Circle Roles: Ritual Leader & Assistant Ritual Leader

Spark monthly circles are open and creative events. Each month, we have a ritual leader and an assistant ritual leader to facilitate our ritual. These roles are rotated among the members of our community. Let a member of the core know if you're interested in leading a future ritual.

Ritual Leader's Responsibilities

The ritual leader is the magical guide for Spark's monthly ritual. This person leads our journey into sacred space and manages the energy of the evening. In particular, the ritual leader is expected to do the following:

  • Announce the ritual in advance

    A week or two before the ritual, send a message to the Spark email list and create an event on the Spark Facebook group or Facebook page to remind people and generate excitement. Recruit help as needed, and inform the community if you're planning to do something new (see ritual format).

  • Assign roles

    Depending on the ritual you've decided to create, select direction callers, altar builders, smudgers, a heartbeat drummer, and any other musicians you need. Work with the assistant ritual leader to ensure that a door person, orientation leader, and chief welcomer have been selected as well.

  • Ensure that newcomers feel included

    When assigning roles, try to find a balance between relying on regulars and incorporating newcomers. Throughout the evening, keep an eye on what's happening and try to ensure that new people are being engaged in the ritual.

  • Select an opening chant

    It is generally a good idea to kick-start the ritual with a pre-selected chant that has been taught to a few people and, if you wish, shared with an opening drummer.

  • Guide the opening and closing rituals

    Tap into the energy and find the right moment to start and the right moment to end. For full details, see the schedule below.

  • Mind the vibe

    While everyone is empowered to influence the energy of the circle, the ritual leader in particular is expected to keep things on track. Throughout the evening, keep your attention on the circle and monitor what is happening. Help the ritual find a balance between meeting the needs of the individual and the needs of the community. Ensure that there is room for personal expression and support for each person's process, yet try not to let one person's needs take over. Stay in communication with the drummers and feel free to make requests of other participants as needed. Try to do all of this as unobtrusively as possible.

  • Choose a theme, if desired

    Sometimes the ritual leader leads us through the familiar ritual format; other times, the ritual leader decides to try something new. It's fine to lead a Spark ritual without a theme. It's completely up to you!

Ritual Format

While the ritual leader has the freedom to experiment with the format of the ritual, there is a general approach that we've come to trust at Spark. Following that approach, the ritual leader guides us through the following steps:

  • At 6:45pm, the ritual leader announces the beginning of quiet time and often suggests that participants reflect on a particular intention for the evening.
  • At 7pm, we begin with a heartbeat drum, often accompanied by one other instrument (flute, dulcimer, etc.).
  • At this time, participants are smudged before entering the space.
  • Most people start moving in the circle, focusing their energy and modeling appropriate behavior for newcomers.
  • When the energy feels right, the ritual leader encourages people to circle up by holding hands.
  • The ritual leader welcomes everyone.
  • We chant "Om" three times.
  • We speak our names into the circle, one at a time.
  • We ask "Who is here for the first time?" and heartily welcome newcomers.
  • We call the directions, starting in the east (air, fire, water, earth, spirit).
  • We sing an opening chant.
  • And away we go! The ritual leader minds the energy for the next two hours, subtly guiding it as needed.
  • Shortly after 9pm, the ritual leader starts watching for the right moment to end the ritual.
  • When the energy feels right, the ritual leader once again encourages people to circle up by holding hands.
  • We release the directions in reverse order (spirit, earth, water, fire, air).
  • We chant "Om" three times.
  • We speak our names into the circle, one at a time.
  • The ritual leader encourages people to ground their energy.

Assistant Ritual Leader's Responsibilities

The job of the assistant ritual leader is to mind the logistical aspects of the Spark circle, epecially the schedule, setup, and cleanup. In particular, this person is expected to do the following:

  • Arrive by 5:30pm and stay until we have finished cleaning up

    Make sure you have the BFUU key or that a core member with the key will also be there to open the door and close up at the end. If it is your first time, make sure a previous assistant ritual leader willl also be there to help you out.

