Ruth Rhiannon Barrett, high priestess emerita of the Los Angeles Circle of Aradia, may have written the best book on dynamics and energetic manipulation found within ritual, period. With Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries she draws on thirty years of practical experience in constructing and facilitating private and public rituals for large and small groups and addresses issues that all pagans need to consider if they aim to create successful rituals. Although I have never had the pleasure of working with her in circle, it is clear from her writing that she knows what she is talking about, and is exceptionally clear in explaining to others.

The Dianic Wicca Tradition is female-oriented Goddess worship. Ms. Barrett's definition is: "…a Goddess- and female-centered, earth based, feminist denomination of the Wiccan religion which … is inclusive of all women." As such, the rituals allow the reader to approach Woman’s Mysteries from within that framework, not to reject men but to offer women a sacred space in which to Work.*

Ms. Barrett teaches us how to develop the purpose and theme of a ritual and set up an appropriate altar and how the wheel of the year works in a spiritual feminist paradigm where the entire year celebrates the Goddess. She discusses the sense of entitlement that white women (and men) seem to have when using goddesses (and gods) of other cultures and what spiritual service and being a high priestess really mean.

Chapter 6 discusses energetics, “Energy follows intention,” she writes. “It’s not just what you do, but what you are thinking, feeling, or embodying while you do it. … Like setting a stage, you use the intention to create the desired mood with visual, kinesthetic, and auditory stimuli…. [E]nergetics is the intentional generating or manipulation of energy so that it aligns with, supports, and executes the ritual’s theme (p. 123).” Paying attention to a ritual’s energy creates a better experience for everyone and this chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries is flat out one of the most useful books ever written on ritual. The writing is very clear, the concepts are very understandable and the directions are concise and easy to follow. The rituals are adaptable for individual work or for group workings. Meditations are provided, as well as follow up for after the ritual, for personal reflection on what you did or did not achieve. If you ever want to or engage in ritual – public or private -- buy this book!

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry


* One thing I will quibble with is Ms. Barrett’s use of the word “revoke” to describe how witches bid farewell to the Goddess, the elementals, and open the circle. It may be that Ms. Barrett has been using "revoke" for years, coming from the opposite of “invoke” (“to petition for help or support; to appeal to or cite as authority; to call forth by incantation; to make an earnest request for; or to put into effect or operation”) and her circle mates have been too in awe of her to say anything While I agree that sincerely thanking the Goddess and all the powers is only politeness, according to my trusty copy of the Oxford English Dictionary revocation is “the action of recalling, a summons to return, the action of revoking, rescinding, or annulling, recantation or withdrawal.” A more correct description would be to say we dismiss or disperse with thanks and courtesy.

by Ruth Barrett

AuthorHouse, 2004

pp.440, $22.95


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