Beyond showing a reverential attitude towards nature, I think of ritual as a type of jazzed-up positive thinking or artistic, useful, self-suggestion. The reverential attitude is present even in my rituals which are not nominally focused on a natural event.
Nature, self-improvement, art, and self-expression
Let’s face it – in the modern, developed, urban world, it is hard to feel connected to nature even though we all are. The fact that we talk about “nature” as if it were a separate setting is quite telling in this regard. Frankly, anything that reminds us of the natural world, from pledging support to an environmental NGO, to walking through a park to, yes, even symbolic representations of nature in ritual, are beneficial to my way of thinking. Sometimes it’s the only thing we can do depending on where we live.
Through ritual, I only try to influence events by influencing myself. For example, I did a ritual based on recognizing some harmful relationship patterns I had acquired and shedding them. It was beneficial, and if someone wants to call that a “purification spell”, more power to them. But it doesn’t involve a belief in a higher being. No Sabrina, Casper the Friendly Ghost nor the Charmed Ones. Just me.
And artistically I love rituals. They aesthetically please me. I love my candles and all of their beautiful colors. I love the smell of my incense. I love the smell of sage, the appearance of fresh camomile. I love watching the smoke rise from my iron cauldron. I love my rustic brooms. Among other things, they remind me of antiquity, which also makes me feel connected–a descendant from a long line of Homo Sapiens.
In a personality test given to me by a private counselor, I came out an INTJ according to the Jung types, and I tend to find it a pretty accurate description of my personality. One characteristic of those types is creating systems, and I also find it fun to establish correspondences – which may correspond with what others have done or not, maybe for aesthetic reasons or proven medical properties. And I can change them when I want to, because after all, it’s my self-expression and no one else’s.
Where the “magic” is
In conclusion, I think we all do rituals in any case. We blow out candles on our birthday, not because we think some supernatural force will make our wish come true. We do it as a recognition of how far we’ve come in this journey called life, and we think about where we want to go.
And conceiving of where we want it to go is the first step in working towards making it go where we end up. That’s where the “magic” is, in my opinion.
I just try to apply it on more than one day a year.
Looking forward to others’ points of view.
AtheistWitch: I was born in the middle of the United States, but have been living in Europe for most of my adult life. I was raised an Evangelical Christian, but started to disconnect from my denomination at around the age of 16 when I realized I was gay. I only admitted to being an atheist around the age of 23. At some point, I started researching Wicca and Paganism in depth and liked most of what I saw, but didn’t want to give up my Atheism. Since Wicca’s symbols are nominally related to real natural events or aspects, I realized I didn’t have to. While I don’t consider myself a Wiccan, I today call myself a naturalistic, atheistic eclectic, solitary witch. I celebrate the wheel of the year, meditate, do rituals both complex and simple, strive towards better understanding of self and others as I try to be an ecological eater and walk through the greener parts around my area on a regular basis. It is an ever-evolving practice, one that attempts to remain scientifically and logically grounded, while at the same time involving a lot of humor and being very “me”.” Here is the link to my blog: atheistwitch.blogspot.com