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Best evening for ritual: March 10 (Tuesday)
Theme: Carve out your goals
The energy of this Moon is dominated by the close proximity of Saturn. Together in Virgo, the Moon and Saturn seek to crystallize our creative intentions, giving them focus and character. Venus has lost touch with Mars, but now has a new sextile partner, Jupiter. They fuel our attraction for grand ideas and life-changing projects. The Sun in Pisces is unable to contribute any focusing or narrowing of these visions, but the passage of the Moon near Saturn tonight is an opportunity to tie things down. (The actual time of the Saturn-Moon conjuction is 4:26 pm.)
Use the Full Moon tonight to select one or two things to focus on from out of the cornucopia of hopes, visions, and ideals. Find the symbolic center of your intentions and let it be your guide and frame for the coming month.
Affirmations for this Moon:
I can see the next step.
I take my goals in hand.
I know what to create this day.
Out of many, comes the one.
Ritual planning is nothing more than preparation, an act of imagination. The reality is what happens when the ritual is actually performed. When the time comes and the ritual begins, the plan is secondary. The most important thing now is the frame of mind of the person or persons leading the ritual.
In some ways, leading ritual is similar to acting on stage. Not in the sense of being a performer trying to entertain an audience, or trying to project a fictional character who is not yourself, but rather in the sense of putting aside the stress and jitters and entering the flow of the present moment.
The primary role of the ritual leaders is not to follow the plan or make sure that nothing goes wrong. Rather it is to manage the energy of the ritual and the participants. The leaders must not project tension, desire to control, or irritability. They must project love, flexibility, confidence, and genuiness.
If you lead ritual with feelings of warmth and respect for the participants, the ritual will become a collaborative project, and glitches and departures from the plan will not bring down the group feeling and the positive focus. This is especially easy to do for a group that has worked together for some time, with different people assuming leadership roles; everyone understands how to support the energy and love of the circle.
In public rituals or with looser groups, there is more of a challenge. Leaders must be sensitive to the presence of participants who are confused or intimidated, whose energy is flagging, or who are caught up in private thoughts. If the ritual is well planned to begin with, addressing these problems should not require major changes to the ritual plan. More likely, they can be taken care of by a shift in your own attitude or focus, which may manifest as a bit of spontaneous humor, an increase or decrease in the level of drama you are projecting, or just reshaping the energy flow slightly by will.
It’s been said that leading ritual and teaching kindergarten require basically the same set of skills and attitudes. There’s a lot of truth in that. As people learn the ways of adult life, their basic nature doesn’t change, they just learn to match external behavioral expectations. We may still get bored and cranky like we did at 4 years old, but we’ve learned to stand and wait patiently instead of throwing fingerpaint at the teacher. But in a ritual context, it is not enough that participants behave well. They must also be well.
If the personal energies of the participants are flowing as they should, then the collective energy becomes available for achieving the ritual purpose. In a magical context, the energy is strong and palpable and is directed like a luminous fluid into the work. For less intense rituals, the energies are more diffuse and less kinetic, but still very real. And the desired result is the same: the collective will of the group becomes focused on the ritual purpose and moves to achieving with clarity and force.
The theurgist uses magic to come into closer relationship with divine, to evolve spiritually, to rise to higher levels of awareness. The theurgist may focus on aspecting deity, communing with angelic entities, or unlocking the subconscious, healing wounds, and forming a more integrated personality. The “high magic” of the renaissance and the occult ceremonial magic tradition is very much in this mold. The worker of high magic studies religious symbolism and ancient wisdom, not to achieve worldly rewards, but to learn the deep structure of creation and thus draw nearer to a divine consciousness.
Thaumaturgy, on the other hand, is more concerned with earthly needs and desires: wealth, love, career, health, and so on. Most “folk magic” is thaumaturgic. The magician isn’t seeking an internal change of consciousness, but rather external physical effects. This is the type of magic that most readily captures the popular imagination. Who wouldn’t want to cast a simple spell and get a $1000 check in the mail the next day?
In truth, the line between the two types of magic is not a line at all, but a continuum of gradations. Every act of magic changes the relationship between the magician and the world, so every act of magic has both internal and external effects. In fact, the strongest acts of magic seem to affect both self and world in very powerful ways. For these reasons, a magical practice should be undertaken only by those who welcome spiritual growth and inner change. Once the door between the inner and outer worlds is open, there will be a flow in both directions.
Spirit is sometimes referred to as the “fifth element.” This idea goes all the way back to Aristotle and his idea that the celestial realm was made of a fifth element (quintessence), ether, which is not found here in the sublunar world.
Four is the number of order and stability. A house has four walls; there are four cardinal points of the compass. The laying out of buildings and boundaries with right angles was so important to our ancestors that our words for measuring off squares are intertwined with our words for propriety and authority: rectangle, regular, regulation, regiment, rex (king), ruler (both kinds), right (both senses), rectify, direct (both senses), correct, rector…the list goes on and on.
The four-fold order is static, not dynamic. Every element has its quadrant, and every quadrant its element. There is no room for mystery, for surprise, for magic. Something is missing, and that something may be called spirit. Here’s one way to think about spirit: if someone created a robot that looked and behaved just the way you do, would the robot be you? Most of us would say no—being alive is more than simply going through the motions. We also have consciousness, a point of view, an interior depth; there is something more than mind, will, heart, and body, some center of awareness that experiences our thoughts and desires, feelings and sensations, without being completely defined by them.
Most Pagans believe that spirit is not something we humans alone possess by virtue of having a soul (in the Christian sense), or by virtue of having complex brains (as the scientific worldview would have it). Rather, we see spirit manifesting everywhere: in the plants and animals we share this world with, and in the grand, slow life of the cosmos as a whole.
Some people use the word “spirit” in connection with the element of fire. It has a different meaning in that context. Compare the two words spirited and spiritual. “Spirited” describes someone brimming with energies and desires and willfulness; that is spirit in the fiery sense. “Spiritual” refers to a connection with deep sources of meaning that lie beyond the confines of the ego. That is spirit in the sense of the fifth element.
The Wiccan pentagram symbolizes this mystery by opening the four-fold cross of the elements into a five-fold star. The pentagram gives physical form to a truth that is not itself physical. We don’t call five “quarters” when we cast a circle, and the four elements retain their own symmetries and contrasts. Spirit is not one of the physical elements. It is everywhere and nowhere. It has no list of correspondences, because everything can be an opening into spirit.
While it is essential to recognize spirit along with the other elements, it is also essential to keep it somewhat distinct, and not trivialize it by simply tacking it on the elemental quaternity.
Night comes, and I am in your arms again.
You dance across the evening sky, eager and bright,
I will chase you in my dreams tonight.
Lady of Power, abundant and glorious,
Carry me through the night,
Bathed with radiance, clothed with magic, suckled with sleep
Until day is born anew.
Sitting in the shadows of the Earth, Old Woman waiting,
Searching for your pale form,
I find whispered secrets
And bid farewell by morning’s light.