The Universal Ritual
My observation is that most rituals follow the same basic steps. They may not follow each and every step I’ve outlined here, they may not necessarily fall in the order I’ve listed them in, and some steps may even appear more than once.
Dressing To Meet The Divine
This is the stage in which the adherent puts on clothing generally only worn during sacred events, thereby symbolically “putting on” a divine mindset. They might be ceremonial robes, one’s “Sunday best,” or even a simple and humble garment. The “garment” need not be a physical item, either; making the Sign of the Cross serves much the same purpose.
At this stage, the adherent is given or engages in a ritual cleansing of a sort. This is exactly the opposite of the Dressing; whereas in the Dressing one puts on a divine mindset, in the Cleansing one symbolically sheds or washes away mundane or impure cares and desires. The adherent might be sprinkled with holy water, smudged, take a ritual bath, or just wash up. Cleansing can also take the cathartic form of confession.
Crossing the Threshold
This is the very reason why we have temples, churches, and sacred circles: when the adherent steps a place of worship or casts a circle, xe has entered into the office or consulate of the divine, where formal requests and/or apologies can be made.
Often carried out through music and/or dance, this step serves to unite the hearts and minds of the adherents and further focus them on the divine. This is also the point at which energy is raised, if energy raising is included.
The divine is formally requested to meet with the adherents. This step may be one and the same with the attuning, eg, if all involved sing a hymn requesting the divine to come. It may also take the form of an opening prayer.
The adherents make their formal communication with the divine. At this point, individuals may offer thanks or ask for blessings or forgiveness, or a priest may offer a sacrifice on behalf of the adherents, or some other similar thing.
The Divine Gift
The adherents are given a gift from the divine realms to take back with them into the mundane world. The gift might take the form of a communion, a sermon, or a blessing.
After the ritual, ceremony, or meeting is over, a formal closure marks the end of the meeting with the divine, and all are free to return to the mortal world, preferably bearing the divine gift received earlier.