At the moment I am enjoying spending some of my time working at Bard level with the Order of the Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) which has made me think much more deeply about ritual both the form and the purpose.
As a shamanic healer I’ve never been one for formalised ritual as in shamanism we work with the spirit of the place, our own guides and allies plus more than a little of our own intuition when we perform ritual. As with much of shamanism there is no right or wrong only what we need to do in that space at that particular time. Consequently my rituals are never the same two years running even though they may take place at the same time of the year and sometimes in the same place. The spirits of the place may ask me to do something and their wishes or needs are always paramount. My own guides and allies may guide me in a particular way and the energy of those present, or my energy if I am on my own, may also affect the way I perform the ritual.
At Bardic level with the OBOD however there are set rituals for set times of the year, one for each of the eight turns of the wheel. To be fair the OBOD does encourage us to make the rituals work for us, to use what resonates and leave what doesn’t. The form is a suggestion so it is still possible and encouraged, to make each and every one work for you.
My guides though had other ideas. At the start of the course they told me that it was important for me to work through the rituals and ceremonies exactly as they were written so that I could understand the symbolism of them. In doing so I could then make an informed choice based on understanding. So that is what I have been doing. I would like to say it’s been easy….but….
I have obviously learnt so much by working in the way my guides told me to. A lot of things that I would have done instinctively or because I had been asked to now make perfect sense. I have a much stronger connection with the eight turns of the wheel of the year whereas before I would have celebrated Summer and Winter Solstice, Samhain and being as I live in Ireland and it’s hard to miss here, Beltane. And this is where the ‘but’ comes in…I find myself doing the ritual set out in the OBOD materials and then doing the ritual again in my own way. It is doing it my own way that gives me the strongest connection always.
So coming up to Summer Solstice on Saturday what will I be doing?
First of all I will carry our the ritual as in my OBOD materials for this is my first Summer Solstice training as a Bard. It will be a solitary ritual as I will be on my own. Had I been with other OBOD members then I would have fitted in with the group ritual and here I can see that having a scripted ritual makes perfect sense so everyone knows where they are, what their role is and what is happening. Once I have done this though I will, as usual, perform my own ritual.
I will be in my garden and in one particular area the energy has always been special. It is here that I used to have my labyrinth and where I am as sure as I can be that there once stood a stone circle. First of all I will sit quietly and connect with the spirits of the place to see what they need from me, if I need to undergo a shamanic journey then I will. I will listen carefully and then if I need to collect something to work with for them will do so. I will then journey to meet my guides and allies to see if they need anything of me and again if I need anything I will collect it.
Most often I will work with sage, drum and rattle at some point in the ritual and there is always earth, fire, water and air present. I will follow my guidance and also my own intuition, doing what feels right for the space and spirits present. The ritual may be long or it may be short I will only know when I work on Summer Solstice itself, at the moment I have no idea, which is exactly how it should be.
I was going to journey for a Summer Solstice ritual/ceremony to add here but have been told not to. Instead I have been asked to suggest that you take yourself outside to whatever space feels right for you, with whatever feels right for you be it drum, rattle, bells, candles, water, feathers, crystals or anything else that you find calls to you.
Once you are outside be guided by your own intuition and instincts. Change what you are doing if it doesn’t feel right, if it does then carry on.
If you have a ritual you have found elsewhere great. Don’t follow it religiously but make it work for you and what feels right in the space that you are in. Use it and adapt it so that it fits and feels right. And above all have fun.
Summer Solstice is a celebration, a time for thanking the period of light and acknowledging the move towards the darkness once again. This is something to be celebrated as we all need to reach the point again, as the wheel turns, where we go within. To do otherwise isn’t healthy, so make the most of the long summer nights but know that as they drawn shorter all is exactly as it should be.