To most of us Pagans there is nothing more Sacred than completing a Rite, be it one to commune with the Old Ones, one to work some spellcrafting, one to mark a festival or important day within our lives, or just for the sheer joy of connecting with those not of our Realm.
Unlike those of the 'Book' faiths (so here called as their holiest wisdom is codified within their Holy Books for the priests to interpret, unlike our more chaotic and personal faith that insists we each are our own Priest/ess, connecting directly to the Old Ones ourselves, not requiring any 'go between' to intercede on our behalf) generally there are no universal Pagan Rites, no 'Lord's Prayer', no 'Holy Mass' and no Psalms that must be followed by Rote, instead we are free to work as we see fit, when we see fit and how we see fit. Yes, there are some writings that have been passed down, Rites that are 'traditional' within the Pagan Community (or within the Coven / Working Group / Family / Circle / etc), but all that truly matters is the intent, the will and the awareness of the individual Practitioner, be they Witch, Wiccan, Heathen, Druid, etc!
Rites can be scripted, meticulously planned, or impromptu, spoken from the heart at the moment, phrases pulled from the aether as prose, poetry or just a mix of our emotions and intent. Rites can be held outdoors, locally in your garden or somewhere close by that allows you to connect, or they can involve a pilgrimage to a special place, be it one thats well known or one that has a more personal connection. Rites can also be held inside in an area we are comfortable with, one that is dedicated to the purpose, or in an area that has been prepared for Ritual use, if you subscribe to the personal beliefs that the area has to be made sacred and clean first, or they can be done on the spot, wherever you are!
Rites can be held at any time, day or night, there are correspondances that tell you certain times and days will be better for certain types of working, but I personally feel these come from High Magic, they arent something that I am particularly bothered with to a greater extent, I feel our Ancestors, the village Witches, the Wise Men and Women, the Cunning Folk, the Hedgeriders, to some extent the ancient Druids and pagans would have done what was needed, when it was needed rather than spend too much time wondering whether it was the correct astrological phase at that time!
Rituals can involve the use of tools, special objects that hold meaning for the individual, but they need not do so, a 'tool' is just that, an object that aids the individual in some manner or form, be it a focussing point, as a reminder, an object that corresponds to what it is you wish to acchieve, or to invoke memories / thoughts / feelings that help allow the individual to connect. However, the tools do not make the ritual happen, they are not entirely necessary, they are merely aids for the individual, what matters most is the intent, the will and the connection of the individual. If an individual has the focus, the intent, the will and feels the connection they need do nothing more than concentrate and they can complete the rite, they need not take special tools, they need not even find a special place, nor even verbalise what they wish to acchieve, the Rite will have happened just the same.
Personally we do have some tools, some of which are reserved for Ritual work, others are used in the mundane as much as for ritual, it doesnt really matter to anyone except yourself and the Old Ones!
My own tools are quite simple, a black handled knife that I use for everything from gardening to fishing, my Stang ( a wooden forked staff) that is also used for walking (and fishing - makes a great rod rest), a cauldron (great for holding a banefire) and incense, either shop bought or crafted from the herbs we have at home. We do have other tools, and do occassionally use them, but generally we dont need them, my Stang and Knife are the only ones I feel I generally want to take into Ritual.
When it comes to the form of the words we use in Ritual, here we are fairly open, we have been members of various groups, Covens, Working Groups, a Family Group, Open Rites, etc, generally we have been lucky enough to have had many experiences, and found the simplest forms that work for us, some of which are listed below (some are personal, some from other sources) for your perusal. If you find them to your liking, please try them out!
I Call to the Mother, to claim Mine By Right!
As Daughter of Dark and Child of the Night!
By Badger, Owl, Fox and Hare,
I invoke the Mother, Goddess Fair!
I Call to the Father, with Will as I May!
As Daughter of Light and Child of the Day!
By Badger, Owl, Fox and Hare,
I invoke the Father, Horned One so Fair!
To those who live in the North,
Lend us Your presence and Your Power,
Be with us Now, Oh Powers of Earth!
To those who live in the North,
Thanks for Your presence and Your power,
Go if you Must, stay if You Will!
Water run silent, Water run deep,
Moat Guarded Castle, Strengthen my Keep!
Badge of the Wards
Within the Castle, Within my Heart,
We shall never be apart!
Darkness Surround me with all the Powers of Witchery,
Rekindle the Yearnings of Past Moons so Bright,
Witch, Lord and Lady, joined on this Night!
As you can see, they are fairly simple, no summoning, stirring or commanding, we invite the powers that be in and thank them, nothing more. Nothing fancy, nothing presumptive, nothing overly flowery, just the bare bones of what we need and a few references to Trad Crafter techniques, we can't claim they are lineaged and traditional ritual words, there is little available that can be truly claimed to have lineage back to the Ancients, but we can say that what we use is used in the same spirit, that we are seeking to reclaim what we can and build a synthesis of what we find works based on our current understanding of what practices were used in antiquity.
The reference to the animals within the God and Goddess calls are to four of those animals knows to have links to BTW, there are of course others, as anyone will tell you, but these are what we have been introduced to. Tha badge of the Wards is a Rite in itslef, and one we were again fortunate enough to have been introduced to, I would be interested to hear of anyone else having heard of this Rite and practices linked to it.
Anyhows, I hope this small peice of writing stirs something within, that my words resonate with your own feelings, please let me know how the words feel to yourselves.