Wiccan ritual is magick in action!
It’s like crafting a magick spell with people as the main ingredients. And like any good magick spell, it lifts the ingredients up from being ordinary to being Divine.
Once you realise this, the practice of ritual makes intuitive sense.
The Purpose of any ritual is then obvious: to create change within ourselves, and thus, in the world.
The Means is perceiving spiritual reality, becoming one with it, and then transforming it.
The Process is shifting consciousness, applying intense focus and energy to what we desire, and calling it to us through symbolic actions.
The Outcome is that we are lifted into the Good Reality, the world we want to be part of.
Ritual Is The Good Bit!
Magickal ritual is one of the highlights of being a Witch or Wiccan! It serves many purposes.
It re-sanctifies our bodies
It’s fun and remind us of the joys of life
It’s energising and exhilarating
It connects us with our spiritual community
It’s uplifting and inspires us to better action
It purifies the mind, allowing us to be more positive
It solidifies our connection with the Earth and the Divine
There are other ways to manifest changes in the world. But ritual is one of the most powerful.
Rituals are held to celebrate the Earth’s seasons, the Moon’s phases, and the human life. Sometimes these are large rituals, sometimes very small private rituals.
But Wiccans recognise the value of honouring the phases of life, and generally celebrate in some way.
Wiccan Sabbats, or holy days, often have large celebrations. They may even be open to family and friends, or the public.
The Sabbats mark the major points of the Earth’s seasons. the Sun’s progression through the year.
For information on the individual Sabbats, see Wiccan Holidays.
Wiccan Esbats are the most common Wiccan rituals, though, unless we’re counting our individual communications with the Divine through prayer and meditation.
An Esbat is a celebration of the Full Moon, and most Witches honour it in some fashion.
Contrary to rumour, in most cases this does not involve dancing naked around a tree, but there are known to have been exceptions.
Esbats can also be held at other phases of the Moon.
Rites of Passage
Any major turning point in life can and should be marked by ritual. Rituals, especially community rituals, help us navigate the changes of life with more grace and pleasure.
Using Ritual Tools
People make a lot of fuss about using the right ritual tools. Well, there’s no doubt that ritual tools can help a lot, especially as they build energy through repeated magickal use.
In the final analysis, though, the human body, mind, heart, and spirit are the only ritual tools that are absolutely necessary.
You will probably want some tools. A very minimum would be a candle, usually, although Witches on the fly (pun intended ) can make do even without that.
The good news is, you can make or find most of your ritual tools.
You can read a lot more about Wiccan ritual tools in the section on Altar Tools.
Enacting Magick Rituals
All ritual is magick ritual. It takes the wishes and beliefs and energy of people and turns that into transformative power.
Of course, not all rituals are equally powerful.
When you understand why magick ritual works and what the elements are that give it power, you can create rituals that expand your mind and your world.
This section will both guide you in creating powerful rituals, and offer ritual outlines that you can follow to create your own. (For Sabbat rituals, though, see the section on Wiccan Holidays.)
More articles for this section are in the works, with more rituals that you can do and instructions on performing the basics of ritual, such as Casting a Circle.
Wiccan rituals are quite numerous and involve the full range of human life and experience. Some rituals serve as rites of passage or markers of major life events, while others are prayers or “spells” for mundane blessings and comforts in life, such as money, health, friendship, love, or good outcomes in business or other endeavors.
Wiccan rituals can be practiced by individuals alone or in a group given that some Wiccans practice as solitaries, while others join covens. Sometimes covens are limited to 13 people, after which they will divide. In some traditions, a grouping of multiple covens is called a “grove.”
Wiccan rituals often involve “casting a circle” – that is, drawing a circle on the ground or delineating it in a group by everyone standing and holding hands. The circle may be marked with candles at the points of the cardinal directions, or with the 5 points of the pentacle. Everyone standing in the circle will face inward toward one another. The altar will be at the center of the circle.
