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Author Topic: Important Ceremonies/Rituals in Your Religion  (Read 2336 times)
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« Topic Start: January 31, 2009, 11:07:56 am »

Most major religions like Christianity have their sacraments and important holy days. What important rituals and such are in your religion? Why are they important? How important is participating in those rituals to you?
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« Reply #1: January 31, 2009, 06:34:48 pm »

Most major religions like Christianity have their sacraments and important holy days. What important rituals and such are in your religion? Why are they important? How important is participating in those rituals to you?

As a coven, we do something that's roughly the Wheel of the Year, but with a focus on seasonal growth and change and personal growth and change, rather than specific deity mythology (i.e. birth of the God, etc.) We've also shifted names, because we're working with Celtic deities, so the Celtic names made less and less sense. (Though we anticipate some future changes, because we started this at Year's End last year, and stuff may shift as we actually get to those rituals and see what makes sense.)

(All days are approximate: we celebrate when the scheduling makes sense, which is usually *not* midweek. Likewise, the solsitice/equinox dates shift slightly year to year, hence 'ish')

Winter's End (Feb 2nd): planting the seeds of work for our next year, the eventual end of winter and coming of spring. This is what I refer to as "Maybe someday, winter will be over" (Hey, we're in Minnesota), and when it does, we should be ready with what we want to do.

Springtide or Spring equinox (March 22ndish) : Things are finally beginning to thaw and move and grow. What do we do to encourage those patterns as we work on personal and group goals?

May Day (May 1st): Yay! Look, there's actual living plants. (Even if there may also be snow. It happens.) Celebration of the planning work we've done so far, and a push towards activity in getting more of it done.

Midsummer (June 22ndish): A pause at the height of the summer. This has become a revisioning ritual for the group in our tradition - where are we now, and where do we want to be as a group by this time next year.

First harvest (August 1st): Breadbaking, almost always. Transformation of the product of our work into a form we can best use.

Harvest home (September 22ndish): Full celebration of harvest and reflection of what we've done since Winter's End. Tidying up of loose ends that we hadn't quite gathered together yet.

Year's End: (October 31st) Remembering of those who've died during the year, and of beloved dead from previous years and of our ancestors. Preparation for introspection and quiet time.

Midwinter (December 22ndish): The quiet light in the darkness, the return of the lengthening days, the beginning of inspiration for our work for the coming year.

We also generally celebrate the full moons, though as a coven, we've made the decision to swap to celebrating the new moon together in months where the full moon and the Sabbat fall together (within about 5 days of each other). It spreads out the group commitments a bit, and gives us a chance to do a differently focused ritual together, which we've discovered we like.
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« Reply #2: February 05, 2009, 05:09:53 pm »

Most major religions like Christianity have their sacraments and important holy days. What important rituals and such are in your religion? Why are they important? How important is participating in those rituals to you?

Like the poster above me, we celebrate the Wheel of the Year.  We also celebrate the full and new moons.  During full moons we have a ritual honoring the Goddess and during new moons we take the opportunity to learn and study. 

I think it's pretty important for us to celebrate together.  I was a solitary for a long time but when I started celebrating in a group I found a different kind of energy and I liked it.  I think as pagans we should have a community around us, not only to celebrate holidays but also as means of support.
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« Reply #3: February 05, 2009, 05:40:52 pm »

As a coven, we do something that's roughly the Wheel of the Year, but with a focus on seasonal growth and change and personal growth and change, rather than specific deity mythology (i.e. birth of the God, etc.) We've also shifted names, because we're working with Celtic deities, so the Celtic names made less and less sense. (Though we anticipate some future changes, because we started this at Year's End last year, and stuff may shift as we actually get to those rituals and see what makes sense.)

And yay, comment made me re-read this, and realise I'd left stuff out, too!

I talked about the seasonal and lunar cycles, but there are also other rituals that occur at other times.

- One trad specific ritual that takes place in late January/early February every year.

- Dedications - done when there are new students wishing to commit to pre-initiatory study and work. Coven practice is that we do not dedicate anyone between Year's End (Oct. 31st) and Winter's End (Feb 2nd), but otherwise, this might occur at any other appropriate time.

