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Remarks that follow concerning the Priestess manifesting the Goddess apply equally well to the Priest manifesting the God. Some people have problems with the implied "possession" of the Priestess by the Goddess. Keep in mind that no loss of control should occur, since the Goddess is, in this instance, acting as a part of the Priestess. The point of the Drawing Down, from the perspective of the Priestess, is to help integrate the divine part of her nature into her outward personality. Toward this end, it may be useful to think of the Goddess as a separate entity; however, the distinction should not be overemphasized, as the Priestess and the Goddess should act as one. Each Priestess will develop her own understanding of this mystery in her own time. The basic technique used by the Priestess or Priest being invoked into is to allow the manifestation to take place. This may seem relatively passive, and mainly involves relaxing and performing whatever mental shift is necessary to experience the proper feeling of "opening". There should be a sense of power or immanence flowing through you, with no sense of effort on your part.
Think of yourself as a sacred vessel being filled by the essence of the Goddess or the God. Be aware that control of this state requires a very light touch; imposition of a "normal" degree of control generally tends to stop the flow of energy entirely. When we perform the Drawing Down, the Priestess may read the Charge of the Goddess from a script, and the presence of the Goddess may manifest in the particular inflection or emphasis of certain words, or the expressions that cross the Priestess's face, evoking various responses in the listeners. This is sometimes called a "partial invocation", as opposed to a "full invocation" in which the Goddess, through the Priestess, speaks or acts extemporaneously, perhaps going around the circle and giving some message to each of the coveners. Sometimes the communication is entirely non-verbal.
The role of the invoking Priest in the Drawing Down should not be underestimated. It is, of course, possible for a Priestess to manifest the Goddess without any help, but it tends to be much easier, and often more powerful, when there is an equal and opposite Force drawing the Goddess forth by a process of induction. Therefore, at least in a limited way, the invoking Priest may also manifest the God while calling on the Goddess. During the invocation, the Priest uses the wand to draw the Invoking Triangle on the Priestess, touching just above the pubic bone, on the right breast, the left breast, then back to the pubic bone. The triangle should be drawn twice (or in some traditions, thee times). Pay attention to drawing the lines of the triangle as well as touching the points; the triangle itself is a sort of portal for the manifestation of the Goddess, much as the Pentagrams are for the Elements. This is the same Triangle, incidentally, as the Triangle of Manifestation used by medieval Magicians to conjure various spirits, angels, and demons. After the triangle has been drawn twice, touch the wand to the center of the triangle (just above the belly button, not quite touching the skin) and visualize a barrier dissolving within the bounds of the triangle, rather like a soap bubble bursting.
If the Full Invocation is to be used, some care must be taken not to misrepresent the Goddess. The Priestess who pursues her own personal agenda while impersonating the Goddess is doing a great disservice to the Craft. Once the Goddess has been invoked, there may be a long initial silence, which might begin to feel embarrassing as it stretches on, and there is a certain internalized social pressure to fill the silence with words: a feeling that everyone is listening expectantly, waiting for the words of the Goddess, so you'd better come up with some. In an actual Full Invocation, it is important to wait as long as it takes, and scrupulously evaluate the words that rise within your mind, presenting themselves to be spoken; if you recognize them as your own words, set them aside, as this is neither the time nor the place for them, and continue to listen for the divine voice. Usually, the divine words will not immediately strike you as wise or profound or uncannily accurate; but they will be unexpected, something you wouldn't have thought to say. Another closely related form of invocation is called "aspecting"; when aspecting, the Priestess attempts to contact a specific facet or personality of the Goddess (if you're a henotheist; or a specific Goddess if you're a polytheist - in practical terms, it amounts to much the same thing). This form of invocation may focus more inward on the relationship between the Priestess and the Goddess invoked, and is often used to establish a personal contact. The full invocation described above is really more for the benefit of the other participants in the circle, the Priestess emanating the divine energies of the Goddess outward, serving more as a channel than as a participant. Aspecting also tends to be more precisely focused on a particular divine personality, whereas the full invocation is often less precise about who exactly is being invoked.
