As I was beginning my spiritual path, there were a lot of different events to attend. There were public rituals for almost everything you could think of, and they were advertised quite a lot in local chatrooms (for those who don't know what those are, that was back in the AOL days, long before your time). As a beginner on a non-traditional spiritual path, I wish I'd know the definitions of these different rituals or ceremonies. Each one can have different sets of protocol, but these days, in my own spiritual path, the definitions are probably a little bit different than they were in the 1990's.
Sabbats are holidays, and though the idea may have originated with Gardnerian Wicca, most of the modern Pagan world has adopted the concept of the Sabbat. These are generally considered to be 8 holidays: Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, and Mabon. There are other names for some or all of them, depending on the particular practice, but for me, these are the names I use most often.
Each Sabbat has a particular meaning in my practice. There are deeper significances, but basically, each one is a part of the life cycle of Goddess, and God.
For me, Esbats are specifically moon rituals. These are reserved for magical work or spellcraft. I take a specific set of steps to open the ritual, then perform the spellwork, and then do my opening steps in reverse to close down the ritual, and release the energy to do it’s work.
Whatever magic or spellwork is performed is based on the phase of the moon. Waning to new moons are for releasing or banishing, while waxing or full moons are for calling in, or bringing to fruition.
Rites of passage are things like: coming of age, and Handfastings or Weddings. Within my spiritual practice, there is a Dedication, for when one is beginning study of the path, and an Initiation, for when one completes study, and is ready to commit further. Beyond the Initiation, there are also two more Elevation Rites, which signify a graduation to Second, and Third Degree within the group.
These are generally celebrations, or markers, of what one has already achieved. In the Tradition that I subscribe to, and teach, there are certain energetic markers that I have to look for as a good leader. When those energetic markers are present in the student’s practice, and life, it’s time for them to have that “graduation ceremony” in order to move forward.
Ceremonies for healing, cleansing, and blessing are usually based more in natural elements for me than rituals. For me, rituals are a little more formal than ceremonies, but there is always still a set order of actions for me to fulfill when performing ceremony.
Usually, the steps involved are: cleansing or purification by elements, calling in the Spirits by either prayer or song, and then doing whatever specific work is necessary. After the work is done, I thank the Spirits for their participation in the work, and then go about whatever other plans I have for the day.
Specifically, one of the healing ceremonies that I perform includes crystals, and a Tibetan singing bowl. In this one, I place appropriate crystals, and gemstones on the chakra points of the Client’s body. Once I do this, I play a Tibetan singing bowl over each one while singing or chanting Power Songs (given by the Spirits). I consider this one to be a Crystal Sound Bath, and it’s probably my favorite healing ceremony to perform. I also do this to myself, but instead of placing crystals or gemstones on all of my chakras at once, I do them one at a time (it’s just easier that way).
When I do Otherworld Journeys, there are steps I take similar to the ceremonies I use for healing, and cleansing. It’s generally the middle portion that is different. In that middle portion, I journey into the Otherworld, and communicate with my guides - whether that happens to be Animal Helping Spirits, Ancestors, Shamanic Spirit Teachers, or any other particular being in the Spirit Realm. Often, the Spirits are beings in the Middle World, but I do meet Spirits who dwell in the Upperworlds, and Underworlds, as well.
Are there specific ceremonies or rituals you perform that fit into these categories? Are there any that you perform that don’t fit into these categories? Feel free to share in the comments, if you are so inclined!
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