Transitions and Ritual Planning

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The blog post with the downloadable Ritual Planning Workbook is at https://atheopaganism.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/starting-a-practice-creating-rituals/

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com

S3E3 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the wonder science-based paganism.

I'm one of your hosts Yucca.

Mark: And I'm the other one, Mark.

Yucca: And this week we're talking about the transition between seasons and also about planning, both your practice and rituals.

Mark: Right, right. we arrived at this topic because as we record this, which is on the 17th of January happy Martin Luther king day, everyone the we're sort of at this. Midpoint between Sabbaths where you will is a long time ago and a brightening or in bulk or whatever you want to

Yucca: Candlemass.

Mark: Or river rain is I call it is still.

What three weeks in the future, if you count it as the actual midpoint, like the 7th of February, something like that. And so it's one of those sort of dead spots where, you know, the UL imagery really seems stale. Many of us have taken down all of our decorations and stuff by. And yet it seems a little premature jump into the next holidays, images and symbols and that kind of thing.

So what do you do in transition? What, what about this moment? Speaks to us and, and how can we, you know, keep that as a lively part of our practice as well. And then that got us onto the, the general topic of transitions in life and, you know, planning for those, addressing those so forth.

Yucca: Right. And how some transitions are. They just happen that you don't get to play on for them. Boom. They happen you, whether you knew they were coming or not, and others seem to stretch out and you're not really sure. And oh, when is it? When is it not? And there can be just so many different kinds and we have so many different emotions surrounding that.

But before we get too much into the transitions, why don't we address a little bit more this in between stage? And of course, different people in different climates are going to experience this differently, but certainly for where I am, it's just, doesn't quite feel like we're there. You know, we're definitely out of solstice, but you know, we've, we've taken down most of our souls to see things and it's still winter, but.

A lot of the, we haven't really started to do our next activities. And there is, you described it as like a dead spot, but there's also a little bit of a piece there. Right? There's an anticipation, but there's a little bit of arrest and a peace. And just being present in the season without feeling like there's a pressure for any of the.

To perform more or any of that.

Mark: You know, that's a really good point that I hadn't thought of that. As you mentioned it, it occurs to me that one of the things that's sort of necessary for art and ritual and celebrations are kind of an art form way. need that.

blank canvas to contrast with the color that you've painted on it.

Right. So. I mean it, maybe it makes sense for us to have periods of time that are just sort of normal there.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: they're just, just normal passage of time. Slotted to one holiday or another, but just the, Between. time when the altar goes back to kind of, sort of alter about the things that we care about and value and it doesn't have to be a seasonal thing necessarily.

I kinda liked that thought that, that, that makes a lot of sense to me.

Yucca: Yeah. And I think that there might be times like that in our lives as well. Right. Not just within the season, but within the larger. Cycle right where we're in between these big things were in between these,

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: know, we've talked before about these rites of passage, these huge things that can happen in people's lives, but sometimes we're just this present in the life now, and there's not a lot happening.

We're just sort of between.

Mark: That is in some ways, kind of a dangerous time people because they feel like they've fallen into a rut. They feel like there's less of the adventurousness of, of change.

Yucca: Yeah

Mark: so it becomes really important to. To go back to that thing that we talk about over and over again, paying attention,

Yucca: right.

Mark: finding, the beauty in the moment, you know, celebrating gratitude for even the small things in our lives, because not always going to be climbing Kilimanjaro or, you know, moving across the country for a new job.

I mean, there are, there are things there, there are big moments that. Divide chapters in our lives, then there's the middle of a chapter, right.

When you're just kinda doing it. if you don't have those established periods, then your life has kind of chaos, you know, you're, you're sort of leaping from new experience to another.

Well on the one hand may sound really attractive, but it's very rootless. It's impossible to build community around yourself if you're doing something like that.

Yucca: And training.

Mark: yes. I mean, I know people when I was traveling, I met people who had been traveling for years, something like that. And they were kind of odd people.

Honestly, they, they were. You could tell that they were rootless and disconnected from human society in a lot of ways. And not to my recollection, particularly happy. They were just, their rut was, you know, where am I going next? You know, how am I going to find lodging, all that kind of thing. Right.

