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Author Topic: Walking Out On A Group Ritual  (Read 388 times)

kateshortforbob

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Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« on: August 31, 2019, 09:58:13 am »
What would cause you to walk out? Do you consider it rude under any circumstances, or in your opinion are there appropriate times to throw your hands up and say, "I'm out."

About ten years ago, a friend invited me to a general pagan gathering at someone's home. I said hello to everyone (about 20 people) and they were all warm and welcoming, invited me to the BBQ they were having after the ritual and everything. The host was a lovely person and seemed very sweet and wanted all of us to feel included. Anyway, there was a small cauldron on the coffee table and we were asked to write the name of one of our gods, or the god we were closest to if any, and put it in the cauldron. I wrote Loki's name on the paper and dropped it into the cauldron. I felt a tingle of something being wrong, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt. I'd never been to a gathering like that before and I didn't want to be rude.

The host plopped the lid on the cauldron and began to shake it and that's when uneasiness really crept in. She explained how she was going to draw the names of two gods and those would be the gods called into the circle.

She pulled these names from the cauldron: Loki and Ares

Uneasiness turned to almost panic. I jumped to my feet, thanked her for the coffee and the lovely time, and left. I was never invited back and my friend who had asked me to go along with her, was embarrassed by me. She did tell me though that everything that could go wrong with the ritual did go wrong - even the altar cloth caught fire at some point. No one was hurt, but they didn't finish the ritual and just moved on to the food.

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2019, 01:12:59 pm »

She pulled these names from the cauldron: Loki and Ares



I think I'd have wanted to run too!

 I don't do private rituals  with people I don't know so I've never been in that situation. I've opted out mentally though from many a public ritual whilst remaining physically present.

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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2019, 03:22:23 pm »
The host plopped the lid on the cauldron and began to shake it and that's when uneasiness really crept in. She explained how she was going to draw the names of two gods and those would be the gods called into the circle.

I have never heard of any ritual based on this "let's pull random Powers from a cup" nonsense that wasn't some kind of shitshow.  It's such a standard example of basic incompetence that I used to be able to pull up a webcomic sequence making fun of it. (Said webcomic is gone into the depths of the early oughts, alas.)
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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2019, 03:58:16 pm »
The host plopped the lid on the cauldron and began to shake it and that's when uneasiness really crept in. She explained how she was going to draw the names of two gods and those would be the gods called into the circle.

Oh, what could possibly go wrong with that plan?  :o

What would cause you to walk out? Do you consider it rude under any circumstances, or in your opinion are there appropriate times to throw your hands up and say, "I'm out."
There's a very short list of things that would make me walk away from an in-progress ritual.  Attempts to coerce any being (human or otherwise) to participate against their wishes or without their consent would be on the top of the list.  Also on the list- any ritual that espouses abuse, hate-mongering, misogyny, racism, etc.  Lastly would be those which are conducted in a reckless, ignorant, or potentially dangerous manner - what you've described falls into this category.

Removing oneself from a ritual is not rude, IMO.  However, the way in which one does so could be construed as rude.  Like any social situation, one can politely excuse oneself without being disruptive... or bring things to a screeching halt by getting angry, loud or obnoxious in exiting.

Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with the issue in ages, as I've made it a rule to only participate in group rituals when I have a very clear idea of the ritual content and intent. 
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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2019, 04:41:50 pm »
What would cause you to walk out? Do you consider it rude under any circumstances, or in your opinion are there appropriate times to throw your hands up and say, "I'm out."

About ten years ago, a friend invited me to a general pagan gathering at someone's home. I said hello to everyone (about 20 people) and they were all warm and welcoming, invited me to the BBQ they were having after the ritual and everything. The host was a lovely person and seemed very sweet and wanted all of us to feel included. Anyway, there was a small cauldron on the coffee table and we were asked to write the name of one of our gods, or the god we were closest to if any, and put it in the cauldron. I wrote Loki's name on the paper and dropped it into the cauldron. I felt a tingle of something being wrong, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt. I'd never been to a gathering like that before and I didn't want to be rude.

The host plopped the lid on the cauldron and began to shake it and that's when uneasiness really crept in. She explained how she was going to draw the names of two gods and those would be the gods called into the circle.

She pulled these names from the cauldron: Loki and Ares

Uneasiness turned to almost panic. I jumped to my feet, thanked her for the coffee and the lovely time, and left. I was never invited back and my friend who had asked me to go along with her, was embarrassed by me. She did tell me though that everything that could go wrong with the ritual did go wrong - even the altar cloth caught fire at some point. No one was hurt, but they didn't finish the ritual and just moved on to the food.

