As we explore the meaning of magic, it seems impossible to discuss it without also talking about ritual. In the rituals and magic that are woven by those of us in the Reclaiming tradition, one of our founding Mothers, Starhawk, has described our style as E-I-E-I-O. (You can probably guess right away, from such an acronym, that humor is a very important part of our magic!)
So what does she mean? She explains that it is:
Ecstatic: in that we aim to create a high intensity of energy that is passionate and pleasurable.
Improvisational: We value spontaneity within the overall structure of our rituals, encourage people to create liturgy in the moment rather than script it beforehand, to respond to the energy around us rather than predetermine how it should move.
Ensemble: In our larger group rituals, we work with many priest/esses together taking different roles and performing different functions that, ideally, support each other like the members of a good jazz ensemble. We encourage a fluid sharing of those roles over time, to prevent the development of hierarchy and to allow each person to experience many facets of ritual.
Inspired: Because we each have access to the sacred, we are each capable of creating elements of ritual. Although we honor the myths, the poems, the songs and the stories that have come down to us from the past, we are not bound by the past, for divine inspiration is constantly present in each of us.
Organic: We strive for a smooth, coherent flow of energy in a ritual that has a life of its own to be honored. Our rituals are linked to the rhythms of cyclical time and organic life.
So, how is this different from other practices? Another long-time Reclaiming teacher and elder, Rose May Dance, notes that unlike many other practices, “[Reclaiming’s] circles are participatory, usually without a high priestess or priest. The wand [of power or leadership] passes around the circle quite a bit. In many rituals, spontaneous invocations and prayers are the norm. Some liturgy has been developed for high holidays but is not always used, and more is forever being created. Empowerment is a byword of Reclaiming tradition. Some folks call us the evangelicals of the Goddess Religion, because there is much room for ecstatic and cathartic experience in our circles. We try to bring movement and emotions into our rituals.”
As tonight moves us into the powerful energy of the Capricorn Full Moon, may your own magic and rituals be chock-full of E-I-E-I-O!