These are the essential steps:
1. Open the Circle.
2. Open the Gates.
3. Invocation to the Powers.
4. Statement of Intention and Sacrifice.
5. Main Ritual.
6. Dismissal of Powers.
7. Close the Gates.
8. Close the Circle.
OPENING THE CIRCLE
The Circle is the place where magickal work is carried out. It could be a circle on
the ground, or a stone ring, or it might be an imagined circle inscribed in the air.
The place where the circle is created could be anywhere. It could be an imaginary
place, the ritual carried out in a lucid dream for example. Secure the room against
access as far as possible, take the phone off the hook etc.
The Circle is the first important magickal limit: it creates a small area within
which the magickal work takes place. The Circle marks the boundary between the rest
of the world, your magickal working space.
Opening a Circle usually involves drawing a circle in the air or on the ground,
accompanied by an invocation to guardian spirits, or the elemental powers of the
four quarters, or the four watchtowers, orthe archangels, or whatever. The precise
method isn't as important as practicing it until you can do it in your sleep.
The standard opening is called the Ritual of the Pentagram(both banishing and invoking),
which I shall cover in my Rituals page. There are of course others, but I will as I said
cover them on another page.
OPENING THE GATES
The Gates are the boundary between normal and magickal consciousness. Just as opening
the Circle limits the ritual in space, so opening the Gates limits the ritual in time.
Not everyone opens the Gates as a separate activity; opening a Circle can be considered
a de-facto opening of Gates, but there are good reasons for keeping the two activities
separate. First, it is convenient to be able to open a Circle without going into
magickal consciousness; There are times when something unpleasant and unwanted intrudes
on normal consciousness, and a Circle can be used to keep it out. Second, opening the
Gates as a separate activity means they can be tailored to the specific type of magickal
consciousness you are trying to enter. There are many ways to open the Gates, and
many Gates you could open. I imagine the gates in front of me, and I physically open
them, reaching out with both arms. ( I use what the call the sign of the enterer).
I will describe this on my Rituals Page.
INVOCATION OF THE POWERS
When it comes to Invocations I try to keep things simple and to the point, so that
I can do an invocation without having to think about it too much, and that will
leave room for the more important "consciousness changing" aspect of the invocation.
An Invocation is like buying a ticket for a plane: if you can't find the plane there
isn't much point in having the ticket. Opening the Gates gets you to the doorstep of
magical consciousness, but it is the invocation which gets you onto the plane and
takes you to the right place. The power of Invocation comes from practice, not from
STATEMENT OF INTENTION AND SACRIFICE
There has to be a reason for doing Ritual. Healing, divination, personal development,
initiation, etc. The statement of intention is the culmination of a process of limitation
which begins ehen the Circle is opened, and to use the analogy of the plastic bag,
the statement of intention is like the blade on the scalpel, the more precise the
intention, the more the energy of the ritual is applied to a single point.
Now about sacrifice. In magick you don't get something for nothing, and if you want
to bring about changes through magick you have to pay for it in some way. The question
is: what can you give in return? You can't sacrifice anything that is not yours to give,
so the answer to the question "what can I sacrifice" lies in the answer to the question
"what am I, and what have I got to give?" If you don't make the mistake of identifying
yourself with your possessions you will see that the only sacrifice you can make is yourself,
because that is all you have to give. Every ritual intention requires that you sacrifice
some part of yourself, and if you don't make the sacrifice willingly then either the
ritual will fail, or the price will be exacted without your consent.
Now don't take me wrong. This doesn't mean that you have to drain blood or cut off
a finger or any other nasty thing to your body. Each person has a certain amount of
what I will call "life energy" at their disposal, and you can sacrifice some of that
energy to power the ritual. What this means is that you promise to do something in
return for your intention, and you link the sacrifice to the intention in such a way
that the sacrifice focuses energy along the direction of your intention. For example,
your pet is ill and hasn't eaten for three weeks,so, as a last resort, fearing it would
die of starvation, you carry out a ritual to restore it's appetite, and as a sacrifice
you eat nothing for 24 hours. You used hunger to drive the intention, and your pet
begins eating the following day.
THE MAIN RITUAL
After invoking the Powers and having stated the intention and sacrifice, there would
seem to be nothing more to do, but most people like to prolong the contact with the
Powers to carry out some kind of symbolic ritual for a period of time. Magickians
operate in a world where ordinary things have deep symbolic meanings or correspondences,
and they use a selection of consecrated implements or "power objects" in their work.
The magickian can use this palette of symbols in a ritual to paint a picture which
signifies an intention in a non-verbal, non-rational way, and it is this ability to
communicate an intention through every sense of the body, through every level of the
mind, which gives ritual it's power.
DISMISSAL OF POWERS
Once the ritual is complete the Powers are thanked and dismissed. This begins the withdrawal
of consciousness back to where it was before the ritual began.
CLOSE THE GATES
The final steps are closing the Gates(returning to normal states of consciousness).
Closing down correctly is important. If you don't feel like you have returned to
a normal state of consciousness, or you just don't feel right, repeat the steps again.