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19 December 2012 @ 07:56 pm
YaaD Work: Class 12: Specialties: Ritual Design  
This is one of the reflection papers I wrote as part of my Year and a Day (YaaD) of study with Fieldhaven Coven.

The question is drawn from the Greenhaven Tradition; the YaaD course is not published on the Greenhaven Tradition website, but is made available on a person-to-person basis. Material that is not so closely held is available at http://greenhaventradition.weebly.com/

Class 12, Paper 2e (after class discussion): Choose a skill that you don’t have but would like to have. Do something to explore it – read a book, attend a workshop or lecture, take a lesson with someone more experienced, work with a kit from the craft store, etc. – and see how much you can learn. Write a one-page report on your experiences.

Assignment submitted October 21, 2012

Writing Assignment: YaaD Class 12 - Specialties

Ritual planning is related to, but not quite the same as, event planning: a ritual can be an event in itself or part of a larger event. For the purposes of this paper, I'm focusing exclusively on the ritual and not on any other parts of an event that might include the ritual.

The initial step of ritual planning is, as far as I can tell, generic to all religions: determine the reason for or theme of the ritual (e.g., celebrating a major holiday, marking someone as a member of the congregation, asking for healing), and determine who will or may be included (e.g., the general public, the entire congregation, the specific people involved). Once that is done, planning the actual format of the ritual will vary from tradition to tradition. Because I am most familiar with Wiccan rituals (or at least, rituals based on a Wiccan format), I'm going to focus on those.

The basic outline of most rituals is:
    Call on / invoke guardians, such as the elements or deities
  1. Create or delineate sacred space
  2. State the intent of the ritual
  3. Raise power
  4. Use power
  5. Feasting (cakes and ale)
  6. Release / devoke guardians
  7. Open the sacred space and return to ordinary space

The next step is to determine how each of these phases will be managed. Will the HP or HPS have all the speaking parts, will there be call-and-response, will different people fill different roles? Which guardians and/or deities will be invoked? Do all the parts have to be memorized or will the participants use notecards or a script? Will the circle be cast with water, salt and incense, or by a joining of hands, or in some other way? How will the power be raised – will there be chanting, dancing, or trancework?

In addition to planning the ritual itself, meta-concerns to consider include
  • Participation. Will the participants be a small group who know each other and know what to expect, or a large group of mostly strangers?
  • Physical Safety. Do any of the participants have limitations that must be accommodated? How about the weather – should the organizer plan for heat or cold?
  • Emotional Safety. Especially with a large group, how will it be made clear that no one is required to do anything that makes them feel unsafe, and that "peer pressure" will not be tolerated?


Hansford, Phil. "Magick 7: Basic Ritual." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://www.paganlibrary.com/reference/magick_07.php.

Jenett. "A ritual planning timeline." Retrieved 12 October 2012 from http://gleewood.org/threshold/2008/04/28/a-ritual-planning-timeline/.

Jenett. "How to handle ritual text." Retrieved 12 October 2012 from http://gleewood.org/threshold/2008/04/30/how-to-handle-ritual-text/.

Jenett. "The question of safety." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://gleewood.org/threshold/2009/10/23/the-question-of-safety/.

Jenett. "The question of safety: part two, planning and running an event." Retrieved 21 October 21, 2012 from http://gleewood.org/threshold/2009/10/27/the-question-of-safety-part-two-planning-and-running-an-event/.

Nichols, Mike. "The Finer Points of Ritual: A Comparative Approach to Liturgical History, Theology and Design. A Heartland Pagan Festival Keynote Address." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://www.paganlibrary.com/reference/finer_points_of_ritual.php.

Raichel, Diana. "You Can't Please All of the People All of the Time." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usmn&c=words&id=10594.

Surenyan, Alfred. "Chants in Wiccan and Pagan Rituals." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usca&c=words&id=10808.