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Author Topic: Speaking aloud in ritual  (Read 3568 times)

Ursula

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Speaking aloud in ritual
« on: July 21, 2011, 08:20:22 am »
(Mods, please move this over to the 'beginner' part of the forum if it belongs there - I wasn't sure where it goes, as it's kinda a beginner's question but also to do with ritual!)

I tend to quite enjoy ritual, whether it is something very planned and 'set by the book' or something that I've designed/written myself.  I don't perform rituals very often, and when I do they tend to be for either a particular spell or for Wheel of the Year celebrations.  I am solitary at the moment, and still beginning the, umm, journey of exploration, so any rituals are only involving myself.  I enjoy researching to find out what things would be appropriate to include.  I can be a bit of a correspondences geek :rolleye:: but I try not to let things get too stilted, either.  

However, I have a stumbling block which is quite a biggie for me, and which makes me feel REALLY STUPID.  :ashamed::o:(

I have real problems saying things out loud.

:ninja:

That looks even stupider written down than it sounds in my head.

What I mean is, I can think of appropriate words for rituals, incantations, spells, prayers, invocations, whatever (either made up or something I've found which fits the bill)...  but when it comes to saying them out loud I feel, well, a bit of an idiot really.  I have no idea why, because I don't have any problems doing the actions of the ritual, which could seem at least as daft to any external observer!  But as soon as I start to say anything out loud, I get ridiculously self-conscious and my focus goes out the window.

I don't have any problems with public speaking / presenting, so I don't think it's just the sound of my own voice that freaks me out *lol*

I haven't seen this mentioned on the old boards or heard it raised as a possible issue for newbies - does anyone else have this problem or am I just weird like that?

Does anyone do their rituals without speaking at all?  If so, what's your approach - do you make writing things down into a part of the ritual, perhaps, or do you just make a point of devising your rituals as 'actions only'?  I am definitely by nature more of a 'words person' than anything else, so feel I would be losing something important if I tried to make my rituals 'action only', but does this work for other people?  Do you just have to get used to feeling silly and override it?

Maybe it's because I feel like it would draw attention to me?  I'm very rarely in the house on my own, so perhaps the feeling that I'm being 'overheard' is getting in the way for me, even though my partner is Pagan?  (I have never done any rituals with him around, so I'm uncertain as to what his feelings about it would be, exactly...)  Sometimes I do rituals outdoors, which tends to be in a bit of a dodgy area so although I don't have any difficulty finding a secluded spot, I also instinctively don't want to draw attention to myself there as the seclusion could work against me.  :(

Or perhaps I'm just being an idiot :p

Caroline

Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2011, 08:41:22 am »
Quote from: Ursula;6771
Does anyone do their rituals without speaking at all?  If so, what's your approach - do you make writing things down into a part of the ritual, perhaps, or do you just make a point of devising your rituals as 'actions only'?  I am definitely by nature more of a 'words person' than anything else, so feel I would be losing something important if I tried to make my rituals 'action only', but does this work for other people?  Do you just have to get used to feeling silly and override it?

Maybe it's because I feel like it would draw attention to me?  I'm very rarely in the house on my own, so perhaps the feeling that I'm being 'overheard' is getting in the way for me, even though my partner is Pagan?  (I have never done any rituals with him around, so I'm uncertain as to what his feelings about it would be, exactly...)  Sometimes I do rituals outdoors, which tends to be in a bit of a dodgy area so although I don't have any difficulty finding a secluded spot, I also instinctively don't want to draw attention to myself there as the seclusion could work against me.  :(

Or perhaps I'm just being an idiot :p


First off, I don't think you're being any kind of an idiot. :)  IME, when something that I have no issue with in other areas of life becomes an issue in regards to ritual, I take that as a marker that I'm dealing with or approaching Something Important. Uncomfort for me is a flag that says 'pay attention'.

