A ritual by its definition is anything involving action, word, or deed that incorporates habit and sacredness of religion. This can also extend to practices by non-religious people who still conduct some method to their life. This could mean a ritual before bed to help one sleep, or sipping tea in the early mornings just to enjoy the sunrise.
Rituals can be complex or simple, with or without props. They can include prayer, chants, song, or even dance. Rites honor the best parts of ourselves, and invoke sacredness in what we do with what we believe.
I got to thinking about rituals when I found an article on ‘writing rituals’. Plenty of writers share writer’s block, and sometimes doing a small ritual breaks those blocks. The article suggested lighting a candle, saying a small prayer or mantra, or even wearing a favorite shirt. The actions offer to set the mind into a state of being, preparing for creativity and open oneself up to the muses’ gifts.
Even the most mundane things in our lives are made magical with ritual. Before bedtime, I would read to my son. This provided a coveted time to share stories with him, to talk a bit and settle in for the night. My evening ritual included brushing my teeth, washing my face, but also locking doors and taking a moment to check on my son while he slept. (or bugging him to get to sleep!). Either way, doing the same thing every night gave me a sense of security and calm.
Pagans also cast circles as ritual for celebrating the moon phases, solar year, life, death, and rebirth, rites of passage, and sometimes just to meditate or ask for solace during a dark time. How you cast circle varies from person from person. Some argue there’s only one way to do that, but the intention and emotion behind the word and deed is what makes a circle powerful.
If you’re comfortable with visualizing a bubble around you, whispering a prayer to Goddess to join you- then its a valid form of ritual. If you need the candles in the four directions, a goddess candle, a god candle, athame, wand, salt/water, incense, and the whole gauntlet of tools and prayers, if you don’t feel it, the ritual isn’t as powerful as if you spark that certain something inside you.
A.J. Jacobs, an agnostic, lived a whole year by all 700+ rules of the Bible. In his book, The Year of Living Biblically, he discovered is the sacredness in the doing, and when conducting the rituals he learned by doing rather than just reading or asking others. He became more tolerant, less self-absorbed, and found the experience transforming.
Building your own ritual are the most powerful than anything you find in books.