I realize I am late with this post. I was busy during the week, so I didn’t have a chance to work on the post!
A good ritual is like a good play: it is dramatic. I use “dramatic” in the sense of emotional impact here. The start of the ritual sets into motion an emotional experience that builds up to a high point, then tapers off.
Regardless of tradition, Pagan ritual has five main parts:
- Creation of Sacred Space
- Work to Be Done (whether it is simply worship or an act of magic)
- Deconstruction of Sacred Space
Preparation consists of gathering materials needed for the ritual, purification of participants, and setting up the physical space. Once sacred space is created, through casting a circle or other means, the buildup to the climax of the ritual begins. The climax itself, the emotional high point and the most dramatic moment of the ritual, occurs in the middle of step 3, the reason the ritual is being conducted.
After this dramatic high point, a process begins that gradually returns the participants to a more normal emotional state. In many cases the last half of the ritual serves to help participants reflect on the work done. In ADF this is done using divination; in Wicca this is usually during Cakes and Ale/Wine.
Sacred space is begun to be dismantled by thanking any Otherworldly beings that were invited. Then the space is energetically and spiritually returned to how it was before the ritual. The drama completely disappears during cleanup, which physically returns the space to its pre-ritual state.
Since drama is arguably the most crucial part of a ritual, care must be taken to ensure proper buildup to it. “Proper buildup” means that the ritual’s participants are sufficiently prepared emotionally for the climax. If participants are not prepared, they may be confused or overwhelmed once the rite’s climax occurs, perhaps resulting in fewer participants at the next ritual.
If you have questions or comments, please share them!