Depending on the ritual or spell, a variety of implements or tools may be used. These include: a knife, a wand, a chalice, a cauldron, statues of gods and goddesses, a broom, candles, water, bells, herbs, stones, salt, essential oils, incense and more. The leader of the ritual may speak words, reading from a text or extemporaneously. Others in the group may or may not speak as well.
Rituals mark the main Wiccan holidays (mentioned on this page) as well as other events, such as:
– dedication – someone affirms interest in the religion or “craft”
– initiation – into Wicca or the “craft”
– handfasting – for some Wiccans, this is a marriage for a year and a day, at which point both parties decide whether to continue or not. For other Wiccans, this is simply a marriage ceremony for permanent partnership. Some Wiccans have been recognized by civil authorities as “clergy” and can perform this as a marriage. Also, some Unitarian Universalist ministers will perform this ritual
– parting of the ways – a dissolving of a marriage or handfasting
– wiccaning – welcoming a baby into life and into the family of the religion – this does not obligate the baby in any way to practice the religion
– funeral – a ceremony for the deceased, usually not the actual burial
Many instructions for rituals and spells are contained in The Book of Shadows, a text that exists in several different versions and adaptations. Gerald Gardner, one of the founders of modern Wicca, wrote his own version of this book in order to instruct new practitioners in the ways of the “Old Religion.” Others have written their own versions, using adapted or customized spells. Some editions of this text – which is the closest thing to a sacred text found in Wicca – read like diaries or practical “how to” books in terms of providing instructions for various prayers, spells and rituals.
More often we get invited to functions from other religions and belief groups. These different groups have different and set ways of doing things. New people and visitors often face difficulty in adjusting to the ways of the function or ceremony. Wicca ritual ceremony is no different, as there are set standards of doing things and mannerisms that need to be adhered to during this time. It is, therefore, crucial for a new believer or a visitor to enquire about the ritual regulations to avoid any form of embarrassment or confusion.
A way of enquiring about this is through online research, or by asking the person who invited you. Doing this, you will feel more comfortable and safe at the ritual ceremony. These rules run from before, during, and after their performance.
- Be on time. Much as the ritual ceremony may take a while to kick off, come in early so that you can familiarize yourself with the environment and the people.
- Come dressed in the appropriate attire. Some ceremonies may not have a required attire, but come dressed in loose clothing to avoid any strain or discomfort. However, do not wear printed t-shirts, it could have distracting messages. Other ceremonies require specific attire like robes, perhaps in distinct colors. For the skyclad, the ceremony is done in complete nakedness. It all depends on the kind of ceremony, therefore enquire about the dress code beforehand so that you dress accordingly.
- Have the right jewelry. Jewelry is very symbolic in Wicca; wear the right jewelry that will not send the wrong message. Some jewelry is reserved for high priests and priestess and therefore if you wear them, you might be given responsibility that does not belong to you or that you do not know.
- Ask for what you should come with so that you can plan in advance. If it is food, bring natural foods.
- Be courteous and respectful to everyone.
- If you have any magical request, consult with the high priest or priestess.
During the Ritual
Ritual performances typically take more or less two hours. Therefore, if you are planning to be somewhere else after the ritual, it is better that you do not attend the ritual ceremony, or postpone your next plans. It could be very distracting to leave while the ritual is ongoing, and some energy could even be lost.
Before discussing the rules and regulations during the rituals, it is important that you first familiarize yourself with the ritual process:
- First is to cleanse yourself; everyone who will be involved must first perform this step. It involves cleaning your hands in a bowl, sweeping by a besom, burning incense, or sprinkling of salt water.
- After cleansing, then you invoke the gods by calling on their presence. This varies between covens, as each tends to adhere to an absolute god. This includes the four elements: water, air, fire, and earth.
- The circle is then cast by either drawing a solid circle using a magical tool or holding hands. You need to concentrate your energy while doing this step.
- The intention of the gathering is mentioned. This is usually done by the high priest or priestess.
