Although this basic Ritual outline is sourced from our Primordial Wytchecraft training, it can provide a structure for solitary practitioners, which can be adapted and changed as the practitioner becomes more experienced. Focusing is vitally important during the creation of any sacred space
A "basic" ritual structure looks something like this:
I can't say enough in this section to make it clear how important preparation is, researching your ritual and spell workings, ensuring you understand what you are about to do, rehearsing and making sure things run the way you wish them to, and making sure you have everything on hand before you begin. I have seen the best written Rituals fall apart because of lack of preparation.
Ground and Centre:
Before begininng any form of energy work is is vitally important that the practitioner is in a serene, balanced state of mind with their own personal energy under control. To ensure this happens it is important for the practitioners to ground and centre before beginning any form of ritual. This may be done simply by sitting on the floor and visualising a root extending down from your base chakra into the Earth and 'branches' extending out into the cosmos from your crown chakra.
The act of cutting a circle with the Ritual Knife, Sword or Wand (dependant upon one's personal choice, or traditions) is in itself a Ritual act - that of creating of creating sacred space, by utilising your will to carve out a space - to create a space that is outside of normal reality, where time and the mundane no longer exist.
Some practitioners energise the ritual space with a power raising chant, praise poetry, or a song honouring the spirit as they cut.
Although many Pagan traditions do not have this step (it being most commonly linked to Wiccan/Wytchecraft Traditions), sweeping can however be beneficial to the ritual preparations. There are as many ways to "sweep' the circle as there are Traditions and any of these can be adapted to the purpose of the Rite to be performed.
One method is to use the Broom/Besom to clear out all the mundane rubbish from the circle, as you also clear all negativity, this is particularly useful if you work within an established outdoor Sacred Space such as a grove.
Some traditions gently sweep over the feet of the members to help ground and release whatever ills they may have incurred over the day, week or month since the last ritual, before sharing energy within the Circle.
Sweeping should be a consciously aware action of cleansing the space in preparation for the sacred rite to come.
Some Traditions mays use a Besom chant that they have written themselves, or the chant used while casting the circle may be continued during the sweeping. Other Traditions may incorporate clapping or feet stamping. Most traditions however which use a broom in their cleansing will have their own particular Besom Chant
The purification of the circle with the four elements is a vital step in any ritual.
However within Primordial Wytchcecraft it is more than simply purification, this allows the practitioner/s to begin to attune themselves to the cornerstones of creation: Fire, Water, Earth Air and Spirit. Each element is present in our body, and in our physiological make up, we use this step to attune ourselves to the pure essence of each element.
As we hold each element - carrying around the candle, the shell of water, earth bowl and the incense, we are observing, connecting and honouring each element in order of its creation.
However in some traditions the combination of salt and water (aspersing), air and fire (smudging) are used for a similar purpose, the act of pouring the salt into the water or lighting the incense is where one attunes with the elements in this scenario.
With the aid of the elementals, we purifying the area and make it a fitting place for Worship, Ritual and Devotion.
Calling the Quarters:
At each of the cardinal points (East, South, West and North) the aligning element and elementals are called to the circle. The elements associated with the Various Cardinal points may differ from group to group, dependant upon tradition and where they are based (Northern Hemisphere Practitioners are often different to Southern Hemisphere Practitioners of the same tradition)
Within Primordial Wytchecraft, here in the Southern Hemisphere we attribute the elements as follows - Fire is in the North, Water to the West, Earth is in the South and Air is attributed to the East. This also follows the order of creation during the calling, Fire was the first of the Elements created, followed by Water, Earth and finally Air - culminating in the fifth element and the creation of Life - Spirit.
When calling the Quarters (or the "Watchtowers" as they are often referred to, due to their role as Guardians of the Circle), it is important to remember that we are calling up the essence of that element.
Pagans are aware that there are creatures that inhabit the different elements, Fire - Salamander, Water - Undines, Earth - Gnomes and Air has Sylphs,.
When we call the quarters we are not directly inviting all the Sylphs to the circle, but are inviting the "highest" guardian in that realm to come and witness/guard the circle, and lend their energies to the work being performed. Each element governs certain attributes (both positive and negative), more information of which can be found in Correspondences.