- Initiations and elevations: three degree system, thus three different rituals. Again, we're committed to not doing these during the fallow period, though I'd contemplate exceptions if it made sense. (For example, a former student in the training group was going to be going in for cancer surgery around the winter solstice: doing her initiation before that gave her access to more methods of healing, managing energy, and ability of others in the tradition to offer specific kinds of energetic support than prior to the initiation. In this case, I think the timing choice made sense - but I also think it was an exceptionally rare situation.)

While it's the seasonal rituals and moons that bring us together as a community, it's these four rituals that go a long way toward defining our specific tradition and practice as a tradition - and so they're pretty central.

There's also the possibility of other rituals as needed - these would include things like handfasting or wedding rituals, memorials, and other life passage sort of things. (They're relative rare for my trad for various reasons - we might have one of these kinds of rituals a year, for example - but they're possible.) 
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« Reply #4: February 08, 2009, 10:20:33 pm »

What important rituals and such are in your religion? Why are they important?

The two major holidays that I celebrate are Samhain and Yule. These are most important because they are times when I can be with those most important to me, my family and my ancestors. Samhain is also a time for me to try and figure out my goals for the following 12 months. Yule is when I get to see my family all together for the most part and it is a time for me to get to know them better.

These two days are crucial stopping/starting points in my year. To not celebrate them would just feel wrong and would leave me feeling like I'd lost something crucial.
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« Reply #5: February 08, 2009, 10:32:29 pm »

What important rituals and such are in your religion? Why are they important? How important is participating in those rituals to you?

I have two types of ritual -- although I have a problem identifying with that word for some reason, so I usually just think of them as "practices" or "devotionals".  (I know it's pretty much the same thing, but it's easier for me to use the words I don't react negatively to.)

First, I have my daily rituals.  Since I'm not a member of an organized  or "pre-walked" path, I've developed these daily devotionals myself.  They're based on my understanding of Brighid's traditional worship, UPG, and SPG.  In a nutshell, my daily devotional includes lighting an oil lamp and some candles, making an offering (which varies from Baileys' Irish Cream to ice cream sundaes), and an informal and ever-changing prayer.

Second, I celebrate the ancient Celtic festivals with activities that I feel link me to the traditional festivities, as well as some of my own devising.  The biggest festival for me is Imbolc, because that is Brighid's day.  I make Brighid's crosses (out of pipe cleaners), put a Brighid's Brat out for blessing (that's an old Irish tradition involving putting a ribbon or piece of cloth outside for Brighid to bless as She passed), and making a special offering.  This year, I also observed the old Irish tradition of avoiding any activity that includes the turning of a wheel.

These rituals are extremely important to me.  They honor my goddess, and help keep me mindful of Brighid's presence in my life.  If, for some reason, I can't do my evening devotional (which happened when I was really sick), I feel incomplete.  Or something like that.

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« Reply #6: February 08, 2009, 11:26:29 pm »

Most major religions like Christianity have their sacraments and important holy days. What important rituals and such are in your religion? Why are they important? How important is participating in those rituals to you?

Imbolc, definitely my most important, though the least visible of my holy days, as it isn't a big TaDa that I put on, just very intense.  Beltaine is right up there at the top of the list, and I would like to make it far more of a visible holy day.  Poor Oestara gets a miss most of the time, though we usually do something fun if the youngest is here, like egg hunts and such.  Midsummer, again, not a biggy for celebration.  Lughnasadh is usually a feast day, as is Mabon.  Samhain is huge.  I tend to go all out for it, as it is new years, the beginning of the Fallows, and Halloween, too.  Serious and fun in one.  Yule is the most visible of our holy days.  Food, family, fire, exchanging pressies.  But it isn't very holy, just huge.

We do have ritual for all of them, but mostly that's pretty small.  With a coven that has only four initiates and two regular non-initiates, it isn't like we do big ritual.
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« Reply #7: February 09, 2009, 06:54:40 am »

Most major religions like Christianity have their sacraments and important holy days. What important rituals and such are in your religion? Why are they important? How important is participating in those rituals to you?

An important Stoic practice is daily reflection or meditation. The idea is to spend time at the start of the day reflecting on the likely day ahead and preparing oneself to deal as reasonably as possible with the vicissitudes of life and at the end of the day to do a short lessons learnt for future reference. I know it sounds mundane, but it's a core part of the practice and is directly related to the core belief system.
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