Tag Archives: rituals

Building Your Inner Sacred Space

I long for the day when I will be guardian of a bit of land again. Guardian because, of course, one does not own land. I feel that land, especially forested or wild lands, are entrusted to our care by the Elder Kin.

I think about this piece of land often. I see it shaded by mature trees, holding a little meadow, chased around by a burbling stream, hiding a secret sacred glade. I will know it when I find it. It will call to me.

Alas, I am not there yet. It may be a number of years before I am there at last. I don’t mind living in the town where I live but I do mind not having the access to a sacred glade, a place to walk and talk to the elders or just sit and meditate. A place that will remain undisturbed by outsiders.

A long time ago I began to create my inner sacred space. It’s now a kind of new-agey catch-phrase to “go to your happy place” but few seem to realize the power inherent in having such an “inner space.” It is a place not only to rest and heal but a place where you can perform deep magic that is unavailable to you here in the plane of Ordinary Reality.

Think about it. Say you would really like to communicate with Odin. You would love to have a sacred space dedicated solely to him, a place where you could leave offerings and perform a Blot without worrying about interruption. But you live in a tiny apartment, or are sharing your living space with nosy relatives or roommates.

You can have that sacred space, and perform any rituals you like. You need only yourself and the depths of your mind. You can create this sacred space and you can visit freely, whenever you choose. Stay as long as you like or just pop in and leave a quick offering.

Oh, and here’s the true power of creating your sacred space. Once created and filled with your own personal energy and magic…sacred spaces tend to take on a life of their own. They grow and adapt independent of you.

My first attempt at inner sacred space was a circle of stone monoliths. For obvious reasons, not something I could create here in our version of Ordinary Reality. At least, not yet. But I visualized the stone circle with its worn stones, reminiscent of henges and such I had seen in photos. Every time I visited the circle it felt more real and I noticed more details about it.

And then…one day, as I was walking the path (in my mind) to visit the circle, I noticed a path branching off of it. A path I had not created, but yet there it was. Intrigued, I followed it and found myself in the wood.

Over time I have found more unexplored areas of this space. An open meadow, a little cottage…all created without conscious thought on my part. Yet they are now part of my own inner sacred space.

In another article I will try to explain a bit about Ordinary and Non-ordinary Reality and about the Mystery of deep dreaming and the shamanic state. But such a knowledge is not necessary to begin building your inner sacred space. You need only to be able to picture it.

Being able to meditate helps in creating your sacred space, but it is not necessary. I have not yet mastered being able to “clear my mind” in a meditative fashion. But what will be necessary is your ability to picture something in your mind and to hold that picture until it becomes as vivid as if it were real for you.

If you find this difficult, know that it becomes easier with practice. You do not need to be able to lose yourself for hours at a time in the beginning.

Many of us already have an idea of what our ideal sacred space would be like. If that is true for you, then you are already halfway there. If not, spend the next few days just thinking, on and off, “What does my ideal sacred space look like?”

This is not concentrated thinking. What you are trying to do is to kind of “catch yourself” in an unaware state. Ask yourself the question, and see what the first image is that pops into your mind. Maybe it is trees, or a brook. Make a note of it and then go on to whatever you were doing. After a few days you should have a handful of images to work with.

When you are ready to begin creating your space, set aside some time where you will be undisturbed. I like to burn incense when I do so. You may choose to listen to certain music or nothing at all. Be aware that if you do use music or incense or something like that, it may become a sort of a “trigger” for you in the future. Smelling that particular incense or listening to that music will ease you into a meditative state quicker, so do not use music you will hear every day or on the radio!

Get comfortable. You may want to lie down. You may just want to sit comfortably. If you choose to lie down, be careful that you are not over tired or you may fall asleep too soon.

Decide which of your images you are going to use. Let’s say it is “trees.” Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths, and picture these trees. Picture them in your mind as if you are standing next to them or within their presence. Take the time to look at them. How tall are they? How many are there? Do you know what kind they are? What sort of a day is it there? Or is it night? Can you smell or hear anything? Do not “force” anything…do not think that “a forest should smell like such and such.” Just be quiet and see what it does smell like. What you are aiming for is not a static image, but a kind of “movie in your head”…only you are participating in the movie, not just watching it.

