Saturday, March 16, 2013

Doing Rituals in Nature

deer spirit vessel by Sarah Lawless

A few days ago I came across this posting on Tumblr, with photos of all sorts of litter left behind presumably by Pagans after a ritual in a forest. Seeing this angered me to put it mildly. I am sure that the people who left the plastic clooties and Brigid crosses behind meant well, but really, a wee bit of common sense goes a long way.
So, with that in mind, I thought that I would do a small post to share some tips:
Not Disturbing
When doing a ritual in a natural place, try to leave it as you found it. Picking up after yourself, and perhaps cleaning up any litter from before you got there is good form. Making sure that other parts of your ritual will not disturb the place {such as excessive noise or moving things around} is good to keep in mind too.
Planning Ahead

Many folks put a lot of effort into planning their rituals: things such as timing, what tools they will need, what they are going to bring with them and so on. Taking a bit of extra time to find out what precautions you need to take for a certain area or certain times {i.e. would your ritual potentially disturb nesting birds? is your area under a dry spell which makes forest fires more likely?} and finding out what regulations might be for the area you are doing your ritual in are important.
Taking stock of how your ritual items might impact the area is a good idea {i.e. if using candles, making sure they are in containers} and planning on bring extra items "just in case" {i.e. garbage bags, water} wouldn't hurt either. 
Paying Attention
Should a ritual have risks such as fire, someone needs to keep an eye on it and make sure it is put out properly before leaving. Sometimes rituals involve deep concentration, so in cases like this, having someone designated to keep an eye on things could be helpful.
 Leaving Offerings
I think that making offerings is becoming more popular, and that is good to see. However, making sure that offerings that are being left out do not negatively effect the immediate environment or the critters who live there is imperative. Research and care will probably be necessary, but I do believe that is a part of the gesture.
The Root and Rock blog has a lovely recipe for "Wildlife Friendly Cakes" and you can check out my post on offerings for more ideas.

Taking Mementos
Sometimes a part of a ritual might involve taking something; this goes back to planning ahead and not disturbing. Find out if it is actually legal to take an item from a site or if something you want to harvest is endangered beforehand.
My wildcrafting etiquette post might be helpful on this topic. 

photo from a forest ritual a couple of years ago

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