- There is a session of drama, singing, and dancing.
- The opening of the circle. This is the reverse of the third step.
- Feasting and fellowship. At this point, you can leave at your pleasure.
Now that the ritual process is evident, the following are proper mannerisms during the ritual:
- Follow instructions. Unlike other ritual performances, Wiccan rituals are very involving, where each member in attendance is supposed to actively participate. Follow the directions given to you during the ritual process. Enquire about rules and regulations or simply follow what the others are doing. If you are not sure about the words in a chant or song, just hum along.
- Switch off your phone. If you are expecting a call, better plan to call back later. It is rude and distracting for a phone to ring when others are focused on the ritual.
- It is wrong to get into the circle while drunk or under the influence of any drugs, or while chewing.
- Avoid touching things that do not belong to you, like magical tools and jewelry. These tools are usually charged with their owner’s energy and touching them will require them to charge them again.
- Once inside the circle, keep focus and avoid leaving the circle. But if need be, ask someone to cut a door for you, and do the same when you rejoin the circle. For this reason, go for a nature call beforehand.
- Keep silent unless asked to speak to the high priest or high priestess.
- If you are not in agreement with what they are doing, or your belief does not permit you, then politely decline on a certain step and join in later with what you agree with. However, avoid criticizing and badmouthing the performance.
Children have a little understanding regarding ritual performances. Therefore, it is best not to bring them to the ceremony, as they will only be a source of distraction. The same goes for animals.
After the Ritual
Most ceremonies feast after or during the ritual. It involves mostly dining and a little chit chat with attendees, and clearing the area following the feast.
- When offered a drink and some food, be thankful and remember to leave some for libation.
- Do not take photos with people unless they are ok with it.
- It is only polite that you remain behind and help clean and clear the area.
A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.
Wiccan Ritual for Beginners
Are you ready for your very first solitary Wiccan ritual? Congratulations! This is certainly a milestone on your new path! You’re probably both very nervous and very excited at the same time. It’s easy to get yourself worked up a bit, as learning so much new information is overwhelming. Putting it into practice for the first time can be a bit intimidating.
There are people of other religions who try to drill into our heads that Wicca is some kind of “gateway” to all you’ve ever seen in bad horror movies. This is just not true. There are no evil spirits out to get us, no demons haunting or possessing us. We don’t tend to believe in such things, which is why you hear little mention of them in Wiccan books. Try to get it out of your head that some kind of boogie man is going to jump out at you or the power of your own imagination might kick in.
Here are some things about your first ritual you should know. Knowledge is power, so hopefully knowing these things will help calm your nerves so you can get through it and enjoy it for the beautiful spiritual experience that it is.
Don’t Be Scared of Ritual
When something is familiar, it’s not scary. The religion you grew up with wasn’t scary because you were used to it. Likewise, Wicca isn’t scary to Wiccans when you are used to it– like this child who was raised in a Pagan family.
Mackenzie Sage Wright
Don’t Worry About Doing it “Wrong”
Another thing some people are afraid of is doing it ‘wrong’. What if you make a mistake? What if you accidentally do something disrespectful? What if you turn into a complete klutz and knock over the ritual juice or sneeze out a candle?
Don’t worry about it. The Gods have a sense of humor, and they also have a sense of understanding and compassion. They’re not going to punish you for mistakes. Your frame of mind is what’s most important, so take everything else in stride.
KISS: Keep it Simple, Sweetie
Even simple rituals can keep you on your toes. When you’re venturing into uncharted waters alone for the first time, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t worry about making it elaborate in the beginning. You don’t need to run out and buy a bunch of tools you never used and don’t understand yet. You don’t need to form a lot of procedures and ritual drama that you have only read about.
You might simply do the following:
- Bless the space
- Invoke the Gods
- Say a few prayers or read some poetry
- Meditate for a little while
- Bless some juice and cookies
- Thank the Gods and be on your way
That is a good enough ritual, really. You can always add things to your ritual later as you get more comfortable doing them—but in the beginning, pare it down to the basics and stick to that.