If you find your concentration wandering off to mundane matters, try performing an action there in your vision. Walk up to a tree. Touch it. Sit down beneath it. Walk around the glade and see what it looks like from all sides. Know as you do this that this is your space, that you can return here at any time you choose. If you feel like it, pile up some stones or something to mark this space, knowing that they will remain until you return.

The first few times you should not spend an overlong amount of time at it. Ten or fifteen minutes is a long time at such an endeavor. If you only manage it for a few minutes it is still a success.

If you find your concentration just will not hold any longer, it is time to take your leave. Thank the spirits of the place and promise that you will return. Picture yourself making an exit from this place, whether it is laying down a path, hopping in a boat, or whatever suits you. When you are ready to return, you can follow the path or travel in your boat to get back.

Always remember this is Non-ordinary Reality–YOU are shaping it. If you want a path, you do not have to picture yourself hauling dirt and building it by hand. Just think of a nice level dirt path…and there it is. Want to ride off on horseback? Look…there is your horse tethered to a tree, just as you thought he would be. You are the Creator in this little space, and anything you can think of you can Create.

Once you have your sacred space created, you can begin to dedicate it and use it. You can use any methods that would use in a “physical” sacred space, like cleansing, smudging, or purifying with salt. Simply relax, visit your space and perform whatever ceremony you feel is needed.

The fun part here again is that you are creating this in your mind, so money and “reality” are no object. If you’ve always wanted a big two-handed sword to use in your sacred space, you’ve got one. If you want to plant flowers that will stay alive throughout the year, go for it. Build altars, stone circles, fire pits…whatever you desire.

After your space is cleansed you may want to invite the Elder Kin to join you there. You can perform a formal ritual there, with the best mead or wine that you can imagine. Or you may just want to sit in your space quietly and ask if there are any Elders who would like to join you there, and wait to see what kind of a response you get. I would also make an offering of some kind to the land spirits or wights of the place. Even though this space is not “physical” in this reality it does sit in its own “reality” and there are spirits of the place there.

When you are inviting Elder Kin into your space, be patient and be open to what might happen. Do not have any expectations of what such contact will be like, if it happens. The Elder Kin may feel the need to watch you for a while, to gauge the sincerity of your intentions. They may appear to you in an animal form such as a hawk or a deer. Greet any visitors with respect and offer them a gift–you have a limitless supply of gifts and food available. Remember always to show respect to any who choose to enter your space, the same respect you would show an older, wiser person who has something to teach you.

Do not be disappointed if they choose not to speak to you. You may only receive a thought or a feeling. Pay attention to these. It is not polite to ask the name of any who visit you. If they choose to give you a name to call them by they will offer one.

For some people the process is easier than for others. Some seem to be born with the ability to “walk between the worlds.” In ancient times this would have been recognized and valued, and these people would have become shamans or medicine men or the prophetesses at Delphi. In these times you are more likely to spend your growing up years wondering why you see things others can’t and wondering if you will end your days in the loony bin. But no matter your level of inherent ability, anyone can learn to be receptive to Non-Ordinary Reality. Learning to trust yourself and accept the validity of your experiences is the hardest part in this.

Lughnasadh Ritual Drama

Lughnasadh aka Lammas-Tide

 

A ritual and seasonal drama for Lughnasadh. Requires two leaders.

 

Set Up

Prep & Run Through

Purification of Space

Ritual Starting Song

Purification of Participants

Salt & Water Blessing

Blessing of Participants

Tree Mediation

Hedge Laying

Quarter Calls

Spirits of Place

Light Fire

Sacred Well

Planting the World Tree

Portal Song

Deity Invocations

Ancestors & Cathbad

Witness Calls

Declaration of Purpose & Seasonal Songs

Pass Around the Corn King

Corn King Sacrifice & Chant

Open Floor to Participants & Offerings

Juice and Bread Blessing

Sacred Meal

Declaring the Peace

Augury

Farewell Witnesses

Farewell Ancestors & Cathbad

Farewell Deities

Close Well

Douse Fire

Lowering the World Tree

Spirits of Place

Quarter Calls

Hedge Harvest

Ritual Ending Chant

Set Up

Lay out altar

Lay out stones at the edge of the witchring

Prep & Run Through

Quick walkthrough of ritual outline

Any phrases that start with “Hail” are to be repeated by the group with noise making.

