I'm Not Really a 'Ritual' Person, But...

Friday September 25, 2020

… I just spent my entire night (from late afternoon until 3am?) designing and preparing for ritual.

When I was first accepted as a Candidate with the Ancient Order of Druids, I felt that the Vernal Equinox* was going to be the time to perform my (self)initiation.

*Yes, I realise the equinox was a couple of days ago now - I’m disabled, I’ve learned to work with a flexible schedule.

Part of the curriculum of my First Degree Druidic studies requires celebrating a cycle of the solar festivals (at minimum, the solstices and equinoxes). I was accepted somewhat after winter solstice, so the next equinox felt like the perfect moment for an initiation - especially with the general energy of planning and preparation after WinSol, then giving way to the beginning of action at VernEx!

Yellow and pink everlastings in a flower box

The awkward part is I’m just not really a “Ritual” person. Their self-initiation ritual was 6 pages long - my foggy/fatiguey + ADHD brain struggled to even READ more than a few paragraphs! Plus they’ve got opening/closing ritual, circle-casting ritual, seasonal rituals… And even without the reading, my autistic-ass brain (while it academically understands the function of elaborate ritual) finds these kinds of rituals unnecessarily performative, bordering on ridiculous, and also my chronic-fatiguey, mobility-challenged body just literally isn’t capable of physically carrying out the rituals as written. So I not only had the struggle of reading it to start with, but I then had to re-write it in a way that was both mentally and physically accessible.

… But anyway!

My one seasonal ritual that I have developed over the past few years of my practice is the making of a seasonal candle. I hadn’t done this yet, but I had the energy and motivation this (technically yesterday) afternoon, so I took advantage! I knew the main botanical I needed was bottlebrush - they’re the most obvious feature in my local native flora at the moment, excepting things that were already prominent at Luminalia/Imbolc - so I went for a walk to forage some. A car park nearby has a couple of small trees, and they’d already dropped a bunch of stamens, so I just collected whatever amount was already tangled together and took them home.

Bottlebrush flowers at various stages of opening

Still having a heap of bottlebrush leftover, I decided to see how they burned as a loose incense.. And then proceeded to make an entire blend!

(And have my first experience of the wax from a tealight candle setting itself on fire, so that was fun/stressful!)

And, uh, somewhere along the line I decided to just print off a copy of the initiation ritual and go through it with pencil, which - yay! - my brain decided it was down with! Success!

So I made sense of their ritual structure, and figured out how to re-write that for me. But it was missing something, so I had to go to another book to find her ritual structure (because I knew that Julie Brett had discussed Spirit of Place, the ancestors of the land, and Acknowledgement of Country in her book, Australian Druidry).

And then, since I was incorporating it into my VernEx ritual, I’d better check the Candidate Guide for their other ritual templates.

Oh, and I may as well include my tree/seed planting as part of this! Because in the process of making my incense, I’d used the wonnil piece I had dried (because they’re just properly coming into bloom atm) and liberated the seeds from those flower heads. I have to plant a tree as part of my study anyway (which I’m doing from seed, because planting a tree in the ground and looking after it is hard when you’re in a fourth-floor inner-city apartment), and that’s the species I really wanted to grow.

So I looked up their tree-planting ritual and adapted that, to add into my VernEx ritual, to go with my candle and incense, to fit after my Initiation ritual… And wow, now it’s 3am on a Thursday night/Friday morning, and I’ve written six pages of ritual!

I’m not really a “Ritual” person, but uh… I guess I’m doing a ritual?

Weeping peppermint tree branches covered in flowers

Will my chronically ill/disabled ass actually have the capacity to do it, is the next question! Stay tuned…


My chronically ill/disabled ass DID INDEED DO THE THING!

I learned that lighting incense is nigh on impossible if you’re outside and it’s breezy, and just because you can keep that candle lit in the wind, doesn’t mean you SHOULD (did it ruin the candle I poured so much time/energy into creating? Yes it did!)

There were a few aspects that really didn’t work for me, but I few that might warrant further investigation, so I’m calling that a success.