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Five Phases of Liturgy

In order to understand the discussions in the rest of this book, it will help to have a framework within which later comments about spe­cific liturgical activities can be placed. Some of this chapter will only make full sense after you have read the rest of the book, but please have patience. By the time we reach the end, it will all tie together.

If you analyze the public worship rituals of those cultures still maintaining a strong belief in the existence and power of the deity(ies) they worship, and still practicing (however unconsciously) a working magical system associated with public worship, you will notice strong similarities in their liturgical designs. Among the Indo-European influenced religions, for example, there is a com­monly found pattern that consists of five main sequences or phases of activity which occur in this order:

Phase One: Consecrating time and space, and getting the people purified, centered, grounded, and unified into a group mind. This makes them ready for...

Phase Two: Re-creating the cosmos by defining a ritual center and/or opening the Gates Between the Worlds, enumerating the various parts of existence and (usually) evoking or invoking entities from them, thus starting a back and forth flow of mana through the gates, culminating with...

Phase Three: Giving the major part of the congregation's mana to the primary deity(ies) being worshipped on the occasion. This is fol­lowed by...

Phase Four: Receiving and using a return flow of mana from the primary deity(ies) of the occasion; and finally

Phase Five: Reversing the beginnings of the rite (unwinding the various mana fields woven) and closing the ceremony down.

There are also additional steps that take place immediately before and after the performance of each liturgy, but these are usually not thought of as part of it by the average attendee.

Please note what I am not saying here. I am not saying that these phases (and the steps within each that I will discuss) are the only way to do effective liturgy. I am saying that if you carefully examine the liturgical designs of successful worship rituals you are likely to find this pattern being used, however unconsciously, as the underly­ing organic structure.

Specific liturgies may skip steps, or merge them, or do them in a different order than that presented here or in my other writings. The reader should take these differences as opportunities for meditation and/or experimentation.

Now, let's take a look at these phases and their steps in some useful detail.

Next: Preliminary Steps

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Last updated on Monday, April 11, 2011.

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