A ritual is a set of tasks designed for a specific purpose. The two main purposes for rituals would be acts of honor and working magick. Acts of honor can include sabbats and esbats, initiations and dedications, wiccanings, handfastings, and crossings, and more.
There are a few important things you should know and ask yourself before you plan, write, and perform your ritual:
- Know the basics. You should know how to cast and close a circle, how to raise and direct energy, how to ground and center yourself, etc. But most of all, you should know magick and what it is really about. Know your craft.
- What is your intent? Why are you having this ritual? What is it’s purpose? You can have one or multiple intents. You just need to know what they are.
- You should know the best time to hold the ritual. You should look into which type of magick is best done under which moon phase and done on which day of the week. You should also look into how these phases and time affect your ritual and spellwork.
- Will you be calling or invoking a deity? You should know if this is or is not necessary according to your tradition. If you work with many deities, you should look into who would work the best with your intent. You can invoke as many as you see fit.
- You should learn about correspondences and what can assist you in your magickal work. This includes herbology, colors, stones, tools, elemental magick, symbols, sounds, and anything else you might include in your ritual. You should learn how to use them and how they can affect your magickal workings.
- How will you be creating your sacred space? Some traditions require you cast a circle while others will simply purify the area with smudging or asperging.
After you know these, you should then begin writing your ritual. To start, you should first make an outline of your ritual and what you are wanting to include in your ritual. I will provide the structure of a basic ritual. You can modify this to fit your tradition.
- Ritual Preparation The first step in performing a ritual would be to get everything ready. You should make a list of all tools and items you will need, and gather them in the area (within your circle or sacred space) you will be holding the ritual. You should then ready your altar or sacred space. Your space should be somewhat organized for ease of access. If you will be working with food (for communion, offerings, etc) you should have it made or poured and have it set aside your main working space and keep it covered until it is ready to be used. You should then prepare yourself for the ritual. You can do this in a variety of ways. You may take a pre-ritual bath, meditate, or smudge yourself. If you will be wearing any ritualistic attire, now would be the time to put it on. You should then ground and center yourself. If you have any illuminator candles or incense, now would be the time to light them.
- Create a Sacred Space Most witches will create a sacred space by casting a circle. While it is one of the best ways to do this, it is not necessary. If you choose to not cast a circle, you may create a sacred space by sweeping the area with your besom to “sweep or clean away” any negative energies, smudging the area with herbs of your choice (although sage, white sage, and rosemary are best), or sprinkling the area with blessed or holy water. If you will be casting a circle, and either calling the quarters or using directions, you should use a compass to find the true directions.
- Call the Quarters This step is completely optional, so if you call the quarters while creating a sacred space or you don’t feel the need to address the quarters and their elemental energies, you can skip this step. This is usually done by asking the directions’ corresponding elementals to help and watch over you.
- Read Charges This one is also very optional. If you will be reciting a charge of a god or goddess, this should be done before invoking them. You may write your own, or use a prewritten one. You may also recite a poem or limerick in dedication to your deity of choice. If you can’t find a charge to the specific deity you will be working with, The Charge of the Goddess and The Charge of the God are basic yet great choices.
- Invoke Deity You can perform this invocation by calling to the deity and asking for guidance and assistance during your ritual. You may also find or write an invocation and recite this to the deity of your choice. If you work with multiple deities, the order in which you call to them by is up to you. If you decide you’d rather not work a god or goddess, you can invoke the powers of the earth or spirit. Although, you do not have to work with a higher power at all.
- Read Calendar Invocations If this is a sabbat or esbat ritual, you may recite an invocation of said sabbat or esbat now. Silver RavenWolf has some amazing sabbat invocations that I use. You may or may not use calendar invocations. Since they are quite difficult to find, writing some of your own may be best.
- State Intent of Ritual Pretty self explanatory. You should state the intent, or intents, of the ritual aloud. Not only will this help you focus, it will also help all the energies you invoked and evoked focus on what the ritual is for.
- Draw Down the Moon/Draw Down the Sun Now would be the time to draw down the moon or sun. Typically, drawing down the moon is done during the night on a full moon esbat, but any time of day or moon phase will this work. If you will be drawing down the moon, find out which moon phases are best for which type of spell work before you decide if this is something your ritual needs. Drawing down the sun is usually done during a sabbat ritual in daylight. You should look into which degree of the zodiac the sun is in and it’s correspondences before you decide if drawing down the sun is good for your ritual.
- Magickal Workings If you are wanting to evoke energies from within, you should do this now, before any other type of magickal working. The two main ways to do this is by reciting an evocation, and visualization, although there are many ways to do this. After you evoke energies, if you chose to, you can now perform the rest of your magickal workings, which include spells, crafts, and honoring deities. You should still want to raise energies throughout your magickal workings, especially if you have quite a few you will be doing. You can do this by singing, dancing, meditation, etc.
- Communion The cakes and ale that was set aside before your ritual should now be taken out and put in front of you. The cakes and ale are first blessed, then eaten. The cakes are usually a representation of the god, or masculine, energies, while the ale is represented by the goddess, or feminine, energies. The ale can be any liquid, so if you are underage or don’t drink, you can use juice or water. The cakes are usually grain based cookies, crackers, or bread. The ale is generally blessed and eaten before the cakes.
- Offering You can use the leftovers from communion as your offering, you can make another food specifically for the offering, or you can make an offering. If the rite is held inside, you can pour the remainder of the cakes and ale into a libation bowl, carried outside when the ritual is over, and poured onto the ground. If the rite is held outdoors, you may simply pour the ale and sprinkle the cakes on the ground. You should recite an offering incantation, although it is not necessary.
- Thank deity To thank the deity or deities you are working with, you can simply say thank you for their assistance with your ritual or you can bow your head and have an incantation for thanking the deity. You should then bid them farewell.
- Thank and release Quarters If you didn’t call the quarters as part of creating your sacred space, you’ll want to thank them and release them.
- Release Sacred Space If you casted a circle, you should close it now. If not, you should then release the sacred space in a similar fashion in how you created it, by sweeping, smudging, or sprinkling with holy/blessed water.
- Ground and Center This is optional but highly recommended. Grounding yourself after a ritual can help you in many ways. It can keep you from feeling drained, it can keep you from having a spiritual burnout, and help keep you free from having any negative reactions from performing magick.
- Clean up You should put away any items that were used in the ritual that do not stay in the open, snuff candles and incense that do not need to stay lit, take offerings outdoors if your ritual was inside, etc.
Now that you know the general outline of a ritual, you should be able to write and perform it with ease. But what comes after? I highly suggest keeping a record of all your spells and rituals in your main Book of Power, a journal, or a Book of Mirrors (a journal for divination, magickal workings, etc). There are many ways to keep track of your ritual work, and Ritual Creation Worksheets by Apath.org is a great way for beginners as it covers everything. Keep in mind, you don’t have to write down every single detail, but knowing exactly what you did, can help you figure out what works best for you. It is important to keep a record of your ritual work because you can see your progress as a witch, and find out what your strong and weak points are.
Keep in mind, all of these are based on my opinions I found from my research. You may disagree or have something to add. Please do so kindly in the comments.
Blessed be, brothers and sisters.
Solitary Witch by Silver Ravenwolf