Your Ancient Symbol Card for Feb. 13th is Simplicity

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

Simplicity

A much revered swami said “Simplicity is the nature of great souls.” There is a natural sense of art and genius in Simplicity. Keeping things simple produces solutions that are not only efficient but work well and are easy to maintain and build upon. Whether it takes a physical form or is an idea simple constructs please our aesthetic self. Simplicity is soothing, because you don’t have to fight your way through layers of complexity to see and understand the end result.

As a daily card, Simplicity indicates a time when you will do well by looking for simple solutions, and avoiding that which cannot be easily understood or implemented. In short, if a plan can’t get you form point A to point B without any side trips, then it is the wrong plan. Look for answers that you see immediately, that sets the proverbial light of in your head and makes you exclaim Eureka!

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Your Ancient Symbol Card for February 10th is Altruism

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

Altruism

Altruism denotes the noble act of giving to those in need without the expectation of a return. The act of giving has been seen as one of humankind’s greatest attributes throughout history. It is honored in nearly every culture. To give is a gift to both those who receive and those who give. Giving is usually associated with addressing the material needs of others, but the gift given can take many forms such as wisdom or protection or simply a shoulder to cry on.

As a daily card, Altruism suggests there are those around you in need of things you can give them. It is a time for you to address the needs of another, or others without regard of profit or acknowledgement of your contribution.

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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Paganism

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Paganism

Author:   Crick 

As folks begin to re-discover their interest in paganism, there are certain fallacies that are being put forth that do not contribute in a meaningful way to the true nature of paganism. We, as a community that is based upon many divergent beliefs, would be wise to avoid these pitfalls as we move forward. Please keep in mind that we are all individuals and as such we are entitled to our personal opinions even if it does not agree with others’ opinions.

Fallacy: The pentagram is the symbol of one particular group of pagans.

The truth is that the pentagram has been in use by various groups, both pagan and Christian, since Uruk IV circa 3500 BCE in ancient Mesopotamia where the general interpretation appeared to be “heavenly body.” By the cuneiform period circa 2600 BCE the pentagram or symbol “UB” came to mean “region, ” “heavenly quarter” or “direction”.

Venus is equated with the Sumerian Goddess, Ishtar (Inanna) whose symbol is an eight or sixteen point star.

In association with the Hebrews, the five-point symbol was ascribed to Truth and to the five books of the Pentateuch.

In Ancient Greece, it was called the Pentalpha.

Pythagorians considered it an emblem of perfection or the symbol of the human being. The Pythagoreans used it as a sign of recognition and they called the Pentagram “Hugieia” which is usually translated “Health, ” but can also translate as “Soundness or Wholeness”, and in a more general way, any “Divine Blessing”. Hugieia (Hygeia) is the Greek Goddess of Health, who is called Salus by the ancient Romans.

The pentagram was also associated with the golden ratio (which it includes) , and the dodecahedron, the fifth Platonic solid, which has twelve pentagonal faces and was considered by Plato to be a symbol of the heavens.

The Pentagram has been found everywhere from Egyptian statues to Gaulish coins. In fact, the Greeks, Aryans, and Etruscans (circa 400 BCE) shared a coin bearing a pentagram and the characters “PENSU” (Etruscan for five) .

It is noted that the texts of Solomon from the Mediaeval period gave great importance to the pentagram, under the name “Solomon’s Seal.”

It is documented that the first English mention of a pentagram appears in the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Stanzas 27-28 (1380 CE) . Gawain, who is traditionally the Celtic sun-hero, carries a shield “shining gules, With the Pentagle in pure gold depicted thereon”.

“It is a symbol which Solomon conceived once
To betoken holy truth, by its intrinsic right,
For it is a figure which has five points,
And each line overlaps and is locked with another;
And it is endless everywhere, and the English call it,
In all the land, I hear, the Endless Knot.”

And yet with the exception of Eliphas Levi who was associated with Catholicism, the Pentagram has never had any established definition or translation in regards to evil or any other negative connotation.

