If you are attending a publicly advertised ritual, you need to check to see if they have any special requirements (check the website or call if they provide a number).
Individual covens or groups often have their own set of rules to adhere to in a ritual or circle setting. If you have been invited to attend a private coven/group ritual, do not assume it’s okay to bring someone else with you (this includes a spouse or significant other) and certainly don’t assume children are allowed. If there is someone you’d like to bring, you need to contact the High Priestess (HPS) and/or High Priest (HP) for permission. Please be respectful of their choice. Also note, that if a ritual/circle is not ‘advertised’ or for public consumption, do not make it public! Respect the privacy of the members and do not mention their names, or the ritual to outsiders. Keep in mind, some traditions/covens take an oath of secrecy and take those oaths very seriously. Please be mindful of the requirements for private covens (i.e. dress, jewelry, electronics, etc..)
Having said this there are some general guidelines for attending ritual/circle:
· Never attend a circle/ritual under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
· Time: Make sure you know the time you must be there by and allow for a few hours total (this of course can vary from circle to circle). This will include prep time, ritual time & ‘down’ time. If you are on a time constraint it may be best not to attend, whereas someone who’s obsessed with the time may disrupt the flow of the ritual. BE ON TIME!!!
· Clothing Requirements: Some groups prefer clothes that move freely to avoid constricting energy flow (like ritual robes), some prefer shoeless, some prefer specific colors, etc… Please make sure whatever you wear is comfortable and avoid t-shirts with ‘sayings’ or ‘images’ so it’s not a distraction. Some covens/groups work skyclad (clothed only by the sky), if you are not comfortable in this setting, please don’t accept the invitation. Also, if it’s going to be an outdoor ritual, dress accordingly! Also, remove hats!!
· Jewelry: Some covens/groups have special requirements for the types of jewelry within circle, be sure to ask.
· Fees/Costs: Some groups have a fee for attendance to help cover expended costs, be sure to inquire about this and how payment is to be made (is check okay, credit card, paypal or cash only)
· Food: Many rituals/circles are followed by a ‘feast’ of some kind or sometimes just a snack setting. Be sure to ask if you need to bring a food item if so, are there any allergens or special requirements and how many should you ‘account’ for when preparing food. If it’s a Sabbat, you may want to research what foods are typical for that Sabbat and incorporate it.
· Drink: Again, don’t assume alcohol is okay. If you are bringing drink to share, inquire as to whether alcohol is allowed or what other drinks are acceptable (some don’t like high sugary drinks).
· Electronics: Never assume electronics are okay in circle (more often they are not). Most covens/groups prefer electronic items not be in the ritual space. So remove watches, cell phones/pagers (have them turned off so they don’t go off) and store them in a safe place. Cameras/Video are also not typically allowed within circle.
· Bags/Purses/Backpacks: The circle/ritual is a sacred space and often ‘mundane’ objects are a distraction and inconvenience if circle dancing is involved. Please leave these items in a safe place and out of circle.
PRIOR TO RITUAL/CIRCLE:
· Make sure you have bathed/showered prior to a ritual (remember the old adage “cleanliness is next to godliness” ). A ritual bath or shower helps you begin to get into a certain mindset. It’s during this time you begin to focus on the upcoming ritual and to wash away any ‘negatives’ you may be carrying around during the day.
· Make sure you have all the items you’ll need for ritual (special clothing, jewelry, ‘tools’, etc…)
· Make sure you have any food/drink items ready to go
· If it’s an outdoor ritual, be sure to bring and apply insect repellant ahead of time!
· Be aware of smoking rules (do not smoke in a circle at all), but be aware of designated smoking areas and be sure not to leave cigarette butts on the ground. Dispose in dispenser (if provided) otherwise pocket it until you find a trash!
· Find out if shoes are allowed or where they are to be left outside of the circle.
· Make sure to listen carefully to directions during prep time to fully understand what is expected of you.
· Be mindful if there is a special ‘order’ in which to enter a circle. Some covens/groups prefer a balance and therefore ask that people alternate (female, male, female, male).
· Once people have begun to ‘line up’, it’s time to stop talking. Now is the time to begin to center yourself and focusing on leaving your ‘mundane’ self behind as you enter circle/ritual as your magic(k)al self.
· There may be a special spot for smudging or self consecration prior to entering, be aware of this and follow directions (these are for spiritual cleansing).
· Never touch someone elses tools or altar items without explicit permission.
· Move Deosil (clockwise) at all times in circle (unless directed otherwise for specific purpose). When you enter circle, turn left, you’ll always be going in the right direction then.
· You may be asked for a special name and/or password when entering a circle (others may ask once inside circle at specific times). If you don’t have a craft/magic(k) name, don’t worry, just use your regular name
· Make sure you’ve used the restroom!!!!
· Again, remember to move Deosil and never touch tools without explicit permission.
· If you are asked to touch something on the altar, it’s often requested that you use the right hand to either pick up or put down (The right hand is considered the active hand and the left is considered the passive hand).
· Be aware of the circle boundaries. Do not step over them, move your arms over them, etc. Remember a ritual circle is a space between space and a time between time. The circles are cast as a protective place and breaking that may allow undesirables to enter. IF you break a circle, please notify the high priestess and/or high priest or coven member so it may be properly closed again.
· When the quarters are being called, turn (deosil) to face those quarters. If you’re unfamiliar as to what to do during this time, just quietly ‘follow along’. (Due to some space restrictions, be sure to ask if personal athames are allowed ahead of time), a couple pointed fingers are the typical substitute for ‘saluting’ the quarters.
· NO TALKING. Unless you are specifically invited to do so. Conversations within circle are meant to stay craft related. Remember whatever you hear in circle stays confidential (kind of like what happens in vegas stays in vegas). If you find value in info. or stories shared within circle, ask permission before sharing it outside.
· During some rituals, the HPS or HP may invoke the Goddess or God during ritual. During this time, there is absolute quiet among the coven with the exception of the HPS or HP during the invocation. During this time you should be directing your energies to the one doing the invocation (to lend them a hand in bringing down the Goddess or God). Once invoked into the body of the HPS or HP, they (the Goddess or God) speak through the HPS or HP, so if asked a question at that time you do need to answer, or you may be given a message that is meant just for you (if you don’t understand it, just keep it in your mind to discuss later with the HPS or HP).
· During most rituals there is a time called cakes and ale (or cakes and wine). If you are passed something to eat or drink, do NOT immediately consume them. Many covens/groups have a libation cup that is also passed around to give to the Gods. After ritual, this cup is usually ‘returned’ to the earth. During cakes and ale, is often a time for small ritual discussion or questions.
· If you must leave circle during ritual (illness or absolutely can’t wait for the bathroom), ask a coven member to properly ‘cut you out’ so they can properly ‘re-seal’ or close the circle again.
· If circle dancing is planned and you are not physically able to join, make sure the HPS or HP are aware of this ahead of time, so they can plan to ‘cut you out’ prior to the dancing (you may stand outside to continue to raise energy to send forth).
· Now is the time for hugs, discussion, etc…
· Ask if there is anything you can do to assist in clean up or for feast preparations.