When you are capable of designing your own rituals, without depending upon spellbooks, you will be able to truly say you are a witch. You will be free of others ideas and conceptions and able to create magic based upon your own knowledge and inspiration. It is a tremendously freeing moment when you perform your first original ritual, one that you will remember as a turning point in your journey in the craft. The point of this site is to help you achieve this step in your magical development. By utilizing the tables of correspondences; the information on the powers and uses of herbs, candles, crystals, and other materials; and putting this together with wording that is appropriate to your intent; you will be able to write and perform your own original rituals.
Rituals may be done for religious reasons or for more practical ones, both types are rituals. Often the sort for a practical purpose is referred to as a spell, and the performing of it is referred to as casting a spell. Not all rituals are done for magical purposes, but all spells are. There is no reason why one could not combine a devotional portion with a spell in the same ritual. The only times that spells are not a part of ritual are the Sabbats and Esbats, which are reserved for religious purposes, at other times the two purposes may be combined.
Rituals follow a basic pattern. The circle is cast, the purpose for the ritual is stated in a spoken spell, and any actions are performed. Thanks are then given and the circle is opened. The casting of the circle is discussed in another section, see Casting the Circle. Here we will discuss the spoken spell, the actions performed, and giving thanks. This includes the use of correspondences; incense, oils and other herbal preparations; crystals; candles; and other magical basics to add to the strength of your ritual and aid in it's success. Visualization of the achievement of the goal or intent is also very important and we will discuss this as well.
The first step of designing a ritual is determining the elements to include, what correspondences will you use, do you want to use a candle as a focal point, will you be using crystals or herbs to add power to your ritual? Consult the tables of correspondences and determine which coincide with your ritual intent. Find the planetary correspondence for your purpose first as it is the most basic of them all. You can determine the timing of the ritual based upon this information, find the day that is ruled by that planet and you know when to perform the spell. After you have the day you can chose from the hours on that day, ruled by the planet. If you want to use candles look up the color correspondence for your intent to determine the color candle to use. If you would like to add crystals to your altar arrangement for the ritual you can consult the section on crystals to determine which would be most useful. Find an incense that is appropriate if you would like to use one during the ritual. Once you have these bits together you are ready to move on to the wording of the spell.
The spoken words of the ritual communicate your desire. They are to be spoken aloud, not read silently. The sound of your voice conveys the meaning of the words to the universe, allowing your desire to begin it's way toward manifestation. The words used should be specific enough to describe your desire or goal clearly and completely. If a particular date or person is involved in achieving your intent it should be stated clearly. If your intent is more general, your wording can be more general as well. You do not have to justify your desire, argue your worthiness to receive it, or bargain for it. You simply state it clearly and succinctly. It is not enough to just read the words from a sheet of paper, one must feel the wanting for the goal and express the words with appropriate emotion. After all, if you don't REALLY want it, why are you bothering?
I find personally, that it helps me to differentiate the speaking of a spell from everyday conversation by using more formal and archaic wording. This helps the spoken spell stand out and puts it on another level of communication. Some prefer to keep the wording natural, as they would usually speak. Many insist that the words of a spell must rhyme, personally I do not do this and have quite good results. You will know which way to go based upon your own likes and feelings on the subject. What sort of spoken spells have resonated most for you in the past? Which spells do you find particularly effective for you personally? This is the model that you will want to follow for writing your own spells. If the thees and thous feel stilted and phony, and you can't say them with a straight face, you won't want to use them. If you don't feel it's really magic without them, you will want to use them. It's up to you.
There are two choices when it comes to the words of a spell, you can completely plan them out and write them down as a script to follow prior to performing the ritual, or you can think about what you want to say in advance but speak extemporaneously during the ritual. For those perfoming their first few original rituals it is generally easier to write yourself a script, that way you won't get flustered during the ritual or forget what you wanted to say. Even those with more experience performing ritual may prefer to have a script available to consult during the spell. It can serve as a guide, you may not follow it completely, but it acts as an outline. If you do plan to use a script, you should have it available on the altar so you can refer to it. This will be part of your preparations for the ritual.
As the time for the ritual nears, set up the altar with the items you have determined to use for the ritual; incense, crystals, herbs, candles, and any other materials required. Arrange the items on the altar as they will be used. Doublecheck that you aren't forgetting anything important, it is very disruptive of a ritual to have to leave the circle to go get something you require. Be sure you have matches or a lighter to light the altar candles for example. The space should be cleared of any stray energies by smudging the room, casting about a purification infusion or sweeping it away with your besom.
