Druid rituals

When I first came to Druidry, quite some years ago, I was really excited about doing ritual. I prepared in advance, I learned anything I was going to contribute, I chose offerings with great thought, planned what I would wear, made bread especially and so on and so forth. My own enthusiastic participation gave a sense of importance to ritual, and I got a lot out of doing it, at first.

I was lucky enough to be able to do ritual with a number of groups in different places. What I found was that plenty of the people attending weren’t putting everything they had into ritual. They didn’t learn the words, they brought pre-packaged food to share, they entered ritual space chatting, not in the state of awe and reverence I was trying to cultivate. Some of them chatted once the ritual had begun. Many turned up late.

I learned that it isn’t easy doing ritual as a deeply involved personal practice when the people around you are simply having a nice day out and some social time. For a while, I was resentful of this.

Over the years I softened at the edges, and I started to see how much most people needed that gentle time in the woods or sacred sites or other outside places. They needed the time to catch up with other Pagans – I couldn’t ask people to rock up and do all night vigils, they needed time to be with each other. I came to see ritual as primarily a community activity. My role in it shifted from the quest for personal enlightenment towards a role of serving and facilitating the people who wanted to be there. I brought talking sticks and toasting goblets so that people could share what they needed to say, and be witnessed.

I never got on with solitary rituals. Left to myself, there are other, simpler and more private things I will do. I figured out, eventually, that this is because I thrive on having an audience. Give me a bunch of people in front of whom I can look all spiritual, and I’ll play up to the role. There are plenty of people who want to watch ritual as a form of theatrical action, rather than do their own thing. It’s easy to get grumpy about what other people are doing, or not doing, and not look at your own crap. ‘Look at me, I’m being all spiritual here’ is not the most spiritual of things to be doing, after all.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Druid rituals

  • Robin

    After all these decades I still struggle with the social nature of so many rituals, which often feel more like a knitting circle than a communion with vast and cosmic forces. But I recognise that this is what the great majority of people going to the rituals want. Part of my problem is that I’m not very social, so I just don’t feel part of the chatty side of the gatherings.It would be wonderful to have those awe-and-wonder moments every now and then, to spice up the social side.

    • Nimue Brown

      I’ve discovered I can get into social spaces and loiter about not really interacting with anyone while it all goes on around me, and this I have found I like immensely. Much easier than trying to be properly sociable!

  • Haloquin

    Oh this is familiar! I’ve been thinking a lot this Beltane about ritual and why I do it… I *do* love the spotlight… And I get frustrated when people don’t seem to be bringing the same level of care to a ritual as I strive to do… But, like you, I’m offering any ritual I run as a community service and trying to keep chill about what others need from the space. I’ve always been resistant to doing ritual on my own because shifting consciousness has always been easy for me, so why would I need an elaborate set up? I’ve done it periodically, and always enjoyed it, but it’s a lot of effort… This year, however, I’ve been doing more solo ritual, mostly working through the OBOD Bardic grade, and I’ve discovered how much I enjoy it. The structure it provides, yes… But more, the sense of weight it lends, like I’m making a real effort to honour the festival of energies. I also like the theatre of it, even when it’s just for me! And recently I’ve had so much less energy to give in service, so I’ve missed ritual… Giving myself permission to make the effort *just for me* is, it transpires, a form of self care, in my case. 🙂

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