Nothing Good Comes from Force
This is usually what it's like in life. It's best not to use force in any situation because you can only end up hurting yourself and/or others (also, remember the Wiccan Rede: "Harm none").
In a previous post entitled "Magick and Wicca", I mentioned two factors which I find important when doing magic and rituals and they are feeling and intention. To quote myself:
"This intention has to stay constant and stable throughout the whole magical work; from the establishment of the essential idea, through the preparations, execution of the plan all the way to the end of the whole performance (and preferably even after this). In doing all of this, you put more and more energy into that specific magical rite, and the more energy there is, the better the outcome will be (imagine it like making bread; the more times you knead the dough, the more time, effort and energy you put into it, the better and tastier the bread will be).Now imagine you find yourself saying that you don't feel like doing a certain ritual. You won't have any motivation, the intention will be weak, and don't even get me started on feeling! So what's the point in doing a ritual which you will do only superficially? Can you even achieve anything with it? My answer is no.
The second factor is feeling. Without feeling, you won't get very far. You have to feel what you do and be excited about it. This is why it is recommended that every individual does magic only for themselves or for a certain goal that induces subjective feelings and emotions. Basically, the more you want something to succeed, the bigger the chances are that it actually will!"
Is It Pointless?
I believe that any ritual (be it magical or religious) which a person has to force/persuade him/herself to do is pointless. Rituals requite a lot of energy being put into them, so why waste energy if you're not going to do it properly? Also, rituals aren't like homework; you aren't there just to pass and they aren't obligatory. Besides, gods aren't like teachers who grade you and they don't believe that the most important thing is just to get something done, but rather to do something with love and willfully. The moment a person starts perceiving something as an obligation, they lose their will to do it.
Others, on the other hand, will claim that magic is a discipline which has to be practiced often and regularly attended to in order to work. It's the same case with rituals in this case. People who think like this are usually very systematic and often stick to a certain "timetable" of rituals which is often so detailed that they know what day and what hour they have to perform a rite. This may be good in a practical sense, but it just seems too cold to me.
Although I do agree that magic is a discipline/craft and that a person can fall out of habit, but also that they can quickly get back into shape (it's worth noting that the beginnings, while one still hasn't gained this "shape" or "stamina" are the hardest).
It goes without saying that you're free to have and express your own opinions about this. You may agree with me, or you may not. I can't say either theories are correct/wrong in a general sense, but they can be wrong/right for an individual.
If you are apathetic during a certain period and really don't have the energy to carry out a ritual, then simply don't do it! Find some replacements for the ritual that suite you better at that time and try to set aside at least a bit of time and will power to dedicate to your goal. The way in which you do this isn't that important. :) And don't worry, I'll suggest a few alternative options at the end of the post to help you out.
As I already said, we are all human. We can all get both physically and even mentally ill (e.g. when we have a high fever and aren't able to think straight) and not be able to carry out a ritual. This is more than a valid excuse.
Imagine yourself doing a ritual, sneezing and blowing out half the candles and also blowing away a load of incense ash and who knows what else. Or what if you have a high fever! You won't even be able to stand on your feet properly, let alone run in the circle lifting energy. And there's not point even talking about raising energy since we don't have enough of it for ourselves when you're sick.
We can only make the situation worse for ourselves if we send off energy that we need to regain our strength and health. In this case, I believe that it is best to postpone the ritual for another time when you can do it properly rather than stick to a strict time limit and do it superficially.
- Cook something nice
Kitchen witchery has become very popular recently. The basic idea of it is that cooking is also a form of magic if you direct energy into what you are making. Of course, this doesn't include only cooking meals but also baking cakes, making home-made drinks etc. It has become a tradition for me to make something nice for each Sabbat, and that something brings a smile to my family's and friends' faces, but it also makes my ritual nicer. If you want to see what I have prepared so far, then have a look at the section entitled "A Witch's Cookbook". If kitchen witchery interests you more, you can find more information on it in Scott Cunningham's book Wicca in the Kitchen.
- Be Creative
(music and visual art)
Everyone can be creative, and so can you! You don't have to make anything too complicated, but any form of handiwork is an excellent way to direct your energy towards a certain goal (be it celebrating a Sabbat or an alternate magical goal). If you have more experience in this field of expertise, then perhaps you can try something more complicated like wood carving or metalwork. If you have a gift for knitting or sewing then get your hands on some yarn or thread and make yourself a ritual robe or a decoration for your home. Some of you may know how to draw/paint well so you can pick up a paint brush. You must know how to write nicely; if you prefer poetry then write a thematic poem, or if you prefer prose, then write your own story/myth based on a certain theme. Since you've already written a song, then why not add music to it if you know how to play an instrument? For some ideas, you can have a look at the art corner of this blog.
- Pick a Divination Technique
Even though some Sabbats are more appropriate for divining, you can do this for yourself and others whenever you feel like it. Use the energy of these special times of the year to get to know yourself better, understand the specificity of that day or simply to see what awaits you in the future. Many divination techniques exist, so if you're not familiar with any of them, perhaps this is a good time to get acquainted. A good overview can be found in the book Illustrated Encyclopedia of Divination (Stephen Karcher) and I also think this e-book could be useful. They can help you find out which techniques you like the best and motivate you to look more into the subject.
Everyone knows how to meditate, although some may now be aware of this knowledge. There are many way to meditate, starting from the ones which include movement to the ones which require no movement and an empty mind. Almost every book on Wicca and Witchcraft has some meditation techniques in it. If you don't know where to begin, I recommend you have a look at a related blog post on the blog "Harm None" (although it is in Croatian). The second best thing I can give you is this link. For more meditation tips and techniques, have a look at the "Literature" section of this blog. If you are meditating by focusing on something, then I would recommend focusing on something related to your goal or the Sabbat you are performing that meditation on.
- Visit Nature
Love of nature (and its celebration and reverence) is what all Pagan faiths have in common. You will learn much more about a Sabbat or any Pagan principle by going out into nature and consciously experiencing nature than you would by reading a thousand books. This is a great way to relax and to reconnect with yourself as well as your surroundings. I often go for a bike ride into nature with a beach towel, a bottle of water and a good book. I read a bit and I meditate...the time just flies by! For some more ideas on what to do in nature, have a look at my previous post entitled "Communing with Nature".
- Spend Time and Chat with Your Friends
Sabbats are celebrations after all...so celebrate! If you don't want to do the formal part of the ritual, then do the social part. Get your friends together, get something nice to eat and drink and celebrate whatever there is to celebrate on that day! If you don't feel all that festive, then just get a small group of friends together who know what's going on and talk about it. If you don't have anyone which whom you can share these kinds of things, you can just meditate on it or write your thoughts down. Then again, the Internet isn't that bad an option; there are many forums where you can find like-minded people so why now talk to them? If you are aware of that day being special for some reason, that will make it all the more special.