I digressed a bit. Let’s get back to our study group and ritual design.


Now that you did all your preliminary introduction (quarter calls, circle casting and deity invocation), you are ready to get to what you really set up for: your main rite. There are two main types of events: 1) ritual celebration and 2) magical working.

For a ritual celebration, you are commemorating an event usually associated with the passing of the seasons or a rite of passage. This doesn’t mean that you cannot do magic, but the main goal is not to materialize an intent. It is to bear witness, to sit in sacred space, to celebrate, to worship, give thanks and to receive wisdom. This is usually done on a Sabbat, where we celebrate the passing of the seasons and remember different tales of wisdom from our Traditions. Esbat rituals can also be seen as such, although magical workings are more common because the energy of the moon, either in its full or dark, lends itself to this kind of work. Many public rituals would fall into the category of ritual celebrations. A ritual celebration usually figuratively relates the event that is commemorated. There is a symbolic participation in the re-enactment of this event, either through drama and chanting or through a semi-magical working. One example is to write the things we have harvested over the last year and place it in a cauldron. While we are not necessarily raising energy, we are making a personal offering to the gods as a sign of gratitude. On Samhain, we often draw Tarot cards as a sign of things to come over the year. These are symbolic acts that draw power to ourselves without actively raising and sending out energy.


Magical workings are essentially done in solitary or within a familiar group. This implies some form of energy raising and sending to achieve a desired effect. Doing this is difficult in a large group with people of different backgrounds because it requires a common understanding of the energy raising method. That is why it tends to be kept in closed working groups or alone. The important thing is to have a clear intent of what you want to achieve and to symbolically represent it through your personal correspondences. If you are doing a ritual for mental peace, you want to set your altar with items that bring that in. Don’t put all your faith in books of spells. If the color for mental peace is purple for you, don’t go and put a white candle on your altar. This is what makes magic specific. You represent yourself and your intent with your own images. If red roses have a bad connotation for you, don’t include them in a spell for love. Use another herb or flower that triggers that feeling. There are many ways to do this. I recommend starting with a simple ritual and add elements as you go along. And keep records of everything so you can see what works for you and what does not.


A simple ritual

Here are a few suggestions of where to start.

1)      After having done your introduction, simply sit and open yourself up to receiving whatever wisdom comes. It may be words, images, feelings.

2)      Pick an intent. Choose a color that matches this intent. Place a candle of this color on your altar. You may choose to anoint it with oil that matches this intent or inscribe symbols or words on the candle. Let it burn down either in one shot or in sections over the next few days.

3)      For a ritual celebration, with Samhain just behind us, divination is a traditional activity. If you have a Tarot deck, pick a card that represents what awaits over the coming year. If you don’t have a Tarot deck, you may let a few drops of ink in a bowl of water or some tea leaves and see what images you pick up.