Ritual. The very word is evocative, conjuring images of everything from mysterious robed figures sketching arcane runes in the air to joyous women dancing skyclad around a bonfire. Ritual comes in many different forms—and that's good, because ritual is a highly personal thing, and what suits one person perfectly will leave another cold. But done correctly, it's…well…magickal.
I have a confession to make: I love books of rituals. I own quite a few, by authors as varied as Raymond Buckland, Raven Digitalis, Dorothy Morrison, and Scott Cunningham. Some are classics, rooted in the earlier more organized traditional paths that focused on covens with a high priest and high priestess. Others are aimed at solitaries, eclectic and modern. Over the many years of my Witchcraft practice, I have performed some of these rituals word for word, and adapted bits and pieces of others to better suit my purposes. This is the fabulous thing about ritual books; you can really use them.
Don't get me wrong. I am the first person to tell you that following a Pagan path is mostly about living your life day to day; how we walk our talk, and the ways we can integrate our spiritual beliefs into our everyday life is something of a passion of mine. It is the core of most of the books I write. But ritual is the frosting on the cake. It brings that extra something special to how we live. It is, perhaps, the outward manifestation of our innermost faith.
All of which is a kind of long-winded way of trying to explain why, after five other books, I finally wrote Everyday Witch Book of Rituals. Ah, you knew there was a point in there somewhere, didn't you?
If you've read any of my other books (you have, haven't you?), you know that there are spells in many of them, and full rituals in the first one, Circle, Coven & Grove. Circle, Coven & Grove was basically designed to be a year of magickal practice for groups, and was based on the first year of rituals performed by my own group, Blue Moon Circle. It included twelve months of full moons, new moons, and Sabbats, as well as various helpful pieces of advice for those who wanted to form or continue a group magickal practice.
I wrote that book in 2006, and I've written and performed a lot of rituals since then. (Let's see…2 rituals a month, multiplied by 12 months a year, multiplied by 6 years, minus the times we couldn't get together, plus the rituals I did on my own…equals way too much math. Never mind. Let's just say, A LOT.) I've learned a few things, and changed a few things, and hopefully grown as both a Witch and a human being. So I was really excited to be able to write a new book full of rituals that reflect all that, because I believe that ritual is an important facet of a well-rounded Witch's life. Can you be a Witch without ever casting a spell or standing in sacred space? Probably. But why would you want to?
Ritual is a way to take ourselves out of our mundane patterns and shake the (metaphorical) dust off our shoes. It allows us to connect with our inner wisdom and the outer universe, to talk to god and goddess, and, if you practice in a group, to talk to each other. We can ask questions, and listen for the answers. We can stretch our wings and fly, or reach our roots deep into the earth and find solid ground when we feel like we are falling.
Ritual can provide us with a safe place when the world around us seems frightening. It is a warm hearth when we are cold, and a welcoming friend when we feel alone. It is a way to celebrate our triumphs and mourn our losses. And, of course, it is magick.
When we do it right—with focus and intent, with a positive attitude, with hope and faith, reverence and mirth—ritual can elevate us to a completely different level. When we do it right, it can change our lives for the better.
Is it any wonder, then, that I collect books filled with rituals? Or that I wrote one of my own, to share with the community I belong to and value so much?
People do rituals for all the reasons I listed above, of course. But they also do rituals for practical purposes: to increase prosperity, find love, create protective barriers, promote healing, and ask for help, among others. Since there wasn't room for all of these rituals in the new book, my fabulous editor Elysia Gallo and I put our heads together and came up with a bonus—a mini eBook called A Witch's Dozen: 13 rituals for all these basic needs.
Hopefully, people will find it as fun and helpful as Everyday Witch Book of Rituals, and they can download it from just about any eBook retailer on to all their portable devices, so they can take the rituals with them wherever they go. I know I had a lot of fun writing them.
The Witches I meet sometimes ask me if it is really okay to do spells and rituals for personal gain. Honestly, I think it is. After all, what you're doing is using a tool, and putting your intent and energy into it. And then following it up with concrete and productive actions in the real world. (Right? Because you know it won't work unless you do that.) As long as what you are asking for is positive, and not in any way hurting another—harm none, remember—there is no reason why you can't use the gifts of magick and ritual to help you get the things you need.
People also ask me if magick really works. My answer to that is an absolute "YES." I have seen it happen over and over again. Not just in the practical outcome, although I've had plenty of experiences with that working too. (Mind you, my prosperity magick seems to work a lot better than my love magick does. Darn it.) But also in ways that it is hard to measure.
I have seen people walk into ritual beaten down and discouraged, and leave with heads held high and new courage to face a difficult task. I've seen strangers enter a circle and walk back out as life-long friends. In ritual, hearts are mended, spirits lifted, and connections made that can change the course of the rest of someone's life.
I know this is true, because it happened to me. On a Samhain night, many years ago, I entered my first ritual circle and connected with the god and goddess for the first time. Since then, nothing has been the same. And that is really why I wrote this book of rituals; in the hope that for just one person, that same magick would happen, and change his or her life for the better, forever. Let me know if that person is you, will you?
Deborah Blake is a Wiccan high priestess and leader of the eclectic group Blue Moon Circle. She manages the Artisans' Guild, a not-for-profit artists' cooperative shop, and works as a tarot reader and energy healer. Deborah ...