1. WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?
a. What is it that you are trying do do? Do you want to create an invocation, a chant, a celebratory poem, etc.? Before you can proceed you must know where you want to go.
Example: When I wrote the Yule Saga, I started out with an assignment of the task to prepare something for a Bardic Circle. Since this was a celebration of Yule, I decided I wanted to write something about the legend of sun return. And since it was for a Bardic circle, I decided I would put it in a form of story telling such as our ancestors might have used when sitting around the fire on a winter's night. This then was my goal. To create a piece of writing that told the myth of sun return in the form of the ancient story tellers.
2. WHO OR WHAT ARE YOU WRITING ABOUT?
a. Decide which Goddess, God, or event you are writing about. Then read about the legends regarding this person or time. Become familiar with the attributes of the God/dess or holiday so that these can be incorporated into the work when describing the individual or event.
Example: In writing about Herne, one would learn that he was Lord of the beasts of the field and wildwood, the Horned One, Lord of the Hunt, consort of the Lady, etc.
b. Find some good reference books for your shelf on the various Goddesses/Gods and myths. I would recommend the following:
1. "Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses" by R.J. Stewart
2. "Mythology of the British Isles" by Geoffrey Ashe
3. "American Indian Myths and Legends" by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz
4. "The Witches God" and "The Witches Goddess" by Stewart and Janet Farrar
5. "Mythology" by Bullfinch
6. "Eight Sabbats for Witches" by Janet and Stewart Farrar
7. "A Guide to the Gods" by Richard Carlyon
3. WHAT FORM DO YOU WANT THE PIECE TO TAKE?
a. Will it be poetry or prose?
1. A story can be told in poetry or prose. Use whichever form you are comfortable with developing and which meets your original goal.
2. Invocations can be poetry or prose; however, if it is a longer piece to be spoken from memory
using rhymed poetry might be preferable since rhyming helps the memory process by providing a clue to the wording of the next line.
3. Chants can consist of one simple line which is to be repeated. (ie: We all come from the Goddess) Alternatively, a chant can be made up of several lines. In this case, rhyming adds to the musicality of the piece and aids in memorization.
b. If you are going to write poetry, be sure that you understand how to make your lines scan. Poetry is more than a matter of having the last word in the line rhyme with another. It includes having a certain number of syllables in each line so that the words take on a specific rhythm when read. Even so-called "free verse" requires an ability to build a specific rhythm into the words even if rhyming is not used. If you don't know how to do this, you are better off working with prose.
c. Keep a regular dictionary and a rhyming dictionary at your elbow. Words need to be spelled and used correctly. And a rhyming dictionary can save a lot of time and headache searching for a specific word to fit your poem.
d. To me, ritual writing requires a different "voice" than everyday speech. Even in writing prose, I like my words to flow in a form of singing. This was the method that the ancient storytellers used to hold the audience. (In order to get into this form of speech, I find that reading something in this format is helpful. I particularly like some of Andre Norton's books in which she deals with magical subjects from the perspective of the character for putting me in the correct rhythm of words to create the atmosphere I am looking for. Other possible sources would be Shakespeare, the Norse sagas, Chaucer, and even the King James Bible.)
e. Get in the habit of carrying a small notebook and/or tape recorder with you. Once the creative process starts percolating, words and phrases may pop into your mind at odd times. These need to be saved at once before they are lost. The odd phrase may lead to another and another, and pretty soon you have a whole piece of writing.
4. HOW TO DEVELOP MUSIC FOR CHANTS.
a. If you are uncertain about your ability to make up a tune, try taking a tune you are familiar with and putting new words to it.
b. If you have written the words for the chant first, try reading them out loud with various rhythms. Sometimes this will suggest a tune to you. Remember, a chant does not have to involve a complicated tune. In fact, a simple progression of notes is sometimes best.
3. Try assigning a series of random notes to the words. Sometimes one or two notes or a single phrase will seem right and start an entire tune coming.
5. WHERE TO GO FOR HELP.
a. After all, who are you celebrating with your writing? Try telling the Lord and Lady what you want to do, and ask for their aid in accomplishing it. I like to speak to Ceridwen who was the mother of Taliesin, greatest of the bards. But you could talk to Apollo, who gave music to men, or to any of the aspects of the God/dess who are involved in music. My own experience has been that shortly after making my desires known, words and tunes would suddenly just "pop" into my head. But don't expect the Lord and Lady to do all the work for you, you must be clear on what you are doing and how you want to go about it before you ask for their aid.
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Last Updated June 20, 1999