Druidry and not so much ritual

For some time now, I’ve not being doing ritual. I had a few years when, living on a narrowboat I was so very close to the natural world, and so very far from other Druids that seasonal ritual made little sense. In recent years living in Stroud, there have been various forays into the possibility of seasonal ritual, but nothing has formalised. I find that I enjoy having the eight rounds of community gathering in a year.

There are things I definitely like about ritual – community, sharing bard stuff, getting outside together, and any gestures towards making beauty in some way. I hate scripts, and I’m not very easy with standard ritual language any more. It’s too formal, it feels weird. I’m wary of any kind of ritual structure that puts some people in charge in priestly roles and has others cast as onlookers. I want proper anarchy in my circles – no titles.

Once again I find myself asking how to make ritual work for me. Last year we tried holding bardic sessions at the full moon, but by October it was far too cold to be standing around at night. Given the people I hang out with, food and bardic contributions are a certainty. I’m intending to experiment a bit with talking sticks (well, a talking spoon is more likely…)

The very word ‘ritual’ suggests repetition, but repetition is problematic. It can create a firm underpinning, but it can equally dull people into careless lethargic states. It can help people connect, but you can end up connecting with the abstract ideas of the ritual and not with the experience of being alive and in a place on a day. High ritual language can empower, but it can also exclude. It can inspire, but it can oppress. There are no neat answers to this.

I’ve yet to find what I want from rituals. Even so, I can’t quite let go of the idea of them, I keep coming back to seasonal celebration and trying to figure out how I want it to be.

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

10 responses to “Druidry and not so much ritual

  • rpatrick

    I appreciate this foray into the seasons, the turn of the wheel of the year, community, etc. I have a little different take on some of these things.

    I think it’s really powerful to notice the pull toward, the call, the beckoning of the 8 seasons, to gathering, to community, to working together (whether that’s magical, artistic, or sheer labor).

    I have a strong trust for ritual “scripts” for at least the same reason that I write myself notes or make lists: I don’t want to forget the really important stuff.

    I actually embrace the role of priest and priestess. Some of us find that we cannot escape that call, that invitation, either, and so we must step into the role of inviting community into the grove. I do reject priests who act as power over others. A gifted priest/ess will make it clear that it takes all of those gathered for a ritual to “work.” You can be “just an observer” if you want to, but I will never invite you to be an observer.

    I LOVE preparing for the next ritual, gathering the resources of our Druidic tradition. It is an art form for me, the craft of writing a ritual for my beloved community of Druids and inviting them to take roles and share creative ideas for the working. That, however, requires planning, collaboration, cooperation, and flexibility. Maybe what you call chaos could also be flexibility, but for me, the flexibility has to be met with some stability, and priests and priestesses help the community establish that stability (container, grove, cauldron) within which the flexible can happen. I’m talking about the masculine and feminine aspects of every ritual, every season, every gathering.

    The call to gather at each of the 8 sun stations does many things for me. It reunites me with my Druid community. It introduces me to new seekers and them to us. It never fails to show me the gifts and offerings of others in the grove who may not see themselves as priest/ess but whose gifts and insight are absolutely required for us to be whole as a community. And, for me, they become a time, place and community within which I am allowed to exercise my love, call and gifts as a priest. Take away the ritual and I would be at a loss to be all of who I am.

    Thank you for allowing me this space to enter the conversation.

    • Nimue Brown

      Many thanks for sharing this, we all need different things and very clearly is every reason to do things the way you’re describing. thank you for providing a counterbalance 🙂

  • thefireinthegreen

    Having never felt any genuine connection in formal group ritual, although I enjoy celebrating with like minded individuals, I made an attempt to perceive the key features of each fire festival (solstices and equinoxes don’t ‘feel’ of anything to me) and craft solo workings. Most powerful, connected things I ever did, nothing like being on your knees on the snow with hands thrust down to the frozen earth under a sliver of moon in an otherwise pitch black sky, laughing with the exhilaration of deep connection. Life is now so llimited by domestic circumstances that I am seeking desperately for ways to satisfy the need for ritual expression.

  • pankaz91

    Sometimes rituals are good to be followed

  • John Davis

    Hi Nimue…you know something of my former days in Anglican ministry so I’ll not bang on about it again. However, what has remained from that fund of experience is appreciation of the role of ritual. For me, ritual is something you can do when it is difficult to find a means of expressing what an experience has stirred within us…or might do so. The cautionary caveat, of course, is that the ritual is not the experience itself. John /l\

  • taliesin2

    Reblogged this on The Crane Book of Wisdom and commented:
    A great article with a interesting view point on ritual.

  • Linda Davis

    I’m not against scripted ritual per se, especially when a number of people are coming together for a purpose, but alone I feel like it stifles my creativity.

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