Ritual Theory

Order of Ritual

  • Introduction – You can skip this one if you are performing the ritual solo. It is very helpful when you are doing a ritual with a larger group. This section is good, because it tells the new people who may never have attended a Pagan ritual before what to expect. Basically introduce yourself and your group. This is where I tell everyone to turn off their cell phones, let them know when it is ok and not ok to leave the circle/talk amongst each other, and where the restrooms are located. If you have any chants or songs the group needs to sing/say or if you need audience participation, teach those to those gathered now.
  • Sabbat/Esbat Description – Introduce the Sabbat/Esbat to those gathered. Educate! Tell any history, lore, and myths you know of the day. Tell how it was observed in ancient times and how we observe it today. Keep it short and simple. Again, this is a brief introduction. Keep the long lectures for your study groups.
  • Air

    1. Ground all excess energy
    2. Opening Bell – This is a nice, gentle signal to let everyone know it is time to settle down, close mouths, and open their ears. The fun is about to start! You can use bells, gongs, chimes, or singing bowls. You can also just say, “Let us begin.”
    3. Bless the Salt and Water
    4. Cleanse the ritual space, going Tuathal and asperging with combined the Salt and Water.
    5. Bless the Fire and Air (usually incense)
    6. Charge the ritual space, going deosil and censing with the combined Fire and Air
    7. Cast the Circle – Create your sacred space. The circle acts as a barrier to keep out unwanted energies and keep in your own until you are ready to release it out into the world. Generally, the circle is cast with salt, incense, or water. I have even used stones in the past. If space is limited or your are, for whatever reason, unable to cast a circle. Don’t worry about it. Just find some other way to create or declare your sacred space.


    1. Call each Quarter:
      1. Cleanse the Quarter with Salt and Water
      2. Charge the Quarter with Fire and Air
      3. Invoke the Quarter
      4. Call the essence of the four quarters and the four elements to be present at your circle. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Get creative if you want.
    2. Invoke Goddess and God in a manner appropriate to the ritual
    3. Invoke the Ancestors, if desired


    1. Define and explain the focus and intent of the ritual – If you didn’t do it before the ritual.
    2. The body of the individual ritual (Act of Power) – This is what all the above prep has been for. What we have been waiting for. This can be a magical working, a Sabbat rite, an Esbat rite, a rite of passage, etc. Formal or informal. Long or short.


    1. Bless the Chalice (and “cakes” if desired)
    2. Share the Chalice around the Circle
    3. Offer what remains to God/dess and the Ancestors


    1. Thank the Ancestors (if called)
    2. Thank Goddess and God – Anything you invoked should be thanked and released. The last one you called gets released first. Last in, first out. Be respectful. You want your guests to come again to the next ritual, so say, “Thank you and Farewell” to each by name.
    3. Thank and devoke each Quarter – Thank and release what you called in reverse order. Again, last in, first out.
    4. Open the Circle – Open the sacred space. You don’t have to get fancy or elaborate here. Just saying, “The circle is open” is fine.
    5. Closing Bell – However you told everyone that you were starting, use the same method to tell them you are done. Simply saying, “Farewell and go in peace” or “We’re done” will work.
    6. Cleanse and release all excess energy
  • Final Words – This is another spot you don’t have to do if you are doing the ritual solo. It is helpful when you are doing a ritual with a large group. Thank them for coming, make any announcements, and send them on their way. By “on their way” I mean point them towards the area they can chat for a while or eat more food. Social time! You’ve done all this work, now sit and shoot the breeze. Relax! Enjoy each others’ company.