Friday, July 22, 2011

Circle Etiquette

Just the basics as each group does things slightly different.


Circle attendance:

Each coven or circle has its own attendance guidelines. If the circle is publicly advertised then follow the guidelines in the advertisement or call the phone number provided if you have questions. If you are personally invited to a circle do not assume it is O.K. to bring anyone else. If you have a friend, relative, child or significant other whom you would like to bring please ask the High Priest or High Priestess first. Some covens are more open than others but please respect the decision of the HPS or HP. Also, we do have freedom of religion in this country, but there are those who, out of ignorance, still deny us the right to worship as we choose.
If you have been invited to a Circle which is not publicly advertised please do not discuss it with anyone without checking with the HP or HPS first. Private circles are by invitation only and it is never good to assume who the other attendees of a particular circle will be. Respect the privacy of those in the circle and never mention who was there to anyone.
Also: Please do not attend circle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and NEVER bring drugs onto the property of any person or group holding a ritual.

When accepting an invitation:

· Ask what time you should be there AND what time the ritual will begin. This way you can be there in plenty of time to relax, center and group before ritual. And, conversely, if you are unexpectedly detained, you will avoid walking in on the ritual already in progress which is usually not acceptable. Ask what to do if you should arrive late. There may be the option of waiting in a certain area and joining everyone for refreshments or feasting afterward.

· This may should harsh, but if you need to be somewhere else at a particular time following the ritual - do not plan to attend the ritual. When we enter a circle we are between worlds and beyond time and space. Rituals take as long as they take. Two hours is probably average, but they can be shorter or much longer. We have found in the past that if someone has a time constraint it is extremely distracting and disrupts the energy flow.

· Ask what you can or should bring. There may be a small fee covering site rental, candles, refreshments, etc. Some groups ask each attendee to bring a non-perishable item to donate to a local charitable organization. If there is a feast before or after the ritual you may be asked to bring a covered dish or some other food item to share. If you bring food its a nice gesture to label it with a list of ingredients so that those with special diet requirements won't have to track you down and ask what is in it.You should also ask if it is appropriate to bring your own athame or chalice to use in ritual and/or dishes and utensils for the feast. If you are able, you could also volunteer to bring wine, juice, or candles. These may be supplied by the coven sponsoring the circle, but it is nice to ask.

· If food will be served and you have special food requirements, either bring your own food or talk with the host/hostess as far in advance as possible to arrange for appropriate food.


Ask what the mode of dress is for the circle you will be attending. At large pagan gatherings you are liable to see elaborate costumes, simple robes, street clothing or nothing at all (skyclad) in the same ritual.
At smaller public rituals robes are nice but street clothes are acceptable. If you wear street clothing, make it something loose and comfortable so you have no distractions.
And please, no t-shirts with pictures or messages which may be distracting to others.
If you are invited to a non-public circle be sure to ask what to wear. Some covens may require participants to be skyclad, but robes are more common and may be required. Some groups have not allow certain colors of robes so be sure to ask. Also, certain types of jewelry may not be appropriate. For example, a triple-moon head-dress or an amber and jet necklace is usually worn only by a High Priestess. If you wear one of these to a large public ritual and you are not a High Priestess you may find yourself being asked to perform some duty for which you are not prepared. Generally - when in doubt - ask.
If the ritual will be held outdoors please dress accordingly.

Before ritual:

· If you have a request for healing or other magical work please talk to the HP or HPS privately before circle.

· Do not touch jewelry or magical tools belonging to another person without asking. Many people go to great lengths to consecrate and charge their belongings, and this may have to be completely re-done if the object is touched.

· Please visit the restroom before circle. Although you may leave the circle in an emergency, it can be distracting-and you might miss something!

· Please remove hats, watches, beepers and any jewelry and/or ferrous metals which do not have a spiritual or medical purpose.

· Remove your shoes if possible. It is much easier to ground when in touch with Mother Earth.

· No smoking, eating, drinking or chewing gum while in line or in circle. Smokers: Be sure to ask where smoking is allowed and PLEASE do not throw butts on the ground or into ritual fires!

· Apply insect repellant if needed.

· Any talk while in line for circle should be quiet and limited to questions regarding the ritual or warnings such as, “Don't trip over that root!” No talk of mundane matters please.

· Continue or begin centering and grounding while waiting in line. Use the slow walk to the ritual area as a gradual shifting of consciousness from the mundane world to the magical.

· A ritual handbath or bowl may be provided or you may be smudged with smoke before entering the circle. These are for purposes of spiritual cleansing.

· When entering the circle you may be asked for your name and/or a password. If you have a magical name you want to use fine, if not don't be embarrassed about using your regular name - plenty of people do. If you are asked for a password but haven't been given one you can try the standard one you have probably run across if you have done much reading. If that doesn't work- don't worry-if you were invited to the circle you will be allowed to enter. As you can imagine, passwords were of much greater importance during the burning times.

· You may receive an anointing of oil as you enter the circle. If you have allergies or otherwise object to this feel free to let the anointer know.

During ritual:

· Always move deosil (clockwise/sunwise) when walking around the circle. In other word: when you enter the circle turn left and you will be going the right way.

· When the Quarters or Elements (the four directions) are being called turn and face the same direction the HP and HPS are facing. If you are unfamiliar with arm gestures and responses being used just stand quietly or try to follow along. For safety or other reasons some covens limit the use of athames to the HP and HPS. Ask about this before circle.

In large public circles you will see many different ways of saluting the Quarters since each person tends to use the method he or she is most familiar with. One or two pointed fingers is a customary substitute for an athame or wand in many Circles.

· No talking in circle unless you are specifically invited to share a story or at other times indicated by the HP or HPS. Stories, anecdotes and discussion in circle are strictly limited to craft related topics. And remember: whatever you hear in circle is confidential. If you find someone's story valuable and would like to share it outside the circle (without names of course) please ask permission of the story teller first.

The HP or HPS may invoke a god or goddess during the ritual which means the deity has entered the body of the HP or HPS and may speak through them. Do not talk at all during an invocation unless the god or goddess specifically asks YOU a question.

· If you receive some juice or wine do not drink it all immediately. Be prepared to offer a toast to the gods. It is customary to offer part of your juice, wine and cake or cookie to the gods as a libation. There may be a bowl or bowls provided for this purpose or if the circle is outdoors the libations may be put directly on the Earth. Ask someone what the custom is or watch members of the host coven.

· If you feel faint or ill please feel free to sit down and/or ask for help. We have found that fainting in circle is not uncommon. Don't be embarrassed if this happens to you-just be assured you are surrounded by loving and understanding people. We believe a contributing factor is fasting before ritual. Some Wiccans like to fast for spiritual reasons, others are simply saving their appetite for the feast which tends to be much later than the average supper time. If you are not used to fasting, or tend toward low-blood sugar please have a bite to eat before circle. Also, do not lock your knees when standing in circle.

· If you need to leave the circle during ritual for any reason, quietly alert a member of the hosting coven and they will “cut” you out of the circle or explain their method for exiting and re-entering.

After ritual:

This is a good time for hugs, relaxing, asking questions, singing, dancing, drumming, eating, socializing and networking. Please offer to help clean up as well

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