BASICS OF RITUAL
Ritual is a state of non-ordinary reality that is marked by a beginning, a middle and an end. The container that is created designates ritual space as sacred, demarcating it from ordinary experience, which is a crucial component of entering an altered state of consciousness. Within this state, the work is done. Ritual be be performed for the purposes of healing, celebration, marking important transitions in the lives of humans or a community, honoring seasonal passages, asking for help, using the power of intention/prayer to bring about change, and more. At the conclusion of the work, the ceremony is complete and marked by words or gestures that indicate the closure of sacred ritual space.
create sacred space
In many traditions worldwide, smoke and incense are used for clearing a space and purifying oneself in the creation of sacred space. While very specific herbs such as sage used as a ‘smudge’ are the cultural traditions of specific Native populations, most cultural groups have their own ways of ceremonially burning herbs, which you can explore as part of learning your heritage. For example, European traditions incorporate hyssop and mugwort. Mesoamerican incense varieties include copal and palo santo. Additional herbs used for clearing include:
After purification and creating sacred space, invocation calls in the support of unseen allies in supporting the work. This is not metaphor! The stronger your relationship with allyship, the greater presence of support and assistance. Invocation can include your helpful and well ancestors, plant or animal allies that are important to you, spiritual mentors such as ascended masters, angels or other deities, the cardinal directions and elementals.
working with the cardinal directions
Around the world, traditional cultures recognize the cardinal directions (east, south, west and north) and incorporate these Beings into ceremonial work. We can honor and be in relationship with the energies of the directions without specifically borrowing from any particular culture, such as the Native American traditions that work with the Medicine Wheel. In Pagan traditions, calling in the directions is also referred to as ‘casting a circle.’
WORKING WITH the ELEMENTS
In many traditions, ritual incorporates representation of and offerings to the primary elements fire, earth, air and water. Invoking the elements and manifestations of elementals such as crystals and stones, ceremonial fire, offerings to the earth and more can be woven into the work of ritual.
The heart of the ritual is the primary purpose or intention: healing, seasonal celebration, marking human passages, worship or giving thanks, asking for help, etc. Quantum entanglement theory and other scientific research has explored the power of prayer and intention in influencing outcomes. This work occurs on the etheric/subtle level, or the morphogenetic field, which influences probability and has a statistically significant impact on outcome. Magical ritual, ceremony, and traditional ritual has been used by humans since the beginning of time and is a central feature of all human culture throughout time and space.
The closing of ritual space can include blessing and sealing in the work, giving thanks and releasing allies, and verbally and metaphorically marking completion as we move from sacred space back to ordinary reality.