Yucca: Yeah, well, and what those in-between times are, that's going to be informed by what you planted early. Right. What did you plan for? What did you metaphorically plant or literally that to, right? What, what have you set up? Because you're going to be where whatever you come from before, wherever that has led you.

So I think that there's, that's, that's something about this time of year that I think a lot about. Is, and we've already touched on this with the, you know, looking forward into the new year, but also with what's, at least for us in the Northern hemisphere and the agricultural cycle. This is a time where there isn't a lot happening yet.

This is the time where people are looking through those seed catalogs or what seeds do you have and thinking about where things are going to go this year. And if I really do want to make the. Garden bed will, you know, how am I going to make the structure and all of that. And you could think about that quite literally, if you literally have a garden, but that can also be a metaphor for what's happening in our practices in our lives.

Mark: Right. Right. of course a part of that process is reflecting on what you've learned in past iterations. Right. So do I really want for zucchini plants now that I know how many zucchini squash I will get out of four zucchini plants? Do I really want to do that again?

Yucca: Yes, but don't play it too few because what, what are you, because if you plant too few, then you might end up with none. If that one plant doesn't make it. So thinking about that strategy. Okay. Do I want. You know, can I sacrifice the space to grow the zucchini instead of the whatever, but what if I get squash bugs this year?

Will I still have enough? Yeah. And Yeah.

Mark: Which also requires you to, you know, kind of flesh out your plan a little bit more. All right. I only really want to end up with two zucchini plants, but I'm going to plant six and then come. Say summer solstice, I'm going to pull two of them. If they're all still alive, you know, or four of them or whatever,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: whatever mathematics I just presented.

I, I think I said six I wanted to,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: going to take out the four others. So. You know, this whole idea of planning is really deeply associated with the holiday that we have coming up. Bridget or in bulk or yada yada,

Yucca: Yeah, we'll talk more about that in a few weeks.

Mark: a couple of

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: because that'll be coming up for us. The the doldrum months of winter or a good time to be planning, planning, not only planning, but at this stage of the game goal setting, right.

You know, I want to have a garden that's going to produce this much in the way of tomatoes and this much in the way of summer squash and this much in the way of and potatoes and. You know, when you, when you have that kind of a sense that helps you to start making decisions about, well, how are things going to be laid out and how many plants in each do I need?

And you know, how long does do various things take to grow? And we can do that in our lives too. And I wouldn't necessarily claim that I'm particularly good at it. You know, people plan their careers. I'm going to do this for. Five years. And then I want to move into this kind of position. And you know, do that for another 10 years.

if it's written out in really strokes, people can have goals about where they're seeking to go and and pursue those. Maybe there are certifications. But they need to get various educational credentials that they need in order to achieve those goals. So when's that gonna happen? You know, how am I going to pay for it?

How am I going to work full time and get that certification on top of it?

Yucca: Right.

Mark: You know, all of that, thinking things don't just accidentally happen to you. You, you need to make them happen. And in order to do that, you have to have some goals and you have to do some.

Yucca: Right. And building on that same idea, not just things like, you know, careers, but also things like what's it feel like to be. Right. How do you feel every day? And do you want to be feeling different? Well, as we've talked about so many times before, it's not just a matter of just deciding to say yes, I'm going to have more energy and generally have a more positive, happy outlook.

Right. That that's great. But you actually have to do things to get there. Right. You've got to. You are a garden. How are you going to lay out your, the, your layout? What seeds are you going to plant to help make that happen? How can you plan to set yourself up for that success?

Mark: right.

Yucca: So is that.

Mark: Great. I mean, if you know that you struggle with self-esteem well, what are you, how are you going to deal with that? What are you going to do about it? I mean, it's is, is therapy something that you want to do is you know, cultivating positive relationships around you that. That reflect back your value back to you.

Is that part of what you're going to do is maybe pruning some relationships that are not feeding that in your life, something that has to happen.

Yucca: Or apps, not just people or apps, not just people, but maybe is that Instagram or tick talk or whatever it is. Like,

Mark: Right.

Yucca: know? Ha how are those filters making you feel about, you know,

Mark: Right.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: So All of that stuff, you know, being aware of what it is that impacts your of well-being your of enjoying your life? And, you know, really doing kind of an assessment, right.

You know, in inventory here are the inputs that contribute to how I feel about my life and myself. And you know, here are the ones in the positive column here, the ones in the negative column.

