For me the reason you are doing a ritual matters far more than the content of the ritual. Doing the right things for the wrong reason will net you bad results when it comes to ritual and witchcraft. As a whole I think the main takeaway from philosophers like Kant is that why you do something matters more than what happens or what you do.

Why does intent matter so much? many people who get into paganism tend to at some point become very strict about how they practice. They will follow astrology or make sure their ritual work lines up perfectly. For me I personally believe that the gods know why you are doing that ritual, and to them the reason you are doing it matters. This is why when we ask for things from them for the wrong reasons things tend to go wrong for us. If you do something for the right reasons though things tend to go far smoother.

The categorical imperative is Kant’s name for something that has been observed in most cultures. In school we learned it as the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. This basic idea is the cornerstone of almost all of both western and eastern philosophy. If you simply treat other people with decency, things in your life will go smoother.

Kant went a step further though. Simply helping people is not enough. You need to do it for the right reasons. People who do good things because they want others to know they do good things are not acting honorably. People who do things because they feel a level of duty to help others in Kant’s eyes are doing the right thing.

For an example as it applies to ritual work lets look at two different people doing the same thing for different reasons.

Alex graduated law school a few years ago and landed a job at a major firm making a large amount of money. They already make enough to get by, and afford to live a decent life. They are in competition for a partner position against a few other lawyers in the firm. Alex does a ritual for wealth and success asking the gods to bless him in his pursuit of becoming a partner and becoming more wealthy.

Cameron is a new graduate who has been working temp job after temp job since getting out of college. Most months they make enough to afford rent, but they have to rely on getting a new job every 3-6 months. They recently got an interview for a full time permanent job making enough to where he could do more than get by. Cameron also does a ritual asking the gods to give them what they need to land the position.

Now both of these people asked the gods to help with material wealth. Alex however already has what they need and is asking for more. Cameron wants to get stability of a full time job so they no longer need to just get by. Both of them are asking for the same thing, it is just the reason why they turn to the gods that is different.

Another major pitfall of new pagans is doing ritual because it is a certain day or the moon is in a certain phase. If you start doing something just because it is a full moon, with no other reason; the entire process becomes arbitrary. You should have a reason to call upon spirits or gods to help you, the full moon is not a reason by itself.

Why you do something matters just as much if not more as what you do. A good example is the kids we all knew in high school that volunteered so that they could add it to their resume for college. Yes they are doing the right thing, but for the wrong reasons. When it comes to ritual it is the same deal. You need to to it for the right reason.

As always hope you enjoyed reading, 
Go With The Winds.
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