Sometimes Ritual needs to be Quiet

Earlier this week, I lead my University’s Pagan Student Association in a ritual celebrating the coming of Spring. Myself and the other leader of the group had been planning the ritual since February. We planned it assuming we would be outside but once we got closer to the date, I realized we should prep an indoor version as well. The two rituals were very different in tone and the indoor ritual didn’t look like anything I had ever experienced. But inspiration had struck hard for both versions so I wasn’t going to question it.

I guess I should talk a little bit about our group. We are pretty interfaith when it comes to what we believe. Those of us who are Pagan all work with different deities from Norse, Celtic, Greek, Near East, and even Japanese sources. We also have Christian, Baha’i and Atheist members who are interested in interfaith and learning more about Paganism. As a result, planning a ritual that includes all of us can be rather difficult. Our solution has been to format our rituals through a more animist lens (albeit with some Wiccan formatting for the ritual itself). All of us can get behind the sacredness of nature in some form or another. However, one of our other challenges was that none of us ever frequently attended group rituals. Myself and the other leader of the group were the only ones who had, and even then our practices were more solitary than anything else.

So in crafting this ritual, we wanted it to actually connect with people. We wanted a ritual that anyone from any tradition could participate in and get something from it, but still have it be clearly Pagan.

What ended up happening was actually really beautiful. Instead of calling the elements in a very loud invocation, we described what reminded us of each element on our campus. For Earth, we talked about the grass being green from all the storms, and everything coming into bloom. For Air we talked about the smells in the air and the little wind chimes one of our members had hung in trees all over campus. Fire was the warmth of the sun but also being able to walk around at night without freezing. Water was a lot of talk of storms, especially one that woke us all up a few nights earlier. Spirit we divided into two parts. The first was a silent remembering of the ancestors and those who had left our life followed by silently acknowledging the new relationships that had come into our lives. Then we went around the circle and out loud welcomed for ourselves the forces that were guiding us. For many of us, this was the time we welcomed our deities and for others it was welcoming a concept like ‘new beginnings’. This was all followed by a guided meditation and a discussion of what we experienced.

The feeling of this ritual was wonderful. Everyone in the circle participated and there weren’t any awkward silences of people not knowing what to do. It was a quiet ritual and an intimate ritual. And sometimes, that is just what you need.