After the main body of the ritual is finished, we begin winding down with Cakes and Wine. There are many layers of symbolism involved here; on a relatively concrete level, solid food has a very grounding effect, gently drawing us into a greater awareness of our physical bodies. This is particularly important after any sort of energetic magical work. On another level, the Wine Blessing is the symbolic Great Rite, an abstraction of the sexual union of the God and the Goddess, serving to ground and release any excess polarized energies left over from the ritual. The kind of sexual polarity we deal with in magical work is relatively abstract; it is often, but not always, represented in terms of gender polarity. The symbolic Great Rite is an act of integration, a resolution and relaxation of the magical tension created between the Priestess and the Priest. This integration operates both on the level of reconnecting with another person, and of reuniting polarized aspects within the Self. To represent the multiple levels of integration involved here, the Priest holds the (feminine) chalice while the Priestess wields the (masculine) athame. This is also a reminder of the old tradition that the Priestess is a priestess of the God, and the Priest is a priest of the Goddess; and of the Legend of the Descent of the Goddess, where the Lord of Death surrenders his authority over the dead to the Goddess, and she teaches him the magic of birth and regeneration.
The Wine Blessing often has interesting manifestations on a tactile and physiological level. It has often been noted that in a good wine blessing, the blade will seem to sink much deeper into the chalice than is actually possible, and the participants may feel pleasant tingling sensations, waves of warmth, or a slight rippling of the muscles throughout their bodies. A third level of the Cakes and Wine rite has to do with the idea of spiritual sustenance. It derives from the same roots as the Christian Transubstantiation and Communion rites. Christianity has preserved the aspect of ritual cannibalism while largely abandoning the sexual elements of the rite, whereas we have tended to do the opposite. If the dying God is seen as the spirit of the grain, then the Cakes/Wafers really are the body of the God, and Wine really is his Blood. By eating and drinking them, we are taking into ourselves divine inspiration: the substance of the God (the grain), the gift of the Goddess (the Earth). Sometimes we rend the cakes, releasing the spiritual energy which was bound up in their material structure so that it may flow freely again; this has a strong grounding effect. Note, however, that some traditions of Witchcraft do not use the cakes at all - only the wine blessing.
Sharing food and drink also serves to create a sense of connection with each other and with the larger community of Witches, past, present and future. Passing the Chalice around the circle is a very intimate act, yet is relatively non-threatening. This is the part of the ritual where we connect with each other simply as ourselves, not as roles or as manifestations of anything, but still within sacred space. It is important to clearly mark the ending of a ritual and to ground any excess energy. Leaving the Circle to dissipate itself at the end of a ritual is disruptive to the ritual's focus, and often results in random, usually undesirable manifestations of the remaining magical energy. Also, it is important for the participants to make the transition from magical space back to mundane reality. Inadequate grounding can result in feeling spacey or jittery, having difficulty concentrating, etc. In extreme cases, such reactions can last for several days. Magical energy is happiest when it's in motion. When you draw energy into yourself, allow it to flow through you and out into the earth again. Remember, there's always more where that came from. Likewise, when energy is raised in circle, it should be allowed to move through the ritual and then flow into the earth again when its immediate purpose has been fulfilled. In fact, it is a good idea in magical work to try to stay grounded at all times, that is, allow the energy of the ritual to flow freely and without hindrance; however, a good ritual will tend to build up a background level of excitation which then needs to be specifically released.
Groundedness is a relative thing; through the course of the ritual, "ground level" has been raised, first by casting the circle, then raised another notch by invoking the Elements, and raised again by the Cone Dance. Cakes and Wine brings the background energy down a step, dismissing the Elements brings it down again, and dissolving the Circle brings us back to pre-ritual groundedness (more or less). The general grounding technique at the end of a ritual is to ground yourself, dismiss the Elements, and banish the Circle. Picture the energy flowing out through your hands and feet and into the earth - think of yourself as a hollow vessel being emptied. Bid Hail and Farewell to the Watchers and any other entities you have invited into the circle. Picture the Circle and the Watchtowers sinking back into the earth. To mark the moment the circle is ended, we usually blow out all the candles in unison for dramatic effect. When the Goddess has been invoked into a Priestess or the God into a Priest, it is customary in some traditions to allow the God or Goddess to stay after the circle has ended. This may be a tacit admission that we have less control over the acts of the Mighty Ones than we might wish to believe; in any case, it seems reasonably safe as long as it is clear that they are in fact free to leave any time they choose (they will anyway, of course, but a certain state of openness is required to ground any excess energy left behind after the manifestation has ended). After the circle has been formally grounded, we go into a huddle and sing a silly song. Laughter is one of the best ways to relax and let the energy flow naturally.
