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What is Ritual?

Ron Adams

[This site is under construction] Outline:

I. What is Ritual?

A. Traditional Definition

1. In the Greek Fraternity definition "Initiation: The traditional ritual which brings the new member (pledge) into full membership." This is basic and simple definition.

2. Call to worship: "The Call to Worship is an essential part of worship in many religions all over the world. In Judaism the shofar is blown, in Protestant and Caatholic churches the church bells are rung. In Pagan rituals we also begin with some type of Call to Worship, some way to let everyone know that ritual is about to begin."

Definitions of a Pagan/Wiccan Ritual

3. "The function of ritual, as I understand it, is to give form to human life, not in the way of mere surface arrangement, but in depth." Joseph Campbell

1. \' rich-(*-)w*l, ' rich-*l\ \-e-\ aj 1: of or relating to rites 2: forming a ritual - av

2. ritual n 1: the established form for a ceremony; specif : the order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony 2a: ritual observance; specif : a system of rites 2b: a ceremonial act or action 2c: any formal and customarily repeated act or series of acts

B. Alternative Definition

1. "Technically, paratheatrical rituals incorporate elements of theatre, dance and zazen standing meditation in a non-performance setting; with no audience, the pressure to perform is released and replaced by more asocial ritual intentions. Since 1977, I've been designing and executing paratheatrical group rituals for inciting miraculous interactions. They are miraculous when they invoke (by sound & word) or evoke (by feeling & motion) strong internal resonances with spiritual sources that, with enough commitment, spontaneously erupt in gesture, movement, patterns of motion, sounds, vocal creations, characterizations, and stories within the context of group ritual dynamics. Paratheatrical research is about preparing the human instrument -- physically, emotionally, mentally -- for scrupulous entry into archetypal dynamics.", Antero Alli

Paratheatrical Rituals

2. Re-imagining Ritual: Ecofeminist Power and the Practice of Reconciliation
Ritual defines and refines many of the most important moments of our lives. It functions and serves to declare our identities in repeated patterns, symbols and movements. We learn who we are within rituals of shared liturgy, ceremony and sacrament. Ecofeminist interpretations of Protestant rituals include a redefining of ritual and the transformation of our practices of reconciliation.

3. [Narrow definition of Ritual Abuse]
The term ritual abuse is generally used to mean prolonged, extreme, sadistic abuse, especially of children, within a group setting. The group's ideology is used to justify the abuse, and abuse is used to teach the group's ideology. The activities are kept secret from society at large, as they violate norms and laws.

C. My definition :

Ritual is a "Rite of Passage". I usually use ritual when I am at a crossroads, or I feel that my life needs a new perspective, a pick-me-up, so-to-speak, spiritually and creatively. Personally, as a Rite of Passage, ritual can be used to signify events and moments in our lives, like a tarot reading on a move, or choice, decission. Or a ritual could be a bonding, a domestic ceremony for partnership. I also think that having rituals for things like "coming out", and "celebrating our pride", when it comes to gay men's groups. That is my own personal preference with ritual, and not necessarily reflecting other definitions of ritual posted here. Sunwolf.

II. Examples of Ritual

A. Tarot Ritual

I find this ritual to be fun. The way I perform it is usally outdoors, in a natural setting, like a meadow, mountainside, or I have been known to do it in a graveyard. I will give this example, I was in a beautiful graveyard in Boulder, Colorado, where Jack Keuroac is buried. I found a spot which was grass green. I decided I was going to do my first tarot ritual there, and I was going to start with the Fool card. Since it is a card of Rebirth, I felt fitting that the symbology of the grave-yard was appropriate.
As I began, I drew an imaginary circle, and blessed it as I stepped inside, basically creating a sacred space by blessing the circle "in light and love" and asking for guidance as I entered this ritual circle. Once inside I emptied my mind, and focused on my breathing. When I felt "still", I began to move, "act out" the images and feelings of the Fool. It was a very subjective and personal experience, so I won't go into detail here. When I felt full, satiety, I completed it, stepped outside the circle, gave thanks and visually dismissed the circle. I eventually did one of these for the first 6 cards of the Tarot deck, at different spots, going into the Mountains.

B. Banishing Ritual

Lesser Pentagram Banishing Ritual

An explanatory note: The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is not a traditional Wiccan Ritual but it performs the same function as casting a circle and calling the quarters. As I have said elsewhere I am an Eclectic and I have found that in many instances I prefer the more formalized rituals to be found in the Western magickal tradition to Gardnerian rituals.

I. Perform the Qabalistic Cross

II. Inscribe the Circle

III. Inscribe the Pentagrams

IV. Invoke the Archangels of the Four Quarters

V. Perform the Qabalistic Cross Again

I. The Qabalistic Cross
With wand or finger of the right hand touch the forehead and intone Ateh. Then touch the solar plexis and intone Malkuth. Then the right shoulder, intone Vegeburah, then the left and intone Vegedullah. Finally cross your arms over your breast and intone Le Orlahm Amen.

