It seems a bit odd to review a book that is 22 years old. However, I only discovered A Woman’s Book of Rituals and Celebrations by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. after stumbling upon it during an Amazon search for Barbara Walker’s ritual book, and I enjoyed it so much that I had to share it. It is out of print, but it is easy to find inexpensive used copies online. Also, be sure to check the women’s studies and metaphysical sections of your favorite used bookstores—I have been finding quite a few women’s spirituality treasures at my local bookstores lately.
Barbara Ardinger’s writing style is clear, down-to-earth, and funny. She refers to her approach to ritual as “unencumbered ritual,” meaning rituals you can do in your bedroom or living room without a lot of ingredients, props, tools, or pomp and circumstance. My rituals tend to be simple and often spontaneous, so her ritual style really appeals to me. The book includes a number of rituals including a self-blessing, a ritual of personal power, a ritual to bless your altar tools, as well as rituals for the new, full, waning, and dark moons, and all of the seasonal celebrations of The Wheel of the Year.
However my favorite part of the book, which I was not expecting based on the title, is her discussion of “practicing the presence of Goddess.” Practicing the presence of Goddess means being mindful, centered and following a path of practical, everyday devotion in our lives. Much of the first half of the book is devoted to this idea of practicing the presence of Goddess, with suggestions of how we can do so. This part of the book gave me much food for thought and spoke directly to my yearning to live a life of devotion every day. Barbara Ardinger also encourages a playful, light-hearted approach to devotion, which is a reminder I can always use since I have a tendency to take things too seriously.
While most of the book focuses on the female face of the Divine, she does also include the male Divine in a couple of her seasonal rituals, but it would be easy to alter the ritual if you only work with the Goddess. She does also include one reversing ritual to send harmful energy back to the perpetrator of an injustice. This is something that gets very close to crossing an ethical line for me, but we each must decide for ourselves if we want to work this kind of magic.
If you follow a Goddess path and are looking for simple rituals and ideas for living in a more sacred, mindful way every day, I highly recommend this book—it is absolutely worth tracking down a used copy if you can. There is also another, newer version called Practicing the Presence of Goddess, but it has fewer pages and the table of contents is very different. I may at some point get a copy and compare the two books, but for now can only recommend the older version since I haven’t seen the newer one.
Happy reading, and may we all learn to practice the presence of Goddess every day!