Practice chants

Light candles & incense coal or smudge etc

A few deep breaths

Allow one or more participants to smudge and/or sweep the ritual area (witchring)

 

Start Ritual

Participants will be asked to stand in a circle

Chant

(choose your own chants!)

Purification of Participants

Each member takes a turn sweeping the person beside them with the witch’s whisk (mini besom) while the group drums and encourages.

 

Salt & Water Blessing

v      Leader 1 will bless the water.

Blessing Words:I bless this sacred spring water that flowed from deep within the earth. Cleanse our bodies and spirits.

 

v      Leader 2 will bless the salt.

Blessing Words:I bless this sacred salt, minerals of earth and sea. Cleanse our bodies and spirits.

 

Blessing of Participants

The witch’s whisk will then be dipped into the water and used to bless the participants.

Each participant will bless the person beside them with the whisk as they see fit or as asked of them by the person they are blessing.

Leader will walk around the witchring with the blessed water for dipping.

Blessing Words:

I bless you sister/brother/friend with respect and in the name of friendship.

Tree Mediation

v      Participants are asked to sit facing outwards.

 Leader 2:Close you eyes and take three deep breaths … Relax, and feel where the ground holds you. Feel heavy. Feel where you touch the ground… Feel the gravity of the earth, where your weight is held naturally …

Now, notice your breath. We naturally relax as we exhale. As you notice the pattern of your breathing, feel your exhale as a letting go, and as you breathe out each time, feel yourself breathing downwards – your weight settling down each time …

With each exhale, feel a root grow from your spine into the earth. Do this as a relaxation, rather than as a push of growth. Start by feeling just one root grow. A tap root, reaching gently down …

Let this find its depth, maybe curling around rocks, maybe encountering other things in the earth beneath you. Always reaching deeper into the dark, rich, fertile earth … Then grow one or two more roots also slowly reaching downwards …

When you feel secure with your roots you can start to also use your inhale. Tree draw nourishment upwards from the earth through their root, and so it is with your inhale that you draw sustenance from the earth, from the land …

Use each inhale to breathe nourishment up your root system, and into your body. Feel the nourishment rising like a tree drawing water into itself from the earth, as fully as you can … Feel yourself fill with sap or dark, cool, calm earth energy…

Once you're comfortable with the sap rising within you, giving you new energy, you can begin to use this energy to grow branches. Start small at first, just growing small shoots from your head and shoulders … Remember that you only need to grow on the exhale, continuing to draw energy from the earth as you inhale … reach towards the sky …

If you feel like it, you can grow bigger branches, then leaves, even blossoms … Draw sustenance from the sun and sky as a tree does. Fill yourself gently. Breathe deeply and slowly … When you're ready, open your eyes and acknowledge the things around you. Take three deep breaths and remain seated.

By Magpie (revised by Juniper)

 

v      At the end of the Tree Meditation Leader 2 will pick up the basket and begin to scatter it contents around the edge of the witchring. Leader 1 will then begin to lead the Hedge Laying. Once she is done scattering, Leader 2 can join in the Hedge Laying.

               

Hedge Laying

Leader 1: Keep the visualization of the tree mediation in your mind. See the things that Leader is scattering put down roots of their own, just like seeds … see them put down roots deeper and deeper in the black earth. There, deep down, is a wellspring of energy, the Earth’s life force, see the roots of the seeds dip into this source. Imagine the power of the Earth to moving up through the roots and towards the surface of the land. See the seeds, berries, leaves and flowers be filled with this life force. See them glow and be filled. Breathe slowly and deeply and let this happen for a time.

