Weiner attends a ritual with Jamie the Witch since he claims "It's been said that you're not really a Wiccan until you do something Wiccan. So when Jamie invites me to a coven, a gathering of fellow witches, I eagerly accept." (p.248) On the way out to the ritual, Weiner and Jamie discuss what makes a good ritual as opposed to a bad ritual.
Weiner himself seems to have little grasp of what makes up a ritual - typically an opening that sets apart the space and worshippers as sacred (creating a liminal space); the ceremony itself; the ending that deconsecrates the space and removes its liminal nature. Any ritual, whether done at home by an individual or in a group by a designated leader, deliberately removes the worshippers from regular space and time into a special place. The Kabbalah teacher Yedidah had a morning ritual of drinking mint tea, sitting in a special chair, and saying the most important Hebrew prayer. Jews cannot begin morning prayer without a minyan of ten and follow a standard service. The Franciscans said a Catholic mass. The Wiccans are having a special ceremony in a forest, although I suspect that many of those at the ceremony create small daily rituals at home.
Jamie later suggests that Weiner meet with a Wiccan magician named "Black Cat." Black Cat, who lives in Seattle, shows Weiner his altar. He also discusses how he does magic deliberately for specific results - to get money, to remove an annoying person from his life, etc. His deliberately targeted use of magic is more like that of a magician rather than a typical witch. Deborah Blake, in her The Goddess is in the Details: Wisdom for the Everyday Witch warns that
"Most experienced Witches have learned that magick is not always the best solution to all of life's problems. Many issues in our lives can be handled in mundane ways, and there are certain situations where magickal interference is probably a bad idea (messing with the weather, for instance, almost always backfires)." (p. 14-15).
Weiner comes to view Black Cat as too materialistic to be believable and he is right- Black Cat's actions might not be acceptable to more spiritual Wiccans. However, the same can be said about certain priests and ministers in non-Wicca religions.
Do you think that it is acceptable to change ritual?
Can ritual be viewed as fluid?
Do many religions besides Wicca appeal to deities for aid?