How to Write a Magical Ritual
A new thought or realisation has come into your head during a meditation session and you'd like to develop it, or perhaps you've been inspired by something you've read, or you've visited a sacred site and formed your own inner impressions … how can you turn these ideas into a magical ritual?
The basis of a good ritual is very simple: it is a form of communication between all the participants, visible and invisible, who inhabit the many levels of Creation. You must convey what you want to say to the participants who will be helping you to perform it, and you must also communicate the essence of the ritual to the Inner plane Beings who will empower it.
An effective ritual will probably include all or most of the following:
1. Statement of intention
2. Construction of the Temple
3. Contact with Inner-world beings
4. Pathworking or guided meditational journey ('rising on the planes')
6. Grounding and Closing
1. Statement of intention
You must be clear as to the purpose of the ritual, and this statement of purpose or intention should be written clearly and briefly right at the start. The purpose of this statement is to assist all participants to become of one mind and in one place, and is a signal to everyone involved that they should now begin to focus their attention on the specific work in hand.
Sometimes the purpose of a ritual is simple and clear-cut: 'To consecrate and dedicate a sword,' or 'To travel along the 27th Path,' or 'To make contact with Merlin,' or 'To build the Round Table.'
Other rituals can be less specific in their aim, for example: 'To gain greater reality on the Holy Grail,' or 'To celebrate the Rites of Dionysus,' or 'To explore the Mysteries of Isis.'
If you have difficulty in defining the purpose of your ritual in a sentence or two, you might need to think more carefully about what you are hoping to achieve. A ritual is very often an expression of personal realisations and inner growth, but if you have written something intended for group work it will not be sufficient to jumble your personal realisations into a script in the hope that they will somehow come together and make sense in the performance! Your personal realisations must be communicated to the participants in a manner which makes it possible for them to share in your experience without undue difficulty. Everyone involved should be clear as to what they are doing, and why.
2. The Construction of the Temple
The form of the Temple used in any ritual must be a reflection of fundamental universal principles. It goes without saying that the form and content of anything you write for ritual performance should in every way possible be in accordance with Divine Plan. The more closely the layout of your ritual corresponds to, and evokes, the harmony of universal forces, the more readily will your work harmonise with the perfection of the Divine. Thus will your ritual synchronise with the machinery of the universe rather than grating against it.
Unless you have good reason for doing otherwise, the best and most easily balanced form to use is that of the circled cross. The circle can be marked out on the floor, or simply implied by the circle of chairs and participants. Divide your ritual script into four speaking roles, and have each person with a speaking role sit in one of the four cardinal directions of the circle.
3. Contact and communication with Inner-world beings
The importance of communication with the Inner Plane Beings in a ritual cannot be overstated. They play an essential part in a ritual's effectiveness and without their active co-operation a ritual can be little more than a piece of costume drama.
A magical ritual should open gateways to, and invoke the presence of, layers of Inner plane Beings from God downwards! Assuming a layout of a circled cross with a central candle, the potential contacts at each quarter are first the aspect of God or Name of God appropriate for that quarter, then the appropriate Archangel, and then perhaps the elemental King and the elemental beings. These should be invoked at the start of each ritual in order to help build, dedicate and seal the Temple and ensure a smooth and harmonious flow of power.
There is then a second 'layer' of contacts which are chosen for their particular relevance to the ritual and these will vary according to the content. For instance, in an Arthurian ritual they might be Arthur, Gwenevere, Merlin and the Lady of the Lake, or any of the Knights and Ladies of the Round Table. Or you could use characters from Tolkien, or Saints, or Biblical characters, or totem beasts.
The importance of this second layer of contacts is that they continue to play an active part throughout the ritual, and having invoked their presence, the person mediating each of these roles should then continue to mediate their presence throughout. It is therefore important to ensure wherever possible that the words they have to speak will be relevant to the role they are mediating.
And don't forget the importance of ritual actions. Simply lighting a candle, if it is done with focussed intention, can be an extremely effective way of communicating what you are doing to the Inner plane Beings.
Or you might like to choose some symbols such as a wand for Merlin, or a crystal ball for the Lady of the Lake, or whatever is suitable for the speaking roles in your ritual.
4. Pathworking or guided inner journey: rising on the planes
This is the main part of the ritual. The purpose of this section is to take the participants together on a journey upwards in consciousness from the physical plane to a location on a higher plane of creation. Here, you can experience the Inner reality which lies at the heart of the ritual. Without this journey, you will literally find it difficult to get your ritual off the ground. There are many possible Inner locations: Atlantis, a Sephirah on the Tree of Life, the Hesperides, Venus, Camelot, the Duat, Elysium, Avalon, the Pleiades …
Having decided on the destination appropriate to the purpose of the ritual, structure your journey towards it in gradual stages, steadily travelling up through the levels of consciousness and the Inner planes. Many myths and legends incorporate a structured journey to an Inner location and it is simply a matter of re-writing the story in ritual form. Many legends are memories of actual rituals, and once you have extracted the core material from them they readily lend themselves to being represented as a magical ritual.
If you feel confident in constructing your own inner map rather than using a tried and tested one, you can for example climb the floors of a tower, or sail in a boat around the starry constellations, or travel up the Nile, or through the desert, or up a mountain, or down into the Underworld, or slowly walk round a Temple or Abbey. The number of levels you climb depends on your subject matter, on your skills and experience as a ritual-writer, and on the skills and experience of the participants. Generally, seven levels of consciousness/Inner planes are the maximum to aim for, and many legends are built around this structure. But three well-differentiated levels will often be sufficient.
You may also like to give thought to providing a 'vehicle' in which the ritual participants can travel. For example, a boat works well as an inner construct.
It is in this section of the ritual that you can use your imagination and creativity to best effect. The other participants will respond well to clear, well-painted images which make the journey come alive. It is through the collective building of images on the Inner planes that the magic comes alive.
If creative writing does not come easily to you, there is nothing wrong in using words that others have written, and many good rituals have been constructed from carefully chosen passages from a wide variety of sources such as myth and legend, the Bible, ancient texts, poetry and visionary prose.
When the participants have been taken to the ritual's inner destination, the purpose of the ritual should finally be 'realised,' i.e. made real in the consciousness of those taking part. It will be up to each participant to gain his or her own realisations, and you cannot necessarily prescribe them. But if you have constructed your ritual with a view to its final intention, you will have satisfactorily created the opportunity for such realisations to be made. You will also have helped to create a balanced and empowered structure on the Inner planes which can be used for the furtherance of the Divine Will in the continuing Great Work. The participants will have reached a place of spiritual truth not normally accessible in waking consciousness, made it real through their own perceptions and understanding, and then brought those realisations back to earth. This is the ultimate aim of any magical ritual.
6. Grounding and Closing
When the destination has been reached, the reality which is perceived and experienced there must be ritually brought back to earth, and then grounded through the consciousness and actions of the participants in their daily lives. So the journey back home must also be carefully written into the ritual. It is not necessary to slowly retrace every step of the outward journey, but it should be taken at a speed which will allow the participants to gently return to normal waking consciousness without any disconcerting bumps. The 'homeward journey' also allows for the build-up of Inner forces to disperse through the appropriate channels within the Temple and out into the world, and sometimes a final section of imagery can be used in order to fully earth the ritual experience. For example, this could be a visualisation of four sacred rivers flowing out from the centre to the corners of the land.
Keep these principles in mind, and your magical ritual will be an effective act of service to humanity.
Gareth Knight Group Knowledge Paper. All rights reserved.