Last weekend I sat writing a group ritual for an open public ritual at Beltane and it got me thinking about the energies of such an event. Pagan rituals come in all shapes and sizes and over the years I have been involved in solo ritual, paired ritual, small private group ritual, large private group ritual, large public ritual and very large public ritual, and they each have their own distinct energies, as indeed do rituals of different seasons, purpose etc.
Over the past couple of years I have mainly been involved in small private group ritual, though I have also been to a few public rituals too, and when you are working with a group of people who you know well and are very connected to, it is much easier to create and direct this energy in a predictable way as it is something you have all done many times before. Little is needed in the way of an introduction or explanation of what will happen and what is expected from everyone. It is easy to connect your energy together as a group, everyone there knows what method you use to raise that energy, and what it will be used for and the way it is normally directed. This makes for a very fulfilling and positive experience.
Of course, for many people, a public ritual is the first experience they have had of a pagan ritual, and yet others have much experience, and you want it to be as good an experience for both ends of this spectrum. This can be quite difficult to deliver, but it does mean that it is necessary to explain why you are all there, what exactly is going to happen, and what is expected from the people there.
Despite the challenges of doing this type of ritual though, I believe that they are far outweighed by the benefits of the new energies and enthusiasm that is brought by having people in the circle that you do not usually work with and so I am now eagerly anticipating leading this ritual at one of the most energetic points in the year!