A Further Note on Ritual and Power
As we jumpstart the discussion of Heathenry and ritual, I’m seeing a lot of folks mistaking powerful rituals for those rituals that are elaborate, complicated, and “high church.” I want to note that a ritual can be very, very simple. The power comes from the focus and skill of the facilitator. The way I was trained, both in esoteric arts and in ritual, is this: if you can’t do it naked at two am in an empty room, then you can’t do it. What that means is that a good ritual worker develops a sensitivity to the presence of Other: Gods, spirits, ancestors. A ritual worker, if he or she is competent, develops a facility for demarcating and slipping into liminal space and back again succinctly and ultimately for leading others through that process as well. One becomes efficient at navigating the spaces and sense of the sacred. That need not include complicated praxis (though for many, such structure assists in the necessary cognitive transitions).
While there are deities that are far more protocol heavy than others, in most cases, I’ve always thought that the complicated ritual structures were more for our benefit, to allow us to navigate the pathways of the sacred more safely, to assist in transitioning into and out of ritual headspace. There’s a point where you don’t need them. Unless the Deity in question has indicated (through tradition, divination or direct engagement) a preference for complex liturgy, I actually prefer hard, fast, and to the point. But I can slip into ritual headspace very fast — it’s one of the skills i’ve picked up per Odin over the years. For all that, the simplest of ritual should still involve a palpable shift from mundane headspace to liminal, ritual headspace, should involve a palpable sense of Presence, should effect a shift in the participants, should require transition back to mundane space. There’s a process inherent in a good ritual, no matter how simple. The most important thing is that the Gods are at the center of it, engaging with Them the purpose, and the collective intent focused on just that aim.