Friday, 7 August 2009

Ritual Failings

I run the risk of being incredibly bitchy and nasty here. But what the hell. The subject of ritual has come up recently on a blog and the Caer Feddwyd forum and has got me thinking. Ritual to my mind has a purpose, not just as a whole but each element of the ritual in and of itself; each part of the ritual is there for a specific reason or to achieve a specific aim rather than being filler. I have seen a fair bit of public ritual and most tend to be knock-off's of the basic Wiccan ritual format and seem to simply ape it 'because' that is is what they seem supposed to do. These public rituals really don't seem to be geared towards the key elements of the ritual; 'Cakes and Ale' and the 'Drawing down the Moon'. Where they do occur it sets me in mind of a child playing with it's mum's make-up; it know that it gets slapped on the face but not how and why and where. It strikes me that there is no thought as to what they are doing and why, rather they appear to be labouring under the impression that it all needs to be done to be 'authentic' or 'real'. One example of what I would put under this class of ritual attendee is this chap, who it appears seems to attend as many ritual happenings as possible come any festival as if the attending is the important bit rather than what is being carried out.

Lammas is kind of here again, though this year I am struggling to connect with it. Lets be honest, this festival is all about the harvest or grains and crops and the thanks that they have (a) grown and (b) not been blighted/eaten/stolen. It is a thanksgiving and a celebration that there will be food for winter. This is not at all relevant to 99% of modern pagans, and mentions of 'personal harvests' et al just wont wash.

So, is this time of year significant to me? In some ways yes, there are certain things which happen that stand out; the thunder season has begun – and this year there has been thunder and lightning of a regular basis, it is the time for the soft fruit harvests notably elderberries which I am beginning to place some significance on (along with the blossom). Other than that nothing much happening has an impact. So perhaps in future I need to examine whether the fruit and thunder season is worth marking in my calendar year, do I need to do anything? Do I have anything to give thanks for at this time?


Matthew said...

As I'm "This Chap", I can tell you that quantity is not the driver. I am a bard - someone who travels around informing and entertaining. It would be rather dull for me if I only performed at one event. Although my busy schedule may seem like overkill, I actually turn down events each part of the cycle because some overlap or there isn't sufficient time to travel.

Livia Indica said...

Even if you don't live an agriculturally based life, or even have a little kitchen garden, I think it's worthwhile to at least note all of the harvest festivals. After all, food from a store has better prices and higher quality when they are grown naturally during their proper season.

Lee said...


i kind of agree with you. my problem is that seasonality is all out of the window these days. what food is grown in the UK can be grown out of season in poly tunnels and the like. i just feel like the concept of things growing and being harvested is totally removed from the modern lifestyle.

EB said...

It's interesting that it seems that way to you. From my point of view, more and more people seem to be taking on allotments, keeping hens, all that kind of thing. I would say seasonality matters a lot more now than it did 2 or 3 years ago; what I do wonder is whether this is just a short-term trend. But even if media coverage of it shifts away, I imagine some of the new converts will keep up with it.

Lee said...

now the allotment thing i could go with - i have done som looking in my area but it isnt promising. there is a nice possibility on the horizon and that will be great - the potential for fruit, veg, hens and some bees.

IF that happens then yes, i can see that the harvest will become ingrained into my lifestyle and how i eat but whilst im popping over the hill to sainsburys and buying the same foods all year round i think i have jumped of the wheel of the year and am getting lost in the fresh produce aisles.

oh and Hugh fearnley-Whittingstall is GOD

arth frown said...

In the words of Alan Sugar " I may be able to sing Candle in the Wind, but that doesn't make me Elton John"
Maybe we should all grow some produce, maybe it would make the ritual more relevant?

Glad my piece on ritual has got others thinking.

Lee said...


:) it has indeed. i guess it is one of the perennial questions i have in mind with a view to answering suitably to satisfy myself - what is ritual and what is its purpose?

im sure one day i will do a proper post on the subject.

arth frown said...

Maybe it's time to ditch the seasonal part of ritual in favour of a devoution to a God or spirit.

For example
Maybe instead of 'Samhain' being about the last of the harvest we could devout the it to the memory of our ancestors.
Or lughnasa we could devout the ritual to Lugus, make offerings and forget crops.

For me I did have a crop, but is a woodland crop which is at a different time than that a of agriculture crop. So my ritual will be at the begining of the fell and after.

Lee said...


I think you might be right with that, the focus should be the gods with the seasonal happenings being a part of it but the not the main focus behind the celebration.

arth frown said...

Maybe a seasonal offering being appropriate.
Apples for the feast of the dead.
Corn for the feast of Lugus.etc

Lee said...

yep, that's it. you make the seasonal part of the ritual rather than the ritual itself.