A religious ritual, then, is not just a religious ceremony, but one that has repetitive elements. If you've ever gone to a church or temple service of a more mainstream religion, you've probably recognized this.
Likewise in Wicca, ritual is not supposed to be just a spontaneous burst of spiritual devotion (although there ain't nothing wrong with that, too!). Ritual is supposed to be structured and repetitive.
There's a purpose behind this-- it helps you get into ritual consciousness. You develop a sort of Pavlovian response to it. As you begin your usual ritual, your brain eventually begins to think, "Oh, okay... we're getting spiritual now." And then it flips more quickly to the appropriate 'channel'-- or state of mind -- for spirituality.
Once this happens, you're able to operate on 'auto pilot'. You don't have to think about every little chant, every little action. They just begin to flow out of you.
My Tip for You Today: Standardize your ritual.
As an example, I like to keep a standard for the entire opening and closing:
- My grounding and centering meditation
- Consecrate the Elemental Representatives with the usual chants
- Casting the circle with the usual incantation
- Call the quarters with my usual quarter call
- Call the deities with the usual esbat or sabbat invocation
- Great Rite (same each time)
- Cakes & Ale (relaxed)
- Thank the deities with the usual prayer
- The usual thanking and devocation of the quarters
- Release the circle with the usual incantation
- The usual grounding and centering
It isn't as important which method or words you choose for each of these things, but the important thing is to develop the standard.
My Tip for You Today: Standardize your ritual by creating a standard opening and closing.
If you don't generally like standardization or repetition for your spiritual practices, you probably will benefit from it more than someone who does. It has a way of really grounding you and helping you to fully mentally prepare for the undertaking. This doesn't mean you have to stop being spontaneous altogether; it just means you would be adding a little structure into it for balance and to have the best of both worlds.
Give it a try for 6 months to a year and see how it feels. You may be surprised at how much you can benefit from structure.
Do you have a standard ritual?