At this point you will want to prepare yourself for the ritual by taking a purification bath with appropriate herbs, bath salts or by simply adding a handful of salt to the bath water. If it isn't possible to bathe, you should smudge yourself with sage or a purification incense to remove any negative vibrations you may have picked up. This is done by lighting the sage or smouldering the incense in a censer and wafting the smoke over yourself. You may wish to anoint yourself with an appropriate oil for the intent of the ritual, or wear gemstone jewelery with appropriate correspondences, this is the time to put them on.
When the time comes begin the ritual by casting the circle. You will then light the altar candles and state the purpose of the ritual. Read your script or make your statement from memory. If you are using crystals you need only have them on the altar, no action is required, but if you are using herbs in some way do it at this point; or if you are using incense or candles it is time to light them. It is important to visualize the success of the ritual and the achievement of the goal as you perform the actions of the ritual. As the candles and/or incense burn visualize yourself having obtained your desire. Spend several minutes contemplating this silently. When you feel that your visualization is as realistic and complete as possible you may end the ritual by giving thanks to your Goddess or God, or the forces of the universe, or however you picture the powers that you are appealing to. Then open the circle and it is done.
It is important to ground yourself after conducting rituals as otherwise the excess energies can produce physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia or nervousness. At the close of the ritual you will want to seat yourself on the floor and give the energies an opportunity to go to ground by sitting or laying down and placing your palms on the floor. Visualize the energy flowing through your body and out of your hands into the earth. Return the unused energy to it's source. Eating or drinking is also a part of grounding as it returns your mind to the mundane world and relieves the heightened state your senses reach during ritual. You don't have to eat a whole meal, but some cider and cakes or your favorite quick bread would be nice. This can be included as a part of the ritual and seasonal snacks may be served. A little nosh does wonders.
Any candles used to represent the desire should be allowed to burn themselves out on their own. The incense can also be allowed to burn. Be sure that there are not drapes or other materials near the candles that could start a fire and check to be sure they are out before you go to bed. You should extinguish the altar candles and watchtower candles as they may be reused for the next ritual you conduct. If you have prepared an herbal mixture as a part of the ritual you will want to package it appropriately for use. A sprinkling blend may be put in a plastic bag for transportation to where it will be used. An infusion may be placed in a jar or bowl for sprinkling, etc. Any crystals used may be left on the altar until the candles burn out, then put away for future use.
After the candles have burned down and the incense is consumed, you take any leftover bits and pieces and bury them in the ground. If you live where this is not possible however, it is perfectly acceptable to wrap them up and throw them away. If, despite my previous warnings, you have been up to no good and have gone and done a negative bit of magic, you should not bury the remains near your home. Take them to a crossroads and bury them or a vacant lot, but do not bury them in your yard. They are as negative as your intent, and you don't want their energies near you.
If you leave your altar set up all the time just tidy it up and put the ritual tools where you normally keep them. If you take your altar down between workings put everything away. If you clean the candle holders each time they are used you won't have so much trouble getting the wax drippings off. If they don't come off easily, put them in the freezer for a bit and they will. If you get wax on your altar cloth you can usually remove it by holding an ice cube on it for a minute and then scraping it. Any remaining wax can be removed after it is washed with a moderate iron and a towel. Place the cloth on a paper towel. Warm the spot with the iron and daub it with another towel until it's almost completely gone. Another washing and it should be fine.
After the ritual is done, and the spell is cast, you should stop thinking and worrying about it. You have done what you intended and it is complete, forget about it. Go on about your life. Continuing to second guess yourself or redoing the ritual over and over in your mind simply muddles up the process. Give it a chance to work, leave it alone! If you feel you must do something, or even if you don't, do something practical towards reaching the goal. If you did a spell for a new job check the classifieds and go to employment agencies. If you did a spell to attract love go out and participate in the world, meet people, do things you enjoy - you never know where you might meet someone special. You get the idea though, forget about the spell and get on with the mundane aspects of achieving the rituals intent. You must give your efforts an opportunity to manifest themselves. And when you do get what you wanted, don't be an ungrateful little wretch, thank your deities for what you have received and appreciate the generosity of the universe in which we live.