I’ve been in recent contact with a Pagan student leader. They have created a Pagan club at a local college and we were corresponding about what I did with my Pagan Students’ Association all those years ago. I mentioned that we held Sabbat rituals, and often had quite large groups attend, including non-student Pagans. They wrote back:
“We don’t hold rituals because we want to be inclusive to pagan faiths other than Wicca. We have people who follow many different deities, and we have Wicca from a variety of paths so I’m not really sure that an open ritual would work. How did you handle that?”
That got me thinking about the art of public rituals, especially with diverse groups. I’ve led some big rituals and been to ones by a lot of different groups, and some have been more successful than others. There is an art to writing and performing a Pagan ritual for a large, diverse group.
It is a generous gesture to offer to lead a ritual for a large event. Writing the ritual, perhaps rehearsing it, securing a space, gathering materials, and putting yourself out there to lead it requires a lot of time and energy. The person designing the ritual may have to compromise what they would usually do in order to remove tradition secrets, to simplify it for non-tradition members, to make it suit a larger group, or to make it more eclectic or generic.
There is also generosity involved in attending a public ritual. You have to go in with an open mind. You have to give up your preferences in order to experience what is being offered.
When people meet in the middle – when the generous offering of a spiritual experience is met with generous minds and hearts – beautiful sacred space can be created.