Writing Prayers of Praise for Public Ritual:
Five Simple Principles for New Ritualists
Making the transition from private, personal ritual to public ritual can be complicated, but there are a few short principles that can help smooth that transition.
- Public prayer is external, communal and celebratory. This is not silent, personal prayer, but rather external, loud prayer. When you speak the words of public prayer, you will not be speaking on your behalf, but on the behalf of the community. To that end, you must remember to speak at a volume where everyone can hear and understand you. Additionally, remember that you are speaking praise for all in attendance, and that praise should be celebratory, not apologetic or fearful.
- Speaking in liturgy is a leadership role. By agreeing to speak on behalf of others, you are accepting a leadership role. Part of that responsibility is to understand the Folk, and to channel that understanding into what is said. Often, it is easy to feel that we are speaking about our personal understanding of a being. Instead, we should offer a broader understanding whenever possible.
- Public prayer is a time to reveal the beings. Who is this being we are honouring, and what does he or she (or what do they) look like? Draw on pieces of myth and weave them into your words, describe what a god looks like, or where a goddess lives; but describe these things not as "features," but as reflections of what they do. Describe how they are related to us, and why these particular beings are appropriate to the rite done today. People love to hear the stories of their deities again and again because the stories are their stories, so treat public prayer more as a way to reveal this being to the folk again for the very first time.
- Public prayer is not a time to teach or lecture. It can be easy to try to provide a deep lesson about the being or beings called, but remember that this is praise, not a time to remind people of fault or shortcomings. It can be tempting to single out an aspect that relates to someone in your Grove, such as how Mitra is a god of oaths and should not be crossed if someone has broken an oath, or how the Dagda got drunk and paid the price if someone fell off the wagon. The rule of thumb here is that if you think of someone that this can be directed at, don’t use it in ritual.
- Know how to stand and how to move. Know where and in what position you will stand, and how you will move to that place and any other places you may need to move to. Know where your offering is, when you will pick it up, and what to do with it when the sacrifice is made. If you will be reading, practice reading and the motions of offering at the same time. Remember, when we pray in public, we pray with our whole being, and our physical presence is just as important, because it shows others our spiritual presence.
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