It's almost Beltaine and Festival Season is upon us! This is the time of year when a plethora of Open Circles beckon. Open Circles are a fantastic way to meet and learn from other people. BUT....there are a couple of things to remember! Take a peek and keep 'em in mind!!!
When attending Circle, please avoid the following:
Texting the Priest/ess ten minutes before the event asking for directions or to say you're three blocks away.
If they even have their phone on (I usually hand my phone off to someone else just prior to a ritual) their thoughts are on getting the event going. Getting last minute texts eats away at the focus the Priest/ess needs for the ritual. Not fair to them or the other people at the event!
Instead: Print out the directions as soon as they hit your inbox and put them in your cloak/gown/other pocket, immediately. Or, have the phone number on hand of someone else who will be there and call them, instead.
Pulling aside the Priest/ess to ask for a detailed description of what will be happening at the ritual e.g., "What exactly will we be doing tonight?" "Why didn't you tell me you were invoking this Deity?" If the Priest/ess didn't include this information in the invite, he or she will most likely explain things before Casting.
Instead Take time to read the invites carefully before showing up. If you still have questions, ask another ritual leader or simply wait for the Priest/ess to give the low-down. Don't demand personal attention from the Priest/ess moments prior to the ritual beginning.
Invoking other Beings or Quarters by different names or in different locations because you're used to doing it a different way. The Priest/ess or Ritual team chose the Deities or Quarter locations for a reason. You're messing up the flow by throwing in something else, energetically. Go with the flow.
Instead Wait until the Ritual has concluded and ask to the Priest/ess or a Ritual leader about the reasoning behind their choices. Even better, wait a few days and EMAIL THEM about it.
Lighting anything that smokes e.g., tobacco, incense, etc. It's safe to assume that all indoor spaces are non-smoking, particularly if it is a public or rented venue. Instead Ask a ritual leader AHEAD of time (not during the ritual) if lighting a smoking something is okay, but go ahead and assume that an indoor space means no smoking materials.
Bringing people who are going to freak out. Maybe it'll be hilarious to you to drag your stuffy roommate to a candlelit-chant-filled-drum-pounding gathering where people become possessed and/or break down in ecstatic hysterics. But your roommate will not find it funny. And the ritual leaders SURE AS HELL won't find it funny when they see the person cowering in the corner. Instead Bring along people who ask to come and do your best to let them know what kind of situation they'll be walking into. It's also polite to notify the organizers if someone is coming who is new to the Craft or rituals in general. Good ritual leaders want everyone to feel at home and will take special care to make sure a new person feels as such.
Chatting during ritual or while Priest/ess or Ritual Leader is talking to the crowd. Even if it's about Magick. Even if it's with someone whom you haven't seen since your last lifetime. No matter how quiet you think you are, you are distracting the leader and those around you.
Instead Whisper to the person, "Let's talk later" and find them after the ritual for a chat over cheese and hummus. If what you need to talk about is really that important, it'll still be important after ritual.
Bossing people around about food, freaking out about food, etc.
Showing up as a guest with a spoon marked, "VEGAN ONLY!!!" and policing it like a Secret Service Agent will make everyone around you unhappy. If you are a vegetarian or have a food intolerance and dig your tortilla chip into a nondescript dip without checking to see if your taboo food items are in there, don't bitch people out when you find the forbidden food on your tongue.
Instead Be flexible about food when sharing a meal. Yes, it's always best if people label the ingredients of a dish--particularly if it contains meat, dairy or foods with common allergens, like nuts or honey. But if you are the person with those restrictions, do ask around before diving in, if you're not sure. And yes, maybe someone used your Vegan Only spoon to dish Mac n' Cheez. If you're not going to chain the spoon to your wrist, quietly wash it and let it go.
Commenting on a logistical problem: "Gee! This walk is a lot farther than you said it would be!" "Man, maybe you should have gotten a bigger space?" "Wow...those directions were crap. Next time, a better landmark?" REST. A. SSURED. If there is a logistical problem, the ritual leader is as aware of it as he or she is the desire to strangle you for bringing it up--three minutes before ritual begins.
Instead Smile and say nothing. If you attend several rituals that continually pose the same logistical problem, email the Priest/ess at a later date with a suggested alternative. If you don't have a suggested alternative...continue to smile and say nothing.
Leaving without offering to help clean up.
Instead: Offer to help clean up.
Oh! And if you're leading ritual....avoid the following!!!
Changing the way the Circle is being cast--in the middle of the Circle Casting. Even if an Ancient Muse came along and kicked you in the head, it's not a good idea to scream out, "I HAVE AN IDEA!!!" You've just fucked the flow for the rest of your Ritual leaders.
Instead Put that Ancient Muse on the back burner and as soon as ritual is over, scribble it in your Book of Shadows. Mention it next time, for the NEXT ritual, during the planning stages. (This one came courtesy of Tamrha.)
Arguing about the ritual--when the ritual is about to begin and guests are present.
All ritual leaders should ask each other questions regarding the ritual before the actual ritual, and any disagreements should be figured out before the community arrives and not in front of them. It unnerves the guests and undermines the energy the group is trying to cultivate.
Instead If something is unresolved before the ritual starts, hold onto that thought and discuss it at a later date before the next ritual. (This one also came courtesy of Tamrha!)
Interrupting the Priest/ess while they are talking or invoking about something they forgot to say/do. Probably the quickest way to never be asked to help lead ritual again. Don't do it. Unless you notice the space is on fire or that someone needs medical attention. Then, you should interrupt.
Instead Mention it later. If you simply cannot wait until later, whisper it in the ear of the Priest/ess when they're not the center focus of the ritual. But better to wait until afterward.
Leaving without helping to clean up.
Please see above!