I do not do well with highly structured ritual. I need a book or a cheat sheet or something to remember all the bits and pieces of really pretty flowing poetry and excellent ideas to think about and the directions to move about clockwise while hopping on one foot and clasping your ritual broom in your buttocks that sometimes come with the really kewl rituals. I have tried the Lesser Banishing Pentagram ritual. I forget which angel goes where. I have tried to memorize long invocations to gods, to spirits, to the dead. It doesn’t work. If I can put a song or rhythm to it, I can do better, but it still feels a bit off.
So, I have decided to say… fuck it. Fuck it long, fuck it loud, fuck it proud. I’m not trying for an Everlasting Tradition out of my actions, I just want something that has meaning for me. And so, here we are. Instead of doing a premade spell, I cobble together bits of what is around me and go from there. Instead of lighting exacting 210 tealights in Fibonacci sequence in honor of my holy people, I offer what I have and what I am. Poetry is limited to what I remember and what I make up on the spot.
Does it work?
It takes some creativity sometimes, as well as gut-deep belief. Case in point- I found a stick/stalk. Well dried, wand length, a little knobbly. As soon as I picked it up, I knew what it was. I used my anger at something that happened that day to call the rain. That stick is stabbed into holy ground (well, my holy ground, anyway) and we haven’t had more than 2 dry days in a row since. Objectively, its just a stick that I found on the ground. No deep magic correspondences. No oils and candles and three days of calling up various and sundry spirits. And yet, it worked.
Another case in point? My great green elephant. I’ve been making him for years, before I even decided I wanted to do “woo-woo” stuff. On the outside, he is a terra-cotta plant pot, fairly small, with watermarks and green stuff and dirt caked all over him. Inside, he is full of plant material picked on my home ground, usually with some interesting rocks or other stuff poked in important places (heart, brain, belly). Put him all together and what do you have? An elephant that protects and tends all the green life on the property. He changes as the seasons do. I renew him when he needs it, or when I think of it. I do have a few “rules” when I make him, but nothing that can’t ever be broken. Sometimes he gets a whole egg in him, sometimes a water-worn seashell. If anyone has read the Terry Prachett series about Tiffany Aching, you may remember a shambles. My elephant is my version of a shambles, though I don’t use it to divine as the witches in the Discworld do. Magic of the moment is powerful stuff.
On Samhain (or whenever I have a good mini pumpkin I can use), I carve out the palm-sized pumpkins and ornamental gourds (normally found by picking over already-harvested local fields) and fill them with fruit, flower, leaves, and seed as offerings to ancestors and gods. A small egg is normally added since I don’t always have fresh-killed meat to add, and voila! an offering that is not incense or candles. (I don’t intend to imply that incense and candles are bad offerings. I use them all the time. I just like to do something different so I don’t have to worry about indoor bugs and mice, like I do with indoor food offerings.) The finished gourd is buried in an appropriate place and allowed to rot. Part of my holy ground is holy because I have buried these there (the other part being that my grandmother used it as her special gardening space).
Its all about resonance. What works for my gods and spirits and what works for me. After the long funeral for roadkill Owl (who is now happily ensconced in a glass crystal owl statuette), which, by the way, was completely spur of the moment structure-wise, I decided I wanted to add some water pouring into my nightly devotional rounds. So, now I have a large bowl of water that I add to every night for those I wish to honor. The bowl itself is kind of the altar representation for the Lady (Fire in the Water=floating tealights) that holds water for my Three (Land, Sea, and Sky) and the Owl. I recently poured water for a friend’s brother, as well. When its full it’ll get poured out; some on Owl’s decomposing body, some on the Resurrection Strawberries (they bore edible fruit on the Winter Solstice), some on other plants in need of holy hydration. I dab some on Owl’s new body, too.
I need some more statues/representations of my spirits n’ deities. I have visions of bathing the statues in holy water and getting rid of the necessity of using the offering candle itself as a deity representation. I mean, its a nice representation, sure, but towards the end it gets a bit…. gooey. I need no gooey gods >.> In my perfect world, I’d have statuary (not necessarily anthropomorphic) that I could wash and tend and sometimes hold. I’m a tactile person; thus, the plushies of animals I admire (I added a musk ox and a buffalo to the zoo. Just wait til you see what I have planned for them). Hell, my primary method of talking to Manannan is whispers to a cuddled sea turtle plushie. Statues and their ilk serve to keep me mindful, to make me remember the divine on my way out to school and job.
There is a greater reason why I accept this approach to the divine without reservations. If coincidences were quarters, I’d be a millionaire; my life is full of the little tweakers. So, if I am important to the divine and walk in the love of a sea-god and a Creatrix, not to mention an army of dead people and a particular patch of land, then the path must be just as loved. Very rarely is a coincidence truly a coincidence. We vibrate in harmony or dissonance with the world, and when when the harmony is good, things line up. They sing in a chorus of cause and effect. Consider this- we literally cannot see a song being sung. We can see the singer squirting air through their meat but we can’t see the song itself. Its a invisible vibration that affects us.
So, I come to the point of this Path-post- By walking in harmony with my divinities, stuff lines up. There is power and responsibility in honoring who and what I do. Formal incantations and rituals are not mine to do, and that’s ok. I know who I sing with, and They don’t seem to mind street clothes and dirty fingernails. And, by taking away the “designated time” for the divine, it seeps into everything, instead. Loading a kiln becomes holy work. Driving is a moving meditation. Staring at a cloudy sky is a sign of love. A bird in the sky is cause for celebration.
My path… my devotion… is more than words and candles and oils. It is my life.