Rituals of Beauty and Delight
Summer time, and the living is easy! In the northern hemisphere, the month of June is traditionally a time of joy and easy living. The Earth revels in long, sunny days and celebrates with an abundance of flowers, and seasonal treats like strawberries and asparagus.
In appreciation of all this loveliness I like to make my rituals at this time of year as beautiful and pleasurable as possible. Whether you are celebrating as a solitary, as part of a coven or even facilitating a public ritual, here are some ideas to make your ritual truly enchanting.
A ritual to delight the senses should take as many of them as possible into consideration. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell – how will you charm them all? Some are easier to engage during ritual than others. For example, it is likely you already decorate your sacred space (sight) and burn incense (smell). You may offer a libation to your Gods (taste), or use music (sound). Integrating touch may be less clear-cut, but in all instances with a bit of imagination and forward planning it is possible to come up with creative and delicious ideas.
Firstly, list the different parts of your ritual such as cleansing, grounding, casting a circle, invoking elements and deities and/or other allies, meditation, visualisation, raising and directing energy for spellwork/healing etc, sharing food/drink, making an offering or libation, devoking and dismissing the circle. By breaking the ritual down into its component parts, you can examine them and brainstorm ways to enhance the aesthetics of the ritual.
Here are a few ideas you may like to adopt or adapt for your ritual:
Decorate the ritual space as beautifully as possible. Drape beautiful fabric over the altar(s) – I have a selection of saris that I use – and incorporate fresh flowers (especially if they are fragrant), candles, representations of the elements (shells for water, painted fans for air, strings of chilis for fire, crystals for earth etc) and deities, magical tools, fairy lights etc. For this kind of occasion, when it comes to altars, more is more!
Consider the lighting. Do you want to highlight certain areas, add mystery with shadows, impress with a blaze of candles, rely on the glow of a central campfire, supplement with fairy lights or accent with carefully placed sequins, tinsel etc?
What sounds will you use? The tone of a singing bowl can be used to cleanse, create sacred space or denote the beginning or end of the ritual. Songs and chants can be used to raise (or lower) energy levels, bring the group together or emphasise the intention of the ritual. Well-chosen music on CD can accompany the ritual, or you may be lucky enough to have a talented musician within your group or coven. You could also add atmosphere by playing a recording of natural sounds – gentle rainfall, birdsong, ocean waves or a tumbling stream.
For taste, consider carefully what seasonal culinary delights you could include when sharing food and drink either during or after ritual. If working in a group, a delicious ‘pot luck’ meal could be shared afterwards with everyone bringing along their favourite dish. And for toasts and libations, mead – made from fermented honey – is a lovely way to celebrate the sweetness of life. If you would prefer an alcohol-free option, there are many delicious fruit juices and cordials to choose from. Elderflower cordial is a seasonal favourite of mine, which tastes like the very essence of bottled summer.
Enjoy your sense of touch with robes or altar cloths of tactile fabrics – soft velvet, crisp cotton, smooth silk. Pile up plump cushions for people to sit or lie on during meditation or visualisation. Consider temperature – if it’s a scorching hot summer day find a location that offers cool shade or a refreshing breeze. If it’s a little chilly, have cosy blankets to hand for participants to snuggle in, or plan a central campfire to sit around and toast your toes.
Indulge your sense of smell with your favourite incense, or sprinkle essential oils around the circle. Use scented candles instead of plain, and ensure any flowers on the altars are fragrant. For the ‘cleansing’ part of your ritual, offer round a bowl of rosewater for participants to wash their hands in or anoint themselves. Or asperge people as they enter the circle, using a branch of lavender or rosemary dipped in lavender water.
These ideas are just the beginning. Let your imagination loose and you will come up with all kinds of delicious inspirations for truly gorgeous rituals. And don’t confine your celebration of beauty and pleasure to ritual. The Goddess says ‘All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals’, so celebrate Her every day by bringing beauty and joy into your life. Treat yourself to a bouquet of wildflowers. Savour a bowl of sun-warmed strawberries or cherries. Use your favourite perfume – the one you save for special occasions – on an ordinary day ‘just because’. Take some precious time out to swing in a hammock or go to the beach. Hug your loved ones whenever you can. Life is beautiful. Enjoy it.