Lammas was August 1st, 2020. The following is a description of my solo ritual experience that day.
It had been a while since I really pulled out all the stops. I knew I needed it though, and with Lammas coming up, I had made a commitment. I would do a real ritual; one that took planning and a few hours to prepare. Something to mark the significance of the occasion but also the role of my own faith in my life.
How easy is it to lose yourself in the mundane world? To half-convince yourself that there isn’t something more? With so many distractions, it’s a wonder we don’t all wind up eating an endless supply of brightly-coloured, convenient snacks while binging TV. (“TV” of course these days can be taken to include: Netflix, Prime, YouTube, Disney+, Instagram ,Twitter, your Facebook feed, and possibly even actual TV.) As Terence McKenna once said, “Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coersion, brainwashing, and manipulation.” I don’t disagree. “TV,” in its myriad forms, is constantly there to occupy our minds. Worse, these days it caters itself to you, making it harder and harder to say no!
The endless stream is enough to distract you until the end of your days, but it’s not really enough, you know? You have to make room for silence.
So, that’s what I’m aiming for! First I made a checklist (in pretty colours of course) to ensure I didn’t miss anything:
I consulted what I’d done in previous years. (I’m a modern witch, so I store copies of my old rituals on my Google Drive.) I decided on my goals and I got organized. This was especially important because it was actually warm that night, and my game plan involved getting outside.
I picked through my magickal trunk and pilfered the good stuff from my altar. Tea lights were placed in mason jars to guard against what little wind there was. A few crystals and rocks were gathered into a pocket. I wrapped and took my crystal balls. I scooped up a piece of chocolate, a small glass and the requisite bottle of wine and safely packed them all for the short journey. I placed everything that was needed into a couple of reusable grocery bags (not very occult, I’m afraid!) and began making trips to the yard.
The grass was still a little damp from an earlier shower, but it wasn’t too bad. I threw down an old blanket to keep myself cozy near the fire pit. I set up a long extension cord from the house and brought out a speaker so that I could have a little music later. I looked around. Yes, I seemed to be just about ready for an occult picnic in the dark! Once all was ready, I went back inside. My space was prepared, now I only had to work on myself.
By now, perhaps because I can be a bit of a fussy perfectionist, it was already getting late. I was eager to get started. Honestly, the thought of cleaning my bathtub and starting a ritual bath held little appeal. I also knew that once in the tub I would wind up taking too long (What’s a bath if you can’t luxuriate?) In the end, I settled for a ritual shower.
A ritual shower is just like a regular shower, except it’s not. 😉 Your goal is to cleanse your body and your spirit. It’s a time to wash away dirt and negativity. It’s helpful to visualize the negative energy flowing off of you and down the drain. Let go of all of the gross stuff holding you back! Fear. Doubt. Negative thoughts about your body… These all must go! They won’t help you to feel in your power. This is a time to honour your body as sacred. You are preparing to go into ritual, so you are getting ready to present your very best self.
Once I was done with the shower, I put on a special ritual outfit. It’s something I keep aside just for ceremonies. It’s a little non-traditional, but then again so am I. Instead, it’s a little red dress that fits nicely. I keep it tucked away in my magickal trunk. It’s been there so long that it smells like incense and oils, and because I only use it for ritual, wearing it makes me feel wonderful, magickal and empowered.
Finally ready, all dressed up and feeling energetically prepared, I make my way into the yard.
By this time, it’s dark as heck, but mercifully still very warm. I walk very carefully away from the light of the house and into the waiting blackness. Finally reaching the blanket I’d left spread on the lawn, I leave my shoes to one side and sit there in the dark. From my vantage point I can see a beautiful birch tree silhouetted in the light from the house. To my other side is the waiting, inscrutable darkness. The wind occasionally rustles the leaves, causing the left-over rain water to rush off of them. It is beautiful.
I put the music on low. It’s a special playlist of appropriately haunting and powerful songs. Some of them are quite soft, some decidedly less-so. I only use it at certain times, and I find that when I play this list of music, it always somehow manages to be the “right” fit. It’s just always the right song for the right moment.
I light a fire in the fire pit, and it works briefly, kept alive by a few dry pieces of kindling, but everything else seems pretty damp. My small fire is enough to at least spread some light and start me off. I check a tiny compass to verify my directions, then place the tea lights in mason jars at each of the cardinal points around my blanket. Near each point, I also place a special physical representation of the element. (Think seashells for the West, rocks for the North, etc.) I organize everything I’ve brought in the bags and then move the ultra-spooky grocery bags to the side. I can feel my excitement growing. That’s it, I’m finally ready!
I cast my circle. I do this by directing energy up and out through my wand and by visualizing the circle’s boundary. It feels like it falls into place easily. Naturally. This is excellent reassurance. Then, I call the quarters. I have decided against formal, written quarter calls, and instead I use words that come directly from the heart. In each quadrant, I visualize the power and meaning of the element. After all four elements have been invited, I finally call to the Goddess and God, asking for them to join my circle and to guard and guide my actions this night.