Now, what am I going to do about that?

Yucca: All right.

Mark: This is, At least in the temperate Northern hemisphere, it's cold and it's often gray and dark. If it's not wet or snowy and the days are still quite short this is, this is

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: time to do that kind of inventory and decide here's where I'd like things to go from here.

Understanding that the map is not the territory and that life will throw you stuff that you didn't expect.

Yucca: Yeah. And that's, that's okay. That's part of it, right? That's what's going to end your response to it. That's, you know, that's another thing that you can practice and, and plan for.

Mark: Hm.

Yucca: Right. Think about what are the types of things that life might throw my way. How can I be set up to respond to that?

Mark: Right.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: can I be more resilient as a person Right. I mean, You know, I've known some people that were strung so tight and they were, you know, they were on this bullet trajectory, you know, to get to where, know, the achievement that they really wanted to achieve and anything that came at them sideways just completely scrambled them.

They. Weren't able to okay, well, that's the new reality and I still have my goal. So how am I going to work with this new reality and stay pointed at my goal? So you know, that the ability to be flexible and resilient in that way is a really powerful set of life skills. And it's the kind of thing that this sort of planning help you.

Yucca: right. And it's something that, you know, we, we talk about being often about being nature-based and all of that. And when we look at how nature works, resiliency is key, the systems that are really. Are the ones that are still with us, the ones that weren't aren't here anymore.

Mark: Right. Sort of, well, not sort of a tangent, actually a tangent, but it does relate one of the criticisms by many conservation biologists of the entire endangered species model that seeks to save the least flexible, most impacted species. Rather than say the Keystone species that are the, the root supporters of And I mean, I'm not weighing in on either side of that question, but it is a criticism that, you know, we're a lot of resources in saving, you know, a fish that lives in one particular pond. For example,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: in those resources might be better applied to, you know, Broad spectrum range conservation or something like that, which can really support the kinds of creatures that are flexible enough to be able to live even in this catastrophic time.

Yucca: Yeah. Yeah. That is that discussion. I mean, that would make a fantastic. Podcast on of its own to get into the different sides to that.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: Yeah. And, and there are very compelling arguments on both sides.

Yucca: truly. Yeah.

Mark: so as I'm saying, as I say, you know, I'm not weighing in on either side of that, but it Is a part of the discussion. You know, when we look at the biosphere, there are, there are animals that are extremely flexible. Rock doves, which are pigeons like rats, like raccoons, like coyotes.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: they do, you know, mess up their landscape. They're still there. They're

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: They're still finding something to eat.

Yucca: On many of their cases you do, and they just do better.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: Right. You know, how'd that try to eradicate coyotes thing workout.

their numbers just exploded and now they've spread across the entire continent where they used to be in just a small part.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: So, yeah,

Mark: And they've taken over the territory of the wolves.

Yucca: exactly.

Mark: Yeah. So,

So, so this is something to consider,

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: That, you know, being able to with the punches and still keep your eye on where you're trying to go is a really Set of human skills and these transition times and planning times are a great time to kind of assess where you are with that and figure out best to proceed.

Yucca: Right. And that that goal setting part is really key. Right? Both on what we're talking about. And, you know, back to the tangent is to, to figure out what is the current. Right. And, and so the, the field that I come from originally as restoration ecology, and so we'd have to always start with, okay, well, what are we restoring it?

Mark: Right.

Yucca: Right. What's the, what's the start because, okay. We are, we restoring to the state that it was at the arrival of Europeans, are we restoring it to, you know, the state that it was before the decline of the mega fund? Like what, what's the goal here? And so in our own lives, you know, it may not be restoration ecology, but we're talking about planning into the future and what we want.

This. A really lovely time, this darkness time of the year for that reflection, because you've got to look in, you've really got to look in and see what you really want. What, what your, your goals really are, your values and where you actually are right now. You know, be very honest with yourself about what, you know, what is the state of your garden, because.

You need to know that to be able to plan in an effective way for where you're going.

