Welcome to the House of OakSpring!
Wiccans do not worship in buildings (if they can help it!). Instead, Wiccans prefer to worship the Gods outdoors, under the stars, in a consecrated “Circle.” However, like most churches, OakSpring follows liturgical rules and traditions that may, to one new to the experience, seem confusing or odd. It is the goal of this leaflet to give you a short overview of OakSpring ritual practice so that you will be able to better follow, understand, and enjoy the ritual.
How do I behave in ritual?
The first and most important thing to remember is that OakSpring is a church. While Wiccans do not construct Cathedrals like our Christian brethren, our ritual space is no less sacred to us because it is the temple in which we worship. Accordingly, participants in ritual should conduct themselves with the same reverence and respect shown during any church ceremony. Participants may not bring food or drink into the ritual space, and smoking is strictly prohibited.
What will happen in ritual?
Rituals at OakSpring have five different distinct phases. These are:
Before ritual, the group will gather in the house to make announcements and to give any pre-ritual instructions as necessary. This is also the time when visitors to the group typically are introduced and welcomed.
Building the Circle:
Unlike most churches, Wiccans construct, or “build” their circles anew for each ritual. This is an initiate-only activity. After completion of the pre-ritual instructions, the initiates will leave to go to the circle. During this time, non-initiates and visitors will be asked to wait indoors in a quiet, contemplative manner.
Entering the Circle
Once the circle is built, the ritual’s “Summoner” will return to the house and guide the non-initiates down the path and into the Circle. Unless stated otherwise, when following the Summoner please alternate between male and female. Once the Summoner reaches the Circle, he will be welcomed and each non-initiate will be anointed on the forehead and guided into the Circle. Again, once in the Circle, please strive to alternate between male and female. Once inside the Circle, please do not go outside the boundary of the Circle, as marked by the four quarter torches, as we feel that energy is lost when people exit the circle space improperly.
After all are in the Circle, the ritual proper will begin. It may include a meditation, a short dramatization, or simply instructions from the God or Goddess, spoken through the Priest or Priestess conducting the ritual. Attendees also may be asked to participate in some aspect of the ritual. Afterwards, cakes and wine will be passed among the participants. We hope that your ritual experience is rewarding and enjoyable. However, we recognize that some visitors, due to the stigma placed on witchcraft by our society, or a general fear of the unknown, may become hesitant about fully participating in ritual. Should this happen to you, please be assured that you will never be asked to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. In such a case, we simply ask that you remain within the circle in a quiet, respectful fashion until the conclusion of the ritual.
At the conclusion of the ritual proper, it is traditional to raise energy for a loved one in need or for other spiritual or worldly goals. This will be done by clapping in cadence and singing the OakSpring chant. Visitors obviously are not expected know this chant, or even how to raise energy. All we ask is that you strive to follow the cadence set by the High Priestess when clapping and visualize the goal the group is trying to achieve. After the conclusion of the energy raising, the quarters will be “dismissed,” the torches extinguished, and the circle opened. Participants are then free to return to the house, or to remain in the circle as desired.
General Tips and Hints:
If at any time you feel lost or confused, simply follow the group.
During parts of the ritual, it is traditional for women to stand in the Goddess (or “Isis”) position, and men to stand in the God (or “Osiris”) position. If you wish to do likewise, please look to an initiate and follow their lead.
During ritual, we believe that energy is circulating clockwise (or “deosil”) within the circle. Therefore, strive always to turn and walk clockwise, never counterclockwise. Again, if you find yourself unsure or confused about this, follow the group.
Please remember that we know you are new to OakSpring ritual. Do not feel embarrassed if you get confused or can’t always follow the group lead. We were once beginners ourselves. We understand.
If you have a question before or after ritual, please seek out an initiate. Initiates wear a colored rope belt or “cingulum” as a part of their ritual attire. Initiates are here to help and generally love to answer questions.
Enjoy yourself! Open your heart and mind to the God and Goddess! Soak in the sights and sounds of the ritual! Not many in today’s modern society worship the divine with grass under their feet, wind in their hair, and the stars and moon above. You may be surprised at what you feel.