Ritual Structure

This script includes the formal elements of Sacred Grove ritual and may be modified as an outline for other rituals.

The Officers of the Ritual

Rituals in the Tradition are generally written to be celebrated by some combination of seven officers: a Priestess, a Priest, a Bard, and four Quarters.

The Bard in Sacred Grove ritual has the role of a master of ceremonies, beginning and ending the ritual, announcing transitions, and responding to interruptions, disruptions and mishaps.

The Priestess and Priest are the primary celebrants of the ritual. The Priestess invokes the Lord, and the Priest invokes the Lady. The Priest and Priestess lead the spiritual and magical dimensions of the ritual, while the Bard takes care of the external requirements.

The Quarters East, West, South, and North — act as secondary celebrants of the ritual. They derive their titles from the roles that they perform in the initial claimings and invocations, but they can take many additional duties depending on the particular ritual.

Because the Bard and the Quarters perform major duties in the ritual, the roles of the Priest and Priestess, while central, are not unduly large. Alternatively, in a ritual of four or five officers, the roles of Priest and Priestess are eliminated altogether, and their duties are spread among the Quarters.

Physical Layout

If the participants gather outside of the ritual space, only the four Quarters enter and take their places.  Otherwise, all enter together and take their places in the Circle.

The Grove candle stands unlit on the North altar.

The Circle

If chairs are used they should be set in a circle with one or more spaces (gates) through which participants may enter the circle.

For large groups in small rooms a double circle may be used, though this will make dancing impossible for most participants.

With minor wording changes and major logistical changes, the ritual can be moved to cyberspace, if participants are widely scattered or pandemic warrants social distancing.

The Preparations

The Preparations call the Sacred Grove into manifestation as temple for the ritual. Participants commit themselves to each other and to their intentions, then step between the worlds.

The Warning

At the very least, the Bard states the intent of the ritual, so that all who will participate do so with informed consent.

Casting the Circle

Marking or casting a Circle is optional, depending on participants and circumstances.

Claiming the Circle

Claiming the Circle consists of four balanced spells to prepare the ritual area for magical work. The four Claimings are normally performed immediately after the Circle is cast, before any invocations or welcomings.

Each of the four Claimings is performed by a person standing at the appropriate quarter and facing inward (not outward as in quarter calling).

The normal sequence is East, West, South, North, to emphasize the polarities and balance of the working.

The Claimings are spells and should be spoken with conviction and intent. The Bard and remaining Quarters respond So mote it be! to each Claiming.

East speaks:
In the name of the Lady of Light, and in my own name, I claim this circle as a place of Men.  
Let all who enter be bound to speak and hear the Truth.

So mote it be.
West speaks:

In the name of the Sacred King, and in my own name, I claim this circle as a place of Women.  Let all who enter be bound to Perfect Love and Trust.

So mote it be.

South speaks:

In the name of the Lord of the Greenwood, and in my own name, I claim this circle as a place of Nature.  Let all who enter be bound to the Sacred Web of Life.

So mote it be.

North speaks:

In the name of the Queen of Heaven, and in my own name, I claim this circle as Sacred Space.  Let all who enter be opened to the presence of God and Goddess.

So mote it be.

If the Circle is cast with all participants present, replace the words Let all who enter with Let all within.

The Challenges

There is no single version of Warning or Challenge, these are crafted to harmonize with the particular purpose, intention, and tone of whatever ritual is taking place.

In low ritual, the Challenge is optional and may be administered around the circle, each challenging the next.

The Warning and the Challenge are used in high ritual to prepare the participants for the ritual both psychologically and magically. Characteristically, the Warning is proclaimed by the Bard before participants enter the circle, while the Challenge is administered to each participant as she enters the circle.

Most of the participants will be challenged and admitted to the circle by the Priest and Priestess. If the ritual is very large, the Quarters and other officers may simultaneously challenge and admit participants at a second, third or even fourth gate.

In high ritual, the Priest and Priestess themselves are normally the first to receive the Challenge, which is administered to them by the Quarters. Then the Quarters leave the circle to re-enter through the Challenge procedure.

Dramatic Warning and Challenges for high ritual

Detailed Challenges with blocking, for high ritual

Sealing the Circle

Bard speaks:

We have stepped beyond time, to a place not of Earth.
In the presence of the Lord and Lady, we join together and are one.

Beginning with the Bard, each person takes the hand of the person to the left, repeating We are one.

When the Circle has been joined all around, all repeat together We are one.

Inviting the Guardians

Inviting the Guardians to each of the quarters is optional. It is of most use when many of the participants are new to Sacred Grove ritual.

The Mystery

Having built our temple, we are in the realms of mystery.

Welcoming the Lord & Lady

Priest invokes the Lady

Priestess invokes the Lord

Bard or another participant, if so moved, invokes the & [pronounced “and”]. This was a recent addition to Bhakti Wicca, honoring the connections between Lord&Lady that give rise to all else.

Participants may be encouraged to invite or recognize the Presence of the Divine by Names that are real, personal, and important to themselves.

All Present are greeted with Hail and Welcome!

The Working

Here we incorporate the particular journeys, teachings, or magic as intended.

The Presence

Participants sit in silence or speak as moved, sharing visions, inspirations or whatever the Lord and Lady may lead them to say.

in the grove 2

When the time seems right, Priest and Priestess gather Participants and make farewells to All present.

The Closing

Thanking the Lord and Lady

Priest thanks Lady

Priestess thanks Lord.

Thanking the Guardians

Those who were invited are thanked for their presence and assistance.

The Return

Bard recalls everyone to normal wakefulness.

Opening the Circle

Bard comes to North, snuffs Grove candle

Bard speaks:

The rite is ended, the circle is open.
May the blessing of the Lord and Lady be with us all.
So mote it be.