Part of the ritual preparation includes setting up the physical space. The physical space is consciously created to resemble the alchemist’s alembic, or vessel. There is one main entrance, which resembles the neck of the bottle. At the point where the neck of the bottle meets the body of the bottle, we place a gate. The gate creates an entry point, a delineated beginning of sacred space. It also seals our hermetic vessel. There is always a greeter at the gate, a person who ritually welcomes and purifies people entering the vessel. We use sage, cedar, copal and other incenses to cleanse and prepare participants entering the ritual space. We are creating a vessel for alchemical transformation.
In our experiments, we have found that a central fire circle, six feet in diameter is optimum. Around the fire circle, we usually lay down a mixture of sawdust and topsoil to create an even dancing surface. All large rocks are removed from the area, or included in the fire ring. The outer edge of the ritual space is the wall of the vessel, or the perimeter. We often create this with prayer flags and ribbons that hang from a long piece of rope, at about chest height, and they attach to poles (not torches). This perimeter runs from the entrance of the gate completely around the ritual field and ends back at the ritual gate. The vessel itself is about fifty feet in diameter. We bring in benches or hay bales for drummers to sit on, and place them ten to twelve feet away from the fire, on the side opposite the gate. We place tall citronella torches about ten feet in from the perimeter of the circle, which allows for light and minimizes crowding at the fire. The firewood pile is placed to the right of the drummers, with ample space around it to facilitate easy access. People are encouraged to set up their nests or resting spaces outside the circle of torches, along the inside of the perimeter. On either side of the gate, there are tables that are well lit with food, water and first aid supplies, fire extinguishers, buckets of water, buckets of sand, and fire blankets, just in case.
Visit the interior of the earth; in rectifying you will find:The hidden stone- Earth
As above so below- Air
Orate et labora- Fire
Solve et coagula- Water
For further reading, we suggest:
The Emerald Tablet by Dennis William Hauck
Circle of Shaman by Karen Berggren
For more information on upcoming classes and events: www.mcbridemagic.com