in the circle

If you’ve been to a Pagan circle before, what we do will look at least vaguely familiar. If not, you may be wondering what to expect once the ritual begins. While every circle is a little different, here’s what you need to know step right in and participate comfortably.

Sometimes we gather in the sanctuary, sometimes in the RE wing, and sometimes outside. Just look for where you see people and chairs. Come in, say hello and find a seat – sit anywhere that’s not obviously taken. There are no spectators in a Pagan circle – responses are completely voluntary, but please do sit in the circle.

Seating and Mobility
Whether we’re indoors or out, in most rituals you’ll be seated most of the time. In most rituals you’ll be asked to stand for the quarter calls and invocations. Some will have processions or spiral dances; some will have seating indoors for the beginning and then move outdoors where we’ll stand.

If you have mobility issues, please speak to the circle leader before the ritual starts. We’ll do our best to accommodate you.

Preparing for Ritual
At the beginning of the ritual we’ll have some informal announcements, and at that time you’ll be asked to silence your phone and anything else that makes noise. You’ll also be asked to remove your watch. A circle is a “time outside of time” and a watch is reminder of ordinary time.

We Begin
Once the ritual formally begins, we ask that you stay within the circle until the ritual is complete. While a Pagan circle is a worship service and not an entertainment event, noise and movement that would be a distraction in live theater will also be a distraction in ritual. If you have an emergency and must leave, please do so as quietly as possible. If a circle has been cast, please see one of the secondary circle leaders who will ritually open the circle, then close it behind you after you leave.

The Ritual
Most rituals at Denton CUUPS follow a common Pagan liturgy: grounding, circle casting, invocations, offerings, and a main working: a seasonal rite, re-creation of an ancient story, or a magical working. There may be places where you’re asked to respond with “hail and welcome!” or “blessed be!” All responses are strictly voluntary: if you’re not comfortable with what you’re asked to repeat, or you’re not sure you understand it, just follow along silently.

For a detailed description of our common liturgy, see this essay by Denton CUUPS Coordinating Officer John Beckett.

The Simple Feast
We start the conclusion of most rituals with a Simple Feast, sometimes called Cakes and Ale or Cakes and Wine. This is a ceremonial sharing of food and drink as an act of unity, and to help re-ground after the main working. While most Simple Feasts will feature wine or beer, there will always be a non-alcoholic option for those who cannot or do not wish to drink alcohol.

The closing ritual is similar to the opening ritual, but much shorter. Please join in on the “hail and farewell!” and “blessed be!” responses as you’re comfortable. A few announcements follow the closing ritual.

There is usually a basket for offerings, and we ask people to contribute a few dollars to cover expenses and toward the work of CUUPS. All such offerings are completely voluntary and any amount is sincerely appreciated.