A question on the Ethical Witches list asked for opinions on the key to creating a memorable ritual. Here’s my response:
I don’t know about “memorable”, but I think the primary key to rituals that are meaningful and successful is alignment: not so much the alignment of stars and planets (although that never hurts) but the alignment of intent and action among all the participants.
Are you all working for the same outcome? Is your goal appropriate for the deities you’re invoking and/or honoring? Do the calls, invocations, and other liturgy match in tradition, tone, and language? Is your ritual space arranged and decorated to put everyone in the proper frame of mind? Does the ritual create a strong “spiritual image” of the desired outcome, and does it reinforce the steps necessary to manifest it in the mundane world?
Think of a ritual as pulling a wagon up a hill. If everyone and everything are pulling in the same direction, the wagon moves easily. But if some people are pulling left and some right, the wagon may move, but it will move slowly and erratically.
In the end, it’s all about preparation – investing the time and energy to think through what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what’s the best way to do it. Weak rituals can almost invariably be traced back to a lack of alignment and a lack of preparation.