Now visualize new young shoots growing up out of the seeds, fed by the power of the land. See a hedgerow growing up around us, being fed by the power of the Earth. This hedgerow fills in the gaps of the plant life that surrounds us in this grove. Making the grove even more green, more lush, more protective. Imagine trees springing up from the ground, blossoms bloom in brilliant color, birds sing, thorns grow sharp deep within the hedgerow. Let yours and the Earth’s energy feed the hedgerow, making it “alive”. Take inspiration from time-lapse images of plants growing over time, fast-forwarded into mere seconds.

As the hedgerow blossoms and blooms, it begins to take in sunlight and oxygen, filling it with life and energy. See the leaves turn a brilliant green, see flowers blossom in violet and purple. Picture in your minds eye a thick, deep, lush, green hedgerow, taking in the power of Earth and Sky. The hedgerow towers over us, taller than we are, it branches reach up to the sky, it roots twine below out feet, protecting us.

(Where the besoms rest is a low stone wall or garden gate than can be stepped over if need be.)

You might want to visualize some of your favourite trees and plants growing in the hedgerow. Perhaps some favourite birds perch within this hedgerow. Perhaps your totem animals peek at you from between branches. Take your time and really make the image yours. Try your best to visualize the hedgerow running 360 degrees around us, along the stones at the edge of our ritual space, reaching out and blending in with the trees and shrubs of the grove.

 

Leader 1 with participants repeating:

Blooms and birds let good spirits in

Thorns and bees keep the bad away

We lay this Hedge with this pledge

A witch’s work is to be done

Here at the world’s edge

Herbs and shrubs protect our kin

Vines and snakes keep evil at bay

Hail protective hedge!

 

Quarter Calls

(write your own!)

North

East

South

West

Centre

 

Spirits of Place

Call and return:We call to the spirits of this grove

And the rocks and trees and wild things

Stand guard before us

Stand guard behind us

Stand guard above us

Stand guard below us

Stand guard to the right of us

Stand guard to the left of us

Stand guard within this grove

Stand guard without this grove

Hail spirits of this place!

Light Fire

v      Leader 1 lights the fire

Leader 2:Hearth fire, forge fire, heart fire, sacred fire

You connect us to those who have gone before

And those who will come after

You connect the past and the future with the present

You symbolize every fire that has ever burned

To keep humanity safe, warm and fed

You connect the Upperworld

And the realms of the gods

With us here in the Middleworld

Light the way for our gods, guardians and guides

Hail the sacred fire!

 

Sacred Well

v      Leader 2 places leaves and petals (etc) from the basket into the cauldron

Leader 1:Ancient well, wishing well, faery well, sacred well

You connect us to those who have gone before

And those who will come after

You connect the past and the future with the present

You symbolize the very life that flows within us

To quench our thirst and give sustenance to the land

You connect the Lowerworld

And the realms of the ancestors

With us here in the Middleworld

Be a guiding river for our gods, guardians and guides

Hail the sacred well!

 

Planting the World Tree

v      Leader 1 drives the stang into the ground, anoints it with the blessed water and decorates with a seasonal wreath.

Leader 2:Here we plant the World Tree

To act as a marker upon the crossroads

Oh! Great World Tree

Open up the ways between

Here, we create a gap in the Hedge

A thinning in the Veil

A place that is no place

A moment that is timeless

A gate between the worlds

A threshold at the edge of everything

Hail the World Tree!

 

Chant

 

Deity Invocations

v      Lugh

Leader 2:We call upon you

Lugh of the long arm

Champion and leader of battle

God of many crafts and talents

There is nothing you cannot achieve

Lord of the first harvest

We invoke you, mighty Lugh

Slayer of Balor, light of the Sun

Come and hear the tales of you victories

Hail to Lugh!

 

v      Danu

Leader 1: We call to you Danu, Mother

Ancestress of the gods

Source of life, foundation of the Earth

As old and wise as rock and stone

The Old One of the Mound is your Lover

We invoke you, mother of the gods

Giver of life, lady of the land

Come so we can sing your praises

Hail to Danu!

