The Behavioral and Cognitive Power Of Rituals

The Behavioral and Cognitive Power Of Rituals

9 min read

One of the firsts steps when starting a magickal path is to study about rituals and talismans, however, in an era where knowledge is delivered as “fast food”, the real meaning of these tools has been lost or misrepresented by meaningless rules and dogmas.

In any esoteric shop we will have countless crystals, candles, amulets, etc for certain purposes, and although there is general agreement on benefits and purpose, the simple fact of using them as a mere symbol as if it were a button that is pressed, will not make this object a magickal item since the substance is worthless until it has been properly consecrated by an appropriate magickal ceremony and transformed into the vehicle of a type of force.

I’m not saying, candles, crystals or gemstones, among others, don’t have intrinsic properties… they are a conductor, an amplifier, a generator, but not the energy itself. So in order for the crystal or gemstone to have the desired effect, one must clean it and charge it. And this involves setting your intention and purpose.

The power of Rituals and consecration of Ritualistic Tools

We can apply the same rule to the rituals that are part of our daily lives, and most times we do not even notice we are performing, or while performing we are not fully present. When waking up which are the first tasks you do? Probably you repeat the same steps every day, after all, it’s your morning ritual. Even taking a shower is a ritual, always one step after another in a sequence that you have done so many times throughout your life.

By itself, however, the talisman is nothing. It becomes effective only when properly consecrated and vitalized.

The big difference between taking a simple bath by an ordinary person, and a magick student, is that perhaps the ordinary person will take that bath totally unrelated to what he is doing, thinking about countless random things, and the magickian will perform an authentic cleansing ritual, where each step, the order of each step, and the duration is an activity with additional meaning and intention.

When the symbolic meaning of the activity takes precedence over the practical, we are talking about a ritual, not a habit or routine.

And I’m not talking here, about something beyond the self, from another plane, or dimension, it is a tool, a behavior, strictly human:

Rituals have been present in human life since ancient times. Anthropologists believe that the first proto-rituals arose before any form of religious belief. Robertson Smith’s ritual theory of myth proposes that the first religions consisted mainly of actions, not ideas and that the latter was adapted as post-fact rationalizations of the former.

This is in line with the psychological view that human ritual is an evolutionary response to uncertainty. It adds structure and stability to an unpredictable world.

How Ritual Differs From Habit?

Many people confuse rituals with habits. When we talk about the ritual, we sometimes mean habit – and vice versa. A prime example of how we combine these terms is the conversation about morning routines, which can involve rituals and habits.

But, from the perspective of behavioral psychology, the two have distinct differences. Nick Hobson, who has studied the psychology and neuroscience of ritual for more than a decade, says rituals are generally more effective in regulating emotions than habits.

Habits can change every time they are performed, rituals tend to be invariable in their performance. They are consistent behaviors that serve instrumental purposes. They generally do not have a symbolic meaning and when repeated long enough, they create an organic change in our lives.

Rituals are also repetitive behaviors, but much more rigid in structure than habits. They usually consist of particular sequences of actions that have a symbolic meaning – but not necessarily an instrumental purpose. Rituals can instantly change our emotional and performance states, not just when repeated with sufficient consistency.

According to Nick Hobson ritual as behavior has these three defining characteristics:

Performance invariability

A ritual must have a defined, rigid and repeatable set of physical actions attributed to it. They are executed in the same order and in specific ways. For a ritual to be valid, it must adhere to a “script”.

Symbolic meaning

The person involved in the ritual must have a significant personal connection with the actions performed. These actions often elicit a sense of transcendence – I am experiencing a bond with something “bigger than myself”. This can be a spiritual tradition, a socially valued concept or any idea that is personally meaningful.

Lack of purely instrumental purpose

This element means that the actions performed are not causally linked to the intended purpose of the ritual. This link is arbitrary and symbolic, not practical. It is here that the distinction between habit and ritual is the most visible.

Ritual actions do not produce a practical result on the external world—that is one of the reasons why we call them ritual. But to make this statement is not to say that ritual has no function . . . it gives members of the society confidence, it dispels their anxieties, and it disciplines their social organizations.