It was Eliphas Lévi who made the claim, with no justification or established historical precedent, that the pentagram with one point upward represents the good principle and one downward, the principals of evil. Eliphas Levi had trained for the Roman Catholic priesthood and was a prolific writer on Freemasonry magical associations. And as such his motives are somewhat questionable.

In fact, the five-pointed star is also defined as a symbol of Christ, “the bright and morning star”: and, inverted with one point down, it represents the descent of Christ, which represents his Incarnation. Lo and behold, there is a huge inverted five-pointed star on the steeple of the “Marktkirche”, or Market Church in fourteenth century Hanover, Germany and there are the numerous inverted stars that surround a statue of Mary and the Christ Child in Chartres Cathedral circa 1150 C.E.

The early Christians attributed the pentagram to the Five Stigmata of Christ and/or the doctrine of the Trinity plus that of the two natures of Christ.

It can also be seen on gravestones in the Claustro da Lavagem in the Convento at Tomar, Portugal, the monastery of Ravna, Bulgaria and the Church of All Saints at Kilham, Humberside, Yorkshire, England, which incorporates the symbol on the columns which support the Norman doorway. It is indented on the gateposts of the churchyard of S. Peter’s, Walworth, England, built in 1824 CE.

And yet in spite of thousands of years of the Pentagram being seen as a symbol of health and many other positive aspects, the Pentagram is now held forth by a few so called organized religions as being a symbol of a dark foreboding and evil.

However the pentagram is not the exclusive domain of any one pagan group and should not be presented as such as it now often is. Paganism is far too diverse to be represented by anyone group.

It is one thing to establish a religion/spiritual path that is often a mishmash of beliefs from other religious belief systems. But for such religions who were formed after the fact to engage in such blatant distortions doesn’t do much to contribute to the understanding and acceptance that these same religions claim as tenets of their own beliefs.

Until the members of such religions find the will and inner strength to empower the truth, there will always be such institutional hypocrisies. And as such these misnomers will continue to belie and disrupt any real effort at understanding and good will towards others.

Fallacy: The mystical arts are primarily a religion.

To my mind, when one takes the mystical arts which to my mind is constantly evolving and is limitless in its definition and understanding and places it within the parameters of religious dogma, then one is in effect limiting their personal spiritual growth and ability to develop within the concept of true mystical arts.

I understand that such limitations work well for some folks and that is what it is. However such a concept does not work for those who are solitaire, follow the path of shamanism, Voudon, Asatru, Nordic, Witchcraft or what have you. Such folks follow a spiritual path and not a religion. And so there needs to be more of an acceptance of such a reality.

Far too often there are attempts by those who desire to turn the mystical arts into a religion to downplay the beliefs of others or to elevate themselves above all others. Such behavior is detrimental to any attempts at creating a true pagan community and thus is a pitfall to be avoided.

Fallacy: Everyone who follows a pagan path is in effect a Neo Pagan and attempting to re-construct an ancient pagan belief.

This is simply not true and does nothing more than to play into the hands of those who would like to be seen as the pagan standard and whom often falsely claim to represent all pagans.

This misnomer may apply to those primarily of European descent who now desire to follow a pagan path from ancient Europe. But the reality is that there are in fact folks from such descent who have always been pagan. Though the organized religions did their utmost best to eradicate pagan beliefs, there were some families who did not succumb to such attempts.

To paint everyone who follows a European based pagan belief with such a broad brush is self-serving and in fact stereotyping. There are also many folks around the world who have always been pagan such as the Eskimos, Australian Bushman, Siberian Shamans, the many indigenous tribes located all around the world and so forth.

To deny the pagan heritage of such folks is arrogant and elitist to say the least. It also deprives us of a rich and valuable source of experiences that far exceed many of the modern day pagan paths. Do we really want to establish a pagan community based on such deceptive behavior?

And so as we move forward, we should keep in mind that it is human nature to put forth fallacies that are self-serving to one’s particular group. But if we are in fact going to avoid the missteps of prior belief systems, then we should be aware of the pitfalls that are waiting for the unwary.