I myself recommend the simple solitary rituals found in Scott Cunningham’s book, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner in his Book of Shadows section.
Save Advanced Practices for Later
Whatever type of ritual you do end up settling on, you should probably put any advanced practices on hold. Focus on the essential parts of the ritual… your first Wiccan solitary ritual is not the best time to try something like Drawing Down the Moon or blood magic. Even if you’re adept at Witchcraft already, if you’re new to Wiccan religious practices then let them be the focus of the ritual until you grow comfortable with it.
Even Wiccan rituals run more smoothly when organized
Wiccan Ritual Preparation
This ritual preparation is a basic outline of the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca. Other traditions borrow extensively from this method, but they do have variances. What follows is a representation of the steps that may be followed in carrying out a ritual — like any religion, different sects have different methods, and there is no single “right way” of holding a ceremony.
- Purifying The first thing witches do is purify a circular area to get rid of any unwanted energy or forces. A witch may use a broom (besom) to sweep the area and/or burn a bundle of sage, holding it over his or her head while walking in a spiral pattern around the circle and then pausing at each of the four quadrants (north, south, east and west). Each witch participating in the ritual is also purified by waving incense around his or her body.
- Setting up the Altar The altar is set up at the east side of the circle with candles to represent the God and Goddess, salt and water for purification, the athames of the High Priest and Priestess and incense. They place quarter candles at each of the four quarters of the circle.
- Casting the Sacred Circle The High Priest and Priestess cast the Sacred Circle. The Sacred Circle is considered to be a spot that is without place or time. The circle is cast by marking its edges with an athame or other tool such as a staff, sword or wand. They purify the area again with salt and water. They place three pinches of salt into the water and stir it nine times with the athame. Then, this salty mixture is sprinkled around the perimeter of the circle. Incense is then lit and carried around the perimeter of the circle.
- Calling the Quarters The witches call together the spirits of the four elements: earth, fire, water and air. The elements are the guardians that guide and protect the witches.
- Invoking the Deity A deity has to be involved in order to perform magick, so at this point in the ritual, the deities are called. Depending on the ritual, it could be either the God, the Goddess or both. They are called by reciting invocations related to the specific ritual.
Everything up to this point has been preparation for the ritual. It is at this time that the witches begin the actual ritual they are performing.
How to Perform a Wiccan Wedding
A Wiccan wedding is known as a Handfasting Ceremony. Handfasting is the ancient Scottish custom of tying a betrothed couple’s hands together and keeping them that way for a year. If they were still together at the end of that year, they would then be officially married.
Although based on timeless and powerful ritual, a Wiccan Wedding or Handfasting is not accepted as a legal marriage in some countries. In those places, couples should also perform a short legal ceremony. There are several traditions that usually accompany a Handfasting but, as the rite is extremely personal for each couple, there is also a great deal of flexibility regarding which rituals will be included in each individual ceremony. Wiccan Weddings are usually presided over by a priest and a priestess, whose job is to implement the rituals.
A Wiccan Wedding can be held at any time of the year although certain feast days, like Litha (the Summer Solstice) or Beltane (Mayday), are considered most popular as the weather is good. Weather is an important factor for a Handfasting as most ceremonies are held outside. The bride and groom need not dress in any particular outfits but certain choices are seen more often than others including long, light colored dresses for the bride and either traditional dress, if applicable, or an embroidered shirt and pants, or kilt, for the groom.
A circle is cast before the Wiccan Wedding ceremony begins and the presiding priestess walks the boundaries of the circle and marks it with a ritual knife, the athame, while calling on the four elements and the God and Goddess to bless both the circle and the ceremony. The couple moves to before the altar, with the bride to the groom’s right, and the bride’s left hand is tied to the groom’s right hand with the traditional red Handfasting cord. This cord will be given to the couple after they are married and will serve to remind them of their everlasting passion for each other.