Mark: Right. And it bears saying that if you don't then your garden is just going to grow. It's just going to overgrow. It's

Yucca: Yeah. It's going to grow either way,

Mark: Yes,

Yucca: but what, how is it

going to grow

Mark: well. What grows

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: it's going to grow? is, you know, really up for grabs, then it's subject to all other forces, but not your intention and your life can do that too And I mean, I've experienced that in my own life, quite a lot, kind of from thing to thing with an overall goal, really not very much more defined then I want to do good in the world. And so I work in the nonprofit sector for missions that I believe in. But I certainly could have done a much better job of financial plan.

I certainly could have done a much better job of kind of skills building there. I've got a good skill set, but I think there are things that I would have liked to add that I didn't aspire to. So you know, this, this is you know, I, we're not making any claims that we're perfect at this.

Yucca: Certainly not worth, you know?

Mark: You know, we're human. Like, like everybody

Yucca: Yeah. Well, in a lot of times the topics we choose, we think there'll be valuable to the whole community, but we also choose topics that. That we need to hear ourselves,

Mark: yes. Very,

Yucca: right?

Mark: absolutely. Yeah. there, there have been times when in my day-to-day life. I found myself thinking we did a podcast about this. I should listen to that and find out what I had to say.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Cause I'm not, I'm not accessing it right?

now. So, Yeah.

take a look at that stuff. take, try to take a dispassionate look at your life and where you're, where you're headed and where you want to be headed and would help you and how you can be more flexible as the inevitable curve balls that life throws at you come along.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So the, the other thing we were going to talk about today is also in relation to planning, but specifically it's about planning rituals because this is something we haven't talked about before. We've talked about rituals a lot Especially people that are kind of new to the practice will often find themselves just at a loss about how to get started on all this, you know, because something that's very freeing about a naturalistic DOD free pagan path in that.

You know, you don't have any authority figure telling you, you have to do it this way. are the rules of Wicca, you know, this, this is our, you know, this, this is how you must do your rituals.

Yucca: Can we certainly don't think there's anyone watching down on us. Who's gonna, you know, say something about it later when we die or

Mark: right. Give

Yucca: us to the wrong place.

Mark: Give us a grade.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So great. But what that leaves you with is the dreaded blank sheet of paper. You know, how do I get started? Where, do I do this? And have, going to talk about that now, but that, I would just like to let people know that if you go to atheopagan ism.org, there is and you look in the right hand at the top of the right hand sidebar. There is that says, are you new click here for information about how to start your practice? And we'll put a link to that in the in the podcast notes, there's a workbook that you can download there that will walk you through a step-by-step process to develop a ritual.

Yucca: All right.

Mark: So, you know, if you need or want that kind of guidance, it's available to you.

Yucca: Yeah. And it's, it's a wonderful resource that, you know, as you're saying. Is available if you want it, if you don't though, we're not gonna, you know, we're not looking over your shoulder telling you you're doing it wrong or right. It's just a here. This is, this can really help. And, and these steps, you know how to, to go about thinking, you know, constructing it.

What are the pieces that, that you would need?

Mark: Right. I

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: and it starts with intentions goals, you know, what are you, are you trying to achieve? And then it goes into what are your feelings around it and what are the symbols and things that you associate with those feelings? terms of the five senses, you know, When, if we're talking about a UL ritual, you know, are we talking about the smell of cinnamon and cloves and pine needles and all that kind of stuff?

So, it's a, it's a very. Accessible a step-by-step process for you. So that's, that's an available resource if you want it, but we're going to talk about planning rituals with multiple people that workbook can be done with multiple people, but it's really designed for individuals. And when you have a group of people that are working to put a ritual together As an ensemble, there's a different set of challenges and ideas that, that fold into that.

Yucca: Right. And whether it is in a group or solitary, Starts again with what we were talking about before, is that goal, right? You need to know why, what, what is your ritual about, why are you doing the ritual? What is the intention behind it? Yeah.

Mark: And that goal can just be to achieve a few.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: The goal can just be, I want to go into that trancey flow state that's super present feels feels really good when I'm there with the candle light and the incense. And it feels like I'm in a. That can be the goal. It can also be the means to the goal.

If you're working to kind of reprogram your psychology around a particular issue in your life or a goal that you have or something like that. But sometimes the the end or the means is the end. Sometimes. I mean, a lot of the work that I do at the alter or focus is It's just to feel it it's just to be there and feel my spiritual connection with the universe and the world and how much I appreciate being here.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: so bear that in mind, you don't have to have a capital G goal

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: to do.