  • Supervise setup and cleanup

    Manage the process and delegate as needed to ensure that everything is done on time. Please do not get bogged down in the details of doing too much yourself.

  • Give appropriate (and audible) reminders of the schedule

    Publicly announce important transitions during the day. Give subtle signals to the ritual leader and the orientation leader at appropriate intervals as well. (See schedule.)

  • Work collaboratively with other leaders

    Coordinate with the ritual leader as needed so that you are aware of who is responsible for altars and any other special needs during setup. Ensure that a door person, orientation leader, and chief welcomer have been selected from among the experienced people who are present that month and feeling up to the task.

  • Troubleshoot as needed

    For example, assign someone to improvise an altar from available materials, if necessary.

  • Protect our efforts to create sacred space

    Politely prevent people from disrupting the energy in the main room. Conversations should stay in the front room or the backyard.

Schedule

It is the assistant ritual leader's job to do the following and keep us as close as possible to our intended schedule:

  • 5:30pm - Arrive and ensure that the doors are open. Begin setup, and supervise the Setup Checklist. Most of the core will be there to help.
  • 6:00pm - Make sure there is someone collecting money at the door and someone who will lead the orientation.
  • 6:30pm - Ensure that setup is complete and that orientation begins on time.
  • 6:45pm - Ensure that orientation ends and the silent time for personal preparation begins.
  • 7:00pm - Ensure that the ritual leader starts the ritual.
  • 7:00-9:00pm - Relax and have fun! (Troubleshoot as necessary.)
  • 9:15pm - Ensure that the ritual leader is aware of the time and watching for the right moment to end the ritual.
  • 9:30pm - Watch the clock during announcements to make sure they don't take more than 10 minutes.
  • 9:40pm - Ensure that announcements end. Begin cleanup and supervise the Cleanup Checklist.
  • 10:15pm - Ensure that cleanup ends on time. Remind people of the policy for afterglow ("you can stay until the last core person needs to go home").

Pre-Arrival Checklist

  • Make sure someone with the BFUU key will be there at 5:30. 
  • Check with the MC to see if there are any unusual setup instructions.

Setup Checklist

  • Notice how the space is set up, so that everything can be put back after the circle.
  • Pull the Spark boxes and central altar out of the storage closet.
  • Cover the chairs along the southern wall with fabric.
  • Move all the big tables out of the main space.
  • Ensure that people are working on the rope lights and altars. Use blue tape only.
  • Food in the front room only.
  • Take any garbage in cans in the hall out to trash cans in alley.
  • If it is hot, you can open the windows, but the windows on the western side need to be closed before drumming starts.
  • Fire extinguisher and first-aid kit go under the south (fire) altar. There are additional fire extinguishers in the kitchen and in the room southwest of the main hall.

    Cleanup Checklist

    Ritual space breakdown

    • Carefully coil rope lights, using over/under method and removing tape.
    • Remove any blue tape from floor and walls.
    • Disassemble the altars. Check to make sure that people collect their personal altar items before boxes are packed. If altar items get left behind, put them in the boxes.
    • Pack up the center altar. Clean any equipment used, as needed.
    • Put chairs and tables back where you found them.
    • Put rope lights, candles, candle holders, cloths, postcards, fire extinguisher, and first-aid kit in the boxes (as marked on box lids). 
    • Put the boxes and altar back in the storage closet. Boxes go on two shelves about 1/3 of the way into the closet. Altar goes wherever it can fit.
    • Ensure that food & drink leftovers are claimed, composted, or thrown out.
    • Clean any used cups and plates. If there are a few, clean by hand. If there are a lot, empty the dishwasher, put dirties in and start dishwasher.
    • Any compost and recycling can go out to the alley.
    • Pack up any garbage and send home with someone.

      Final checks

      • What items have been left behind, whose are they, and who will take them? 
      • Is the hall clean and tidy? Is everything back where it was when you arrived?
      • Double-check that all doors and windows are closed and locked.
      • Who has the key? Needs to be someone on the core or the next assistant ritual leader.
      • Turn off all the lights.
      • Lock the back door. Close the front door (which will lock itself).