The Importance of Pre-Ritual Preparations
Author: Colleen Criswell
Most, if not all of us, who perform rituals and spell work, lead busy and eventful lives. During the day we go to work or school, we run errands, do housework, take care of our families, take care of our pets, deal with our responsibilities that we have in life. We all have stresses, worries, anxieties, regrets, angers, disappointments, frustrations, sorrows that we face. We have our excitements, joys, pleasures, passions, involvements, hopes, dreams, and wishes. All of these different emotions and energies that surround us in our day-to-day lives.
At the same time, we are all on our own personal spiritual paths. We have taken upon ourselves to open our minds and gain more knowledge of our chosen religion and belief and faith system. In our practices with rituals and spell casting, we have a knowledge and understanding of the energies we are raising and sending out, however life does go on and with it are the natural ups and downs that we face with our responsibilities as functioning human beings living in the world today.
How is it that we can deal with a balance of these energies? How do we manage working with positive energies and focusing on our ritual energies when we have had a stressful or bad or even a wonderful and exciting day?
How is it we can separate and have a nice balance of our personal energy with our magickal energy we are working with?
Remember, none of these things have to be done at all. But by even just doing one thing suggested here, you may find that your spell and ritual work is more potent because of the little extra boost that these suggestions can add to your experience.
At the school we hold rituals online for every Sabbat and every Esbat. We also hold other rituals that your fellow students create for class projects. These rituals are usually done in the evening, and where time zone issues can be a factor, there are things that can be done to help ease your self from “Muggle” life to “Magickal” life.
As always, you know when each ritual the school is holding will be, normally, a month in advance. This means you have plenty of time to get the materials you need for the ritual. By immediately gathering things that you need for a ritual ahead of time, you are taking away a lot of the stress and anxiety of being unprepared for the ritual. It also gives you time to charge any new tools you may need or find suitable substitutions for items that are on the list that you do not have.
Waiting to the last minute will have you scrambling around to find what you need. You may find you do not have an important element for the ritual or a suitable substitution. You may be working with tools that have an energy that may not be compatible with the work you are doing. This may hinder the desired result.
So, you have all the items you need. So what, you come home from work, get dinner, put the kids to bed, walk the dog, set up and do the ritual, right? Sure you could do that. But what about the stress that you had from the workday? The fact you burnt the chicken? You son just dumped baby powder all over the rug? You have a test or a presentation to give tomorrow? You are out of toothpaste?
All of these things effect you, effect your emotions, your energy, and in essence your ability to concentrate on your ritual and the magick you are working on. No, it won’t make these things go away, but if you do some pre-ritual preparation it can help you adjust from those stresses and allow them to be put aside for the time being.
This way we can focus on what it is that we are doing.
There are a number of different ways you can make this transition, the thing is you have to take the time to do it, make the known effort and possibly make adjustments to your schedule. I do understand that due to time limitations and schedules and things that need to be done in every day life may cause obstacles for you.
You might feel that you are unable to do these things. The rituals run at 8pm EST, but you live in California, so that makes the ritual start at 5pm PST. You get home at 4:45. You have to fix something to eat for the family or check the kids’ homework first or a million other things.
List out what it is that you normally do when you get home. Is it possible to make any adjustments to these things? A typical ritual runs one hour. So, if you get home at 4:30, your ritual begins at 5:00, it is easy to estimate that it will conclude at 6:00 or around there.
Can you adjust your schedule so that you check the homework a little bit later? Is it possible that someone else will be willing to make dinner for the family that night or is it possible to create the meal the day before so it just needs a few minutes to heat up? Is it possible to get off work a little early that day? We are talking about something that we do once or twice a month.
Is it a lot to ask for one hour from your families to pursue this?
Many people share computer space with other members of the family, so you may not be able to use your computer desk as a permanent personal and sacred space. If this is the case, since you know when the ritual is going to be, gather your tools the night before the ritual to make sure you have every thing you need.
If you can have them set up the night the before and you know they will be undisturbed, by all means get your space ready and set up. This makes it one less thing you need to worry about. If you cannot have it set up the night before, then bring your tools into the room where you will be having it.
It is good to keep them in a container so that people know that this is for something specific and not to move or mess with it. Keep it in the area where you will be having the ritual. Now, as you know when we have the online rituals I ask that you join the room no later than fifteen minutes before the actual ritual begins. Just because you are logged into the chat room does not mean you have to be sitting at your computer.
So when you get home, set up your space, log into the chat room. I usually open the chat room an hour before the ritual is to take place. You now have your tools set up.
