By Nancy Ogilvie
In my article in the Jan-April issue of the Journal, I talked about the practice of “apprenticing” yourself to a particular Goddess or God as a tool for personal and spiritual development. And since we are fast approaching the March new moon, a time of new beginnings, it seems appropriate to offer a ritual of initiation that you might use to dedicate yourself to a God/dess you are working with.
As with any New Moon, the one in March is a fresh start, the beginning of a new cycle of waxing and waning. The date is March 20 – the same day as the Spring Equinox, which makes it an especially powerful one as the energies of the moon and the sun are combined on this day. The moon is invisible (from Earth) on this night, so it is often called the Dark Moon. Emptiness, receptivity, and potential are the qualities of this part of the cycle, so it is an ideal time to make new commitments or to plant seeds of intentions for what you wish to manifest in your life.
It is this connection with new beginnings and fresh starts that makes the New or Dark Moon an appropriate time for dedicating yourself to a particular god/dess, marking the beginnings of a new relationship and new growth in your own life. My original article includes several suggestions for discerning which god/dess might be calling you. Another approach to is reflect on the qualities you want to cultivate in your life, and to find a goddess who embodies those characteristics who is willing to support you.
As an aside, as a lesbian, I have always chosen to work with a goddess – and that is an individual preference based on my personal story and needs. There is no rule that says a woman must work with a goddess and a man with a god. So don't limit yourself in this way – if you are a woman wanting more assertiveness in your life, there are many gods and goddesses who could support you with this intent, and vice versa.
A word of caution: dedicating yourself to a particular deity is extending an invitation to him/her to change your life in the ways you say you want! Do not make this commitment lightly – you can negotiate what it is you want in your relationship with your deity (see ritual outline below) and you need to be prepared for two things:
- To spend regular time with him/her – as close to daily as possible – in meditation, ritual, journaling, creative expression, trance journeys, or whatever your preferred form is.
- To be surprised! Your deity will likely show up with guidance, ideas, or desires at times when you're least expecting him/her, and least open to his/her suggestions.
In short, be careful what you ask for – be sure your intent is clear and that you really do want to change your life!
There are untold forms that a dedication ritual might take... so feel free to modify the following outline as your intuition and god/dess suggest. This ritual is written for a group to perform together, and it can also be modified as a solo dedication. Because I am writing to fpr more experienced practitioners, I have omitted detailed instructions on how to purify, ground, cast the circle, etc. – if you need more support on these aspects of ritual, a plethora of resources are available online and in book form. Two of my favorite books are Starhawk's The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess and Diane Stein's Casting the Circle: A Women's Book of Ritual.
- Purification supplies (e.g., water in a bowl, incense or sage and lighter, rattle or bell)
- Circle members bring an image of the god/dess they are dedicating to – this could be a physical statue, a photo, an image they have created, etc.
- Writing and/or art supplies (eg., paper, pens, crayons, colored pencils, paints, clay)
- White candles for each member of the circle
- Prepare to enter sacred space by (1) purifying/cleansing and (2) grounding (connecting with the earth's energy field however your prefer)
- Cast the Circle, including invoking the directions/elements and the god/dess. If members of your group are dedicating to different deities, you might invoke one goddess as the primary deity for the ritual and then incorporate the individuals' deities in the body of your working. Any maiden goddess (because of the association between the new moon and beginnings) or any moon goddess would be appropriate (Wikipedia has an extensive list). Light the ritual candles here, but leave the white candles for each member unlit.
- Setting Intent for the Working – the priest/ess provides a brief overview of the ritual process, and each circle member shares the god/dess they've chosen and why. Each individual lights a white candle symbolizing the purity of his/her intent.
- Working (the core of your ritual work) – includes 4 parts:
- Individual meditation on the god/dess you are dedicating to – begin with a soft gaze on the image of your deity and allow the process to unfold. You may find a dialog ensues between you, or a strictly emotional/spiritual exchange without words. Ask questions of your deity, or describe what you want in your relationship and see how he/she responds. When the time for this part is almost up, the priest/ess may want to suggest that each circle member exchange gifts with his/her god/dess (in meditation, not physically) to bring a close to the dedication.
- In silence, each circle member writes or creates a representation of what unfolded in the meditation to serve as a tangible symbol of the commitments made.
- Circle members who wish share their symbol and/or what transpired during their meditation.
- Raise a cone of power to charge the symbols and the dedications with chanting or whatever form you choose.
5. Ground the energy by sharing food and drink.
6. Open the circle, including releasing the god/dess and the directions/elements.
Nancy L. Ogilvie is an initiated priestess who primarily practices Dianic Wicca (honoring all forms of the Divine Feminine). She is available to lead ritual/ceremony (including weddings, baby blessings, and any ritual of transition), to train or mentor budding priestesses, and to teach classes on Wiccan practice. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 825-3125.