Monday, February 6, 2012

Musings Monday: When Rituals Go To Hell (And That's Okay)

(From TAP)

No, not literally. Though I have stories about that, too.

Today's Musing is actually not a rant, which is rare for me, I know. Today's Musings is about something I remembered the other day. A ritual I conducted, to be specific.

It was in my Freshman year at my College, and we have this gorgeous spot on campus that's literally a slightly below-ground circle, containing lovely trees, flowers, and walled on 3 sides with walkways in and out. It has little benches and such too. In the center of the circle is a well placed storm drain, which seems a tad too convinient for me, but whatever.

Back in my Young Pagan days (which is only actually 3 years ago, which is scary) I hadn't really developed a path or ideas on Deity or the world to the extent I have now. That is the only defense I have to offer for the next paragraph. In short, I hadn't been involved in Shamanism too much yet, and though I had Many Signs to do so I was being an idiot, and the Spirits let me know. At the time I was more eclectic witchy than anything.

The idea was that I would formulate a Valentine's ritual calling on Aphrodite and utilizing various elements/things sacred to both her and Greek ritual in general. (Washing of hands as a form of purification, lots of flowers, mini processionals, etc) The idea was to plan and conduct this ritual with maybe 6 people (my eclectic working group of pagans, who all lived on Campus) in the dead of night on Valentine's, outdoors, in the circle, and hopefully avoid being gawked at.

Yes, it seems ridiculous to me now, too. But I was hell bent (pun) on doing this thing.

So I wrote up this ritual, I planned all these invocations (in the original greek, too) I bought some roses and prepared ritual vessels to bring water out to the circle.

Everything was good and all, but then, a week beforehand, my Uncle surrendered to his long battle with Colon cancer.

To be short, I was in no shape to conduct a ritual of any sort, let alone a ritual celebrating Love--an emotion which I had no yet felt for another human at the time, celebrating a Goddess I had no real relationship with, utilizing water and candles outside in the dead of winter.

It was probably a recipe for disaster before we even began.

But, like I said, I was dead set on this stupidity. Sometimes we have to be, you know?

I live 45 minutes away from my Campus and I live here during the school year in an apartment. It just so happened I got called away on Valentine's day because my Uncle's funeral was that very day, around 11 AM. I had to spend all day there, then get dropped off back at school around 7 or 8, then conduct this carefully constructed ritual for love that I had made 3 weeks ago.

So I gathered everyone who was ready and we got all the prepurchased goods and candles, and we gave it a good try, despite the fact I had spent all day at the funeral and was really shaken and upset.

We got to the circle, and things immediately went wrong. I stupidly forgot we would be outdoors, so the water for hand washing was fucking FREEZING to the point it was painful, which will jolt anyone out of ritual. Everyone had paper scripts to read for invocations, and nobody could read theirs, and they began blowing away, or people began reading other's lines and it was a general cluster-fuck of terrible. The candles would get lit and blow out within 3 seconds due to wind, and it was really a lost cause. We dropped some roses down the storm drain by accident, and the rest were losing petals as we held them. People's hands froze to the bone due to the wisdom of the water. We had grape juice offerings and they spilled everywhere.

And you know what? Somewhere along the line, we all got the joke and realized this wasn't happening.

And something magic happened, then.

We all began to laugh.

Some of us, including me, laughed so hard we cried. Nothing was going right, but that was OK, because quite frankly all I needed to do that day was laugh. Not conduct some serious Love ritual, but laugh. I had spent all day at a funeral, watching my family bawling, and this was the best thing that absolutely could have happened.

We all gave it up, thanked Eris for her services, and left the circle much lighter than we had entered.

Usually there's a good reason your well planned ritual goes to hell, and sometimes, that's exactly what we need to remind us of the good things.


  1. Oh YES YES YES...doing that ritual was EXACTLY what you needed. The freeing love of laughter! Laughter loves us! So it was meant to be, at least that's what I think. That kind of thing has happend to me many times. Not perhaps the same scenarios but that lovely 'happening' that just releases what you're meant to release, whether it be tears of joy or pain, laughter, anger...whatever. And the main thing is you saw the wisdom of it. How wonderful :)

  2. Good point. Sometimes, no matter how well-planned our rituals are, the God and Goddess know better than we what need.