Although I, as Magistra, and the Magister had run a Wiccan-style training coven for many years, putting together a brand new group with a different ritual format, inner Contacts, and goals was a serious challenge. We had ritual tech that we had developed ourselves, that we had inherited from our late teacher, Peter Paddon, and that we wanted to incorporate from Gemma Gary's book on Cornish witchcraft. How could we marry these elements together without the result feeling awkward and kluged together?
Well, we've made it work. And by "we," I certainly do not mean just the Magister and I. Our students are truly excellent. They already were experienced, talented Witches; like skilled musicians from different bands coming together, our ability to work together productively, to "jam" with each other, was really good from the beginning. We have all built the Cuveen together, and they have both contributed excellent material.
We spent several sessions developing our vision for the Compass. One of our students is gifted with drawing ability, and she painted it, which was quite helpful. That was the most important step: you can't really go anywhere until you have some idea of where is it you want to go. We mined the chants and invocations we had been taught or developed ourselves for the vision keys.
We worked out a sequence:
- Gathering in our individual power and uniting it in purpose
- Cleansing and warding the space and ourselves
- Crossing over
- Invoking the Fire and the Serpent
- "Plowing the Bloody Furrow" and calling in the Airts and Familiars
- Calling the Winds
- Summoning the Ancestors
- Invoking our Deities, who also serve as Openers of the Ways for wherever we are intending to "travel."
This sounds like a lot, and it is, but it goes quickly. It's a dynamic process; there aren't a lot of times where one person is saying something while the others stand around. We are usually all moving together. Our invocations are short; we pack a lot of meaning into few words. This helps ensure there are no spots where the power begins to sag and fade. We have memorized the various chants, which also prevents the power-sags caused by script fumbling and left-brain reading
After we've laid the Compass, we then turn to the Working. At this point, we can tread the mill further down into the Land Below to meet with our animal familiars or other Beings. We can travel in common vision through spoken word. We can work magick -- bless, consecrate, heal, blast, celebrate, etc. Again, we work unscripted, and often we "go with the flow" and improvise as we receive messages from the Powers-That-Be, since we are all in an inspired trance at this point.
When we are done, there is a short sequence of closing steps we do, ending with a gesture of quiet and "shhhhhh...." This covers the Work with the magickal power of Silence, and reminds us to be silent as well, so the Work may proceed unhindered by "noisy cords" around it from us or the ritual space.
It took us probably a full year to develop it all and become comfortable with it. Our students had to learn the "what's" and "why's" behind it all, and we as the teachers had to expand our understanding greatly. (That's why teachers are also perpetual students: you never stop learning from the material.) It also took us a year, or more, to learn how to trust each other in ritual -- to know that if someone is given a chant or movement or idea on how to proceed, it will be good and that we should flow with it.
One student has initiated, and another is very close. The Cuveen will be opening up for a few new students probably as soon as next winter. One of the things that has been brought home to me is that when it comes to our kind of working, smaller is better. Too many people and it would be hard to weave coherent magick out of all those different threads of power.
Despite all we've done, the real work lies ahead. The real work is to get out onto the Land; to work for healing and protection for our local waterways and wild areas; and to develop relationships with the Spirits " 'round here." May our work continue to find the favor of the Powers-That-Be.