Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Song of a Daily Druid: Elements of Ritual

For those of you who enjoyed or were intrigued by the Samhain rite and subsequent ritual musings I shared here earlier in November, this month's Song of a Daily Druid (over at Pagan Pages) focuses on The Three Elements of Druidic Ritual and explores some of the theory behind creating powerful rituals and daily practice. Hop on over and check it out!

What is the purpose of ritual? In many Pagan circles ritual is seen primarily as a method of magical work or spellcraft, a way of raising and directing energy for a particular goal. This might take the form of blessing candles for healing magic, or invoking the presence of a particular deity to provide guidance or aid for a specific problem. In Druidry, however, though magic has a role to play, sacred ritual holds a far more poetic place in both personal and group spiritual practice. In previous columns, I have talked about the way poetry connects us to one another through memory, imagination and creativity, how it reaches beyond the tensions of duality and opens up in us a sense of metaphor, how it speaks to us of space and potential that can transcend and reconcile, clarify and illuminate. Although it can be used for specific magical purposes, Druidic ritual serves primarily as a way for us to live our poetry in the world of physical reality as well as in the world of words.

Just as the art of poetry requires a certain set of skills — a grasp of language, its rhythms and sounds, a strong sense of concrete sensory details, etc. — the art of ritual has three basic elements or aspects that a practitioner must come to work with and know intimately. These aspects echo the Druidic elements of calas, gwyar and nwyfre, found in everything, everywhere: the stability and solidity of stone, the fluidity and movement of water, and the "breath of life," the energy and life-force of wind (and fire). Learning how to incorporate all three of these elements into Druidic ritual helps to ensure a powerful and meaningful experience, more poignant, authentic and spiritually fruitful than the kind of melodramatic role-playing that Pagan ritual can sometimes risk becoming. But more than this, these three elements serve as symbols, a means of connection and a reminder of the three elements of calas, gwyar and nwyfre that dwell within all things. Likewise, by mindfully incorporating these elements in a way that is beautiful and aesthetically moving, we re-create or invoke the cosmos within the ritual sacred space — as above, so below — and so our actions in that space themselves become cosmic or mythic in meaning. What are these three elements of Druidic ritual? Put simply, they are: matter, sound, and energy.

......To read more, check out Song of a Daily Druid

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