Paganism is not about any one particular group. We are far too diverse for such a self-serving fallacy. And so moving forward, we should show common respect for all of our divergent beliefs… for we are Pagans…

One more thing and I'm getting busy…..

There is a poll on  the blog about holding an online ritual. I want to know if you would be interested in participating. You can believe it or not, I did an online ritual one time. The power that we raised ran through our computers straight to us. I asked the others about the ritual when it was over. They said it was awesome. They never believed that we would get those kinds of results from a ritual held on the net. So I have been thinking about that and I would love to do another one. How about you?

 

https://witchesofthecraft.com/2013/08/12/a-brief-poll-about-holding-an-online-ritual/

Daily OM for August 28 – A Special Goodnight

A Special Goodnight

Creating a Nightly Ritual

by Madisyn Taylor

Bedtime can be a perfect time for a nighttime ritual of sending love to the world and finding gratitude for your day.

At the end of the day, as the sweet, dark stillness of night beckons us to lay down our bones and rest, we find ourselves at a clear transition point: Behind us lies the previous day and all that has come before; ahead of us, dawn heralds the unfolding of all that is yet to be. While many of us have morning rituals that connect us with our center and help us to set intentions, we may want to explore the magic and power of nighttime ritual as well. It holds for us a beautiful chance for self-appreciation and blessing. Before you go to bed each night, you can send gratitude, compassion, and healing to the being you have been up until this moment. And you can send lightness and love into the future for the one you are in the process of becoming.

Though simple, this action honors the journey you have taken thus far, while opening you to the wonderful possibilities still ahead. When you consciously engage with your own evolution this way, you may find that your sleep gets sweeter, filling your night with a deeper sense of trust and relaxation. As you rest, you can surrender to these peaceful hours, knowing that the road behind you has been seen and acknowledged with respect and kindness, while the path ahead now holds your own benevolence and well wishes.

This bedtime ritual empowers you as the only one who can determine the meaning of your own past and the hopefulness of your future. By setting this special time aside each night, you can begin to orient yourself on your path of growing. It allows you to let the past have its place, to trust that the future is taken care of, and to simply rest yourself in the graceful arms of the present moment.

Daily OM for July 21 – A Special Goodnight

A Special Goodnight

Creating A Nightly Ritual

At the end of the day, as the sweet, dark stillness of night beckons us to lay down our bones and rest, we find ourselves at a clear transition point: Behind us lies the previous day and all that has come before; ahead of us, dawn heralds the unfolding of all that is yet to be. While many of us have morning rituals that connect us with our center and help us to set intentions, we may want to explore the magic and power of nighttime ritual as well. It holds for us a beautiful chance for self-appreciation and blessing. Before you go to bed each night, you can send gratitude, compassion, and healing to the being you have been up until this moment. And you can send lightness and love into the future for the one you are in the process of becoming.

Though simple, this action honors the journey you have taken thus far, while opening you to the wonderful possibilities still ahead. When you consciously engage with your own evolution this way, you may find that your sleep gets sweeter, filling your night with a deeper sense of trust and relaxation. As you rest, you can surrender to these peaceful hours, knowing that the road behind you has been seen and acknowledged with respect and kindness, while the path ahead now holds your own benevolence and well wishes.

This bedtime ritual empowers you as the only one who can determine the meaning of your own past and the hopefulness of your future. By setting this special time aside each night, you can begin to orient yourself on your path of growing. It allows you to let the past have its place, to trust that the future is taken care of, and to simply rest yourself in the graceful arms of the present moment.

Lighten Up – Circle Etiquette

Circle Etiquette

Never summon Anything you can’t banish.

Never put asafoetida on the rocks in the sweat lodge.

Do not attempt to walk more than 10 paces while wearing all of your ritual jewelry, dream bags and crystals at the same time.

When proposing to initiate someone, do not mention the Great Rite, leer, and say, “Hey, your trad or mine?”

Never laugh at someone who is skyclad. They can see you, too.

Never, ever set the Witch on fire.

Looking at nifty pictures is not a valid path to mastering the ancient grimoires. Please read thoroughly and carefully from beginning to end so that your madness and gibberings will at least make some sense.