At this point, I have a cozy ritual space all set up. My candles are glowing at the corners around me, and it honestly feels just about as wholesome as a Hallmark card. I have a growing foundational warmth in my belly that stems from real satisfaction. Unfortunately, The fire has gone out. It’s decided quite firmly that it is too damp and the remaining wood has no interest in lighting, but I don’t care. With my few candles, I can see well enough, and even without the fire, once the circle is cast I always find that I stay warm within it. I relax in the space. It’s so peaceful, and the music lends just the right touch.
I meditate for a bit. Small, useful bits of information come to me. “Do it this way, instead of that.” “That plan won’t yield the results you desire. Time to change course.” “It’s the wrong colour. Try it in blue instead.” Little whispers and insights flitter through my mind. Some more important than others. This is typical for me, and it’s one of my favourite parts of the experience. Just being in the circle right now feels very good. I hardly want to do anything else or continue. It’s as if my soul needs this time to fuel up. (It needs this time, and it’s damn thirsty!) I feel plugged in. I try to take a few notes in my journal, so that I don’t forget the things that come to me. It’s too easy to think you’ll remember every little idea in the moment. In my estimation, you won’t unless you write it down.
Speaking of thirst, I do have that bottle of wine. I am prepared to toast the Gods, of course, but I was also planning to have a little glass myself during my ritual. (Kinda knew this would be a long one!)
I continue, sipping at the wine occasionally. I have a couple of magickal workings planned. One for myself. Another for someone else. (With permission of course. Consent counts in witchcraft too!) The first one I won’t tell you much about. Suffice it to say, it involved enchanting a little piece of jewelry for myself. Once completed, I simply wear the jewelry. This serves to keep the magick with me, and also to remind me of my goals.
The second working I was doing in effort to help someone else improve a situation. For this, I had brought with me a special candle. It’s is a beautiful deep red candle I made especially for this person. I focus on the purpose of my working. As I light the candle and watch it burn for a time, I direct the desired outcome and effect into it. I hold my focus until I feel the work is done.
I am keeping things intentionally vague. For that, I apologize. I can’t adequately describe what I did because some things are still secret, and because working magick is a little hard to describe. A lot of it revolves around feelings and energies and other non-linear things that are challenging to find words for. Anyway, I slowly and methodically work through what I had planned to do, harnessing my energy and focus each step of the way.
As I go on, I notice that an eerie summer fog has formed and begun to lap at the edges of my circle. This only serves to add to the mystical atmosphere. I am officially a witch in the fog in a little red dress, surrounded by candles and haunting music. (Kids, don’t let anyone tell you your dreams can’t come true!)
Anyway, I work my magick until I am done, and then stay in the circle. I feel wholly connected to the earth, and am able to take my meditative state a little deeper.
I am glad, as I had also decided that it might be nice to try scrying during this ritual. An outdoor circle at midnight, surrounded by fog seemed to be just about the best time to do it. I take my clear crystal ball in my hands and allow my eyes to be unfocused. I gaze into the ball and see…a fuzzy image of the trees around me upside down. Oops. That won’t do. I need a more uniform background. Right. I lay back on the blanket, and look through the crystal toward the night sky. Ah. There we go. Now it was at least one solid background. This is all I see for a while.
I stay with it, as I have never had any kind of success with scrying, and at this point I am absolutely radiating with energy. I maintain calm and focus. I wait. Nope. Nothing. Nada…wait…whoa! All at once, the glass clouds over. It looks as though it has been suddenly filled with billowing dark grey smoke.
A part of my brain rejoices, even while I attempt to remain calm. It was working! I was doing it! This is what happens before you finally see things! I aim to maintain an unfazed focus. Unfortunately, despite a promising start, this is as far as it goes. I do not manage to see anything. I do, however, have a renewed belief that it’s possible to accomplish, so I will definitely try again.
I am taking my sweet time, but eventually I realize that I have to make my way toward ending the circle. It had been hours. I am getting tired. Plus, I still have all of my ritual set-up to bring back inside.
I pour a little more wine and bring out the piece of fancy dark sea salt chocolate. I ceremoniously enjoy a little of each, and leave some as an offering. (This part of the ritual usually helps to bring you back down to earth a bit, too!)
I proceed to close things out in the typical way; saying goodbye, and thanking the Lord and Lady, dismissing the elements one at a time, unmaking and earthing the circle. Once I am finished, I begin the task of packing everything up and heading back inside.
The night was wonderful, if a little damp, and incredibly rejuvenating. Once I was done, I managed to pretty much float off to bed, feeling positive, reset, and sleeping like a baby.
Even now, more than two weeks later, I’m still reflecting on it.
Remember to make time for silence,