Traditional Ritual Traditional Circle Casting Priestess and Priest cast circle with Sword and Athame. O THOU CIRCLE, BE THOU A MEETING PLACE OF LOVE AND JOY AND TRUTH, A SHIELD AGAINST ALL WICKEDNESS AND EVIL, A RAMPART OF PROTECTION FOR ALL WHO STAND HEREIN. WHEREFORE DO WE BLESS AND CONSECRATE THEE BY THE HOLY AND SACRED NAMES OF (Goddess) AND (God) (The names used for the Goddess and the God may vary from coven to coven.)
Consecration of Salt and Water Priestess consecrates Salt and Water with Athame. AS WATER IS LIFE'S BEGINNING SO SALT IS ITS END AND COMBINED, THEY BRING FORTH NEW LIFE.
Traditional Invocation of the Watchtowers All face East HAIL TO THEE, GUARDIAN OF THE WATCHTOWER OF THE EAST, COME AND JOIN US AT THIS CIRCLE. SEAL, MAKE FAST, AND GUARD THIS HOLY PLACE THAT ALL WITHIN MAY WORSHIP. HEAR US, O MIGHTY ONE OF THE EAST, WE BID THEE WELCOME. Draw Invoking Pentagram of Air.
All face South HAIL TO THEE, GUARDIAN OF THE WATCHTOWER OF THE SOUTH, COME AND JOIN US AT THIS CIRCLE. SEAL, MAKE FAST, AND GUARD THIS HOLY PLACE THAT ALL WITHIN MAY WORSHIP. HEAR US, O MIGHTY ONE OF THE SOUTH, WE BID THEE WELCOME. Draw Invoking Pentagram of Fire.
All face West HAIL TO THEE, GUARDIAN OF THE WATCHTOWER OF THE WEST, COME AND JOIN US AT THIS CIRCLE. SEAL, MAKE FAST, AND GUARD THIS HOLY PLACE THAT ALL WITHIN MAY WORSHIP. HEAR US, O MIGHTY ONE OF THE WEST, WE BID THEE WELCOME. Draw Invoking Pentagram of Water.
All face North HAIL TO THEE, GUARDIAN OF THE WATCHTOWER OF THE NORTH , COME AND JOIN US AT THIS CIRCLE. SEAL, MAKE FAST, AND GUARD THIS HOLY PLACE THAT ALL WITHIN MAY WORSHIP. HEAR US, O MIGHTY ONE OF THE NORTH, WE BID THEE WELCOME. Draw Invoking Pentagram of Earth.
The Cone Dance All join hands and circle clockwise while chanting the Witches' Rune; at the end, drop to the ground to release the energy. Witches' Rune DARKSOME NIGHT AND SHINING MOON EAST, THEN SOUTH, THEN WEST, THEN NORTH; HEARKEN TO THE WITCHES' RUNE, HERE WE COME TO CALL YE FORTH! EARTH AND WATER, AIR AND FIRE, WAND AND PENTACLE AND SWORD, WORK YE UNTO OUR DESIRE, HEARKEN YE UNTO OUR WORD! CORDS AND CENSER, SCOURGE AND KNIFE, POWERS OF THE WITCH'S BLADE, WAKEN ALL YE UNTO LIFE, COME YE AS THE CHARM IS MADE! QUEEN OF HEAVEN, QUEEN OF HELL, HORNED HUNTER OF THE NIGHT, LEND YOUR POWER UNTO OUR SPELL AND WORK OUR WILL BY MAGIC RITE! BY ALL THE POWERS OF LAND AND SEA, BY AL THE MIGHT OF MOON AND SUN, AS WE DO WILL, SO MOTE IT BE! CHANT THE SPELL AND BE IT DONE!
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