The Purpose of Ritual
Human beings are creatures of habit. Rituals make people comfortable and provide a kind of continuity — something regular and dependable — that gives them a sense of security. They help control life's hectic pace and let you recognize your place in the cycle of earthly existence. Rituals also contain a great deal of information about historical and cultural traditions, as well as the beliefs of social groups and individuals. Just watch a family at Christmas — what you're seeing is a ritual that describes each person's place within the ritual, the family, and the greater society.
A ritual is like a spiritual instruction book, complete with blueprints. Ritual participants express a desire or goal to the universe. The environment, words, movements, and objects involved in the ritual raise energy and direct it toward that desire or goal. In effect, each participant becomes part of the magick.
Rituals celebrate all sorts of things. Some rituals offer reverence and gratitude to divine figures (usually on his or her sacred day). Others honor historic events of a particular community, nation, or culture. Since ancient times, rituals have marked the seasons of the year, the progression of the moon's cycles, equinoxes, solstices, and so on. The most significant rituals mark the stages of human life: birth, marriage, death, and all the minor events in between.
A ritual can have a specific purpose for any one, or all, of the people assembled to perform it, such as a rite of healing or a ritual focused on helping crops to grow. The energy raised during a ritual holds the potential to touch the needs, feelings, and thoughts that lie at the heart of each participant and to extend into the world as a whole.