George C. Homans, Anxiety and Ritual

Creating a Connection Between a Symbol and an External Object

Through a ritual, we can perform a “consecration ritual” for a talisman, for example, to create a connection between a symbol and an external object. There is no formula for consecration rituals. Each person needs to find what makes the most sense for the purpose, something that has a symbolic value, as well as one’s emotions to the point of generating such involvement and manifest it outside.

The Purpose of Rituals

The Grounding Ritual

One of my favorite rituals is the Grounding Ritual, and the purpose of it is to cause the effect of stability, security, tuning, to put things in place, settle in the present, to take root. If I were to assign an element, it would be the Earth element.

Despite living in a relatively large city, my house is on the border, and I am surrounded by trees and plants, so every day I walk barefoot, I meditate and sing mantras or melodies that I intentionally offer to nature.

This ritual reminds me of my intentions and relieves my anxiety about things I must do during the day. In addition to the benefits already proven by science, this ritual gives me the ‘feeling’ that I have “connected” with the higher forces of nature. It serves as a great anchoring ritual for me. It’s sacred.

We live in times of great pressure and have implemented trough social norms the idea of time scarcity, and this type of ritual puts my awareness of who I am in a healthy mindset and connects me to my natural being.

Ritual Bath Cleansing

Another ritual I do is a cleaning ritual while I shower. The ritual starts outside my bathtub while preparing a tea with a mixture of herbs that have the properties that I want to incorporate into my being after cleaning the energies that do not serve me in the present.

After, I like to take a shower where the movement I make with my hands is like removing a lot of mud from the body, and this “mud” being removed, I mentalize everything I don’t want to think about anymore, standard ideas that were implanted in me as a child, like feelings of worthlessness.

The impetus of this ritual is to make room in my mind to do see things in a new way, to be my present self and not the interference of harmful ideas that were implemented during the construction of my mental architecture while growing up.

The Letting Go Ritual

The purpose of the “letting go” ritual is to let something go, to end, move on, banish, expel, and even overcome; For example, when an intrusive thought arises in my mind, I say, and repeat as often as necessary, I reject this thought, and then I forget it.

Often these intrusive thoughts are part of a destructive mental programming and whose function is to revive the mind for certain shadows of being. I always pay special attention to trying to understand where it comes from and why. But I avoid feeding this kind of thoughts.

If the thought is pleasant, like a waking dream, a hope, or a goal, the process is the same. In this case, I say, I accept this thought, and then I forget it. And I let my subconscious mind free to materialize the purpose of these thoughts on this plane.

Other letting go ritual I like to use when dealing with conflict with other human beings or situations, is imagining a sword cutting the problem, and after, I like to imagine I’m hugging the person in question and then letting it go in peace.

Final Thoughts About The Power of Rituals

The fundamental purpose of any ritual is to create a bridge between the conscient mind and the subconscious mind, between the ego and the collective unconscious, and the most important thing about rituals is that they have to make sense to you, that you can lean on them and that you can perform them.

Sometimes people want to look for ready-made rituals on the internet with tools and rules that make no sense except to whoever wrote them. It is not because a cook uses several different spices and techniques to make a dish, that you need to copy it just to kill your hunger, use simpler things that are within your reach.

Spiritual forces will not cooperate with you because you used ready-made recipes, or because you bought a crystal, but because you have been striving to conquer hidden mysteries that exist around you through the keys that are hidden in your mind.

I hope this post inspires you to create your rituals and embark on a potentially transformative and paradigm-changing journey.
I would love to hear your thoughts below. Let’s pollinate and get some creative ideas to shape our own unique rituals!
the power of rituals

You may also like

Moon Magic: How To Manifest With The Moon Phases

Moon Magic: How To Manifest With The Moon Phases

9 min read There’s no way to talk about magic without talking about the Moon and its magical power! We...

Magic Spells For Beginners

Magic Spells For Beginners

9 min read You might think magic is a gift you have to be born into. Or maybe think you...

Witchcraft Secret Spells Manual

Witchcraft Secret Spells Manual

9 min read The Witchcraft Secret Manual, developed by Esteban Jose Portela is a foolproof technique that let you cast...

Bring Positive Energy, Protection, and Prosperity Into Your Home

Bring Positive Energy, Protection, and Prosperity Into Your Home

9 min read A witch home is a sacred space, that welcomes positive energy, protection, and prosperity. Some of us...

Back to Top