A good grasp of ritual and ritual techniques are essential! In the event of a random impaling, or other accidental death amongst the participants, (see next rule) a quick thinker can improvise to ensure successful completion of the Rite. Make them another sacrifice, Demons like those.

Watch where you wave the sharp pointy items.

Avoid walking through disembodied spirits.

Carry an all purpose translators dictionary in case the ritual leader begins talking in some strange and unknown language.

Avoid joining your life force to anything with glowing red eyes.

If asked to sign a contract or pact and you are experiencing doubts or reservations, sign your neighbors name. Malevolent entities rarely ask for photo ID.

Blood is thicker than water. Soak ritual garments an extra 30-45 minutes.

While drunken weaving may be mistaken for ecstatic dancing, slurring the names of Deities is generally considered bad form.

Holy Cosmic Shifting Batman! It’s A Sign!

 

Holy Cosmic Shifting Batman! It’s A Sign!

Author: Christopher

As a spiritual and religious person, omens, signs, and acts of divination actually play a big part in my daily life and spiritual journey. Allow me to define them so that you may better understand my view of the material and how I see them in my life. First off, I don’t believe in coincidence as I feel that everything happens for a reason. All occurrences and actions are results or reactions to pre-existing conditions or influences. As a Pagan I feel that recognizing that everything is connected is important to tuning into the universe as an entity. This in regards to this topic is where divination, omens, and signs become a necessary part of being a Pagan, as I am, like we all are, a part of the universe.

To continue, the Emerald Tablet states, “as above so below:” that which occurs on the higher levels of existence affects and determines what occurs on the lower levels. Divinatory acts, omens, and signs serve to indicate a manifestation of those occurrences in a way for the practitioner to relate to and understand the ever-changing cosmos. Acts of divination like performing a tarot reading, serve to symbolically personify the changes that take place on the higher levels and convey these changes in a way for the practitioner to interpret and observe what is going on and what may soon manifest in their own life on the lower levels.

Divination is a voluntary act performed by someone, unlike an omen which is a symbolic manifestation which can be witnessed by the individual, much like a picture falling and breaking or the over used-film sequence of the white dove crashing through a window to indicate misfortune. Divination on the other hand is a symbolic system used to tap into, depict, and convey universal changes to provide insight into potential future events. Although it is a nice tool, it is often unpredictable as it foretells what may occur from the present moment in time, rather than what will occur. Since things are always changing and growing, the ever-constant development of the universe is a bit unpredictable and any information attained in a tarot spread, for example, should not be regarded as truth or an absolute outcome because things can and do change. However, they are nice techniques to use and to keep in mind, as they can provide someone with proper warning and insight.

Unlike divination, I see omens as sudden out-of-the-ordinary life occurrences of a symbolic nature which relate to or indicate changes in the present which have symbolic value to those who witness of them. They are like divination, in as far as they are symbolic of what they indicate, but they are unlike divination because they occur involuntary. For instance, along with being a Pagan, I am also a Freemason and have been one for over a year. I am an officer in my lodge and as of recently, I have decided that I would prefer to step down from my chair for several different and personal reasons. When I became a Freemason, I placed a Masonic square and compass emblem on my car, as is common practice, so I could be recognized on the road by my fellow brethren. Around the time I decided to step down from being an officer, that emblem began shedding its paint to the point of now looking rather shoddy and needing to be replaced. This occurrence, to me, is an omen of my decision to step down as an officer in my lodge. The withering emblem being symbolic of the growing frustration I have had with other members and the responsibility of being an officer.

The above scenario could also be taken as being a sign, as it was not entirely a single occurrence, but a slow development or symbolic manifestation which could be regarded as possessing a significant meaning to me. Usually, I view a sign not as a momentary occurrence, but as a shift in a daily pattern which could be interpreted as an overall universal change in the common daily routine. An example of this would be when the moon is full, people often act different. Things which I believe fall into this category are sudden changes in my morning commute such as multiple people on the road driving in an unsafe manner, traffic conditions becoming more or less worse, or other daily patterns and routines seeming to be suddenly different.

