A Ritual is defined as a set form or system of rites, or the observance of set forms or rites, as in public worship, and the practice, service, or procedure performed at regular intervals. As such, in every sense of the word ritual, you go through the same motions performed on specific occasions, or at the discretion of individuals or communities. The ritual may be performed by a single individual, by a group, or by the entire community; in arbitrary places, or in places especially reserved for it; either in public, in private, or before specific people. A ritual may be restricted to a certain subset of the community and may enable or underscore the passage between religious or social states.
The purposes of rituals are varied; they include compliance with religious obligations or ideals, the satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one’s affiliation, or, sometimes, just for the pleasure of the ritual itself.
In Witchcraft Today, many of us adhere to the same forms when conducting rituals. The basics stay the same while names, places, even the directional influence of the elemental quarters may shift. Altar setup may vary, some work with Faeries, Dragons, Totems, or some others still are Ceremonial.
In typical rites, the coven or solitary assembles inside a ritually cast and purified Magick Circle. Casting the Circle may involve the invocation of the “Guardians” of the cardinal points, alongside their respective classical element; Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Once the Circle is cast, a ritual may be performed, prayers to the God and Goddess are said, and spells are sometimes worked.
Venturing forth on Ritual practices should always be proceeded by acquiring or creating a journal where you can note important correspondences (i.e. The legendary Book of Shadows or BoS), now not every Witch chooses to keep one, and this doesn’t inhibit their effectiveness, some people just aren’t good at journaling, but it is a time saver if you want to avoid writing spells over and over, or if you had excellent results from a specific ritual and think you may want to do it again, or examine it and figure out what happened. And in some cases in order to reverse a working.
There are other tools that might be mentioned but in many cases, it’s better to touch on the content before adding the window dressings. It’s important to understand that Wicca and Witchcraft are not simply about casting spells and getting your heart’s desire. One must begin by understanding themselves and gathering the knowledge necessary to understand how and why spells work and why ritual is important. As with learning most anything, it’s best to have a firm base of understanding before jumping in and trying anything.
For The Silver Moon Crow Coven, ritual is ultimately about fulfillment, fulfillment of everything it is to be a witch or a Wiccan, or a human, for that matter. During the ritual, the eternal and the temporal dance on the same stage. Human spirits can become one with the Divine, their energies merged with each other and the energy of the world. Ritual brings the unseen, timeless realm to your doorstep and allows you to freely explore it. It also provides a construct through which to build more energy than spells provide and direct it outward to a need or goal.
Rituals can evoke deep individual experiences and perceptions, or initiate incredible meaning for a group. In a group setting, someone may facilitate the ritual, bringing every member of the group into the pattern. In some cases, each member takes a turn or plays a role in the ritual. Solitary practitioners enact rituals alone. Not all witches or Wiccans work rituals frequently, and many do not follow exact processes. Each ritual, and each group enacting a ritual, is likely to have its own flavor and form, as unique as the people at that gathering. That is how it should be, for among witches human diversity is considered a strength, not a weakness.