To be honest - you did the right thing, by listening to your gut instinct. I have a feeling that Loki specifically was warning you that shit was about to go down... and He was correct.

As others have stated, I have never heard of any kind of ritual where they randomly call two Powers ... when ritual is done - in whatever flavor of Paganism you're working with - there is thought, meticulous decision making, and keen attention to detail to make sure that you are calling upon the proper Powers (meaning, Powers who you know can help you with your request) and that they are properly paid respect through the actions. This group sounds like a bunch of fools in my opinion.

Regarding your OP, I would walk out if I did not feel comfortable with how the ritual was going, or if my gut/mind was telling me don't do it. I should note, however, that the latter portion I try to minimize because I have a tendency of overthinking things, as well as having anxiety of talking with new people (more along the lines that I really hate small talk, and would rather do in-depth conversations that examine misconceptions or things that I have a lose grip upon... #introvert). I would not consider it rude at all - after all, I will voice my opinion, let it be heard, and make it into a discussion. If the host/ess feels that I'm going overboard... I'm out. If they don't feel the need to respect what I'm saying, or take the steps to help assuage that skepticism, then they aren't worth my time.
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Kylara

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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2019, 04:46:03 pm »
Attempts to coerce any being (human or otherwise) to participate against their wishes or without their consent would be on the top of the list.  Also on the list- any ritual that espouses abuse, hate-mongering, misogyny, racism, etc.  Lastly would be those which are conducted in a reckless, ignorant, or potentially dangerous manner

I think we have the same list....

Though I may try to help educate in the last instance (for ignorance), or help make things safer (reckless/dangerous).

I also think that anyone who would do something at a ritual that would make me flat out leave probably won't care why I'm leaving and wouldn't be open to any explanation.  I don't see myself making a fuss (unless it was some kind of weird public ritual with an audience who was going to get the wrong idea of what rituals were, then I would probably speak out), just saying something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, I can't be a part of this."
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kateshortforbob

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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2019, 05:10:38 pm »
This group sounds like a bunch of fools in my opinion.
That was my opinion as well. I was polite about it, but I'm pretty sure the host was offended none the less. I'm not a group up for ritual kind of person to start with though and only agreed at my friend's request. Almost everything I do religiously is alone.

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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2019, 05:53:02 pm »
I have never heard of any ritual based on this "let's pull random Powers from a cup" nonsense that wasn't some kind of shitshow.

I was at one of those long ago. Perhaps it wasn't the worst idea possible... no, it was the worst idea possible.
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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2019, 08:19:28 pm »
What would cause you to walk out? Do you consider it rude under any circumstances, or in your opinion are there appropriate times to throw your hands up and say, "I'm out."

I'm with everyone else who is at "This is the kind of ritual it makes sense to walk out of", but I want to talk a bit more about some specifics of the 'is this rude' part.

Best practices:
Over the past 10-15 years (and especially in the last 3-5), we've gotten somewhat better about the idea of consent in ritual. In most cases, that means letting people know the overall plan for the ritual before the ritual starts. Deities being invited, general goal of ritual or magical working, any parts that might need accessibility accommodations and what they are (i.e. if there's a spiral dance, what should people who can't do that do?)

With a known group, this can be pretty short and simple. (I send an email to my coven about a week in advance with 2-3 sentences plus anything they might want to think about in advance or need to bring.) A known group is also the only time a "I'm not telling you the details in advance" might be acceptable, but that's because you have trust in the people (or if you don't, don't go to this thing with them at this time.)

With a public group, the explanation usually needs to be a bit longer (Brief 'here's what we're doing ritual for' in the invite materials, and then 10-15 minutes of "Here's what we're going to be doing" including a quick overview of the ritual structure is pretty common, plus introductions of at least the people who are running the ritual and at least one or two people who can help if you have a problem during the ritual.)

For a guest at a ritual where most of the people get together to do ritual regularly, most commonly it's the person who invited the guest who is responsible for explaining how things work (if there's a regular method. If there isn't a regular method, the ritual organiser should be explaining it to everyone.)

The big things to cover, in my opinion are:
  • What deities are being invited (If there's a chance anyone might have concerns about that.)
  • The goal of any working
  • If there are any specific ritual commitments being asked for (oaths, commitments, etc.) If so, that should be clearly explained (and specifically if everyone is making the same one, what it is, and if not, what kinds of things might be reasonable options)
  • Enough info about how things will be done to let people opt out or figure out options if needed - physical activity like dancing, food and drink in ritual, etc.)

So in this situation
1) Someone should have explained better, whether that was the person who was hosting or your friend (depending on how they normally did things.) If the 'put all the deities in the cauldron and pick' is a common thing, say so! Ideally before you show up, but if not, when you're putting the name in.

