The purpose of RITUAL: Taking the Path

  • Invocation
  • Drawing the circle
  • Taking the path
  • Numen/Connection
  • Breaking the circle
  • Benediction

We've turned on the lights in our studio, we've arranged our materials.  We've thanked and welcomed whatever muse has shown up—if any—and now it's time to do the work.

Let me take a moment to explain a bit why this outline of the structure of RITUAL is worded the way it is.  These are the sections in a blank book I've created for myself for my labyrinth in my back yard, collections of wisdom from poets, philosophers, mystics, and hippies that I can use in my personal meditations.

 It's as lovely as it looks.

It's as lovely as it looks.

So taking the path is a literal thing for me as well as a metaphor.  Let's look at the metaphor.

The purpose of any ritual, as we've already said, is to offer the possibility of change to the participant.  For that change to happen, though, the participant must leave Point A and take the risk of change by traveling to Point B.  For many of us, the fear of that risk is what keeps us from beginning the journey at all.  That's where the Precept of ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS is so incredibly useful: it helps us ignore or at least minimize that fear by saying, essentially, "This first step on my journey doesn't count."

In a nice circular way, RITUAL helps you make that first ABORTIVE ATTEMPT by showing you how to take that first step along the path. Note, too, that the complete journey means that you return to Point A before you're done.  If we compare this part of the RITUAL to the Hero's Journey, we can see that we will encounter the struggle of our own creativity while on this journey, and that upon our return we hope to have been victorious, bringing back our new creation as a gift to the world.

That's a lot of philosophy flopping about here when all we really mean by this part of RITUAL is that you have to take the trip, do the work, risk the change in your work — and in yourself — in order to Make the Thing That Is Not.

But I think it's useful philosophy if it helps you think of your fear of beginning as a normal part of the process.  You don't know what you will encounter on the path.  You never know.  But after your Invocation, after you've drawn your Circle — take that first step.  Take the Path. Walk the labyrinth.

Go to the wood!  Just don't expect to be home before dark.

Next: NUMEN/CONNECTION

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