Such apparent shifts in daily routines, mindsets, etc. can often be an indicator of lunar, astrological, or other influential shifts that may affect general life patterns and flow. When changes like these are noticed, I often react to them in an appropriate manner, like driving carefully or keeping my mouth shut when otherwise I might feel the need to share some colorful language with the world. Omens and signs are very similar to me as they indicate changes in one’s life. The difference between them is that omens are momentary, out-of-the-ordinary occurrences that possess some symbolic value to the observer, much like an involuntary act of divination, while a sign is an indicator of shifting higher level universal conditions, which affect lower level situations and life patterns.

Though we have such things at our disposal, it is important to not get sucked into the foreshadowing that can be realized by paying attention to acts of divination, omens, and signs. The reason for this is that nothing is certain. I perceive all three as indicators and guides, but not as facts upon which to base my life and the decisions I have to make throughout my day. Although in hindsight, we can always understand such insight better and such practices provide us with some bit of foresight. We are forever and are always living within the present moment, which in my opinion as a Pagan, is what living grounded and centered is all about. Living on the level of reality, perfectly centered between the future and the past, yet ever in the present. It is important for one to not dwell on the past or strive towards the future too much, as we then may simply miss the present. Yet with our knowledge and understanding, we can perform divination when we need insight and we can notice omens and signs when they occur, guiding us through life as we take note of them but still following our hearts, so as not to interfere with the course of how things are manifesting. Such things are like road signs on the highway of life, telling us where we’ve been and where we’re going, as we simply drive along until our destination reveals itself to us.

Solitaires Are Pagan Too!

Solitaires Are Pagan Too!

Author: Crick

Guess what, folks? Solitaires are pagans too!

Over the years I have personally visited many a different gathering, have been a participant in many divergent conversations and have been a member of numerous chat groups. And there seems to a divisive undercurrent in certain parts of the pagan community that solitaires are less pagan than anyone else. Good grief, do we really need this kind of elitist nonsense?

Neo paganism as it is today has to vie for acceptance in the general community at large because of misguided stereotypes. Because of the modern mind-set where everything has to fall under instant gratification or risk losing ones attention, there is a serious lack of will and discipline when it comes to learning the ages old principles of the Craft.

Add to that the proliferation of Christian concepts into paganism due to the influx of former members of that particular religion; and at the end of the day, neo paganism has more then its share of internal problems. Do we really want to ostracize folks simply because they want to pursue their spiritual path as individuals without a membership in a coven or similar gathering?

Does this attitude really make a particular gathering and/or person more pagan, then others? I personally have spent half of my pagan related journey involved with a family clan and covens and half as a solitaire. Does this make me only half as good a witch as I could be?

There seems to be one group in particular that has a problem with solitaires, which is something that I don’t understand at all. Please understand that this is not about singling out and pummeling any particular group, just a pragmatic view at issues which affect us all as pagans.
As such, the Wicca seems to be the one group that solitaires consistently cite as having divisive issues with. How the Wicca set up and run their gathering is no ones business but their own, but there are a few questions in general that begs an answer.

The Wicca has a well-known tenet that “all Wicca are witches but not all witches are Wicca”. It has been explained to me by various Wicca that one is not a true witch unless they have been initiated as a Wicca. For without such initiation one cannot be validated through lineage. This particular mindset would certainly leave out solitaires for such folks are usually self-initiated.
And any witch who came before 1954 and/or since who is not a Wicca would also be excluded under such narrow tenets.

Yet, unless I am missing the mark, paganism in general and witchcraft in particular did not begin in 1954 CE. And so such views leave the taint of elitism in the air.

So lets look at this viewpoint from that of a solitaire.

First of all, one could question what in the world does lineage have to do with the Craft?
Regardless of who from the mid 1950’s till now is in ones learning tree, it is the individual who is responsible for ones own spiritual growth and the way that one engages in acts of energy and other aspects of the Craft. If I may use an analogy, one can pay an instructor to teach them to be a black belt in karate; however the belt is only as good as the person that is wearing it at the time.

