A ritual is a way to use lighting, action, sound, scent, sight, mental discipline, dance, song, or any number of other sensory cues to deepen your awareness, to contact on a more profound level of knowing, feeling, energetic influence, and possibly even to bring about change in yourself and your world by symbolizing the desired change in your actions.
Some people use this word to describe actions done automatically, without conscious thought or awareness. Yes, there are rituals performed in this world where the steps are held to be more important than the intent behind them or the focus of the person performing them. Such rites are robbed of a lot of their power and may seem empty or without purpose. But this is not what is meant by ritual.
When you work a ritual, the actions are outward manifestations of work done in the participants’ hearts, minds, and energy-body. A successful ritual requires intense mental focus and produces genuine effects on unseen levels.
There is a myth that rituals need to be copied precisely as people of ages past did to be effective. A rite designed by you with guidance and clear intent from your heart and spirit, using meaningful symbols, will likely be very powerful.