Calling the God and Goddess:
Whilst it is always good to balance the male and female principals, one does not need to call both God and Goddess for every Ritual (remembering that even the Gods contain the polarity of masculine and feminine - see Hermetic Laws).
However, if you are choosing to call both Goddess and God, the pairing of the Gods must be well researched prior to the ritual. Just because one Goddess is a healing goddess, you wouldn't necessarily call her along with another healing god of the same pantheon (nor would you call one from another pantheon all together-- really bad form.) They might not get along, or it would be inappropriate to call them together. In the case of the Irish main healing gods (Diana and Brighid), they do get along, each having their own expertise; however you wouldn't necessarily call them together. Practitioners should be sure to only evoke/invoke the aid of deities they know well; preferably deities which they have had prior devotional (worship) experience
The Work is the actual ritual, spell or other 'work' to be performed, the focus of the ritual. Obviously this is the most important part of the ritual and the construction of the Ritual should be designed to embrace the 'work'.
When creating a ritual the practitioner may choose to write the 'work' first so that the beginning and end can be adapted to suit it perfectly. By studying the myths and folklore of our Patron Deity, we can see what our particular pantheon did for celebrations, or what kind of magickal work they may have performed during this time of celebration. Many Covens choose to adapt these accounts into Ritual form.
Spell work however is the creation of each individual Coven or practitioner. Look at source books as a guide, but ultimately a spell formulated by your own hands is always best.
When you have created a spell from scratch you have research it thoroughly, ensured you have included all requirements, and adapted it to your own personal needs the you will understand what goes into it, and know what benefits are to be reaped in the work.
Cakes and Ale Blessing:
This is the devotional section of the Ritual, The symbolism of the Great Rite, and the ingestion of the symbolic Goddess and God (cakes symbolise God, ale, water or wine symbolises the Blood of the Goddess). This section of the Ritual can vary greatly from non-inclusion, to the style and/or meaning behind the act.
For Primordial Wytches it is an honouring of the union of Deity, combined with the ingestion of the essence of Deity and the connection with each member of the Coven as the cup is passed ("may you never thirst"), and the cakes are passed ("may you never hunger").
Sealing the Circle:
It is always wise to reverse that which has been done. Saying thank you and farewell to the Gods that we have called, then the Quarters are released with gratitude for their aid in our rite. There are different techniques of closing down the circle dependant upon experience, tradition and personal choice.
In some traditions it may be achieved by walking widdershins (against the sun) and visualising the energy dissipating into the ground; or by taking the fire candle during this rounding (3x's) and visualising the energy being drawn into a ball within the flame; when completing the third round, the candle is blown out forcefully, stamping with the strong foot on the floor to ground the energy.
This is VERY important when working any kind of energy, especially magickal energy. If energy is left behind, it can accumilate and 'snowball' into something that we may not want to deal with. Some in the community have nicknamed this type of energy as "Bogets".
'Bogets' are without real consciousness, but can mess you around by moving things around (car keys that mysteriously show up somewhere else etc.), they can also get out of hand (poltergeist phenomenon). The simplest way to ground is to place both hand palm down flat on the ground and see any excess energy leaching back into the ground.
While including packing away may seem obvious, this refers to both the physical and the mundane. Whenever we finish a Ritual I like to clean up, put everything away and make sure the sacred space is ready for whomever will use it next, before we move on to celebrations. Part of packing up is ensuring that whomever sealed the circle did not leave anything undone, that no residual energies are left, that no candles are still burning, that incense has been placed where it can burn out safely. It is surprising how often a candle is left lit, or a ritual tool has slid under something, so it is a good practise to get into checking before you leave, if you incorporate it into your ritual structure you will never forget.
This is the feasting and fun that follows any ritual performed by the Coven. Within Primordial Wytchecraft the sharing of the meal, drinks and company is as much as important part of Coven life as the Sabbats and Esbats. The Coven is a family, with shared experiences, memeories and interconnectedness that comes from sharing a faith with close friends.