The “No-Ritual” Plan for Celebrating the High Days

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Something I’ve heard often from my girls as they got older is that they don’t like ritual. My daughter in college is the most Pagan of all my kids, yet still very much dislikes ritual. I was wondering how (and if) our Pagan family traditions will be carried on to their future children if they don’t enact rituals for their beliefs. Then I remembered the cookbook I gave my three girls; it is a copy of my book of favorite family recipes that includes menus and recipes for each of the High Days. I realized that if you start with the food (my girls love to cook!), other traditions (that they remember from their childhood) will follow… crafts, decorating, singing… Before long, I imagine that they will have enacted many a “ritual” that’s not a ritual. I believe this will be how the traditions will be carried on; more of a kitchen witchery approach.
So for those of you out there whose kids don’t like ritual (or maybe you don’t like ritual yourself), here are my ideas for celebrating the High Days fully, reverently, and piously- without a formal ritual…

  • Begin with a shrine. What my kids didn’t like about the rituals I brought them to, and that we had at home, was all the formality and “words”, they said. But my kids love crafts and decorating. The best way to set the tone and focus for a High Day is to build a beautiful shrine to the Deities and Spirits associated with the holiday. A great deal of time can be spent crafting items and reverently placing them on the shrine (so you may want to begin days ahead). Images of the Kindreds may be crafted from salt dough or yarn dolls, or the family could collaborate on making a collage. Creating art is an act of worship. (Find craft ideas associated with the High Days in the archives by clicking on the names of the High Days in the cloud to the right.) Leave room on the shrine for a fire pot, and an offering dish.
  • Now start the music. Create a playlist (that everyone can enjoy) for each High Day ahead of time. You’ll be glad you did. You may want to mix in some secular songs (that somehow set the mood for the holiday) along with the Pagan ones. Your whole family will probably find themselves singing along with at least some of them. You’ll find that there are Pagan songs for the High Days that are but prayers or invocations set to music. Singing is also a form of worship- very pleasing to the Kindreds!
  • Every holiday has a game, story, or other festivity. Have fun with it!
  • Food! No doubt you probably already have special foods that you associate with the holidays. (If you don’t, see my collection of High Day Feasts for some ideas.) If your kids like cooking, have them help. Weave magic into the stirring, and blessing into the shaping of breads and other foods. Be sure and make enough to give in offering. If possible, center your meal around the shrine and light the fire pot before you begin the meal. Make offerings and libations and eat in sacred communion with the Spirits. Formality and scripts are not necessary!
  • Burn prayer slips. Pass out slips of paper and pencils for everyone to write their prayers, devotions, or anything left unsaid. Each person in turn may burn their slips in the fire pot. You may even want to allot time for each family member to spend a little time at the shrine alone for personal devotions or meditation. (Of course, never leave a young child alone with a fire or lit candle.)

That’s it! If you feel you need some kind of special ending, you might choose a song to play and/or sing before putting out the fire. My favorite concluding song is “Triple Goddess Blessings” by Lisia Thiel. (I consider the “sacred three” of the song to be the Three Kindreds, not a triple goddess.) However you celebrate, may there be joy, love, and reverence in all your High Days so that blessings spill out into the rest of your lives!

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8 responses »

  1. WOW, you are right. This is similar to mine! You even talk about music. Great minds… hehe 😉

    I got inspired from “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea”, where Cahill talks about how musically inclined the Ancient Greeks were. It made me realize… rather than ritualize, I celebrate my spirituality.

  2. Pingback: Celebrating Like A Pagan | Ramblings of an American Pagan

  3. Thank you! I found a lot here to take away for my family… I don’t care for formal ritual myself, and my kiddos are 3 & 5…. this concept is much more do-able for us! Feeling Inspired 🙂

  4. Wow, yes, this is pretty much how we do it too. I’m all about recognizing the implicit rituals, the rituals that aren’t acknowledged as such. I like the “No-Ritual” label.

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