There are some activities in ritual that are described only by a phrase, and you either get no explanation at all of what they mean or, if you're lucky, a very short one. Imagine if you came across a web page on ritual, and saw the phrase 'Drawing Down the Moon' - if you'd never seen that phrase before, you'd have no idea what it was telling you to do. That's the kind of thing I'm going to explain on this page - even though you won't need to use some of these things, but you should still know what they are.
As Above, So Below Drawing Down the Moon Drawing Down the Sun
God Position Goddess Position Great Rite Grounding
As Above, So Below
Ever wondered why you see this so much in ritual? This phrase comes from Hermeticism, a system of religious and philosophical beliefs based on writings by Hermes Trismegistus ("Hermes the Thrice-Great"), an ancient Egyptian priest and sage regarded as a kind of 'combination' of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. Hermeticism was popular in the ancient world and also in the Renaissance with alchemists, and is apparently undergoing a revival of sorts today.
The phrase "as above, so below" comes from The Emerald Tablet, a very short ancient text attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, that apparently contains alchemical secrets (Sir Isaac Newton even had a translation). The third point in The Emerald Tablet reads "That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing" (yes, 'as above, so below' comes from that). This line - and 'as above, so below' that comes from it - is mainly used today to describe the concept that "all that is in the Cosmos is mirrored in man, the small universe". That is, the same patterns seen in galaxies thousands of light years in diameter are reproduced on an atomic level in the cells of our bodies, and vice versa - everything is connected on some level, and basically made of the same stuff. It's a tricky concept to explain, but it's a good way to describe the immanence of Spirit and that's why we Wiccans use it.
Drawing Down the Moon
Also sometimes called Drawing Down the Goddess. When you Draw Down the Moon, you are drawing the energy of the Goddess into yourself, which means that many Witches like to Draw Down the Moon at esbats as part of their ritual honouring the Goddess. In ritual, Drawing Down the Moon should be done after you have cast the circle and called the quarters and God and Goddess.
After Drawing Down the Moon you may feel cleansed and replenished. When you are feeling drained â€“ if youâ€™ve been doing a lot of magick or something â€“ you may want to Draw Down the Moon to recharge (you probably wonâ€™t need to do it at every esbat, but you can still do it just because you want to). You can use the energy to do magick or just enjoy the connection - it's a great feeling.
To Draw Down the Moon, stand outside under a Full Moon, or imagine you are. Looking up at the Moon, assume the Goddess position (explained below) and picture the silver light of the Moon streaming down from the sky and into your body, replenishing and recharging as the Goddess' energy flows into you. It doesn't take a very long time - you'll be able to feel it when it's time to stop.
Drawing Down the Sun
Also sometimes called Drawing Down the God. When you Draw Down the Sun, you are drawing the energy God into yourself - this could be done at a sabbat as part of your celebration of the God. Similarly to Drawing Down the Moon, it can replenish and recharge your energy stores, and also give you that feeling of closeness to the God. In ritual, Drawing Down the Sun should be done after you have cast the circle and called the quarters and God and Goddess.
To Draw Down the Sun, stand outside under the shining Sun, or imagine you are. Looking up at the Sun, assume the God position (explained below), and picture the golden light of the Sun streaming down from the sky and into your body as the energy of the God flows down into you. Like Drawing Down the Moon, you'll know when it's time to stop.
Also known as the God Pose. Plant your feet firmly on the ground about shoulder width apart, then raise your arms above your shoulders with elbows slightly bent and palms facing skyward.
Also known as the Goddess Pose. Plant your feet firmly on the ground about shoulder width apart, then cross your arms over your chest with the palms of your hands resting on your collarbone.
There are two 'types' of Great Rite - literal and symbolic. The literal Great Rite is, as you might expect, actual sexual intercourse between a woman representing the Goddess and a man representing the God - it's not particularly common, or so I've been told, but it does happen. The symbolic Great Rite is much more common - an athame, representing the God, is lowered into a chalice, representing the Goddess, as a short incantation is said. Both these forms of Great Rite are a ritual celebration of the sexual union between the God and Goddess, and thus the creative energy of the Universe.
Grounding is the practice of releasing any excess energy, either before ritual or after - if you feel the need, you would do it before ritual to get yourself centred and focused, and after ritual to release any excess energy you've raised that's still with you. The best description I can give you of how to do it is to imagine you're a tree, with roots going deep into the ground - when you're grounding, you collect the excess energy throughout your body, from your head down, and directing it through those roots and deep into the Earth. You don't have to actually picture yourself as a tree, as long as you can visualise that connection deep into the ground. Remember that you're only getting rid of excess energy, and basically calming yourself down. If you're someone that's into chakras, you may prefer to think of grounding as aligning your chakras.