I realize that folks like to have a family tree or “lineage” as is the case here, to present to their peers, for bragging rights. But for all intents and purposes, it has little if any practical value in the Craft. When it comes to working with energy, even covens are made up of individuals who come together to weave their energy into a tapestry made up of their individual wills. So why solitaires should be disparaged for doing what is natural to them is a mystery unto itself.

Perhaps such thoughts present themselves within Wicca because in part, Wicca is fashioned off of the ideals of the Masonic Order. And those folks place a heavy emphasis on lineage. And yet another point to this concept that is confusing is that Cunningham was a self declared solitaire even though he was associated with the Wicca movement. Does the Wicca think less of an author who played a huge part in bringing them to the public eye even though he saw himself as a solitaire?

When Cunningham wrote and published his book Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, was there any attempt by the Wicca to block such a hugely popular book? And were the proceeds from this book turned away because they were predicated upon unacceptable concepts as endorsed by the Wicca?

One cannot have it both ways. A group cannot accept the vehicle that brings them their greatest source of recognition and then denounce the folks who follow the precepts that such a vehicle was created from. That is commonly referred to as hypocrisy.

And this brings me to my next thought.

If such a well-known advocate of Wicca is given the nod to write a book for solitaires based upon Wicca tenets, even if it was a tacit nod. And then there is a ground surge of interest in Wicca because of said author, couldn’t one assume that there will be folks who will want to identify with Wicca without becoming a formal member of a Wicca coven?

Should such an interest and desire be used as a platform to snub folks in order for those doing the snubbing to feel more important about themselves? Is that what paganism is about?

Another tenet held forth by the Wicca is acceptance of others beliefs and the idea of diversity. Where do solitaires fit into these grand ideals or are such ideals, simply superficial window dressing for something else all together?

If it was okay to lure such folks into the fold when a profit was being made, should they be shunted aside now that they no longer serve such a purpose?

Paganism in general is considered a minority belief system because of the very successful propaganda put forth by the three main organized religions. Do we as a perceived religious/spiritual minority really want to turn away solitaires who are just as devoted to their spiritual journeys as are any other kind of pagan?

At the end of the day, there is no pagan group or gathering that is loftier then any other. For every gathering is the sum of its members. And even if that gathering happens to number only one member, they still count.

It would be a real act of maturity and growth if the pagan community as a whole would spend less energy on the “my pop is bigger then your pop mentality” and concentrate instead on the issues that “really” matter in a magickal and nature based belief system.

I’m sure that Mother Earth would appreciate a bit more attention.

Neo paganism in general seems to be wrapped up in convincing others of our ilk, of a perceived self-importance and level of ability, which in all reality so few have actually taken the time to cultivate. The rest of the time is taken up in trying to convince society in general which consists of the conquerors that we are a valid belief system, though paganism has been just that, for eons.

What causes such insecurities one may ask? And what causes one pagan associated group to feel that it is necessary to diminish those such as the solitaires, in order to elevate themselves to a dubious standing?

In my personal life I have served for a number of years as a HP of a very active witchcraft coven and yet as a student of shamanism, I practice as a solitaire. Does that make my glass half full or half empty? Or does it really matter?

At the end of the day, all of us, whether we practice as a solitaire or not, still have to answer to our chosen Deity in regards to our spiritual growth as individuals. And so in essence we are all solitaires at heart. Let’s put to rest the hypocrisy and antipathy over solitaires for they are our brothers and sisters walking a common ground.

Besides, elitism is nothing more then a façade that is devoid of any real substance.

And so in closing, yes, solitaires can be witches too!

Some Tips for Making Ritual Feel Real

Author: Juniper

Decorate your altar, shrine and ritual space with items that relate (in your mind) to the ritual purpose. Use colors, scent, images, and tools to their best effect.

If you are doing a very masculine working, do not put pink flowers on your altar. Put images and items that have a masculine feel to and meaning to you.

If you are doing a hearth and home related ritual, put a dollhouse in the room, cut out images of fireplaces from a magazine and tack them on the wall.