Ready to start the ritual? No, not yet.
One aspect of pre ritual preparation that we hear of a lot, but many do not incorporate is the pre-ritual bath. Now many people might say, especially if they are the ones getting home at 4:30 and only have 30 minutes or less before the ritual, I am not going to spend the time to draw a bath!
Then there are people who do not have bathtubs or simply do not like to take baths. One thing that you can do is a ritual shower. Another argument is “But I took a bath or shower this morning, do I really need to take another one?”
Now why is it that ritual baths and rituals showers are important before a ritual? What purpose do these activities accomplish? What all is involved in a ritual bath or shower?
When we hear these words, the images that usually pop into mind are, for a bath a long relaxing lounge in bubbles with maybe some candles maybe some music playing. A shower is usually considered something quick, cleansing your body fast and efficient. A ritual bath and ritual shower are not about physically cleaning yourself.
The purpose of a ritual bath or shower is to remove negative energy from you and to put you in the proper mindset before a ritual. Now this can also be done simply by using sage incense to smudge yourself, however where this is a fast and simple quick fix, it may not be enough.
The element of water is in tune with our emotions. It can be an amplifier for your emotions and it can be soothing to them as well. After a long day where maybe you had a rough day at the office, maybe you got a nasty call from a bill collector, you daughter’s teacher called you and she is failing math, your sister’s water just broke and is off to have her first child, you have a hot date tomorrow night. All of these things are running in your mind. With all of this built up energy, how might it affect your magickal work?
Taking a bath or a shower is relaxing. Allowing the water to carry some of that excess energy away from your system. When you add other elements to it, you can purify and cleanse your energies to prepare you to do what magickal work that you have planned.
For a bath, I would recommend adding salt to the water. You can use something as simple as table salt or use sea salt. However, for this type of thing I would not suggest bath salts that are commercially made or bath beads or bubbles. To purify, just water and salt is all you need. If you feel that your energy needs a positive or protective boost I would add a 1/4 to a 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar. This helps cleanse and balance the aura. You would put these elements into the bath as you are running the water to help disperse the energies.
Next, think of the type of ritual you will be doing. What sort of energies are you going to be working with? Check your correspondence charts for proper oils, stones, incense, even music that might help aid in the energies you are planning on raising.
For instance, if we are doing a ritual to help increase your psychic abilities, I know that lavender and amethyst both help aid in this. I also know that the color purple promotes strengthening your psychic abilities. So, for my bath I would light some purple candles, light some lavender incense, put some amethyst stones into the bath water, and then once my bath is completely ready I would drop in a few drops of lavender essential oil. I would then soak for no less than ten minutes. Allowing myself to relax. Breathing in the scents, absorbing the energies, meditating on opening my Third Eye Chakra.
This can also be done for a shower. If you can close the drain, do so. Gathering the water in the bottom as you shower. Again place the salt, vinegar, oil, stones that you are going to use to aide you in the energy that you need to bring in. Also, get a washcloth, and create a bundle. In the bundle put the salt and some of the essential oil that you are planning on using, and then using the base of the bundle you have created scrub yourself. Focusing on the energies you are removing and on the energies you are bringing in.
Now we have finished with our bath or shower and have dried off. Next what is it we should be wearing? Depending on your personal tradition, you might choose to practice skyclad. However, there are times when skyclad may not be appropriate.
Having ritual wear is not mandatory, however it is a way you can prepare yourself for what it is you are going to do. Our clothes that we wear from day to day also attract energies. Also, remember, colors have specific energies as well.
When you are doing magickal work it is good to make sure that all the energies you are working with are in sync. Taking the time to wear something special for your ritual work also puts you in a more relaxed and proper state of mind. Removing the “Muggle” clothing, as it were, into your ritual robes is a ritual all unto itself.
I have created not only my ritual robes, but I also have specific jewelry that I wear only for ritual work. I also have created slippers for my ritual work. Many of us may like to go around barefoot, but there are times when we may need the protection. Deciding on ritual wear doesn’t have to be extravagant. If you can afford a bulky medieval costume and feel comfortable with it, then by all means wear it, or if you find a simple cotton nightdress that you like, then by all means use that.
One thing I will mention about ritual wear, proper care and storage is important. Our ritual wear is part of our magickal tools. Just as your athame or wand or incense, it is to be respected and cared for. Also, just as you would with any ritual tool, you should charge it with energy and consecrate it. We will discuss more on ritual wear in another discussion.
When putting on your ritual wear, don’t just throw it on, take your time and focus on each item you are putting on, and what it represents to you. Feel your own transformation from the busy executive or housewife into a practitioner of magick.