 

v      Morrigan

Leader 2:We call to you Morrigan, Great Queen

Mistress of death and rebirth

Guardian of the Veils

And decider of victories

You maintain the balance of life and death

And guide us to rebirth

We invoke you great sorceress

Watchful raven, steadfast mare

Come and feast on our offerings in your name

Hail to the Morrigan!

 

v      Cernnunos

Leader 1:We call to you Cernnunos, Horned One

Master of the Art Magickal

Antlered God, Lord of the wild

As old and wise as the mighty forests

God who walks the pathways to the Underworld

We invoke you, king of witches

God of sacrifice and death, god of life and rebirth

Come and dance and leap with us

Hail to Cernnunos!

 

Ancestors & Cathbad

v      Ancestors

Leader 1:Ancestors of blood and bone and spirit

Ancient wise ones hear our call

Healers, shamans, witches, druids

Priests and priestesses of old

Cunning men and wise women

Whose footsteps we do follow

We call to you now

And ask you to bless our ritual

With your knowledge

And with your love

Hail the Might Dead!

 

v      Cathbad

Leader 2:Cathbad, mighty Druid

Who once taught heroes and advised kings

Wise Druid who was betrayed

And turned away from political power

Who broke the fetters of tradition

And wandered the wilderness as a Hedge Druid

Returning only to help his people and save his land

We call to you here and ask for guidance

Lead the ancestors to this place and stand guard with them

Inspire and enlighten us with your presence

Hail Cathbad the Druid!

 

Witness Calls

Each participant is encouraged to invite witnesses in any way they prefer. Offerings can be burned in the fire or placed in the cauldron as they do so.

 

Declaration of Purpose

Lughnasadh Song/chant

 

v      Statement

Leader 1:Now is the time of Lughnasadh or Lammas. Summer is nearly at an end and the first harvest has begun. The corn ripens, the night grows cooler, and the fields are heavy with grain. Many plants and trees now go to seed and grow ripe with fruit and berry. With each plant that goes to seed or drops a berry upon the ground we witness the beginning of the new growth to come in spring.

 

Leader 2:We come together to celebrate the fertility of the land and the fruitfulness in our own lives. We gather here to honour the gods, spirits and ancestors. We are here to witness the sacrifice made by the gods of the land so that the earth will carry on in fertility and so the cycle of life may continue. Just as the trees must sacrifice their fruit so that new life can be born in spring, the gods also must sacrifice for the same reason.

 

Leader 1:Together we will sing songs in honour of Lugh, amongst the chiefs of the Celtic gods. And also make offerings to the many gods in our lives and to the earth herself. We shall show gratitude for the blessings they bestow upon us and for the greatest gift of all: life.

 

Leader 2:Then we will pass around the Corn King and tie upon him that which we seek to sacrifice and be rid of in our lives. And also tie upon him the blessings we wish to have. Then as the ancient Pagans of old, we shall sacrifice him for the good of the earth.

 

Chant

 

Pass Around the Corn King

Corn dolly is passed around and each participant ties a ribbon(s) around Him. She may say out loud or in her mind what she wishes to give up or sacrifice, as well as anything she is grateful for or wishes to have blossom in her life.

 

Corn King Sacrifice

The Corn King is taken by processional lead by Leader 1 to the fire and tossed into the fire to burn.

Chant

Open Floor to Participants & Offerings

Each member may take a turn sharing a story, reciting a poem, dancing or saying a few words (etc) to celebrate the season in their own way.

Any offerings brought by the participants can now the given to the gods/ancestors/etc. each can take a turn coming up and placing the offerings in the offering bowl, in the well (cauldron) or in the fire.

 

Juice and Bread Blessing

v      Bread is cut and the juice is held aloft

Leader 2:Here is bread, here is life. The fertility of the land combined with the skill of the people who ground the grain and baked this bread. Here is the body of the Earth Mother and the seed of the gods. Without such gifts we shall perish. I slay thee bread with reverence and joy.

 

Leader 1:Here is juice, here is life. The water of the Earth combined with the nectar of the green things that grow upon it. Here is the life blood of the Land. This cup holds the sweet blessings of the Earth. Without such gifts we would perish. I bless this drink with humble gratitude.

