Writing a ritual

A step by step guide to creating a ritual.

1. Are you writing a seasonal ritual? What symbols are associated with the season?

Example: you are writing a ritual for Beltane, so you write a quick list of symbols associated with Beltane: Hawthorn, May blossom, May poles, Morris dancing, the Beltane fire, creativity, lust, joy.

2. What are your goals and intentions for the ritual? What concepts do you want to get across? What symbols would help with that?

Example: we want to be inclusive of all sexualities and of disabled people. The Beltane fire can symbolize creativity and cleansing. We will have two fires so people can walk or wheel themselves between them.

3. Identify no more than seven symbols that represent the theme of the ritual.

Pick somewhere between three and seven symbols from the list already identified.

4. Mythological stories. What mythological stories help to get the point across? If you don’t know any mythology, make your own story from the symbols you identified in the first step. Or research some mythology.

Example: the story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men is associated with Beltane and is an excellent basis for a drama in which diverse people can be involved.

5. Write the outline of the story and what will happen in the ritual. You don’t have to have it all perfect, just get the ideas down on paper. You don’t have to tell the whole story as a mini drama — if the story is well known, you could focus on a small part of it, or on a different perspective than the usual one.

Example: I’ve written more than one ritual based on different bits of the story of Robin Hood (I think that some of the Merry Men are gay, for example).

6. Now identify some activities that can happen during the ritual. Visualization, meditation, handicrafts, dancing, symbolic food, planting things, lighting candles and incense, movement can all enhance the ritual and add extra layers of meaning.

Example: create a bower for Robin Hood and Maid Marian and other lovers (this was a traditional May Day activity). Wash your face in the dew on May morning.

7. Opening and closing. How will you establish the ritual space and close it down again?

Example: you can use the standard opening and closing from your tradition, or write your own.

Don’t be afraid to Google for the topic of the ritual you want to do, and look at the rituals that others have posted online.

See also Tips for ritual writing

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