Yucca: Yeah. So with the group I think this is, this is really key with any group, but the communication aspect is. Really really important. How are you communicating? Is everyone, is everyone feel welcome and empowered to be part of that conversation? Is there's all of that social stuff that from anywhere in life that that comes to play, as soon as you have more than one person, then you've got all of these interactions to, just to be.

Aware of as they're happening. Right. Is there one person who is just personality wise a little bit more dominating than others, right? If, if you are that person, how can you. How can you make space for other people? Right. If you're not, if you're one of the people who tends to be a little bit more quiet, right.

That I'm that way I tend to, to kind of sit back and kind of watch more of what's happening, you know, how do I, in a way that feels safe to me, make sure that I can get my, my voice heard as well, as well as feeling like I'm listening and creating space for other people.

Mark: Right. Right. So the first piece as you enter into a group, that's doing some work is some self-awareness, you know, what, what kind of, kind of person are you when interacting in groups? And some people have very large blind spots about how they interact in groups. So, even soliciting some feedback can be helpful just so that people, you know, asked honestly, you know, how do I conduct myself in this group?

Do you feel like there's room for you to speak or do you feel like you get your ideas run over or.

Yucca: And giving them time to respond.

Mark: yes.

Yucca: right? Like there's the asking, but there's also just kind of noting, you know, does that person take a pause before they speak or when they don't speak? Does that mean they're just not going to, you know, there's there's that, that just paying attention that needs to happen,

Mark: Right. right.

And in some cases, when you convene to organize a ritual, there are people who naturally, because of the goal of the ritual have elevated status. If you are doing a wedding,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: it's the couple who. Are the final arbiters of everything that's going to happen. And everybody else who's involved in organizing that ritual is in service to creating the experience that the couple or the or whoever they are want to have know, same with a Memorial it's the family, right?

But it, or in a Rite of passage, depending on the Rite of passage, if it's a right of passage for someone who's already in adulthood, then they're kind of, you know, in the driver's seat. If it's somebody who it's moving into adulthood, it may be elders who are designing the experience for the young person to go through in order to move into their teenage years or move into adult.

Yucca: Yeah. So again, there's that, that awareness of and that's, that brings on the idea of a.

Which can mean different things, right? Sometimes when we talk about authority there's, it's kind of, there's earned a sorority and there's unearned authority, right? The, in that situation, you know, the couple or the, the people at the, the wedding, you know, they have the natural authority there, but it's not, but I would caution to be, be careful about not making it the authority because they are.

You know, the wealthy or the whatever, right. That, not the power over kind of structure.

Mark: Right. And that can easily happen with in the case of weddings, who have wedding planners, who are employees that that can become then very difficult. And I mean, we all know the stories about the bride Zillow's right. And I don't, I don't see people in our community as having a propensity to be that way so much, but once again, self-awareness and consideration of the humanity of the other people that are bitter there and just respecting roles.

let's talk about when that's not the case for four people get together because they want to do a ritual save for a holiday

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Sabbath. Okay. None of them has higher status than any of the others for any particular reason. It has pertinent to the planning of this ritual. Right. So how do they proceed them?

How do they. How do they

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: from the initial goal of, we want to do something for this holiday and then percolate that down into specific assignments of, Okay.

we're going to structure it this way. You're going to do this and you're going to do that. And you know, this is how the, the order of service will go.

Yucca: Like any situation it's going to depend upon the group and the specific individuals involved, but one approach to take would to begin by creating some space for each person to talk about just the things that. They like the things that they associate with this time of year and just start getting a little bit of that brainstorming and flow of information around, you know, how do we, how do we feel about this?

What is this, what do we want, what do we envision, you know, is, was there one that you did in the past? And there was just this part that you'd like to part that you didn't like, um, and just get as, as much of that communication happening as you can.

