Winter Ritual


Contents List:

Occasion
Cassette Tape
Preparation
Members' Entry
Commencement
The Procession
Intonation of RA-MA
First Meditation
Discourse
Second Meditation
Let Your Light Shine
Invocation
Dispersal
Members Exit

Return to:

Temple Guide

See also:

Crypt Description
Discourses
Ritual Music


Occasion

A Winter Ritual, also called a LIGHT-Ceremony, will be celebrated at the Winter Solstice on or about 23 December.

Cassette Tape

As most readers will have cassette recorders or similar sound-reproducing devices, participants may wish to prepare in advance a tape wherewith to replay both the sounds and the silences described in the following ritual. You may thus enhance the effect of your private performance of the ritual by punctuating the proceedings with your own musical selections and "joining in" with your previously recorded mantra intonation when the tape is replayed.

You may also pre-record your own reading aloud of the discourse provided for each ritual and replay it at the appropriate time. Words always have greater penetration when spoken aloud; and some of us find relaxed listening more satisfying than reading.

The ritual has been designed to be accommodated on a 45-minute tape.

Preparation

The Elder of Earth shall be the Conductor for this ritual.

The Elder of Air controls the lighting and music. (Readers are free to make their own choice of music. See Ritual Music for pieces suggested as being suitable for this ritual.)

The Elder of Fire censes the Crypt and guards the door.

A gong (ideally tuned to D below middle C) is provided for the use of the Conductor, and a censer for the use of the Elder of Earth. (For the purpose of recording a tape, if no gong is available, any suitable percussion instrument such as a tubular bell from a wind chime may be substituted.)

Under the supervision of the Conductor, the Elders prepare the Crypt, ensuring that it is spotlessly clean, that the lighting is suitably adjusted, that suitable music is provided, and that all the furniture is correctly positioned. The altar is covered with a cloth of a dark blue colour.

The Elder of Fire censes the Crypt with incense suitable for the occasion and hangs the censer on a hook provided on the East side of the Altar.

A supply of candles sufficient to give one to each participant shall be provided by door.

When all is ready, the Elders proceed to their seats and meditate quietly on the significance of the occasion.

The Light-Bearers, Grail Maiden and Messenger prepare themselves in the Vestries.

The members assemble in the Ante-Chamber.

All preparation should be completed five minutes before the time appointed for the ceremony to begin.

Members' Entry

TAPE BEGINS HERE

The Conductor strikes the gong once.

The Elder of Air extinguishes the light in the Ante-Chamber.

The Elder of Fire throws open the Crypt doors, allowing the light from the East of the Crypt to shine into the Ante-Chamber, and says:
"Members may now enter the Ritual Crypt and take their seats".

The Elder of Air starts solemn music appropriate for the Entry of the Members.

As each participant enters, the Elder of Fire hands out a candle.

Running time 2 minutes

Commencement

When all the Members are seated:

The Elder of Air fades out the music.

The Elder of Fire closes the crypt door.

The Elder of Air restores the light in the Ante-Chamber.

The Procession quietly forms up in the Ante-Chamber.

The Conductor strikes the gong twice and says:
"Please rise. Place your right hand over your heart as a token of your sincerity of purpose".

The Elder of Fire:
"Let LOVE stream forth into the hearts of men"
and all present respond:
"All men are one and I am one with them."

The Elder of Air:
"Let all the LIGHT unite to heal the hearts of men"
All respond:
"All men are one and I am one with them."

The Elder of Water:
"Let LIFE be ruled by SOUL to serve the hearts of men"
All respond:
"All men are one and I am one with them."

All remain standing with hand on heart.

Allow 2 minutes.
Running time 4 minutes.

The Procession

The Conductor strikes the gong three times.

The Elder of Air extinguishes the light in both the crypt and the ante-chamber.

The Elder of Fire throws open the double doors and stands on the South side of the entrance.

The Elder of Air plays suitable Processional music.

There now enter in procession:
Four Light-Bearers in the form of a square, each carrying an unlit candle lamp.

In the centre of the square walks the Grail Maiden, bearing a crystal bowl of earth with a large lit candle planted in the middle. This will provide the only light in the crypt.

The Messenger, carrying an unlit candle, follows three steps behind the rear of the square.

The Grail Maiden halts at the West of the Altar, and the Messenger halts at the same time.

The first two Light-Bearers halt when they are abreast of the East side of the Altar.

The rear Light-Bearers halt when they are abreast of the West side of the Altar.

The four Light-Bearers turn to face the Altar, and place their lamps, one on each corner.

The Grail Maiden places the crystal bowl containing the lit candle in the centre of the Altar.

The Elder of Fire closes the Crypt Door.

The Light-Bearers turn away from the Altar, and proceed to their seats beside the Elders in the corners of the Crypt, but remain standing with right hand on heart.

The Grail Maiden processes via the South side of the Altar to her seat in the East of the Crypt and turns to face the West but remains standing with right hand on heart.

The Messenger simultaneously proceeds via the North side of the Altar to a seat in the East to the North of the Grail Maiden, and turns to face the West but remains standing with right hand on heart.

Allow 3 musical minutes.
Running time 7 minutes.

Intonation of RA-MA

The Conductor: "Please be seated."

All except the Conductor are seated.

The Conductor: "We shall now intone the mantra RA-MA.

"There exists in India a secret knowledge based on the study of sounds and varieties of vibratory modality according to the planes of consciousness. As each of our centres of consciousness is in direct communication with a plane, one can by the repetition of certain sounds put oneself in communication with the corresponding plane of consciousness.

