I’m putting this here rather than GD because I’m not asking about witnessing - i’m just curious what ceremonies and rituals Wiccans follow? I’ve seen occasional references to ceremonies by some of the Wiccans on the SDMB, but more in passing than a detailed discussion. Would be interested in learning more.
The thing is, Wiccans are hugely diverse, even more so than the many flavors of Christianity. And some groups practice secrecy, meaning you don’t find out about the rituals and practices unless you are initiated.
BUT - as a very, very general statement Wiccas have 8 major holy days (or holy nights, as some see it). They are the equinoxes, solstices, and “cross-quarter” days. So… Candlemas/Lamas/other names around February 2 or so, March equinox, May Day around may first, the June solstice, another cross quarter about the beginning of August, September equinox, All Hallows/Samhain/whatever end of October, and the December solstice. These holidays are sometimes known by many alternate names. Celebrations may be public or private. Public ones usually have a formal ritual with a feast/eating of some sort.
In addition, or sometimes instead of, Wiccans also celebrate moon phases - full and new and sometimes the halves, too, for either 13 additional holidays or some multiple of 13.
Again, there is a WIDE range of worship in Wicca. A private ritual might consist of nothing more than meditation, perhaps with incense or objects used to focus one’s thoughts. Other people have elaborate private altars and will go through a much more formal and ceremonial thing.
What’s that “more formal” thing? Well, some sort of purification ritual (which could be sweeping, burning of sage, censing with incense, sprinkling with holy water or oil, or some variant) followed by “calling the quarters” to invoke the cardinal directions (which may be associated with particular gods, spirits, etc. - or not). There is usually some invocation of the Goddess, frequently (but not always) the God (and in some cases just the God, if you’re getting really specific) or a specific God/dess/es. Then you get to the praise/ask for a request/work a spell portion. After all that, there’s a wind down where you thank the participating spirits, dismantle all your mystical constructions, and “break the circle” and signal the end of the whole show.
Private rituals tend to be much less fancy than public ones, but aren’t always. Public rituals usually have more reliance on group actions, scripts, call-and-response, and ritual objects, incense, etc. to keep everyone focused and in sync.
Any further questions? Need for clarification? Curiousity?
Broomstick did a very good Wicca 101 syllabus, I’d only add that the ceremonies to tend to have participants standing in a circle, facing inward with the altar, priest and priestess in the middle, leading the ceremony. Circles are often cast with salt, or a combination of salt, incense smoke, passing candles, and annointing each participant with water to invoke the four elements/directions. Earth, Air, Fire, Water - North East South West. Sometimes a circle is cast with only an Athame (ritual knife) and Elements evoked verbally as 'Watchtowers of the Guardians of the powers of (Direction), Element of (element), come to our circle , lend us strength, ect." Sometimes, other things happen. As stated, there’s not a lot of dogma. I’m sharing what I’ve seen, participating in Wiccan rituals. Often the words are written by those performing, and never used again.