There are many traditions in which speech is considered to be sacred, or in which sacred utterance in ritual is important. Perhaps that is something of an issue here. Is your speaking in ritual impromptu, or prepared? Perhaps your instincts (or divinities) are nudging you towards a position of more considered speech in ritual, rather than no speech at all.

Many people believe that words have power, and words spoken in ritual circumstance even more so, but that said, a silent ritual can have great power, even if its simply because the absence of speech focuses intent by its very absence. But honestly, my feeling reading your words, that you feel like something will be missing if you go silent, is that focusing *more* on speech in ritual might be a better fit (not necessarily a more comfortable fit) for you.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 08:42:38 am by Caroline »

treekisser

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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2011, 08:53:15 am »
Quote from: Ursula;6771
I have real problems saying things out loud.

Do you feel less embarrassed if you lower your volume? I usually don't speak in a normal volume right off the bat, but in a much quieter voice.

Sometimes it feels even more effective to do that, because if the rest of the room is silent and I have to strain to hear myself, I feel it sharpens my focus.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 08:54:16 am by treekisser »

Marilyn/Absentminded

Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2011, 08:55:10 am »
Quote from: Caroline;6775
But honestly, my feeling reading your words, that you feel like something will be missing if you go silent, is that focusing *more* on speech in ritual might be a better fit (not necessarily a more comfortable fit) for you.

That was the conclusion I came to when I started doing actual ritual.  Speaking out loud gave me a flushed, tingly, embarrassed feeling, but also made me feel a whistly kind of power around the edges.  I learned to anticipate that feeling as a signal that I was doing what I was supposed to do.

I still get that feeling when I speak in ritual, and it doesn't seem to matter whether I'm alone or in front of a dozen other people.  That feeling of being off my centre, in the spotlight, and working without a net somehow translates to total 'rightness'.  I'm supposed to be out on that ledge, I'm supposed to be hyper-aware, I'm supposed to not be comfortable.

If I'm too calm and measured I feel like I'm giving a recitation.  I'm good at that - presentation and improvisation were favourites of mine in public school.  But I feel like I have to a little out of control, a little off balance, to do anything 'real' with the words.

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« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 08:56:35 am by Marilyn/Absentminded »
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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2011, 09:05:39 am »
Quote from: Ursula;6771

Maybe it's because I feel like it would draw attention to me?  I'm very rarely in the house on my own, so perhaps the feeling that I'm being 'overheard' is getting in the way for me, even though my partner is Pagan?  (I have never done any rituals with him around, so I'm uncertain as to what his feelings about it would be, exactly...)  Sometimes I do rituals outdoors, which tends to be in a bit of a dodgy area so although I don't have any difficulty finding a secluded spot, I also instinctively don't want to draw attention to myself there as the seclusion could work against me.  :(  

 
First of all, for me, saying things out loud makes them more "real." Therefore, I try to be careful what I say aloud during ritual, and what I don't. Saying something out loud (and, again, this is a totally personal opinion) "sets it in stone." Especially during a ritual, when things are supposed to be serious and respectful (not to say they can't also be fun or enjoyable, but rituals are not things to be taken lightly or done willy-nilly in my opinion).

I think saying things aloud might be hard because doing so does make what you are saying or doing that much more real, or serious. And that can lead to self-conscious feelings...I know I've felt that way sometimes, being at my parents' house...saying a prayer to my Gods or saying aloud a ritual becomes harder when there is even the chance that someone might hear me, especially if that someone (like my mom, or dad, etc.) is of a different religion or mindset. Saying out loud what you mean, again, makes it more real...if people overhear, that takes away some of the privacy and intimacy of the moment, and it also makes it "real" to them that you're doing something they might not necessarily understand or agree with. I think sometimes it can be hard to balance shyness(/insecurity/not wanting to offend anyone/wanting to have privacy) with a pride for what you are doing/the feeling of "who cares, I'll believe what I believe and say what I want to say." And all of those kinds of feelings are totally normal, so don't worry about it! ^_^

