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Liturgy Practicum 2, Requirement 1.1

Describe three differences between personal or domestic rituals and small-group rituals. (Minimum 150 words)

Isaac Bonewits is very specific about the suitability of closed, personal ritual structures to large group worship: as soon as you begin doing public ritual, he tells us, the same structures you used in your living room no longer work. (Bonewits, 55)

Much of this has to do with three primary things: familiarity, homogeneity, and acting skills.

Because individual and domestic ritual is done on a very intimate level (if you are alone, you know yourself well; if you are with family, you know them well also), familiarity is high among ritual participants in solitary and domestic rituals. This is not the case when you start doing public and small-group rituals: the folk who come to rituals may be complete strangers, and so there is a level of teaching and discussion that must take place before you are able or willing to offer a part, and it may also cause confusion if you move quickly past parts of the liturgy you would normally condense for someone more familiar with your style of ritual. You are also likely to need to present a pre-ritual briefing.

Similarly, homogeneity of belief and practice is high among families (and highest, of course, for someone doing a solitary rite), which allows for an understanding of views of the cosmos that varies little from person to person. In small group ritual, particularly public rituals, you are unlikley to have deep knowledge of others' ritual assumptions, and as a result you will need to spend more time building a coherent and agreed-upon cosmovision.

When in a private setting with yourself or a domestic partner, the "trappings" of ritual begin to fall away. Ritual becomes as simple as a prayer or a lit candle in many cases. In small group ritual, however, by adding more bodies to the ritual, you also increase the number of visual and verbal cues that are required to "bring them to the ritual," or put them in a ritual state of mind. Because of this, ritual becomes more complicated and requires skill in speaking, reading, and intentional movement that may not be needed in personal ritual.


  • Bonewits, Isaac. Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work. Llewellyn : Woodbury, MN. 2007. Print.


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