When I first began studying the Craft officially, it took me a while to get the point of ritual. Again I will point out that I am not Wiccan, so I do not mean ritual as in the celebratory connection to deity within the framework of Sabbats and Esbats.
With ritual I mean, dedicated repeated practice that repeats each movement, each word, each thought in order to create some form of change, trance, connection to a particular aspect of the less physical – such as seance’ or the deceased, as well as the smaller daily rituals that enable us to work our best as a Witch.
Through experience I began to see beyond the repetition but the meaning behind them – which by the way is in my humble opinion not taught enough, which leads to a disservice and disconnect. I don’t mean the lip service version of explanations that are in books about how to cast a circle, but the deeper meaning behind ritual.
Getting out of your own way.
Ritual performed properly can induce a trance like state. A place where your conscious mind leaves for a little while , making the space to connect with your higher self, getting your disbelief, your personal issues, your current state of being out of the way, and leaving only the pure self. That higher self – without its self-imposed boundaries and limitations – allows creation, for it is the pure you in constant connection with the Universe in whichever form it appears to you as Source. It is you, absent of distractions. It silences enough to allow communication with the energies around you, and from which place you are open to work together with those energies.
Meditation – a daily ritual – is the ritual of listening. Practicing silence, in the absence of desire, answers can find its way through the noise.
Daily devotional rituals change your focus from the mundane to the spiritual, as long as you don’t just go through the motions but are present in the motion, meaning not allowing distracting thoughts come with you into that space. The ritual of creating a circle is symbolic of the separation between day to day living, and connection to that spiritual, higher self and that of others.
Community ritual, if everyone knows the purpose behind it, can do the same and amplify that power. Ritual in that context also brings order and fluidity, but it is harder to stay in the focused state of being, because of increased potential distractions. A common understanding is here essential.
Ritualistic actions in spells, may it be hand signals, the same way of preparing your objects, or stepping toward a special space you have reserved for that purpose (which emphasizes the importance of a designated altar space) is again an action that brings forth that same result – separating the mundane from the creative/spiritual/mind. It is tuning into a different frequency, one that allows rather then one that distracts.
However you choose to practice your rituals matters less. Your personal preference is found only through practice and exploration. Ritual taught should be only a guideline unless we are talking about group work. But even in group work it has to make sense to you. Only when the actions feel right will they flow, and will you be able to use them for the designated purpose.