I don't think rituals, etc. have to be spoken out loud in order to work, but I personally find them more powerful if they are. If you feel they might be too, or want to speak out loud more during them, then I recommend maybe trying to say a little bit aloud at a time. Perhaps next time, if you are doing a ritual or offering or whatever, simply say one word or phrase aloud - "Thanks" or "I will now begin this rite" or whatever - and then do the rest inside your head/silently. Every time you do a new ritual, offering, invocation, etc., say a little more out loud. Perhaps if you build on it, it will become easier. No need to launch right into a full-blown ritual/invocation/etc. fully out loud - wait until you are ready/have worked up to it. And also, no need to yell/speak loudly - whisper your rituals and see how that feels. That might just feel easier.

Good luck!! :)

Jenett

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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2011, 11:08:01 am »
Quote from: Ursula;6771

I haven't seen this mentioned on the old boards or heard it raised as a possible issue for newbies - does anyone else have this problem or am I just weird like that?


First, it is a totally normal and common reaction (and there are a number of books that mention it, though usually not at huge length.) Honest, you're really not alone here.

Quote
Does anyone do their rituals without speaking at all?  If so, what's your approach - do you make writing things down into a part of the ritual, perhaps, or do you just make a point of devising your rituals as 'actions only'?  I am definitely by nature more of a 'words person' than anything else, so feel I would be losing something important if I tried to make my rituals 'action only', but does this work for other people?  Do you just have to get used to feeling silly and override it?

 
It's possible to do ritual silently, but it's not the option I generally suggest for a variety of reasons.

Saying things out loud in some form - and I'll come back to that in a moment - does multiple things for our brains and bodies and ritual.

First, while we can think thoughts very clearly, nothing crystalises them like putting them into words.

Second, speaking aloud (even quietly) engages our body in a variety of ways: we must breathe (and can therefore be more conscious of our breath), we form the shape of the words with our bodies, and then we also hear them - so we're engaging multiple senses (kinesthetic, auditory) at the same time, which helps us focus and refine the energy we're working with.

And third, there's a reason why so many magical systems talk about words having power - putting something out into the air is a way of giving it shape in the world, which is a really potent step for magical or ritual work. Thinking them inside our heads doesn't do that in the same way, and it doesn't become as 'real' for us as hearing makes them. (And even writing them down is a bit more distant than saying and hearing them.)

And finally, there's a part of me that thinks that saying stuff out loud helps with better communication. Certainly, in group work that's true, but I think it's also true when we're talking to Gods or other beings, or the universe in general, all of whom are inclined to be mysterious and cryptic. There's no reason we should encourage that.

By being up front and pragmatic in what we say to *them* and how we say it, we set the tone for how they communicate with us. (This is not a perfect system, but I've found it at least helps the mystic and cryptic stuff I get be more useful, if you see what I mean.)

So, what to do if you feel really silly saying stuff out loud? Some options include:

- Look at what you're saying.

I feel really silly saying lousy poetry with bad scansion out loud, and there's rather a lot of it in some Craft books. So I don't say that stuff, and go find and/or create stuff that works better for me in terms of pure use of language. (My pet peeve here is faux-archaic language, like thee and thou, which most people get very wrong. But there's other stuff like that, too.)  

- Start small

One really simple thing to do is to start with a very simple thing (say, a daily blessing that's out loud) and build up to longer more formal ritual language or things that seem a bit sillier to say.) For a lot of people, something like "I welcome today. Let there be [whatever blessings: clear communication, good fortune, whatever]" is a little easier than saying, say, a circle cast or a quarter call.

- Talk softly

Nothing says you have to declaim your ritual speeches like an actor if you're working by yourself (If you're working with others, it helps for them to hear you, of course.)

It's perfectly fine to speak quietly - especially if there are other people around who would be disturbed by you saying stuff in the next room (because they're trying to concentrate, watch something on TV, whatever.) But even speaking in a near-whisper is, in my experience, more effective on multiple levels than doing it all silently.

- And, of course, experiment.

