Inspiration and Ritual

The first ritual I attended (many years ago) was scripted. I had the script in advance and worked hard to learn all the things I was supposed to say, seeking to understand them so that I could express them as meaningfully as possible. I was very serious and wet behind the ears, and it all seemed hugely important. Come the big night, and I found that the man leading the ritual had not learned the script – even for basic things like calling the quarters. There was no magic.  My own words were stilted and awkward. It was horrendous, meaningless, and almost put me off group ritual altogether.

Over the years I’ve worked with various degrees of scripted and not scripted rituals. I am increasingly of the belief that ritual should be improvised in the moment, based (perhaps) on a shape that has been agreed on in advance. Having a script puts a physical object between the person(s) holding it and everyone, and everything else. It is a barrier. It is also a thing to hide behind. Nature frequently hasn’t read the script in advance, and won’t reliably go along with it anyway. Sometimes the mood and weather on the day are totally at odds with what was planned. Not having a script gives you the freedom to go with what is happening.

Scripts in ritual are a safety net, a comfort blanket. They make the ritual predictable. That’s dull. They make it comfortable. Is that what ritual is for? I think ritual should be wild, exciting, challenging. It should be an adventure, unpredictable, different every time. Having a clear structure and plan for what to say may be reassuring, but do you really want that, year on year? It would be limiting.

Standing outside, in a circle of likeminded folk, what better time is there to be open to inspiration? Clear your mind, listen to the birds, the wind, the voices of soil and spirits of place. Truly connect, respect and be open. No amount of script can give you that. If this means there are long silent pauses in ritual, that’s fine, and not a thing to be afraid of. Let the words come in their own time. Let them flow with the currents and energies of your working space, coming from your heart.

I’ve been working with more freeform ritual for some time now, inviting people to improvise. When leading that kind of ritual, it means you must explain quickly and clearly what is needed, and give people a bit of time to think. Sometimes we break circle and go out into the woods in ones and twos to meditate, experience and find inspiration. Then we return and share, speaking words we found amongst the trees. Raw poetry, alive with the energy of the moment, is usually the result. Having no script, we have not decided in advance who will speak, and it makes it easier for everyone to find their voice in ritual and contribute to the gathering. Scripts put authority into the hands of the few – without them, there is more equality in circle.

Improvised ritual is truly beautiful thing. It’s a leap in the dark, every time, but if you are open and trust, and take your inspiration from what is around you, then it flows beautifully. I come away from such gatherings feeling inspired in ways that stay with me and feed into other aspects of my life. It’s a powerful way of working, and I very much recommend it.

Famous Last Words

I received this in a Pagan Yahoo Group through email. They were so amazing that I had to post them. I think they are magazine worthy. Can you believe some of these? lol My favorite is the last one. And these are direct quotes. Enjoy!

“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” –Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

“There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” –Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” –Popular Mechanics magazine, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” –The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.” –Dr. Lee DeForest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television”

“But what … is it good for?” –Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” –Western Union internal memo, 1876

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” –David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” –A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” –Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone With The Wind

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” –Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” –Decca Recording Co., rejecting the Beatles, 1962

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” –Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895

“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this,” –Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” –Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” –Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” –Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, France

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” –Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899

“The supercomputer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over Niagara Falls to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required.” –Professor of Electrical Engineering, New York University

“I don’t know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn’t be a feasible business by itself.” –the head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” –Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.” –Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” –Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

Pagan Holiday for April 10th, 2010


Rome will say good-bye to their VERY long festival of Megalesia–honoring their Mother of the Gods Cybele for today is the last.

Hopping over to Babylon, we shall see an observance and festival for their Goddess named Bau. Bau was drawn with the head of a Dog. Her name in Babylonian language means ‘bark’.

The Celts will be having their traditional celebration because the sun shall dance on this day.

And in Norse territory, they shall call this day Sigrblot for it is the first day of summer in their Calendar.

C.H. Scarlett