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Group Circle Gatherings

Group Rituals
What I’m trying to do here is give you and your group a few things to think about and consider as you’re planning your event. This is not a how to guide for creating a group ritual. If you’re interested in more details for conducting a ritual, for yourself or your group, then you might want to see Ritual & Ceremony Outline.
Whether your group is a coven, grove, clan or just a group of friends who want to share a ritual event, where and how you gather is something you should all be comfortable with. There is no set in stone way for groups to gather for a service, be it in circles for rituals or sabbat festivals. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a circle at all.
There is also no standard place or standard structure for where to gather. Covens try to accommodate the needs and desires of their membership and conduct rituals accordingly. They can be inside, outside, in circles, squares, or triangles. Some groups are so large, that it only makes sense to have gatherings in a standard platform/audience type set up. It all depends on what you’re going to be doing within the gathering as well.
The biggest aspect to setting up a group event is knowing who is leading the service. Even if you’re sharing responsibility for a ritual, there should be someone taking the lead. At this point, I suggest reading two articles before you begin planning your group ritual.
Chosing A Location
Deciding where to hold your gathering depends on a lot of factors.
  • Do you want the gathering inside or outside?
  • What is the season of the year? Is it warm or cold outside?
  • What are the weather conditions? Will it be clear skies, or pouring down rain?
  • What time of the day? Will it be during daylight hours or after dark?
  • How many people will be attending?
  • Will it be in a public place or private space?
  • What kind of interruptions might occur?
But you need to consider the conditions and how the weather will affect your members. If it’s too cold to be outside, then the weather will be a distraction. Your group will not be able to concentrate on the mechanics of the ritual. Such as raising energy, connecting to spirit and so on. If it’s cold outside, and you hold your ritual inside, you might have to worry about the number of people crammed into a tight space. Or if you have room the number of people, you might need to think about how they will be generating their own heat, along with candles burning, all making the gathering space too hot and uncomfortable.
There are groups who rent space to hold their gatherings. This can be a great way to select the right space. But being in a public space has it’s own set of concerns. Regardless of it being inside or outside, there maybe outside influences to consider. Is the space closed from public viewing? If not, what types of interruptions might occur? What types of complaints might occur? This might be something to consider if you’re holding service in an outdoor location, such as a public park. There are plenty of news stories about pagan gatherings gaining permission to use an outdoor space, only to be interrupted by protestors.
There are groups who hold their gatherings in someone’s home. While these are often great spaces, there are a few things to consider in these environments as well. If the space is an apartment, you have to consider the amount of noise that might be created and how it affects your neighbors. You don’t want to be in the middle of a drumming ritual and have an irate neighbor pounding on the door. If the host has children, you may need to consider how they are incorporated into the ritual. If they’re not, what is the potential for them interrupting the ritual because they want Mommy or Daddy. And you also need to consider the family or personal environment that occurs within the home during normal hours. If the personal relationships are volatile then the energy created by the stress, sadness or anger could easily hover over your ritual gathering. The energy of the ritual space will have an affect on the members participating in the ritual. Even with a clearing and cleansing to set the space; you could still have residual energy from the host themselves.
Today many groups are finding ways to establish their own areas of worship. Some groups are formalizing their membership and establishing their own spiritual centers. These are often places where they can practice their beliefs indoors or outside. Other groups have the benefit of a member, often the head of the group, having a nice area in their own home separate from the living space. For instance I know a High Priest who turned her garage apartment into a gathering area for her coven. The space is only used spiritual purposes and it’s kept energized and protected. These types of situations also provide the choice of practicing outside as well. There are many coven leaders who are looking for specific types of property where they can have a wooded area for outdoor ritual gatherings. These are fantastic areas to hold rituals.
Outdoor Environments
If you chose to hold your gathering outdoors you have a lot of choices for creating your environment. There are many solitaries who have the ability to create an outdoor spiritual space and they want to share the environment with others. These areas can be elaborate recreations of Stonehenge, large copper piped pyramids, or simple groves in a wooded area that has been simply decorated with flowers, wooden artwork, or ribbons and bows. I know of a Shaman who built a covered deck area in the middle of his 3 acre property. It’s a beautiful 9 ft by 9ft structure, which allows his coven to meet outdoors yet protected by the elements when necessary.
These days, having a ritual with a bonfire in the center is a very popular practice. Many covens have acquired brass fire pits from their local home improvement store, to safely enjoy a bonfire for their ritual workings. And those really need to be used outside.
There is a huge range of ideas that can be incorporated in the ritual space when it’s held outside. It’s a chance to use your imagination and perhaps even connect with your spiritual teachers, guides and deities to solicit their energy in the creation of the space.
Structure Your Gathering
If you’re gathering for a ritual to celebrate and esbat or sabbat, then a circle is the ideal format. But if you’re gathering for a homily, then a standard platform/audience set up might be the better environment. Most covens like to gather in Circles. Typically a circle is 9 feet in diameter. But if you have a larger group of people, you might want to make your circle larger. Or create two lines of the circle (or a circle within a circle).
As I mentioned, not everyone uses a circle. There are some groups who feel very connected to a spiritual trinity and prefer to gather in the shape of a triangle. I’ve even participated in a ritual where the group had enough members to gather in the shape of a pentagram. I know of an Egyptian group who tries to recreate the Great Pyramid and gather in a perfect square, with the Priestess standing on a small platform in the center to represent the center point of the pyramid.
The format you use to gather depends on what you feel drawn to. What you want to align your energies with and how you think you can best do that.

Source: 1, s1, s2, s4, s5, s6, s7, s11, s14, m1, m5, m18, m23