The purpose of RITUAL: Breaking the circle

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

We've been looking at the structure of RITUAL and what that means for us as artists Making the Thing That Is Not. We've been through making the decision to enter the creative space (Invocation); arranging our creative space/time (Drawing the circle); striking out into the unknown to do the work (Taking the path); and connecting to both the universe/source and to our AUDIENCE while we're doing so (Numen/Connection).

Now let's talk about getting out of here.

the tenth precept.jpg

Soon enough, it's lunch time, or time to walk the dog, or you're doing some weird time management thing, or maybe, just maybe, your brain stops working.  (It could happen.)

It is entirely possible just to lay down your pen/brush/cocktail shaker and walk away. Who's going to stop you?  It's probably a better idea, however, to break the circle, i.e., to formally acknowledge that you're done. 

More than a few writers advise stopping when you're actually doing well: don't wait until you run out of ideas.  Stop when you know exactly the next thing you're going to write.  That way, when you next enter the circle, you are not staring at the blank paper with the same lack of ideas you left it with.

side note: This is the same principle behind my advice to actors learning a long monologue or singers learning a new piece of music: start at the end and work your way backwards.  That way you're always heading into material you know (which you then reinforce) rather than constantly running into a dead end of stuff you haven't learned yet.

In general, the "quit while you're ahead" gambit is good advice.  You end on a positive note, and you will not dread getting back to work as much.

But even if that's not what happens—because let's face it, who wants to quit when you're on a roll?—and you end up at Level 7 on the Lyles Scale of Compositional Agony, take the time to say to yourself and to the universe, "I'm done here.  I'm going to be doing the ABANDONMENT thing for a spell. Be right back."

Clean your brushes.  Save your files. Tidy your desk.  (It could happen.) Organize All The Things. 

Take a step back.

Take a deep breath.  Stretch.

Now go empty the dishwasher.

NEXT: Benediction


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