It's every ritualist's worst nightmare, and—if you stay in the field long enough—it will happen to you.

Your ritual bombed.

What do you do now, dear?

Well, the worst thing that you can do is to slink away shamefacedly with your tail between your legs.

The reason why this is the worst thing that you can do is that it breaks trust.

No. Instead you need to buck up, gird up your loins, and publicly confess.

“Well, that ritual bombed,” you need to say. “What I want to hear from you is what didn't work, why it didn't work, and how we can do it better next time.”

Then they'll tell you. Oh yes, they'll tell you.

And you really need to listen to what they say.

A failed ritual is a collective trauma, and the only way to heal that trauma is to open up the lines of communication and to learn from your mistakes.

It is painful? Yes. Does it take courage? It sure does.

But that's the price that you pay for the honor—and privilege—of presenting public ritual.

Hear my words, O my fellow ritualists.

Believe me, I speak from experience.