Mark: I find that one of the things that can.

be really helpful in planning the ritual is to do a ritual, to do a ritual. Starting your planning meeting with. Lighting a candle, maybe some incense a little invocation perhaps, or singing a song or a chant together, something that kind of opens the heart and gets people into that frame. It tends to put people kind of on the same page more, then it's less like a business meeting and it's more like a, a creative endeavor, which is really what you want it to be.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: we, we working to do that with the atheopagan council meetings that we hold every quarter because they are business meetings, but we, but we're a religion.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: you know, the, the, we, we want to be informed by the values and the feeling of, of doing this and not just to have. PTA meeting. So, so that, that may be that may be a technique that you find useful to do just a little in vocation of sacred space before going into the, the brainstorming and the meeting part of things. Another thing that you can do be aware that sometimes people need time to percolate. So don't feel like you can have a planning meeting and it's all gonna be, you know, dust your hands off. It's

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: Ready. We're we're going to go off and have a ritual now. I mean that's possible,

Yucca: It depends on the scale sometimes too, of what.

Mark: sure.

Yucca: You know, w what is the scale of the ritual that you're doing?

Mark: Right. And when time is short, that's what you have to do. But if time is, if there's more time available, then you can do your brainstorming and your ideas about, you know, what would be fun elements to include meaningful elements to include. You know, kind of get those into a hopper and get them down on paper.

And then maybe about it again in a few days, you know, then you can talk about structure and all the rest of that stuff. Cause people will have ideas about what should come first and what should come second sort of narrative threads that connect those different pieces and You know, letting it come organically, I think is something that can really be a value if there's time.

Yucca: Yeah.

I think that a lot of the, that advice can then apply back. You know, as a group talking about group ritual, but also that does tie back to what we were talking about. With planning for your own practice, right. That some of that could be done in ritual space, giving yourself time to have a second meeting or a third meeting.

See how that feels a few days later, and a meeting is a meeting with yourself, or maybe with your partnership per household or whatever scale you're doing that on. But that these ideas that we talk about. You know, on this podcast, we've jumped around in areas that people might not traditionally think is, you know, being religious, right?

Like, oh, this is a religious podcast. Why are you talking about, you know, ecology? Or why are you talking about this? It's all of this stuff is, is connected and can apply in different areas of life and reality and all of that.

Mark: Right. Right. So, And we've been really gratified to hear from our listeners that that they get value out of talking about the inner critic, talking about talking about The wonders of the natural world, you know, there's, there's such a range of topics. And one of the things about paganism generally and specifically based paganism that really meaningful to me is that it really is all inclusive.

It's about all the aspects of your life everything that you do. Has an impact on the world and every, every experience that you have as an impact on yourself and all of that.

that we can make choices about and curate and learn from in order to be better people, better pagans. Okay. Better pig and

Yucca: That's one to think about, right? What is, what is that?

Mark: Yeah. Well, since we don't have a judging God there's nobody to really tell us whether except sometimes other pagans

Yucca: Hm,

Mark: have attitudes about whether we're being good pagans or

Yucca: I think he

keepers.

Mark: that's really their problem. Not,

Yucca: Yeah. Yeah. It's for yourself to decide that, right? Yeah.

Mark: you know, we're talking about in between times transitional times and the space between going from an ordinary state of consciousness into a ritual state of consciousness is a transitional time as well. And That planning period becomes something that contain certain elements. One of them is safety.

One of the most important pieces is safety. In order to go into a ritual state, people need to feel safe enough in order to be vulnerable and present. And so that is an aspect that I would encourage you to throw into that hopper or get down on that blank sheet of paper with, all the other things that you have there, because you can have wonderful ideas for ritual experiences, but if people won't go there with you because they don't feel. Safe and protected and like the opportunity is there for them, then they don't, they don't go.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And I've, I've been in plenty of group rituals where I didn't

Yucca: Um,

Mark: because I felt like either the, the leaders were being irresponsible and cavalier or Or there were people in the circle that I didn't feel safer around. You know, and, and, and I'll freely grant. Some of that's on me. Right. You know, maybe, maybe I didn't necessarily need to feel that way. But to my mind, I had reasons. And so maybe that wasn't the right circle for me to be in.

Yucca: Yeah, but also the, you know, when, when the ritual is being planned, what are the goals? And, and if people don't feel safe, And enough to be able to do the ritual really, to really, really, really present with it, then the goals aren't being met. Right. So how do we plan to make, to try and create a space in which that can happen?

Mark: Right.

Yucca: So,

Mark: speaking of goals, the goal doesn't have to be a physical, tangible thing. Like. Prosperity or you know, loving relationships that are going to come to us or any of that kind of thing. They can just be feelings.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: be, you know, the feeling of joy in living feeling of having turned to the wheel and really acknowledged the seasons

Yucca: just the

Mark: go away.

