Ritual is the systematic working procedure dedicated to achieve a particular aim or effect on individuals or groups. It is usually a practice that when repeated, with the same intention, dedication, working methods, time and sacramental techniques produce the effects or affects. Ritual is learned by practice and observation, but it has become increasingly necessary to list methods for building a ritual, plus samples of ritual and hopefully, to construct practical operations for themselves in a private capacity and perhaps they will leave something for those who follow.
A ritual must have intention. That is, there must be a purpose for the ceremony, even if it be simple devotion. The purpose must be understood ahead of the time of working and not change during the course of the work. Next, there must be method. Any work must not be performed haphazardly. This does not mean perfection of performance, but simply no flouncing around. The Priest, Priestess, or ritual leader must know what he or she is doing, and move steadily toward that purpose using whatever method has been agreed upon, not changing that method in the middle of the stream.
Mood is also very important. One works on many levels in ritual, for we live on all planes
simultaneously. It is the inner reponse to the outer action that affects the changes caused by what we term magic. This inner or subconscious change reflects directly upon our outer physical plane self and directly and indirectly upon the self that exists on the other planes. Therefore it is necessary for emotional control so that concentration and meditation can effectively be worked. It is necessary to hold attention for long periods of time on one subject, and mixed emotions hinder this. In methods such as healing,
it is necessary to direct your feelings to the person you are working for, and if these feelings do not produce the proper or desired result, harm rather than healing results. Also, when directing powers from other levels, the wrong mood can call adverse vibrations to you, or your inner self will interpret the result in the wrong fashion and damage could occur. Therefore, it is necessary to approach ritual in a frame of mind that will help, not hinder your work. It is best to begin thinking about the ceremony days before the actual working. It is necessary to avoid people a few hours before the ritual. Immerse yourself in the emotion that is to accompany your work. Walking out of doors helps to open oneself to the vastness of the universe. Taking a bath helps to effect the feeling of purity. Music certainly helps to calm the emotions, or excite them if that is the way of the ritual. Music is one of the prime factors that can be an aid to ritual construction. Music can change or create mood. Music is the method we can use to adequately instruct the innerself of the attitudes we wish to obtain in ritual worship.
The approach to all these methods is, of course, through the mind. We are psychological beings. It must be recognized that all of our realizations, all of our perceptions, are based upon the action and reaction of the inner and outer minds. In the methods described above, all of the action occurs through the mental channels.
All of these methods use in some way the same methods of repetetive wordage. The idea is to implant the emotion through the use of sound, color and through vibration into the inner mind, affecting the symbols there, effecting the results desired. Other tools, such as smell (incense), feel (tools), and the interaction of mind to mind response used in groups are useful to help the individual more easily perform the task he sets for himself.
A Book of Pagan Rituals