 

Food Offerings

The first slice of bread is placed in the fire by Leader 2 and the first sip of juice is placed in the well by Leader 1.

Words:We give the first of fruits to the gods with gratitude

 

Sacred Meal

Bread and then juice is passed around to each participant.

Words:May you never hunger

May you never thirst

 

Declaring of the Peace

Leader 2 recites the Declaration of Peace as spoken by the Morrigan  after the 2nd Battle of Maigh Tureadh

 

Augury

Leader will ask the gods/ancestors/etc to speak to the group and then cast and read them.

 

Farewell Witnesses

Each participant will say farewell to their witnesses in their own way.

 

Ancestors & Cathbad

v      Ancestors

Leader 1:Ancestors of blood and bone and spirit

Whose footsteps we do follow

Ancient wise ones we thank you

For blessing our ritual

With your knowledge

And with your love

Hail and farewell the Might Dead!

 

v      Cathbad

Leader 2:Cathbad, mighty Druid

Who once taught heroes and advised kings

Wise Druid we thank you

For standing with our ancestors

And Inspiring and enlightening us with your presence

Hail and farewell Cathbad the Druid!

 

Farewell Deities

               

v      Cernnunos

Leader 1:We thank you Cernnunos, Horned One

Antlered God, Lord of the wild

God of sacrifice and death, god of life and rebirth

We were blessed to have you dance with us this rite

Hail and farewell Cernnunos!

 

v      Morrigan

Leader 2:We thank you Morrigan, Phantom Queen

Guardian of the Veils

And decider of victories

We were honoured by your presence at our feast

Hail and farewell Morrigan!

 

v      Danu

Leader 1:We thank you Danu, Mother

Ancestress of the gods

Giver of life, lady of the land

We were happy to sing your praises

Hail and farewell Danu!

 

v      Lugh

Leader 2:We thank you Lugh, of the long arm

High king of summer

Patron of the arts

We thank you for celebrating your victories with us

Hail and farewell Lugh!

 

Well

v      The cauldron is tipped and emptied by Leader 2

Leader 1:Sacred well, though your waters will be spilled, you will always be present in our thoughts and memories, the ancient doorway to the realms of our ancestors.

Hail and farewell sacred well!

Fire

v      The fire is smothered or covered by Leader 1

Leader 2:Hearth fire, though you may be put out, you will always burn brightly in our hearts, a flame present in the heart of hearth, home and this hedge.

Hail and farewell sacred fire!

 

Lowering the World Tree

v      Leader 1 lowers the stang while Leader 2 recites.

Leader 2:Here we close the gap in the Hedge

And return this space to the present

We bid farewell to the Underworld

Farewell to the Upperworld

Farewell to the spirits

And bid welcome to the Middleworld

And to the mundane

Hail and farewell World Tree!

Spirits of Place

Call and return:We thank the spirits of this grove

And the rocks and trees and wild things

We bid a fond adieu to all that dwell here

Hail and farewell spirits of this grove!

 

Quarter Calls

North

East

South

West

Centre

 

Hedge Harvest

v      Participants will sit (or stand) facing outwards.

v      Leader 2 will lead the visualization while Leader 1 walks around the witchring with her sickle, harvesting the hedge.

 

Leader 2:Take thee long, deep breaths.

As Leader 1works her way around with her sickle, make the Hedgerow sink back into the earth, a kind of reverse growth … let leaves fall and birds fly away … Imagine it being harvested like the corn and grain … You may want to visualize a kind of autumn and winter happening in the hedge … Let the energy spent to create the Hedgerow return to the Earth and the Sky. Take three long, deep breaths.

 

Leader 2 and group repeating:

Blooms and birds now go to sleep

Thorns and bees rest for the day

We release this Hedge with this pledge

A witch’s work is now done

Here where the worlds did meet

Herbs and shrubs go underground

Vines and snakes can slither away

Hail and farewell protective hedge!

End Ritual

v      Participants will be asked to hold hands

Chant