Now you are ready to sit down and perform your ritual.
Now, before I end, please note, that these are not the only ways of preparing yourself before a ritual. When you understand the different correspondences, the different vibrations that certain colors, scents, stones, foods and music give off, you can incorporate it all in your entire day.
Wear colors that promote the energy that you are going to be raising during the day, even if it is just one item in the color. Wear a scent that will draw the energies to you. Wear or carry gems or stones.
If you do daily devotions, focus on the deities that will help you create that energy. Also, your whole day can reflect the energy you are going to be raising that evening. If you can find ways that are appropriate, do it, try it.
One of my favorite things, as I am a Kitchen Witch is to eat foods that might be known to assist with the energy I am planning on working with. I usually plan a menu for a special dinner around it, but also I do start in the morning with breakfast and through out the day I try to think of what the energy is I am going to work with and what things I can eat that will add to it.
This is why I make you create so many charts here at the school. When you understand your correspondence charts; know the colors, numbers, symbols, herbs, foods, drinks, teas, deities, times of the day, when you have this information, why not use it to your advantage?
Now let me give you an example of a day of preparation for me that I would do. Keep in mind I am a stay at home mom, so I do know that what I do may not work with your own personal schedule, I am just giving you an idea to help you come up with your own plan.
Lets go back to the example I gave before, on a ritual for increasing your psychic abilities. Things I might do to prepare during the day would be:
I know that purple is a color that I associate with psychic awareness. So, I would wear my purple shirt or add a purple scarf to my clothes, or even wear purple underwear.
I know that the Third Eye Chakra is used when working with your psychic abilities. So during the day I would do meditations and exercises that I know help open and balance the Third Eye Chakra.
I know that the number 7 is associated with psychic energy, so maybe during the day I would do things in 7’s or possibly I would have a snack of 7 slices of apple.
Speaking of foods, I know that dandelion leaves, grapes, olives, lavender, beans, cheese, eggs, tea, anise, cloves, marigold, onion, peppermint, yarrow, cinnamon, poppy, saffron, thyme, celery, rosemary, chamomile, corn, lettuce, among other things can help promote psychic abilities. So I can choose recipes and plan my meals using some of these items.
I know amethyst is a gem associated with divination and psychic abilities. So I would wear jewelry that has this stone in it.
I know that the runic symbol Laguz; the planetary symbols of the Moon, Neptune and Pluto; symbols of the Dark moon, spirals in the Deosil direction, representations of the Moon, the ocean, the pentacle, the rainbow, the scales, spirals, the Waning Crescent Moon, and the wind also help with this purpose.
I can put these images on the candles I will be using for my ritual, when I put on my scent, maybe draw the pattern, visualize the symbols during meditation, carve them into the food, trace the pattern as you stir something, or how about a snack? Take a piece of bread, and using a squeezable bottle of grape jelly draw the pattern onto the bread?
I know that lavender is associated with this, so I would possibly burn lavender incense during the day, or put a little lavender EO on my wrist. Maybe pick some fresh lavender and bring it into the home.
Prepare my ritual space in advance.
Create a special meal for my family that uses the ingredients, numbers, and symbols that I know will help enhance my psychic abilities.
Take time during the day for reflection and meditate on Selene and Pan or other deities who are associated with divination and psychic abilities.
Research psychic abilities and new forms of divination.
Take a pre ritual bath with salt, lavender oil, amethyst crystals, lavender incense and purple candles.
Turn on some soothing New Age music
Dress myself in my ritual wear
Perform my ritual
When you put your mind set into what it is you are planning on raising, energy wise, you will find that not only does it add to your entire experience, it transforms the entire day into a magickal day. Our magick doesn’t have to be only on Sabbats or Esbats. Our magick doesn’t have to only be practiced at the main altar you have set up. Magick can be done all day, every day. These tips and ideas don’t have to be only done pre-ritual. You can incorporate these things into just about any part of your life. It is simply deciding to take the effort to do so.
So, to recap:
Have your items in advance. Make sure your tools are ready for your work before the ritual is to take place.
Try to give yourself time to prepare yourself for your ritual.
Take a pre-ritual bath or shower to help balance your energies and use tools to help increase the energies you are going to be working with.
Put on your ritual wear.
During your day, incorporate the elements or theme of the ritual into what you wear, what you eat, and what you do.
Even if you just take the time to do one little extra thing, you will very likely notice the difference in your magickal work. If you start doing this in your everyday life, you may find it a bit more magickal.