You do not have to be practising any type of practical spiritual work in order to be engaged in the art and practice of ritual.
In fact even before most people start their busy day’s routines they have invariably initiated one ritual or another for getting out of bed in the morning can be classed as a ritual act as can the action of getting dressed, eating breakfast and kissing your spouse goodbye before taking your usual train or bus ride each day to a place of work.
Types of Rituals
In his book Rituals for Beginners: Simple Ways to Connect to Your Spiritual Side best-selling author of over 100 books Richard Webster offers his own classification of rituals.
He states that irrespective of the type of ritual being undertaken there are effectively four essential ingredients necessary to make any sort of ritual truly effective.
1 – Importance
This denotes the particular significance that a ritual has to you.
2 – Intention
This aspect is highlighted by the purpose behind a ritual.
3 – Mindfulness
The need to remain within the moment when performing a ritual.
4 – Sacred Space
The designated area in which the ritual is conducted.
But what of rituals themselves. What purpose can they play on one’s life?
Webster answers this in his book by highlighting the advantages of consigning any event to that of a ritualistic experience.
These range from benefit incurred from consigning a boring or mundane task to a more heightened state of emotion to appreciating your life more or even to connecting more closely with the divine
Rituals of Life
Webster also considers the various forms of rituals that occur in our lives. He argues that many of these occur at various stages throughout our lifetime and reflect ints passage through various transforming events related to birth, growth, maturation and when officially committing ourselves to a partner or others.
On a more microcosmic level the author also considers many of the daily rituals that we take a part in and whilst most of these tend to be relatively mundane in their execution some, such as that of prayer, expressing gratitude, being creative or connecting with nature can be more spiritual in context.
Of course the term ritual not only has a spiritual inference about it bit also a magical one as well. Thus Webster explores the world of practical magic and the part that it can play in life along with some of the common tools that are employed in this form of ritual work.
Rituals also have the ability to ground the operator into the moment. As a consequence this infers that time itself is a deciding factor in the execution of a ritual. Indeed, knowing the right as well as wrong times to perform a ritual can be influential to their successful outcome.
Webster references the seasonal period of the annual year as well as the equinoxes, the zodiacal sun-sign periods and the planetary hours as markers that can time the effectiveness of ritual work.
Other techniques included in the book are goal setting, visualization, ritual preparation, grounding and centering.
Practical Ritual Magic
Webster progressively deepens his explanation regarding the magic of ritual by looking at specific magicical practices; such as the casting of a circle, aligning to the elements, calling the quarters, forming of a pentagram and even invoking the relevant deities.
Advanced techniques also included are the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, invocation of the Four Guardian Angels and the formulation of the Qabalistic Cross.
In winding up his look at ritual work Webster closes his book by simplifying his understanding of this form of spiritual work.
He states: “I believe all rituals nurture the soul, and consequently are spiritual acts. A simple solo ritual can add enormous meaning and purpose to your life. ”
“If you allow them to, rituals will help you create the life you want to”
Ritual for Beginners is a book about ritual for those who are good at integrating structure into their lives. It is also good for those who are less capable of being structured in their spiritual work but who recognize that they need to be.
I enjoyed this book for its clarity. Although it begins by looking at ritual in very simplistic way a few chapters in and it increases in both depth and complexity.
Although the book stays clear of referencing any specific magickal system its references to Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, the Golden Dawn and Kabbalistic correspondences give the reader a sense of a foundation based upon the Western occult system.
With some great exercises – which, once again start off being very simple but which become more complex later on and some references to academic research which are used effectively to back up his metaphysical assertions this is a book that feels both very rounded and satisfyingly complete.
Whilst possibly not a publication for those already well-versed and specifically trained in any of the traditional forms of ritualized spirituality it is operates as a great resource for those wanting to experiment with a looser and more personalised form of practical spirituality. In all other regards – and as a general reflection of the importance of ritual in spiritual work this is highly recommended.