The different sounds used in mantras regulate the breath and bring about balance and equilibrium. Over the course of many centuries, yogis in India catalogued different combinations of sounds which, when intoned aloud, modulate the rhythm of the breath and, through resonance, harmonise the inner vibration. The whole body is a living resonator; every atom is affected by sound. Different vibrations influence the various organic systems.

The combination of the two vowel-sounds RA-MA have a very stimulating effect on the pituitary gland and on all psychic centers.

RA-MA is intoned on A natural above middle C.

"I shall intone RA-MA once, and you will then intone it with me three times in unison."

[Before demonstrating the sound, the Conductor may sound the correct note on a pitch pipe, harmonica, piano, or other instrument - if available.]

Conductor demonstrates:"R-R-R-A-A-A-M-M-M-A-A-A-A".

After the demonstration, the Conductor says: "For the first time, Breathe in deeply!"
Intone in unison for not less than ten seconds: "R-R-R-A-A-A-M-M-M-A-A-A-A"

Conductor: "For the second time, breathe in!"
Intone in unison for not less than ten seconds: "R-R-R-A-A-A-M-M-M-A-A-A-A".

Conductor: "For the last time, breathe in!"
Intone in unison for not less than ten seconds: "R-R-R-A-A-A-M-M-M-A-A-A-A".

Conductor: "This concludes the intonation of the vowel for this ritual."

The Conductor sits.

(Allow 4 minutes.
Running time 11 minutes.)

First Meditation

When the Conductor is seated, the Elder of Water rises.

Elder of Water:
"Tonight we have assembled here to celebrate the Winter Solstice with a ritual: The Light Ceremony.

"In preparation for this ceremony please consider if there is any particular trait or impediment you personally desire to relinquish on the occasion of the Longest Night of the year.

"As you meditate upon the absence of the Sun, consider the energies lying dormant in Winter, not only in the Earth, but within yourself."

Elder of Water sits.

Silence (or personal choice of meditative music) for 4 minutes.
Running time 15 minutes.

Discourse

After 5 minutes, the Conductor rises and sounds the gong once.

Conductor:
"The Worthy Messenger will now share with us a Message of LIGHT appropriate to this occasion."

The Messenger steps forward to the altar, lights his candle from the large candle in the middle of the grail-cup, returns to his lectern, places the candle in the holder provided, and gives a discourse chosen from Winter Discourses.

(allow up to 18 minutes)
Running time 33 minutes.

Second Meditation

The Discourse concludes: "Please meditate for a few moments on the significance of LIGHT for all humanity and, through humanity, for all aspects of life on this planet".

Messenger sits.

Silence (or personal choice of meditative music) for 2 minutes.

(Running time 35 minutes.)

After 2 minutes, the Conductor rises and sounds gong twice.

The four Light-Bearers step forward to the altar, light the unlit candles in their lamps from the large candle in the bowl, and return to their seats carrying their lamps, but remain standing.

Conductor:

"Please rise. Starting with those in the SouthEast and continuing clockwise round the chamber, you are invited to light your candle from the One LIGHT that shines in the centre of the Altar. Let your light be a symbol of the LIGHT that is hidden within all matter, that always remains with us, that bears witness to Everlasting Life, and shows us the way to Peace Profound".

No music. Silence.

Starting with those in the SouthEast and followed in order SouthWest, NorthWest, and NorthEast, all participants one by one proceed to the Altar and light their candles from the one large candle that is planted in the middle of the earth of the grail-cup, and return to their places, but remain standing.

Allow 3 minutes.
(Running time 38 minutes.)

Invocation

When all candles are lit and illuminating the crypt, the Conductor says:

"Let us all together now recite the invocation:

Men of Earth
in love unite
to carry forth
the Divine Light

Men of Earth
in peace unite
to carry forth
the Divine Light

May Love and Peace
descend on Earth!

Allow 1 minutes.
Running time 39 minutes)

Dispersal

The Elder of Fire opens the door to the Ante-Chamber and stands by the South side of the door.

The Elder of Water, equipped with a candle-snuffer, proceeds to the door to the Ante-Chamber and stands by the North side of the door.

The Elder of Air restores the light in the Ante-Chamber.

Silence or choice of processional music for 3 minutes.

The four Light-Bearers proceed to their stations facing the Altar.

The Grail Maiden proceeds by way of the North and takes her station facing the East at the West of the Altar.

The Grail Maiden removes the bowl containing the large candle from the Altar.

All turn to face the West and the Light-Bearers form a square with the Grail Maiden in the centre.

The Messenger removes his candle from the holder and proceeds by way of the South to take station three steps behind the Grail Maiden, and all exit from the Crypt.

The Elder of Earth closes the door to the Ante-Chamber.

(Running time 42 minutes.)

Members Exit

After 3 minutes, the conductor sounds the gong three times, and says:
"This concludes our sacred Light-Ceremony. Members may now leave the Crypt starting with those in the South-East".

The Elder of Fire opens the door to the Ante-Chamber.

The members, each carrying a lit candle, exit to suitable joyful music. At the door, the Elder of Water extinguishes each participant's candle, but the candle itself is retained in remembrance of the occasion.

Allow 2 musical minutes. Total running time 44 minutes.

TAPE ENDS HERE

The Elder of Fire closes the Crypt doors when the Members have all gone.

The Elders meditate quietly in their seats for a few moments before clearing away the burnt incense and ensuring that all equipment is turned off and the Ritual Space is secured.