The priest and priestess then assist the couple with the exchange of vows, often reciting their vows for them, and it is at this point that the bride and groom usually exchange rings, which are placed on the bride and groom’s left ring fingers. The Element Quest is then performed with the couple invoking each of the elements in turn – air, fire, water and earth and beginning with air in the east – to bless their union. After the quest has been completed, the priest and priestess call upon the presiding deities to bless the Wiccan Wedding ceremony.
At this point in the Wiccan Wedding ceremony, the couple is required to jump over the ceremonial broomstick and this can be quite an amusing sight as the couple holding the broomstick is free to adjust the broomstick’s height while the bride and groom, who are still tied together, are jumping. Wine and small cakes are then blessed and shared by the couple and their guests and, after the officiating powers and the elements have been thanked, the priest and priestess formally open the circle by what is known as reverse casting.
At this point in some Handfastings, the new husband and wife give small gifts to their guests to thank them for sharing their most important day with them. The parties then move on to the wedding feast, at which it is traditional to serve organic and natural foods.
Wiccan Handfasting is a magical and enchanting ceremony and, by choosing to go with a non-traditional wedding, a couple is only showing how strong their commitment to each other and to their belief system actually is.
For a more in depth view of hand-fasting the ULC Catalog offers Handfasting and Wedding Rituals by Raven Kaldera
Just another WordPress.com site
How to Perform a Self-Dedication Ritual
If you are a solitary practitioner you may think it’s time to dedicate yourself to your Goddess and God.
Ritual Of Self Dedication
First, a list of things you will need for this Self Dedication
One silver candle
Four elemental candles
One athame or wand
One red candle
One dedication gift
Four items to be placed on the altar to represent the four elements
Rope to make the magick circle
One mat or rug (to kneel on should you add meditation to your ritual)
First, cast the circle and invoke any deities you you would like, usually the Goddess. (You can use the ones found on the Invocation and Circle Casting Pages here)
I cast this circle this night to perform the act of dedication of my mind, body and spirit to the Lady, Her Consort, and to the religion and science of Witchcraft.
From this day forward, I will honour and respect both the Divine and myself. I will hold two perfect words in my heart: Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
I vow to honour the path I have chosen, the Divine and myself.
Pick up your wand or athame and say:
I vow to hold the ideology of the Craft in my heart and in my mind for the totality of this lifetime, and beyond.
Point the wand at your feet and say:
Blessed be my feet, may they always walk the path of the eternal and Divine light.
Point the wand to your knees and say:
Blessed be my knees as I kneel at the altar of my faith, not in supplication, but in thanksgiving.
Point the wand to your groin and say:
Blessed be my womb/phallus that holds and produces the creation of the human essence. I vow to guide, protect and teach the children of the world.
Point the wand to your chest and say:
Blessed be my heart that it may beat steady and true. May the warmth of my love spread throughout the galaxy.
Point the wand to your lips and say:
Blessed be my lips that they shall utter truth and purity of mind and soul. May wisdom flow for the benefit of all humankind.
Point the wand to your third eye area and say:
Blessed be my astral sight, that I may see through the veil of life with the truth of the Divine.
Ring the bell seven times. Take a white cord and wrap it firmly around your hand, with the knife handle in your palm. Now say:
I, (your name), in the presence of the Universe, do of my own free will and mind, most
solemnly swear that I will ever abide by the religion and science of The Craft. I shall neither harm my fellow human with the secrets that I learn, nor shall
I flaunt my beliefs or power before them. Henceforth, from this day, I shall be reborn as (your magickal name) and shall honour, respect and cherish this oath I have taken.
Unwind the cord and place it on the altar. Ring the bell nine times.
Hold the chalice in your left hand and pour from the decanter with your right. Dip your dedication gift into the goblet and place it on your body. Hold the chalice in both hands aloft and say:
With the partaking of this wine I take into my body that of the Goddess, and seal my oath…forever.