Yucca: feeling winter. Right. Just feeling this out. Yep. This is the, this is the season we're in. This is what's happening.

Mark: Yes. Yes. So we really encourage an expansive understanding about what, what ritual is and what it's for and what its outcomes can be Well, I'll speak for myself. I mean, I've experienced lots of rituals that have taken me to all those kinds of places. And the rituals that I've experienced that have been ineffectual have generally been because the thinking around them or the planning around them has been to. Somebody's got an idea for a you know, somebody's got a good idea about some sort of myths that they wanted to enact or. Some sort of narrative story and it just wasn't a journey that the people in the group wanted to go on or the, or it wasn't clear exactly what was happening.

You know, the people, the, the, the performers in the ritual knew what was going on, but the observers were not there. Wasn't a narration to explain to them what was going on. I went to. I went to a a fool's journey ritual once in which, I mean, I suppose they were enacting the. Steps of the Toronto card, starting with the zero, the fool, and kind of going on from that.

they recognize some of them and others, didn't know what was going on. And the whole thing was just kind of be wilderness. You know, why am I here? Why am I doing this? I'm just standing there watching.

Yucca: It was kinda more like going to a play then

Mark: Yeah. How,

Yucca: part of a ritual.

Mark: I mean, that is an important question, always to ask yourself when designing a ritual is other than the other than the conveners, how does everybody else get plugged in? You know, is there something for them to sing? Is there a dance for them to do? Is there an offering for them to make, is there a thing for them to throw in the fire?

Is there a libation for them to pour? There are so many different ways put people to connect people. Is there, I mean, you know, under COVID we don't do this, but. Many pagan rituals over time, I've had, you know, passing a chalice of wine and taking a sip and, you know, giving a blessing to the person next to you and handing it on kind of thing, or a plate of pieces of bread or other cookies, or, you know, some other, other treat.

And. All of those are, are things that help people to feel like I helped to make this. And that's a really important feeling in a ritual.

If you feel like, like a ritual was done to you, something's wrong.

Yucca: Yeah.

So these are, these are all things to be considering when wind planning. Right. And kinda like we were talking about before to think about what life or the ritual might throw at you and how to be able to respond in that moment so that you are more resilient or the ritual you're planning is more resilient.

Mark: Part of that resilience. Is to understand when the time is to throw in the towel.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: are times when something that is so disruptive along your life. You know, a cancer diagnosis, something like that. I mean, that, that really is likely to throw you well off your stride now you've got something much more urgent that you need to deal with in your longer term goal.

Right. Similarly or an unexpected pregnancy or. You know, any of those kinds of things, the sudden announcement by your partner, that they want to leave you

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: unexpected, but, my God. Now what do I do? The same thing can be true in rituals. I attended a Rite of passage once where the young man who was becoming an adult had been charged with keeping a heartbeat drum beat going all night.

That was kind of his ordeal for this thing. And the ritual went on around him. Well, we were in this valley and apparently carried very far in this valley. And at three in the morning, truck came tearing up into this property and this guy barged into the middle of the circle and said, people who are trying to sleep and that drum has got to stop That was the time to stop the drum

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: and reconceptualize, you know, what we're going to do.

It took a long time to kind of calm everything down, get people back in trained. And it was, it was a very, it was weird. It was a very, very weird experience because we tend to think of our circles as being these of impenetrably safe environments. Right. We do need to be aware of when the time comes that it's just, the plan is no longer working.

Now we need a new plan.

Yucca: Yeah.

So this has been quite lovely. We've made quite a journey. And this podcast today,

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: the I quite enjoyed having a mirror, the conversation that we got to get to a topic because I mean, being in the third year here where we've got a lot of topics that we've covered. And then we want to talk about we, you know, a lot of things we want to come back and circle back to because that's really appropriate to do.

And other times we want to go, okay, well, what else, what else do we have to offer? And so sometimes it's, it's quite a it's quite fun to, to be like, okay, well, what are we talking about? And so I loved that this time we followed the same path of our conversation before in the recorded conversation.

Mark: Yeah,

Yucca: So

Mark: was really great.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for another lovely conversation and a really enjoyable podcast recording.

Yucca: Likewise.

Mark: We'll see you all next time.

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