Do not bother with placing items that will not be used or useful during the ritual, only use what is going to be really helpful. If there is a print on the wall that does not relate to your ritual, take it down, or hang a piece of fabric over it. Cut out the distractions as much as possible.

Do not worry about the proper correspondences as written in a book; think about what gives you the right impressions, thoughts and feelings. It is all about your mind connecting your surroundings with the ritual purpose.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do allow yourself to become distracted by silly little things, like almost tripping, almost spilling, slipping up a few words, and the clock ticking in the next room. Do not worry about making a fool of yourself, if your makeup is getting smeared, if your deodorant is holding up. These are all distractions. They do not matter.

Don’t rush! Slow down and take your time. Rushing through a ritual will not give it that deep meaning; you will gain nothing from it. If your rituals are too long, cut the fat. Trim it down to only what is really important, so that you can spend the proper amount of time focusing on that.

Move! Dance, clap, stomp, sway, and wave your arms around. Just standing there shuffling your feet does not help to build energy, it also does not help you to feel the ritual. It may seem a tad silly, but if you are finding a lack of emotion, a lack of meaning in your ritual, try doing an interpretive dance, act out your ritual. Tap your foot in time to the words you are speaking.

Do your own personal sign language. If you are saying something about the moon, draw a circle or crescent in the air with your hand or ritual tool. If you are trying to connect with the feminine divine, touch your breasts (if you are a woman) , draw the shape of a woman in the air, hold you arms as if stroking a pregnant belly or as if you are holding a baby. When contacting a god, touch your crouch (if you are a man) , or draw a hammer, a phallus or horns or oak leaf in the air in front of you.

Stand up straight, lie down, sit up, lean to one side and then the other, hop on one foot, and use those hand signs and body postures found in Paganism 101 books.

Say it like you mean it. One of my best teachers was into drama and acting. She used to shout at us during ritual “Emote dammit! Say it like you mean it!” don’t just read off of some page in a monotone, say it with feeling, drama, and meaning.

When you are inviting entities into your ritual, speak with welcome in your voice, say it as if you were inviting a friend in to your home.

Do not rush through a prayer, chant or poem as quickly as possible. Take the time to carefully speak each line, with feeling. Repeat if necessary.

Pretend you are an actor on a stage where your audience is hard of hearing and far away. Emote and project. Speak from the heart and use your belly voice, as acting and singing instructors would say. Singing and chanting rather than speaking can also help you to inject emotion into your words. So try it, even if you do not have a great voice.

Use your imagination. That’s what visualizing is all about. Using your imagination will help you to connect with your creative side, the right side of your brain, the part of you that does not worry about logic, but that relies on feelings and intuition.

Practice, practice, practice. Do not give up if things just don’t feel like they are working the first time. Try it again; try everything at least three times before moving on to something else. The first couple of times you perform a new ritual, you will feel rather awkward, that’s perfectly natural. You cannot truly find that spiritual connection until you have become somewhat comfortable with what you are doing.

Do not expect results right away, the very first time. This rarely happens for people. Also it can be a good idea to practice at home, alone a couple of times before you go and join in a group ritual.

Feel it, really feel it. Don’t just go through the motions. If you feel that you are, stop! Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself what you are doing and why. Find your motivation. Say it out loud, think it, picture it in your mind, and really feel it. Draw it, paint it, and write poetry about it.

Do whatever you need to do before a ritual to make sure the purpose of the ritual is fresh in your mind and filling your heart. At each step along they way during a ritual, stop for a second and reaffirm what you are doing and why.

Keep the ritual purpose in the forefront of your mind and heart.

A good ritual, a really truly good ritual should bring you to the brink of tears, happy or sad. People have often made fun of me for getting choked up or actually crying during ritual. They don’t get it, not at all.

If you really want results, you need to bring your heart fully into it. If you want a ritual to have meaning, you must give it meaning. You must really feel it; you must put that feeling into it.

Laugh, cry, shout, sing, dance, smile, and do it like you mean it! If you do not mean it, you shouldn’t be doing it. If you do not mean it deep in your mind, heart and soul, you will never have that special spiritual experience you seek.