Just about everyone has their own pre-ritual, ritual. But there are set things that really should be adhered to prior to any ritual, regardless of how you do them. First and foremost, you should not drink alcohol or do drugs a minimum of 12 hours prior to any ritual. It is not merely a matter of respect for the Gods and others attending. These substances also cause one to have less control over their own energies and it will affect the work being done not to mention other attendees. Please show respect when attending a ritual and do not do drugs or drink alcohol beforehand (this includes hangovers).
Before any ritual take time to bath or shower. This enables you to not only attend ritual clean and feeling good but also gives you a chance to ground and get rid of any negativity from your day. When bathing before ritual feel free to add essential oils, herbs etc that help you to relax, ground, center and unwind. Going into ritual stressed out serves no one.
Next step is to put on your ritual garb and any ritual jewelry that you may have. This step is all about mental triggers. When attending ritual, you are stepping into sacred space, a world between worlds, a time that is not a time. Having specific items that you wear for ritual helps to shift your focus to this fact. It helps flip that switch in your conscious and subconscious that says you are about to take part in something sacred.
Finally you should always ground and center before every ritual. Take time to connect with the powers of the Lord and Lady, and release any energies that do not serve the purpose of the ritual, yourself, other attendees or the Gods. Also take this time to focus on the purpose of the ritual, ask your higher self if it is ok to go ahead with the ritual if it’s purpose is for spell work etc.
Each of these steps can be done in whatever manner works for you, but they should be done prior to every ritual you perform or attend, either alone or with others. Feel free to try ritual without making the above preparations and then try the same ritual after doing the above preparations, I am sure you will see a profound difference.
Any space being used for ritual should be physically and energetically cleaned before the ritual is performed. Take time during the day or even the day before to tidy up, sweep and wash the floor, dust etc. Energetically cleaning the space is often done as part of the ritual but doesn’t have to be. Preparing the space with all 4 elements, washing with salt water, smudging and/or sweeping with a besom are all good ways to energetically cleanse a space. I have included the Besom Chant below and a sample of how to cleanse a space using the elements.
If the ritual area is used for other purposes it should be cleaned both physically and energetically each time you do ritual. If this space is used for ritual only then that is not necessary. However, it will need to be done the first time the space is used and at regular intervals throughout the year.
After cleaning the area, set up the items you need for the ritual that will be taking place. Set up your altar, quarter candles, seasonal decorations etc. Anything that will be needed for the ritual so everything is in place when it is needed.
By: Ed Fitch
Besom, Besom long and lithe
Made of ash and willow withe
Tied with thongs of willow bark
By running stream at moonset dark.
With the pentagram indighted
As the ritual fire is lighted;
Sweep ye circle, deosil,
Sweep out evil, sweep out ill,
Make the round of the ground
Where we do the Lady’s will.
Besom, besom, Witches’ broom
Sweep out darkness, sweep out doom
Rid ye Lady’s hallowed ground
Of demons, imps and Hel’s red hounds;
Then stand ye down on Her green earth
By running stream or Mistress’ hearth,
‘Till called upon at Sabbath night
To cleanse once more this sacred site.
Start in the West walking clockwise around the space, sprinkle water around perimeter saying:
“May this space be cleansed by water and made sacred.”
Start in the North walking clockwise around the space, sprinkle salt around the perimeter saying:
“May this space be purified by earth and made sacred.”
Start in the East walking clockwise around the space, carrying smoking incense/smudge, or a fan etc around the perimeter saying:
“May this space by consecrated by Air and made sacred.”
Start in the South walking clockwise around the space, carrying a lit candle (preferably red, but not essential) around the perimeter saying:
“May this space be charged with fire and made sacred.”
Your temple can be either indoors or outdoors, although outdoors is preferred whenever possible. The size of the space used for your temple will depend on how many people will be attending the ritual. Any room from the size of a small bedroom to your living room or den will do. Regardless of where your temple is located, there is a standard temple set up that should be used. However, creative license and functionality are encouraged. If your temple area also doubles as regular living space, make sure to cleanse and consecrate it before each ritual.
When designing your temple space keep in mind that the area used will actually be a circle and not the square or rectangle that the room actually is. There should be Elemental altars in each quarter or at least a spot to put a candle and the elemental representative. These can be a simple or as elaborate as you like. There are three standard altar positions; North, North – East and center. Keep in mind that the altar can go anywhere depending on the allowance of the space being used. If outdoors a fire pit, bowl or cauldron should be in the center. The temple should also be set up so that attendees can enter from the East if at all possible. Other temple items, decorations, larger tools etc, can be either placed in their corresponding quarter or wherever it is functional. Keep in mind that this space is where you invite the Gods, treat it with respect and reverence.
The Altar is your magickal work space, a place for worship and personal expression of your view of the Gods. Decorate it as you please. The altar itself can be any flat surface (any shape) from a specific table, chest or cabinet to a shelf on a bookcase, top of a dresser box that is put away after use or even the floor/ground. Altars are usually covered with an altar cloth which can be as plain or elaborate as you desire, but try to keep it of natural materials.
As with your temple space feel free to use artistic license and functionality when setting up your altar, but keep in mind the few standard rules that apply. The pentacle or paten is always in the center, the Goddess/feminine tools to the left and the God/masculine tools to the right. Tools that are too large to place on the altar can be placed on the ground/floor in front or beside it.
- Feminine tools: Cauldron, Chalice etc.
- Masculine tools: Athame, Wand etc.
- Pentacle/Paten and any spell/working items.
- Source candle: usually white or black
- a) Goddess candle and symbols
b) God candle and symbols
6. a) Tools of Earth – bowl of salt, crystals etc
b) Tools of Air – censor, feather etc
c) Tools of Fire – candle, etc
d) Tools of water – bowl of water, Ancestor candle, libation dish, etc.