A Ritual for Leaving

Recently I was faced with the unsettling task of packing up my life for the last ten years and moving it roughly a thousand miles. When I made the decision to go, it was an easy one, but six months later, when everything actually happened, there were new friends, new connections, all sorts of things it hurt very much to leave. I needed to sit down with three of my closest friends and explain to them just how highly I valued them. I wanted to stress that, no matter how far away I happened to be living, there were ways, significant ways, in which we would always be joined.

The other problem I had was that none of these people had ever been exposed to anything even remotely Pagan. So, it was a large step for them to share such a thing with me. By necessity, I wanted to keep it simple, honest, non-threatening, something like the dynamic in which our friendship had blossomed. This was accomplished by a sort of running commentary. I told them what I was doing, why, and how I felt about it. I made sure, at every turn, that this was not so solemn an event that they could not speak, not question, not comment if they felt they needed to. This was, after all, a room full of very close friends. As sacred as the experience might be, it was not about Church. No need to cover your heads here. The result was very gratifying, since we ended up with not only a meaningful ritual, but also a gentle introduction to my particular Faith.

The following is meant as a framework, as is most of my other ritual work. Obviously, if you have need of such a rite, you have your own friends and experiences, and the whole thing should be made as relevant to your own life as possible ( a big 'duh' here for the master theorist ).

Supplies- easy as can be. A goblet for each attendant (something nice enough to send away with them if possible) and something with which to fill them.

Casting the Circle- according to custom. Mine is very simple. Use what you like, or look at some of the other rituals here for examples.

Invocations- also open. I'll give you mine as an example. I tried to use a little foreshadowing here.

God of the harvest
As you yourself are offered up
Grant us an understanding of change
Help us to see not only what we leave behind
But what we carry with us, even through death's door

Goddess of the Earth
Keep us always in your embrace
Remind us that we may never go so far
That we do not share our bond with you
And walk the same ground we walk tonight

(Here, each person present should receive their goblet. While you're filling them, explain the purpose of your gathering. Tell your friends how you have come to feel, even if they already know. Explain to them what it means to be leaving, and make sure they understand the significance of this event for you.)

The next bit consists of four "toasts." This number is flexible. You should have one for each person present. In this way, all will drink from every glass, so the bond is not only between you and the group, but each to every other. After every one, glasses should be raised, then all drink, passing the glasses clockwise around the circle for the next one. This is the part you should definitely tailor to fit your experience, by the way.

Light travels.
When you gaze at the full moon
it will be shining on me as well
Sunrise and sunset, every day
I will be with you (drink, pass...)

Poetry travels.
When you read what I have written
You will know what I know
And see what I am seeing
And I will be with you

Memory travels.
When I strap on my skates
When I enjoy fine wine and exquisite food
When I become deadly serious
About silly games in bars
I will be with you

Time travels.
The road that forks today
Will in time rejoin itself.
Though seconds turn to years from now,
When hope and memory converge
I will be with you (drink, do not pass.)

Goddess and God
As each year you endure sacrifice and loneliness
Help us to trust in the future
Help us to see
That no matter what the barriers of Earth may be
We will never be separated again.

Blessed be.

That's it. Simple feast and closing can proceed according to custom, but keep up the commentary, especially if your friends are not versed in your ways. This doesn't take away from the magic, believe me. It will allow all of you to experience the ritual in deeper, more personal ways. Send a goblet home with each person, so that, in twenty years, when they have an iced tea in that glass, they will remember where it came from and what it means.

We opened our circle several hours later. It felt better to just sit and talk and replay the highlights of our lives together. I would not really wish on anyone the need for such a rite, but if you do need it, I hope this is of some use to you. It was a very important and rewarding event for us.

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