Over the years I've been to many a public ritual, some of which have been amazing and transformative, other of which have been...less so. Some of the public rituals I've been to (ok, maybe half or more) have been so bad I've had to restrain myself from shouting "What the hell were you thinking?!" halfway through them. So here are a few tips for all you ritual presenters out there.
- Explain what you'll be doing - before you're in the circle (it gives folks the chance to bow out if they're going to be uncomfortable.
- Explain the purpose of the ritual.
- Test any props/equipment before the ritual.
- Speak up - It doesn't matter how beautiful your poetry is if we can't hear it.
- Practice. For the love of all the gods, practice.
- Give participants something to do. If your audience gets bored they will find something to do and you may not like it.
- If your ritual is outdoors, prearrange an alternate indoor space or rain date.
- Research. If you're going to do a Celtic re-constructionist rite for Lugh, make sure you know what you're talking about and can pronounce all the names.
- Offer a pre-ritual orientation for newbies and make sure they feel welcome. We were all new once and I bet you remember exactly how you were treated.
- Wear robes/garb that you'll trip over, have fall off mid-ritual, or have catch fire (keep your ritual movements in mind when selecting your outfit).
- Speak away from the circle when outdoors (no one will hear a word you say).
- Have one person do everything while everyone else just watches.
- Let intra or inter-group politics come into the circle.
- Move too quickly through ritual theater. (I once saw what I can only call a symbolic great rite quickie. It was appalling.)
- Forget that you're there to facilitate an important experience for others, not just yourself.
- Force people to hug or kiss. Not everyone wants to love everybody. Seriously. Uggh.