II. Inscribe the Circle
Walk around the space that you intend to be encompassed by the ritual, with your wand, athame, or finger "drawing" a circle as you go, starting at the East and going clockwise until you return to the East. There is no set circumference, but all participants and ritual items that you intend to use should be within this circle.

III. Inscribe the Pentagrams
In each of the four quarters starting with the East you should now inscribe the banishing pentagram of Earth. (see the pentagrams section for the correct way to draw). As each pentagram is completed you should pause and charge the pentagram with the Divine Name associated with that Quarter. East--YHWH (pronounced Ya ho Wah). South-- Adonai. West-- EHIHE (pronounced ee hee ay) North--AGLA (pronounced ah glah). Return to the East.

IV. Invoke the Archangels of the Four Quarters
Standing facing East in the form of Osiris Slain (feet together, head raised to the sky, arms spread wide) Say:
Before me stands Raphael
Behind me stands Gabriel
On my right hand Michael
On my left hand Auriel
For about me shines the pentagram
And above me shines the six-rayed star

V. Repeat the Qabalistic Cross
Notes: The Lesser Banishing should be done at the beginning of a ritual to clear the area for magickal workings and then again after to discharge the magickal force raised during a ritual. This ritual can be done anywhere, and is useful on the astral to "get rid of" unwanted visitors (ie elementals or other etheric beings you run into on the astral).

C. Self-Initiation Ritual (Antero Alli's work)

"In Self-Initiation (in any ritual technology), two things must occur. First, that ritual must increase access to the internal landscape, the depth and complexity of the soul as direct experience. Secondly, that access must somehow support a bridging between the soul AND the world/environment; in this context, Self is defined as a process (not a noun) for building the bridge itself."
Antero Alli

For more in depth undertanding of Antero's work visit the following links:

A Ritual Technology for Self-initiation

Group Ritual Dynamics

Crux of the Matter: An Interview with Antero Alli

D. My 388 Ritual My 388 Ceremony of Clear Light came about out of my Tarot Rituals. I had bought my first Tarot Deck, the Crowley/Harris Thoth Deck. See link to read story of the experience.

388 Clear Light Initiation
Out of this experience I channeled the Sacred Wheel, which I called 388, and it is both a tarot card layout and a ritual at the same time.

This ceremony is usually done indoors, with a cloth for a background. I usually have 4 large quartz stones at each of the four corners, and I decorate it with other stones, Candles, a Cup of Water, etc. I usually burn incense. In the Center is an outline of a circle. I have the Tarot deck sitting there, in preparation.

I first do a Lesser Pentagram Banishing Ritual.

Then I recite my own incantation/prayer. Calling upon my guides to assist me in the Ceremony.

Then I sit down, and go within, either chanting or watching my breath. When I feel my mind is still, I pick up the tarot deck and shuffle it.

When the deck is shuffled, I position 8 cards in the necessary place on the wheel. I count down to the 37th card and place it face up in the center. This is the main card, that the reading/ceremony revolves around. Because of lack of space I cannot go into the exact details of the ritual and reading, it is better performed than explaining. But hopefully you get the drift that this is a ritual design by myself, out of an initiation that happned to me in 1986. I find that these are very empowering riutals, and I have done over 100 of these particular ceremony for friends and clients.

III. Conclusions

There are a number of ways to perform ritual. It is as varied as ideas and beliefs. I believe understanding the basics is important, that is why I like some of the ones I've listed here. Like anything, ritual can be useful and it can be abused. This is something one has to be aware of, as one proceeds. If you are performing self-intiation, you have to be completely responsible for what you invoke/evoke in your ceremony. The way is hard, the rewards are rich, the difficulty and setbacks can be just as challenging, there is always something to gleen from a personal ritual, and sometimes nothing cosmic or mystical happens.
It is a matter of timing, depth, and the focal point of the soul, when the time is ripe, you will have your mystical journey. Until then, it is just a path of discovery. I hope that I have given you somethings to think about. With the links you will find more information, as this subject have many layers, and there is alot one can study. If you have any questions, or you want help with designing a ritual, email me.

I charge $1.50 per minute for Psychic Readings, contact me today at

IV. The Next Step
Now we will get more into magick.
"Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will."
"Every intentional act is a Magical Act."
"Every man and every woman is a star."
"Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one's conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action." Aleister Crowley

My Favorite Web sites

Queer Thelema The New Ritual
Oasis Mystery School
Oasis Mystery Sojourn
Silver Star Arcade
Sangata Water Meditation
My Message Boards
OMS Tarot Class

My Favorite Things About Ritual

  • I love drama, and creating an atmosphere.
  • It helps me center and focus, clear my mind.
  • I never know what to exspect, and I love