Drink half of the wine and hold the half-filled goblet up to the God/dess. Say:
I accept this wine as my offering of thanksgiving.
Hold the plate up and say:
As grain is the bounty of the Goddess, and the eating of it denotes the sacrafice of the Lord and his rebirth, I seal my oath forever as I take into my body that of the Consort!
Thank the deities, then close the circle.
Excert taken from: Silver RavenWolf. To Ride A Silver Broomstick. St. Paul: Llewellyn WorldWide, 1993.
Honoring Pagan Deities Associated with Healing
- B.A., History, Ohio University
- Facebook Facebook
- Twitter Twitter
This ritual is one which can be done on behalf of an ill friend or family member. They do not have to be present for you to do this ritual. In many traditions, it is customary to at least ask permission before doing healing (or any other sort of) magic. However, it is often acceptable to assume you have implied permission – in other words, if you believe in good faith that the individual would want you to perform this rite on their behalf, then you may go ahead and do so without specifically asking for their approval in advance. Follow the guidelines of your own tradition’s belief system and ethical standards.
Keep in mind that someone who is terminally ill may not wish to live longer, and may instead be wishing for release from their pain. As a contrast, someone who is suffering from an acute illness rather than a long-term one may simply want to feel better immediately.
Deities Associated With Healing
This ritual asks the goddess (or god) of your tradition to watch over the ailing individual and assist them with healing. There are a number of different deities associated with healing, from a variety of different pantheons. If your particular flavor of Paganism doesn’t have a god or goddess of healing, consider working with one of these deities:
- Celtic: Airmed, Brighid, Maponus, Sirona
- Greek: Artemis, Apollo, Aesclepius, Hygaiea, Panacaea
- Norse: Eir
- Roman: Bona Dea, Febris, Vejovis
- Egyptian: Heka, Isis
- Yoruba: Aja, Babalu Aye
Prepare the Following Items
- A small (votive or even tealight size) white candle to represent the individual for whom you are doing the ritual
- Healing incense (loose blend) of allspice, bay, yarrow, apple blossoms, lemon balm, cinnamon
- A candle in any color representing the god or goddess you wish to petition for assistance
Begin by casting a circle, if your tradition requires you to do so. Set up your altar as you normally would, placing the god/goddess candle behind the individual candle. In this sample ritual template, we will be using Brighid, but you should substitute the name of the deity upon whom you are calling when you perform this rite.
Recite the Following
I call upon you, Brighid, in a time of need.
I ask your assistance and blessing, for one who is ailing.
[Name] is ill, and she needs your healing light.
I ask you to watch over her and give her strength,
Keep her safe from further illness, and protect her body and soul.
I ask you, great Brighid, to heal her in this time of sickness.
Place the loose incense blend on your brazier (or, if you don’t use a brazier for incense, use a charcoal disc in a bowl or plate) and light it. As the smoke begins to rise, envision your friend’s illness wafting away with the smoke.
Brighid, I ask you to take away [Name]’s illness,
Carry it out to the four winds, never to return.
To the north, take this illness away and replace it with health.
To the east, take this illness away, and replace it with strength.
To the south, take this illness away, and replace it with vitality.
To the west, take this illness away, and replace it with life.
Carry it away from [Name], Brighid, that it may scatter and be no more.
Light the candle representing the god or goddess.
Hail to you, powerful Brighid, I pay you tribute.
I honor you and ask this one small gift.
May your light and strength wash over [Name],
Supporting her in her this time of need.
Use the flame on the deity candle to light the smaller candle, representing your friend.
[Name], I light this candle in your honor tonight.
It is lit from the fires of Brighid, and she will watch over you.
She will guide you and heal you, and ease your suffering.
May Brighid continue to care for you and embrace you in her light.
Take a few moments to meditate on what you really wish for your friend. Once you have finished, allow the candles to burn out on their own if possible.