This post follows on from my post 'How do I become a Witch?'
In my previous post I gave you some quick and traditional methods of becoming a Witch, in this post we will look at how you could create your own ritual to celebrate your first steps into the Witchy realm. These rituals are sometimes known as self-initiation as no-one but yourself needs to be involved in whatever you decide to do.
I feel that there is a lot to be said for your first ritual to be between yourself and the Old Ones. When you work your ritual in solitude it is literally a matter between you and the gods. You will decide whether you wish to give yourself to the Gods, and they will decide whether to accept you.
It takes courage to work a solitary ritual of initiation. It can be a scary experience - but all initiations should be scary, as what you are doing is deliberately turning away from your old life and taking on something completely new and very different. In many initiation rituals you will find a point where someone asks the postulant, 'Are you sure you want to carry on? Because if you go through with this there will be no way to return to your old way of being.'
Initiation should and will fundamentally change you. Sometimes those changes are subtle, it could be a feeling of contentment that at last you have acknowledged a part of you which has been suppressed, or sometimes those changes can be quite brutal. Being a Witch has never been an easy course to take, Doreen Valiente was quite clear on the value of keeping your beliefs to yourself, saying 'Witchcraft won't pay for broken windows.'
But being a Witch is never boring!
So now we shall look at what your ritual could be like, but bear in mind you do not have to follow my suggestions, your own ideas may be totally different. Just try and keep things simple, complications always cause problems.
The first thing you will need for your ritual is a place where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Turn off your mobile, unplug the phone, make sure anyone else in the house is asleep or out of the way.
Midnight is known as the Witching hour for a very good reason: in the days before electricity most rural people would be fast asleep before midnight so it gave Witches the privacy they needed for their spell working. Midnight is also a 'between' time, it is an hour between one day and the next, so Midnight is a good time to pick for your ritual.
I would suggest that you do your ritual by candle light, a single candle can act as a focus for your energy, and it also feels special and magical too. You could also light some incense, flavours such as Night Queen, Sandalwood or Patchouli would be appropriate, or one which you particularly like.
Some people insist that for this ritual you should be naked, as it is a re-birth into a new world. I can understand the argument but I don't feel that it is necessary, and again you should follow your own feelings in this matter
If it feels appropriate to you, you could start by reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards, this effectively unfastens you from your previous life and sets you free to choose to become a Witch. Alternately you could simply say:
I stand here alone, I put myself beyond the bonds of mortal life, I offer myself to the Old Ones.
One of the acts of many traditional initiation ceremonies is the taking of the measure. The priest or priestess would use a length of cotton, wool or cord to measure the height of the new Witch, this measure would then be kept by the coven. This piece of cotton represents the person it measured, and as such if that person betrayed the group, then they could use the measure in spells and rituals to bind or silence them.
You could measure yourself, with a piece of cotton: simply hold one end in one hand and spread your arms as wide apart as possible and call that your measure. This piece of cotton should then be put into a small pouch and kept safe.
Alternately you could put one knee on the floor and put one hand on the top of your head and say:
'I give all that is between my hands, freely, to the Old Ones and ask that you accept me as a Witch.'
'Let me see or hear a sign that I am acceptable to you.'
Traditional signs are the barking of a dog, or the cry of a bird, but it could be a book falling off a shelf, or the sudden flickering of your candle flame, or that it bobs or grows larger or smaller.
At this time it is also traditional to take a special magical name, so you could say:
'Let me be known within the circle as ... [name you have chosen].'
Then finally stand up and say:
'I stand now before the God and Goddess as Witch [Witch Name].
Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet again.'
Welcome to the circle of Witchdom.