying myself possible enjoyment of small rituals. Even the religious have some idea of a small or regular ritual that doesn’t involved too many tools, like Christians and Muslims with their daily prayers, Hindus and Catholic Christians with their reciting of their rosaries. Some Buddhists also believe in spiritual practice and enlightenment can be achieved through mundane or everyday activities. I’m not saying it could be the same for me, but I do have some rituals in mind that can be considered relatively small.

In recent months I already mentioned meditation, mala bead recitals, and solitary contemplation in quiet spaces, but this alone is basic on top of seeming uncharacteristic for someone like me, granted they have their benefits. I did make a fly idol out of clay in reference to the covenant to Baal made by the Israelites after the death of the judge Gideon. I could place the idol close to my chest or heart area for a minute or so as a gesture of a “covenant” of my own. Then we have symbolic gestures such as eating the apple at the beginning of each Halloween and Walpurgis Night which I plan to enforce, but these are by and large for special occasions.

There has got to be some small things you can do ritually in general. You just have to look in the right places, or use some imagination.

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13 responses to “Worrying too much about ritual?

  1. I’m so happy that you feel this way too. I’ve struggled with this since I started considering myself a pagan, mainly because many neopagans describe ritual as this pompous event full of suffocating incense smoke, a million candles surrounding a nine foot circle, and that huge book of shadows that has every Cunningham and Ravenwolf spell copied into it. I’ve accepted that this just isn’t what it means to me. Like you’ve said, a ritual is usually the small meaningful things that we do simply to connect. We’ve got to just do what means the most to us personally, not because someone else says it’s the way it must be done.

  2. I think a lot of people are under the impression that deities want elaborate rituals with every detail followed to the T. Most of the rituals I’ve done have been pretty simple, unless there is something specific I’m needing assistance with.

    When I first started doing rituals I realized that most of the deities I’ve worked with didn’t care if the ritual was elaborate or not. They cared more that I was genuine in my coming to them. It’s a learning process though and varies from person to person and deity to deity. Prayers to Bast seems to be enough to please her (for me anyway). Siva and I connect most through meditation and japa.

    As for ritual tools, I have a bell, candles, incense and libation bowl. I’ve never used anything else and I haven’t gotten any complaints.

  3. I like simple rituals which can be done anywhere, anytime and are mostly very personal. From bathing in a river or in the ocean to burning something in the fire. But I am also very fond of big long rituals. I say long because they are supposed to be enjoyable therefore you want to make them last as long as possible and have the best memories from it. A long ritual is something you must take pleasure in performing as well as preparing. Like drawing intricate symbols and dressing in nice clothes. I would do this if i like to draw and look a certain way that makes me “feel” a certain way.
    For example: wearing a crown to symbolize my higher self
    I also like the role play rituals in which one becomes familiar with the nature between god and servant, yin and yang ect.
    It is best done with another partner which is not easy to find for various reasons.

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