Ritual is a valuable tool for any Magician, Priest, or Priestess regardless of tradition. From worship ceremonies to initiations to specific rituals with specific goals we all use ritual in some form or another. Those who have been part of a system of training will have noticed that there is a significant cumulative effect inherent in their work. It is more than just developing confidence in the operation, but something that makes the 100th time far more powerful than the 10th. It is this which I wish to discuss.
The performance of a ritual is more than just psychodrama and it is more than simply being a slave to someone else's idea of what you should be doing, but acts as a real, and powerful repository of force. When you perform a ritual you tap into that repository, you add to its power while at the same time directing that power. It is a curious thing which Paul Case commented on which is that the use of Light only seems to make room for MORE Light. Tapping into this power only seems to increase the power, drawing more into it from the universe, but also allowing you to direct it as befits the ritual.
When you create a ritual of your own from scratch there are two options open to you. You can build it from nothing, in which case all of its power must come from, or through, yourself. Or you can build it with traditional elements and symbols which will lend some of their power to the work in question. Of course any ritual takes time to learn, and performing it well might require dozens of practice runs. But in the end, what you will find is, as you repeat the ritual, over and over, it does become more powerful. Every time you do the ritual you draw in more power. If the ritual is designed to make a change in the universe, or the self, every performance exponentially increases the pressure that is employed to cause that change to come into manifestation.
This is why the traditional rituals are SO powerful. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have done the ritual before you, possibly thousands or even millions of times over decades or centuries. Every one of those performances adds to the power of the ritual. The more accurately you can perform the ritual, the more of that power is accessed. It is for this reason that the "Inner Temple" visualizations are often left out of published materials. It is also why many organizations make small changes to their rituals. These changes ensure that they can access a portion of the power of the original ritual, but also that they are creating a new centre of power for use by their own members and their own Egregore. Giving away the modified ritual allows others to access this power centre, and if you have people with malicious intent this can become a real problem, especially if it's their lodge/coven working and initiation ceremonies which have been compromised.
It is an interesting phenomenon that nearly everyone publishes some version of the Lesser Pentagram Ritual, and each one has subtle changes, or even sweeping changes. I've seen Thelemic "Milk of the Stars" versions, and Asatru versions where one "battles" the quarter guardians to prove their worth. Each replaces some aspect of the ritual from names to visualizations to even the weapon or implement being used. Each one is intended to tap into a slightly different energy source.
It is also inherent in the specific wording we use, for some words and terms have been "evoked" as magical talismans and using them connects you to their "current" of force as effectively as using their rituals. This is one reason why the Hermeticist uses the word "Qabalah" and not "Kabbalah" or "Cabala" as each is connected to a slightly different current of force. The word "Magick" is very powerfully attached to Crowley and his Thelemic religion. Using this term to refer to your own work connects you to some extent with that force and his work. (The "Introduction" of Magick in Theory and Practice is a very powerful evokation claiming this term as belonging solely to him and includes some very disturbing messianic and cult-like wording which he embeds into the very definition of the term.)
Now, of course, we know rituals evolve over time. Is the Lesser Pentagram Ritual given by Regardie an exact manifestation of an Hermetic/Rosicrucian ritual handed down for centuries? Maybe not. But the major elements are there, and it's been regularly used for over 100 years now. Consider that Mathers and the original GD were writing and working before they had electric light! Even if it is not many centuries old, it is certainly full of power at this point, and the elements of the ritual come from even earlier sources. The formulae being in Hebrew is just one more way of tapping into aeons of built up power. But there are ways of making a conscious effort to make these connections and accessing even more of the power stored in these rituals and formulae.
Before performing a ritual try to imagine yourself as being a central point that transcends space and time. For some it is the accessing of the Magical Personality, for others it can be tied to a keyword. I find that the Shema helps with its reference to eternity and the universe (all space and time). When taking deep breaths, grounding and centering, also imagine yourself as stretching back in time. You are not just you in this moment. You are also the you that performed this ritual the last time, the you from before that, the you of every time you ever performed the ritual. You are also every other person who has performed this ritual, from Paul Foster Case to Gerald Gardner to SLM Mathers, and so on. This performance of the ritual is a reflection of every other performance of the ritual throughout all time.
If the ritual you are performing is based on other rituals (such as Banishings in general) then go back further, hundreds of years, thousands of years, all of those rituals, all of those priests, priestesses, magicians, witches, all of them, all of their rituals, all of their work, flowing into this moment, this sacred space. You are the Priestess of the Mysteries in Atlantis (if you believe in Atlantis) the Priestess at Delphi, the Priest of Mithras drawing his circle of protection. You're the High Priest of the Mysteries of Isis which covered all of Europe and most of Britain. You're the Druids of Albion and the Priestesses of Avalon and everything in between.
All of this power, all of this force, exists in the formula of the ritual. It is all expressed in your Magical Personality, that cloak which you wear when you step into the ritual space. If you imagine energy as though it were data, it is the history of Human Banishing Rituals all stored in a single database which requires only the repeated passphrase in order to be accessed. (I use banishing rituals because they're convenient and one of the most common rituals.) You are a centre of expression for all of this, and the more accurately you perform the ritual, the more of that power is going to flow through you, the more of that power is going to manifest in your working.
You can try this with anything from a simple adoration (such as the Golden Dawn's adoration to the Lord of the Universe) or with any spell, prayer, or ritual to which you have access. You can tailor the visualization to the work you are doing and think specifically about certain people, places, and traditions in order to access their power. If you're giving the Charge of the Goddess, then see yourself as every High Priestess who ever lived. Imagine the Elusinian Priestesses, the Priestesses of Diana in ancient Greece, the Priestesses of Avalon, specific figures like Doreen Valantie, Vivian Crowley, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowiki, and even Priestesses you've known and respected in your own career. You are but a conduit for the same power they have all tapped, to which they have all contributed. You are part of a current of force, a torrent of tradition. With that built up, with the Goddess standing within you, give the Charge and see if it doesn't have a lot more kick than before.
Ritual has a cumulative effect. We may eschew tradition in our post-modern era, but tradition helps to build up these powerful forms. Everyone who works with the rituals makes them stronger. You can always build rituals up yourself, and perform them dozens and hundreds of times, building their force the same way pushing a wheel builds its momentum, and often that is a desirable thing, to work with only your own energy and work. Equally we should not reject the incredible force which is available to us in the traditional rituals, spells, prayers, etc... for not only is that power there for us to use, it is also our duty to help build them up further in the collective unconscious for future generations to access.