A good example of that in ritual was a big deal ritual my coven did for our tradition-wide gathering. At the time, we were a brand new coven and while I was not new to group gatherings and leadership, this was a venue where I wanted us to excel and shine. We would be doing the ritual for the gathering of our entire tradition including our elders and founders. It was daunting, but I knew we could do it and do it fabulously well.
So we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. Our group was still learning how to be a coven together and how to do ritual so a big one was intimidating. As part of the learning and rehearsal, we also practiced how to work through mistakes — keep on going and act like it was meant to be that way. We where rehearsing right up to the last minute. It was a little tense and we were all a little bit nervous. Or maybe a lot.
And the ritual went really, really well! There were a couple of misspeaks and the priestess went through it like it was meant to be that way. When we finished the spiral dance and raised a lot of energy, an inspiration came to me. And I said (for the benefit of the well-rehearsed covener), “I’m going a little off script,” and launched into the unofficial chant of our tradition which raised some incredible magic and energy. And that is an example of good planning and the ability to be open to spontaneous inspiritation.
Another aspect of planning is being able to pick up the pieces when things go wrong. “I always have a Plan B” is a Gailism. It’s part of my professional training, a side effect of working with technology. What if you plan a ritual and a key person doesn’t show up? Plan B. What if you forget to put water in the chalice: Plan B is to pretend it’s there. What if you knock over the chalice full of water? What if you forget which vial contains water, which contains wine, and which contains oil? Smell it or pretend [Plan B]. What if it rains on your outdoor ritual. Plan B.
Sometimes you need a Plan C, D, or E. Just being willing to be aware that things may change is an important part of planning. It might not be necessary to have a full alternate plan, but rather to have the ability to draw on the well of experience, creativity, and spontaneous growth. The new inspiriation is always there. One time I went to a ritual and the priestess didn’t show up. It turned out she was ill and unable to get out of bed. So a group of us, some of whom had driven two or more hours, were ready to go about our business. Wait! I had a key to the building, so we decided to do the ritual.
We all went to our cars and pulled out blankets and pieces of this and that and pulled together an altar. I had a Tarot deck and a traveling altar. One woman had some pretty nifty Pagan stuff in her trunk. We put together a really good ritual and the performance by a group of people who didn’t know each other was a very enriching experience.
So be ready with Plan A, B, C, and more. All we need to do is learn our ABCs and draw on our creative power and good intentful heart. Blessed Be the Plan B!