How to Create a Ritual or Ceremony
As with all such experiences, your ceremony should begin with intention, cleansing, and setting sacred space. You can do ceremony inside your home or outside.
Technically speaking, a ritual is a much more formal, regimented, type of experience where certain actions are taken before others and every tool and action has specific symbolic meaning. Rituals are typically performed the same way every time. How they are to be done is often taught by an elder or someone else taught (and sanctioned) to teach it to others by whatever tradition or belief system they are part of.
Ceremonies can be much more spontaneous and “inspired” and often change and evolve over time.

Setting Intention

It is very important before any ceremony, ritual, pilgrimage, etc. that you are very clear about why you are doing it or what you are intending to accomplish. For Equinox and Solstice ceremonies, many hold the intention that they are “connecting in” with the energies of that sacred time and wish to be of service or assistance to mother earth. For example, with the global meditations that David J Adams and I have been leading for the past two decades each Spring and Fall Equinox, we are “tuning in” to the powerful energies of Equinox while simultaneously holding an intention to heal all the waters of the earth. 
Sometimes, there is the desire to get more into alignment with the cosmos and the turning of the wheel and that is often enough of an intention.
If there is a desire to heal something, let something go, make an important decision, manifest something, etc., then getting clear about that beforehand is important. 
If you are new to ceremony or simply don’t have a specific intention, you can always get an oracle or tarot deck and while you shuffle ask, “What intention would it be best for me to hold during this event?” or other words that you are intuitively prompted to say. Then pull a card.

Cleansing Prior to Your Ceremony

To cleanse yourself, there are many methods. One is to burn any number of cleansing herbs (sage, palo santo, various leaves often used for cleansing by different cultures). For those of us working inside or who are sensitive to smoke (as I am), there are many other highly effective methods. Some of these were included in the 6-week (12 hour) training I did on cleansing and protection with my energy healing students last year. One of these days I will record it for the rest of you.
Water is always a good option. A sacred bath with sea salt and baking soda cleanses the body and the energy field. Some like to take a dip in the ocean, a river, a lake, under a waterfall, etc. As you do this sort of cleanse, do it with intention … imagining / envisioning disharmonious energies being washed away. Another of my favorite water cleanses is splurging. In Europe, they often splurge by dipping a sprig of rosemary in rosemary water (made like tea) and then they flick it in the aura, around the home, etc. for cleansing. Rose water can also be used. Just remember that water droplets can damage wood, so keep that in mind when flicking it about.
Sound is also a fabulous way to cleanse. Using tuning forks, Tibetan chimes, rattles, drums, or other sound devices, you can use the sound instrument all around your body to clear the energy. 
I have created  several products for energy clearing over the years. Magnificent Clearing Mist is a favorite of many. Because of its multi-dimensional nature, it has a much broader energy cleansing ability than something like sage. With the mist, you simply mist it above your head and let the fine mist shower down around you. You can also mist around a room. Teachers love to do that before their students show up for class. Those who enjoy working with the violet ray like Violet Flame Mist. It is used in the same way the Clearing Mist is. Happy Hands Healthy Hand Sanitizer contains the Magnificent Clearing energy healing formula. After putting it on your hands like any hand sanitizer, you simply wave your hands through your aura (over your head, around your body) like a dance (we have a lot of fun doing the Happy Hands Dance) to cleanse the energy field. Many people feel a shift right away after using any of these products. 

Setting sacred space

Whether working inside or outside, I always prefer working inside a medicine wheel. You can make them with 4, 8 or more stones. In the updated version of Peering Through the Veil (the black cover), I go into detail about how to make a medicine wheel. They act as a dimensional portal and shift the energy instantly into a higher and more sacred space. It is customary to “call in” the directions. A basic invocation is to turn to the south and say, “I call in the guardians of the East and ask you to enter and bless this space.” Then do the same for South, West, North, the heavens above, the earth below, and Great Spirit (God or Goddess by whatever name you desire). Those on a more shamanic path would call in specific animal totems for each direction. Those who follow Wiccan and other pagan paths call in others. I sometimes call in the specific shamanic animals for my wheel. Other times I call in the four main archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael and ask them to be present. 
Some like to build a special alter with sacred items, imagery, and symbols related to the season and/or intention of the ritual or ceremony. Candles and incense both bring a sense of sacred space. Every time I light a white candle, I am “calling in” angels. I asked if they minded if the candles are battery-powered and the response was “No” … they don’t mind. For those of us hyper-sensitive to smoke, we need to use unscented or essential oil scented beeswax candles or battery-powered ones. Soy is known to impact the hormonal system, so I avoid soy candles as much as I avoid those made from paraffin. I use rechargeable batteries in my battery-powered candles. I keep one “lit” (on) all the time in the room with the medicine wheel and crystal grid where I make essences, roll-ons, mists, body butters, Happy Hands healthy hand sanitizer and where I do energy healing sessions with clients. 
 

What to Include in Your Ceremony

Ceremonies will often vary depending on whether you are doing it by yourself or creating something for a group. For Solstice ceremonies and celebrations, I often include items from various traditions that have celebrated Solstice that way for centuries. In this article, I talk about numerous ways Winter and Solstice have been celebrated throughout the world.
A few great things you might want to include:
  • write your intention on a piece of parchment
  • tell a story or do a reading from a sacred or meaningful text
  • make a craft or piece of art related to the intention or event being celebrated
  • dance
  • sing or chant
  • make sound – tone, drum, rattle (at Winter Solstice, we often ring bells)
  • take a shamanic / vision journey, then journal about it
  • pull an oracle or tarot card, then journal about its meaning in your life

These are just a few ideas to get you started.

 Completing the Ceremony

Be sure to thank all of those you “called in” as you began. If you used the invocation I mentioned at the beginning, then to “open” the space again, it is typically done in reversed order. I would say, “Thank you Guardians of the North, thank you for your presence and support. Please return from whence you came.” Then repeat this for the West, then South, then East.
Because energies typically move through me as I perform ceremony, I often get “drunk” on the energy and sometimes forget to open the circle. I simply open it as soon as I realize I forgot to. It is for that reason that when leading a group, I write the ceremonies down and follow my notes as it progresses. I always have “open the circle” and “make sure everyone is grounded” in the notes.

Grounding Afterward

When you work with energy, it is easy to become “ungrounded.” If you are at home, then feeling a little spacey and ungrounded is fine. However, if you have to drive afterward, it is very important to ground and be fully present here now.
A few ways to ground include:
  • holding or wearing dark stones (shungite, jet, obsidian, apache tear, hematite)
  • stand barefoot on the earth and begin to feel more solid
  • eat something
  • use some of my Dancing Dolphin Grounding oil on your ankles and chakras. It is made with three different dark stones and is very beneficial to assist you in grounding.
  • connect with your Earth Star Chakra.

The best, most meaningful and transformational ceremonies are often “inspired” (Divinely guided). So, as you begin to perform your ceremony, you may feel drawn to do something you had not thought of previously.

Remember to have fun!

Bestselling author Debbie Takara Shelor signature
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