I do think it's good to experiment with how we do things in ritual, including doing things based on actions alone. The trick is that this works better when you have solid experiences to compare it to - so doing stuff silently when you don't have much experience saying things out loud isn't much of a comparison. Doing it when you do have more experience gives you a better basis to compare. (And for the reasons outlined already, doing stuff out loud tends to be easier for us once we get over feeling silly.)

I've got some more comments about things feeling silly here: http://gleewood.org/seeking/practices/feeling-silly/ in case that's also helpful.
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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2011, 11:42:59 am »
Quote from: Jenett;6813

- Look at what you're saying.

I feel really silly saying lousy poetry with bad scansion out loud, and there's rather a lot of it in some Craft books. So I don't say that stuff, and go find and/or create stuff that works better for me in terms of pure use of language. (My pet peeve here is faux-archaic language, like thee and thou, which most people get very wrong. But there's other stuff like that, too.)  


This is the best advice I can think of.  I could never say stuff like "So mote it be" because honestly, it sounds... dumb.  Before you do your ritual, examine the words you're going to say.  If you were to make a recording of yourself during the ritual, would you really want to have a copy of yourself saying those words lying around for all time?  If you're embarrassed by what you're saying, your words aren't going to have much effect, psychologically or otherwise.  Good luck :)

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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 11:55:36 am »
Quote from: benvarry;6820
This is the best advice I can think of.  I could never say stuff like "So mote it be" because honestly, it sounds... dumb.  Before you do your ritual, examine the words you're going to say.  If you were to make a recording of yourself during the ritual, would you really want to have a copy of yourself saying those words lying around for all time?  If you're embarrassed by what you're saying, your words aren't going to have much effect, psychologically or otherwise.  Good luck :)

 
Interestingly enough, I'm fine with "So mote it be" in ritual context, because it's reasonably correct archaic usage. (Though I think it's silly sounding in most other contexts.)

(This is the problem with being a medievalist by undergraduate training: you can never again read faux-archaic language without going "No, no, that's not how that works!"

There's also a difference that might be worth digging into here between 'silly' and 'embarassing'. There's lots of stuff we can learn from the edge of discomfort that's where silly often sits - things that feel unusual or weird to us, but that help us get into a different frame of mind. (And personally, that's been a particularly rich vein of learning and growth in my Craft life.)

It's uncomfortable, but it's uncomfortable like doing improv acting exercises is,  or like talking about why I read certain genres is, or talking about why I paint my toenails blue as a religious devotion: it feels weird but it's also useful (to me, and to people around me) because it illuminates new ideas.

Embarrassing, for me, is the stuff that feels weird, but that I regret doing later. Ritual shouldn't be embarrassing, because you should figure out before you do whatever you're doing whether you want that outcome (it's just plain good ritual planning.)

That doesn't mean it might not happen occasionally, but that's usually due to some other factor - someone interrupting you, something going wrong in a weird way, stuff like that.
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Ursula

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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 12:15:54 pm »
Quote from: Ursula;6771
---

Hey, thank you so much to everyone, Caroline, treekisser, Marilyn, Arynn, Jenett, benvarry :)  (I didn't know who to quote because I'm replying to everyone, more or less!)

I definitely feel that I need to include words/speech and things wouldn't be right without them.  I guess I just had an 'Am I the only mug doing this?!' kind of moment...!  ;)

I tend to make my words by reading stuff from books or websites, looking at them and rearranging or rewriting them into my own words.  So I don't think I have a problem with the words being 'silly' in themselves.  (Or at least, other people might think so but they don't sound that way to me; I might be vastly overestimating my writing skills though, it wouldn't be unheard of!)

