• Jess

Making and Breaking Tradition: Tech + Ritual

Samhain is very quickly approaching. As one of the most sacred holy days in my year, my excitement and preparation for it have been growing. But I was feeling a little sad and nostalgic-- this is going to be my first year celebrating Samhain on my own. Or so I thought.

Over the course of the pandemic, my ritual practice with my community members has had to shift and much of our work has taken place via Zoom. It's enabled me to attend conferences and rituals which would have been too expensive or too far away, and it's been a great way for me to deepen my trance work and journey work.

It's also been a very valuable way for folks in our community with disabilities or chronic illnesses to be fully represented and included, and any shifts which make room for more people to participate and lead is a necessary and welcome shift.

Still, there's something very special about sharing space and raising energy for magickal workings, and last year, with the utmost of caution, I met with my dear friend and working partner and we celebrated in person. This year, I'm many thousands of miles away and we've decided to run our ritual online.

We could bemoan the fact that we're far from each other, just as it can be easy to get discouraged by not having all the ingredients a ritual or spell calls for. But so much changes when you remember that the tools help to direct your personal power and your focus, they're not the source of your power. So we improvise. Being a practicing witch requires creativity and ingenuity and shaking things up helps to build a more impactful practice.

This is something we haven't done before, so preparation shifts more from focusing on tools and our physical space to creating a solid energetic space and attuning our individual energy to each other. Guided meditation, trance work, storytelling, divination, music-making and chanting will be part of our ceremony. And of course, our altars will be filled with candles and incense, mementos of our beloved dead and food and drink offerings for them.

There are some ways that working magick online instead of in person can be easier. For example, every participant in the ritual can participate in a guided meditation or in pathwork by watching/listening to the same link. Time spent commuting to and from ritual becomes a non-issue. Adaptive technology like captioning or the ability to change the speed of a recording makes room for more people in our ritual space.

And in these times when many people are feeling more called to the comfort of ritual and honouring the rhythms that give their life purpose, but it may not be safe to gather in person, we can continue to support each other, seeing familiar faces and hearing familiar voices, knowing that we come together across space and time for a shared purpose.

As someone who regularly does energy work through my Reiki practice along with tending my ancestral lineages, the reality that our energetic connections and their impact transcends time and space is part of the backdrop of my life, but it wasn't always this way.

Many of us have had experiences like this, where we experienced deja vu or had an intuitive knowing, where we were thinking of someone and out of the blue, they reached out to us, or we saw a loved one's passing from miles away, before it happened. In these experiences, time collapses without our intention. In ritual, we collapse time or step outside of it deliberately.

It can be so easy to be hesitant to try new things when it comes to ritual or magickal practice because so much value is placed on what is ancient or hereditary, on the faded glory and weather-worn quality of the tried and true. But our lives are filled with technologies we are so accustomed to that we're often unaware of, like pens, eyeglasses, public transit, and email. Ritual itself is a technology for communication, transformation, honouring life cycles and seasons.

In this season of change and remembrance, may you feel encouraged to innovate and to continue crafting rituals which meet you where you are and allow you to connect with your community. May you feel inspired to create the spiritual technology you need.

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