I've been at rituals where it was a 'who do you want to make welcome here, okay, sure, let's invite them all' (Where those rituals were not Wiccan-derived modalities of ritual, but more general 'here is a gathering to honour the beings we honour, like a large party'. It's possible you get people who want to invite deities who shouldn't be in the same ritual space together, but that's usually easy to work out with a little discussion. Also note we did the discussion before we started ritual, and anyone who didn't want to do that in that combination could sit out easily.)

But as basically everyone in this thread has said, "Put the names in and draw two" really is never a good idea.

2) Part of the point of explaining things up front is to give people a chance to opt out when it is not particularly awkward.

Leaving before ritual gets started (like you did) is way better than someone realising part way through they really shouldn't be there. This is why the best practice is usually 'explan what you're doing', then give people five minutes for a bathroom break/chance to grab water/settle in, and people who don't want to do the ritual can opt out (and either leave, or go hang out nearby until the ritual's over, and be around for the post-ritual social stuff.)

3) Leaving after the initial explanation, before the ritual proper starts is about as good as it gets - if it's after that, there is more awkwardness of cutting out of circle, wondering if the person is sticking around in other spaces in the house, etc, or if they're okay or not (i.e. did they start feeling sick and need help?)

Sensible groups of more than modest size will have someone whose responsibility it is to deal with something like that, but that does not sound like what you had with that group (or they'd have handled several other things differently...)

4) There are some deities where I would not suggest them as invites in a broad ritual without knowing other people there - and yeah, that includes most deities with a particular strain of the trickster to them. (It might be fine, but consent goes both ways, and that might not be a great fit for that particular ritual.)

But again, that's something the group can signal about much more clearly than they did, and you trusting your sense of what you needed to do is important and viable. So long as you excused yourself politely, anyone who has issues, well, should figure out their issues. ("Oh, sorry, I don't think this is what I'm up for today..." is fine, but "Who are you people, and what lousy excuse for ritual theory is this" is probably not diplomatic, no matter how true it might be...)
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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2019, 10:45:11 am »
...Anyway, there was a small cauldron on the coffee table and we were asked to write the name of one of our gods, or the god we were closest to if any, and put it in the cauldron. I wrote Loki's name on the paper and dropped it into the cauldron. I felt a tingle of something being wrong, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt. I'd never been to a gathering like that before and I didn't want to be rude.

The host plopped the lid on the cauldron and began to shake it and that's when uneasiness really crept in. She explained how she was going to draw the names of two gods and those would be the gods called into the circle.

She pulled these names from the cauldron: Loki and Ares...

In the interest of learning and satisfying curiosity, what is the purpose of sending out a blind invitation to deities or beings that have the capability of running amok, especially if any two of them don't get along? E.g. I can only imagine the shitshow that would ensue by invoking and inviting Loki and Heimdall.

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Ashmire

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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2019, 11:31:30 am »
In the interest of learning and satisfying curiosity, what is the purpose of sending out a blind invitation to deities or beings that have the capability of running amok, especially if any two of them don't get along? E.g. I can only imagine the shitshow that would ensue by invoking and inviting Loki and Heimdall.

I'm going to have to guess poor planning and failure to consider that someone *might* choose a less than perfectly safe deity( not that there really are perfectly safe deities, but y'know...). Possibly also some people still don't fully believe in the things they are invoking as real beings with a mind of their own.

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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2019, 11:44:24 am »
I'm going to have to guess poor planning and failure to consider that someone *might* choose a less than perfectly safe deity( not that there really are perfectly safe deities, but y'know...). Possibly also some people still don't fully believe in the things they are invoking as real beings with a mind of their own.

I see, thanks. I can understand calling on one deity as a guest of honor... we do that in Hindu worship... but two (though we do that too in Hinduism, though the deities are paired to begin with... Shiva-Shakti, Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Narayana) can make for all kinds of mayhem, as you described.
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śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
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Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

kateshortforbob

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Re: Walking Out On A Group Ritual
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2019, 12:38:54 pm »
In the interest of learning and satisfying curiosity, what is the purpose of sending out a blind invitation to deities or beings that have the capability of running amok, especially if any two of them don't get along? E.g. I can only imagine the shitshow that would ensue by invoking and inviting Loki and Heimdall.
The host wanted to start a magickal group/lodge kind of thing with like-minded pagans, and she was an "all gods are really one god" type of pagan and believed all facets of deity were warm and fuzzy. I wasn't aware of that when I agreed to go or I would have told my friend no. That's on me for not asking her enough questions, or at least the right kind of questions. Lesson learned.

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