I *do* believe in / agree with all that about words have power, and the reasons why... exactly.  I think that is precisely my problem, because it's, y'know, something *important*. :eek:

I think speaking quietly might help.  I kind of felt like if I do that, am I being too tentative, or not giving the ritual it's due weight?  But if I speak more loudly, I do get that feeling like I'm doing a recitation or speaking to an 'audience', and that messes up the vibe for me, so perhaps quietly is the way to go.  :cf:
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 12:16:21 pm by Ursula »

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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2011, 02:48:22 pm »
Quote from: Ursula;6834

I think speaking quietly might help.  I kind of felt like if I do that, am I being too tentative, or not giving the ritual it's due weight?  But if I speak more loudly, I do get that feeling like I'm doing a recitation or speaking to an 'audience', and that messes up the vibe for me, so perhaps quietly is the way to go.  :cf:

 
That's also pretty common.

Part of what can help with that is thinking about *how* you talk in different situations. After all, we talk differently when we're speaking to a friend than when we're making a big presentation to an audience.

There are some ritual styles that are more like dinner with one or two friends. And there are some that are more like a big presentation. If there's a mismatch, then it can feel very odd.
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arkeiryn

Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2011, 04:45:55 pm »
Quote from: Ursula;6771
I have real problems saying things out loud.


Heh, I am so very guilty of this too ;)

I have no advice, but I would just like to say that I enjoyed reading everyone else's responses. It gave me something to think about!
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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2011, 05:04:33 pm »
Quote from: Ursula;6771
..


There is one aspect that does not appear to have been mentioned here, that is the final releasing of ones old beliefs.  To make an audio statement of beliefs of ones new beliefs is the final hurdle many must face to release the old.  Yet there is apprehension and hesitation in doing so which many newbies I have encountered have difficulty in doing.

To say it out loud is to broadcast it to the world some what.  As long as it is simply held inside no one is the wiser about the change in belief.  Once spoken there really is no way to unspeak what was said.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 05:06:54 pm by monsnoleedra »

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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2011, 08:55:57 pm »
Quote from: Ursula;6771
I am solitary at the moment, and still beginning the, umm, journey of exploration, so any rituals are only involving myself.

However, I have a stumbling block which is quite a biggie for me, and which makes me feel REALLY STUPID.  :ashamed::o:(

I have real problems saying things out loud.

...when it comes to saying them out loud I feel, well, a bit of an idiot really.  I have no idea why, because I don't have any problems doing the actions of the ritual,... But as soon as I start to say anything out loud, I get ridiculously self-conscious and my focus goes out the window.

Does anyone do their rituals without speaking at all?  ... I am definitely by nature more of a 'words person' than anything else, so feel I would be losing something important if I tried to make my rituals 'action only', but does this work for other people?  Do you just have to get used to feeling silly and override it?


 
I have a really hard time saying things out loud too!
I notice turning them into a song is better for me, sometimes.
I think the sillyness will subside after it becomes comfortable with doing ritual...

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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2011, 04:08:53 am »
Quote from: OtakuJolyn;6967
I have a really hard time saying things out loud too!
I notice turning them into a song is better for me, sometimes.
I think the sillyness will subside after it becomes comfortable with doing ritual...

 
When I started out with ritual, I would do them in silence or speaking very softly. Most of the time one could not hear me over the music.  Part of this was because of nervousness and being new, part of it was because I was in the Army barracks at the time... ;-)

I still am much more comfortable keeping my voice at a low volume.  One reason is that pitch and tone can lend a lot of power to a word, and it is easier for my voice to hold that at low volume.  The other is that I am simply not comfortable shouting.  I have worked whole rituals in complete silence before and found them to be completely effective- one need not necessarily voice intent. :D

Your mileage will vary.

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Re: Speaking aloud in ritual
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2011, 04:42:33 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;6907
There is one aspect that does not appear to have been mentioned here, that is the final releasing of ones old beliefs.  To make an audio statement of beliefs of ones new beliefs is the final hurdle many must face to release the old.  Yet there is apprehension and hesitation in doing so which many newbies I have encountered have difficulty in doing.

To say it out loud is to broadcast it to the world some what.  As long as it is simply held inside no one is the wiser about the change in belief.  Once spoken there really is no way to unspeak what was said.

 
That is really interesting too.  I hadn't thought of that before.

Thank you everyone! :)

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