Before delving into this subject matter, let us begin with a definition for the terms "Ritual, Spell, Spellwork, and Magick" solely based upon my many years of experience as a practitioner of the Occult Metaphysical Sciences, Alternative Religions and Spiritualities:
What is a Ritual?
Performed generally for its symbolic value (as in a rite), a ritual is a planned progression or series of actions and activities geared toward the accomplishment of a specific goal in accordance with religious, spiritual, or social customs of the past to the here and now.
What is Spellwork and a Spell?
A technique or methodology for physically raising the power and the manipulating energy by way of magick and/or the useful tools of applied occult metaphysics. A spell is a magickal formulary of spoken, written, or the mentalization of specific words performed with varying degrees of magickal and meditative intent or purpose. Often, a spell is performed only as an incantation without being included in a full ritual or ceremony. For example, a simple (easy) Candle Spell can be performed for something "minor" that you or your client needs. On the other hand, you can adapt your spells or spellwork for more complex circumstances. There are many branches of spells and spellwork ranging from healing to love to maleficium (i.e., malevolent sorcery or hexing).
What is Magick?
The term "Magick" is often spelled with a "k" in order to distinguish it from the artistic practice of Illusionist, Sleight of Hand, and Parlor Magic for entertainment purposes. Performing Magick is based upon the practitioner's ability and "will" to bring about (cause) and affect change in people, places, courses of events, circumstances, and physical objects through the elements or elementals (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Aether or "Light-Bearing or Spirit"), mystical (mystickal), paranormal or supernatural (metaphysical) means. If a practitioner is employing Ancient Chinese Philosophy in his or her magickal workings, then she or he will work with the Five Elements or Wu Xing (i.e., the "five movements, phases, or steps/stages over elements") of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.
Furthermore, the proper working and exercising of spells and rituals are imperative in any spiritual or divinatory system. Whether it be Low (Folk) Magick, Ceremonial (High or Ritual) Magick, Sympathetic Magick, or Black Magick (the Dark Arts), all have their own form of and approach to rituals and spellwork. Very good examples of highly ritualistic religio-spiritual systems include but are not limited to: The Craft, Khemeticism and Tameran (Ancient Egyptian religions), Qabalah (Hermetic Kabbalah - distinguishing between Judaic theological and the Hermetic magickal viewpoints), Hoodoo, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Chaos, Vodou (Voodoo), Ayurvedic, Vedic, and many other systems that might engage in the practice of spellwork (spell casting), rituals (ceremonial rites), and magick.
Some of the metaphysical techniques and tools used within these systems include the elementals, altars, circles, pentagrams and hexagrams, meditation, divination (tarot, astrology, etc.), prayer, solar and lunar correspondences, conjuration, charms, talismans and amulets, dolls, wands, and many other powerful instruments for the invocation, evocation and petitioning of spirit. Within Native American spirituality and ritual, for instance, there tends to be an attempt at maintaining balance, peace, and harmony between the mundane world and the universal forces (energies) of Spirit or Gitchi Manidoo.
Note that there are many different ways to perform rituals and to cast spells, especially, within the realm of Alternative Religions and Spiritualities (i.e., non-mainstream religio-spiritual paths). Also keep in mind that these methods or practices are not set in granite because each spiritual path, circle, coven, grove, temple, or gathering has its own specific way of doing things. However, there are some basic ingredients or component parts that one will find in almost any spell or ritual--some similar and some not so similar in name:
Anatomy of Magick, Ritual & Spellwork - Steps
- Kind or Type of Ritual
- Purpose - Intent of the Ritual
- Ritual Tools (Preparation, Cleansing, and/or Consecration)
- Lunar & Solar Correspondences
- Preparation - Ground and Focus (Center)
- Creating Sacred Space, Circle Casting - Pentagram, Hexagram, Triangle (Pyramidal)
- Invocation - Evocation of Divinity (One or more deities)
- Repeating the Ritual's Purpose
- Working the Ritual
- The Nexus of Energy (NoE - Raising energy or power then releasing it into the Universe)
- Offerings - Food, Libation, Objects
- Meditation (Exhalation)
- Thanking the Deities, Spirits, and other Energies or Forces
- Closing, Banishing the Circle
Depending upon one's spiritual path, circumstances, or intent, the practitioner will Call the Quarters just after circle casting. And remember that rituals, spellwork, and magick are the manipulation of symbolism as manifested through the use of Cosmic or Universal energy.
Dr. Sahure is a senior researcher with the Antiquus Research Group and the author of many noteworthy essays and articles about a variety of topics and subjects, including herbalism, ancient history and mythology, ancient Egyptian religion (Kemeticism), metaphysical sciences, ancient religions and theology, astrology, tarot, and divination systems.
For more in-depth information and discussions about spells and rituals, connect with us at the Applied Occult Metaphysics eGroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Applied_Occult_Metaphysics