Rituals have many different uses. In Wicca, rituals serve to enhance the relationship with the divine. They can be traditional, but it is not necessary. Rituals should be exactly what they need to be to aid the practitioner. The outer form they take is not nearly as important as the spirit in which they are done.
Traditionally, Wiccan rites take place on the eight holy days and on the nights of the full moon. Sometimes, Wiccans also honor the new moon. Rituals, while primarily spiritual in nature, may also include magickal workings.
Preparing for Ritual in the Wiccan Tradition
There are some procedures that are common to most Wiccan rituals. First, during any ritual, care should be taken to ensure privacy. This is not always easy, but most agree that it is worth the effort.
It is common to partake in a ritual bath or another ritual purification process before the ritual occurs. Water is viewed as a purifying substance, especially if laced with sea salt. Sometimes, the bath can become a part of the ritual itself, especially if burning candles or incense are included. Wiccans believed that the ritual bath will ensure cleanliness of body and spirit.
If near a source of water, such as a lake, river, or stream, a quick swim can serve as a ritual bath. Though there are some who skip this step, most will agree that it enhances the ritual to follow. This is especially true before initiations. Directions can be found for ritual baths or showers in most Wiccan books on the market today.
Dressing for rituals should also become a part of the the actual ritual process. Some Wiccans practice ritual nudity, and ideally everyone should be comfortable with their own unclothed bodies. However, that is not always the case. In addition, there are places where ritual nudity is impossible.
Though nudity does have significant symbolic value, as it symbolizes Wicca's honesty and openness, if it generates a feeling of fear or shame, it gets in the way of true Wiccan practice. So, if one is truly not ready for ritual nudity, or a particular group does not practice ritual nudity, then ritual robes are a wonderful option.
Ritual Robes in Wicca
Ritual robes are very popular among Wiccans today. There are many reasons to wear robes, but the overriding reason, the best reason to have special ritual garments that are only worn for magickal purposes, is that they can act as a cue to the subconscious, telling the practitioner that magickal proceedings are about to begin.
There are many colors to choose from, and each color represents a specific theme. Basic color information can be easily researched on the Internet. Some people have a robe of every color, so they can choose one appropriate for each purpose. This is unrealistic at first, and collecting five or more robes might take some time. At first, purchasing or making a white robe is sufficient. White is a good all-purpose color, and can be used for almost everything. After that, a black robe might be in order.
Of course, members of covens, or those following particular traditions, may have to wear a certain color robe. Most groups use either white or black as a basic robe color.
Solitary or Group Rituals in Wicca?
This question is probably one of the most common regarding ritual practice. The solo path is generally recommended to those who are just starting out on the Wiccan path. Practicing with others is a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it can be unnerving for those who are new to Wicca.
Everyone should at least experience group practice, even if they don't join an actual coven. Most of the best Wiccan practice can be found within a good coven. It is nice to have a group through which initiation and training can be received, but not everyone can join a group, or wants to.
Solitary practice is just as valid as any other type. Many modern Wiccans are choosing a happy medium. They essentially practice solitary, but associate themselves with a group for the purpose of initiation and learning beyond what books can teach. This is a great idea, if it can be managed.
If one chooses the solitary route, then changes their mind, they can at least approach a prospective group with some practical knowledge of Wicca, and not simply what was found in a book.
The Question of Initiation
Keep in mind that initiations don’t make the Wiccan. Those people who refuse to recognize a Wiccan simply because they lack the formal initiation of a coven are narrow-minded, and do not realize that it is faith and a true connection to nature that makes one Wiccan, not a set of degrees and titles.
This is not to invalidate traditional Wiccan initiations. They certainly have their place, and, when done properly, are a great way to standardize Wiccan training, as many will agree. And for those that wish to pursue to Wiccan priesthood, coven training is the best option. Group practice at some point is an important part of Wiccan growth. But it is not the only part. There is much to be learned from solitary practice, and it is as valid a path as any other.
Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.