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Order of Liturgy

Order of Liturgy

Order of Liturgy



Liturgy is often made to appear as though it is complicated with many steps to be performed in order to complete a rite properly. These many steps and complications are often an attempt to return an air of mystery to rites of worship but this air of mystery need not confound people. One learns to build and perform rites of worship starting with the simplest and smallest model. Upon this basic framework of structure a rite may be built and that rite could be as simple as the basic pattern or it could be complex with many steps to perform. A variety of rites can be built with various goals and a wide range of complexity but within all of these rites there is found at their heart the same simple, eloquent, cohesive pattern.

Our division of ritual pattern is into three sections, being center, beginning and end. At the edge there is how we start the rite, dedicate the sacred space, assemble the people and do all of the other things needed to bring the people together into a spiritual identity and then bring that aggregate identity to a point of direct contact with the sacred. At the heart of each rite is going to be that moment for which we have come, it is at this point that we offer, honor, bless or consecrate. Again at the edge we find the end where we are returning from the central sacred action to our regular lives and awareness. From the center to the edge is a rite built and from the edge to the center is the rite conducted. We step into a rite at the edge and we walk toward that moment of spiritual climax for which we came and then we continue peacefully as we unwind until once again we come to the edge.

At the center of any rite is the culminating moment, the central act of worship, blessing or transformation. Here is the reason for the rite; the why of the spiritual exercise being performed. Construction of a rite starts here when we plan to have a ceremony and a purpose for that ceremony is established. We answer questions as to what we wish to accomplish and how best to meet that goal or fulfill that purpose. It is at the center that we place the primary act of the rite.  

It is important to remember that when we identify the center it does not mean the temporal middle. The identification of an act as the center of a ceremony is based completely upon the function of that act in the context of the rite.  In large rites the build up to the central act often takes up most of the time with the final steps ending the rite occupying only a small percentage of the period of the rite. In a ceremony that lasts an hour the central climactic point is usually going to be found forty to forty five minutes into the rite. A thirty minute ceremony the central act is generally found at around twenty minutes into the process. This is, of course, not a hard and fast rule so much as it is simply that which is generally seen. Three things to remember about the center of a rite, it is the reason for the rite, it is the focus of the rite it is the climax of the rite.

How to most effectively lead up to the spiritual climax of a rite is the concern that occupies our minds when designing the beginning of a ceremony. It is during the beginning of a rite that we consider how to best establish an egregore or aggregate spiritual mind for the people present. It is also during this early stage that we establish and identify sacred space and how that space connects to or exemplifies the cosmology of our sacred reality. The initial ritual connection to deities, ancestors and other spiritual forces is established during the beginning of a ceremony. The beginning of a rite should, establish the spiritual focus and identity of the participants, identify or establish ritual time and space, establish the connection to sacred cosmology, deities and spiritual forces. Three things to remember about the beginning are, the coming together, establishment of sacred world and connection to the Gods.

One does not step from a moment of spiritual intensity directly back into everyday life and so we have an ending section of a ceremony. It is during the ending of the rite that we allow time for the people to get their personal bearings and they can relax, come down or ground themselves after an intensely spiritual act. We provide a pathway where by the people can peacefully return to the world and to the normal perceptions of that world. We once again approach the edge and calmly, peacefully step from the world of the rite back into our lives. During the ending of a ceremony we spend time thanking the Gods and ancestors for their role in the spiritual relationship and act. We often incorporate a moment of stillness or quietude. Three things to remember about the end of a rite, to calm, to return, to let go.

The new liturgist must avoid the temptation to needlessly extend a rite by including lots of steps or extra activities. Though the extra steps and activities may be intended to enhance and improve the experience of the rite it is appropriateness rather than amount that should be the basis for choosing what acts to include in any rite. One action should flow into the next action always building toward the central climax of the rite and then the actions should flow from the center back to a place of calm and peace. Appropriate spiritual flow is the primary consideration in choosing what things to include in a ceremony unnecessary steps which do not support the spiritual flow are simply tedious and do not contribute to the ritual. Context must also be considered when choosing action within a rite, each action should support to central goal of the rite some actions may fit well in the context of one ceremony and not be at all within the context of another ceremony. Three things to remember about ritual actions, appropriateness, flow and context.


The following ritual formats are simply starting points for ritual design. Into these formats can be inserted a variety of ritual activities and actions. A rite can be kept very simple and basic or it may be expanded and enhanced with chants, poems and songs. It is also often the case that some of the people in a group rite will want to make personal offerings, make personal requests or have blessings and consecrations done and when possible a time may be allowed for these more personal activities though we must remember that large groups rites are not a personal forum and important personal rites should be placed within their own context and not generally just added within the large community ceremonies. These formats are designed to be simple to use and may be expanded to suit the needs of any given rite.


Simply daily worship format:

Prepare daily offerings and assemble them near the personal shrine or altar.

Stand before the shrine for a moment of quietude.

Light and welcome the altar flame.

Acknowledge the overworld of sky and the afterworld across the sea.

Welcome the Gods and ancestors.

Make daily offering on altar.

Recite prayer, poem chant or song in honor of patron deity.

Thank the Gods and ancestors.

Stand for a moment of stillness.

Thank and Extinguish altar flame.


General group ritual format.


Assemble the people and prepare the ritual area.

Honor local spirits and forces.

Take a moment of solitude allowing each person to focus and relax.

Poetic blessing upon the tongues and words.

Establish the aggregate spiritual identity.

Processional into ritual area, with chanting, singing or music.

Establishing the sacred place by noting the center and the edge.

Light and welcome the sacred fire.

Acknowledge the over-world of sky, and the afterworld across the sea as we stand in this middle-world.

Honor ancestors.

Call upon the Gods of the people with chants, poems songs and offerings.

Any special offerings, blessings, consecrations or ritual activities that are not part of the central act but which are to be included.

Cal upon the seasonal or primary ritual Deity with offerings.

Make primary offering or perform central ritual act.

Acknowledge blessings and thank the Gods.

Take omens, perform divination.

Thank seasonal or primary Deity or Deities of rite.

Thank the Gods of the people.

Thank and acknowledge the sacred flame.

Extinguish the flame

State the end of the rite.