In our tradition we are initiated as witches but also as priests and priestesses and most of us will at some point be faced with the task of ritual writing. Most of us will first gain experience with creating ritual for the coven but there might also be occasions where we are called on to facilitate public ritual in some form, maybe even a life rite and that task can be daunting. Where do you even start?
In some traditions coven rituals will be a set liturgy but in many cases there is room for creativity and exploration, if not with the setting up/closing down of a circle, then at the very least for the “middle part”, the main magic. My recommendation is therefore usually to first of all experience plenty of rituals, the more and more varied the better. That gives you a good idea of what works in what context. Was it effective? Did the participants get something out of it?
When I am then faced with the famous blank page I start with thinking about the intended outcome - what is the goal or intention of the ritual I am about to put together? Are we mainly celebrating something, enacting a seasonal myth or are we about to work magic for a specific change?
Once the objective is clear I will start researching correspondences in the widest sense. This could be anything from an archetypal story that would lend itself as ritual framework to carry the message to very personal associations you can layer onto the action: colours, scents, sounds, symbols, movements…involve as many senses as you can.
You will also want to include some form of energy raising, ideally tailored to the purpose of the ritual. Joyful dancing and loud whooping is great for a handfasting but a funeral might call for something more low key with great focus instead. Finally, there will be a moment for the main magical action, the highpoint of the story, the wedding vows, the spell…
This all sounds rather abstract but I found it’s the basic pattern rituals generally have in common in between the setting up and closing down.
The Pagan Federation in London is now restarting their public Sabbat rituals which is a great opportunity to experience different ritual styles. The first one is going to be Summer Solstice, here a link with more information.
P.S. You might notice that I am reducing the frequency of my blog posts a little bit. Summer is busy!