A Guide to Ritual Spellcasting for Clerics in DnD 5e

Last Updated on November 16, 2022

As a cleric, you have access to powers unlike those conjured up by any other caster. Sure, some of the spells might be the same, but you’re accessing divine magic.

Your deity blesses you with energy to access as you need. Sometimes, you might even be able to avoid using that energy all together.

Today, we’re talking about the ritual spells available to clerics. How to cast them, a detailed breakdown of each ritual spell that you’ll have access to, and we’re even going to be rating these based on usefulness. 

What Is Ritual Spellcasting?

Some spellcasters can cast spells by performing a ritual to access the energy required. Doing so removes the spell slot requirement, meaning you can essentially cast these spells for free. The only downside is that the spell will take an extra 10 minutes to cast. 

Clerics are one such class that have access to ritual spellcasting, but it doesn’t mean they can just cast any spell as a ritual. There are certain spells that have the ritual tag.

In official sourcebooks you’ll just see the word ritual in parentheses next to the level and school of the spell.

On a site like ours or DnD Beyond, there will likely be a large bolded R, possibly inside of some graphic to make it pop.

Because ritual spells automatically take at least 10 minutes, you’re not going to be seeing a lot of combat-focused rituals. Instead, most of these spells are things that allow you to interact with the world around you somehow.

They might let you detect magic, or they might let you protect a corpse from becoming undead. 

In order to cast a ritual spell, a cleric must have it prepared. This isn’t difficult; it just means you have to put it in your list of prepared spells at the beginning of the day.

Then, whenever you’re ready to cast it, all you have to do is spend 10 minutes plus the listed casting time, put in the necessary components, and voilà, you’ve performed a ritual.

All Cleric Ritual Spells

There aren’t many ritual spells available to clerics. In fact, there are only 13 in the whole cleric spell list.

This might seem like a bit of a bummer at first, but remember, it’s quality over quantity. So let’s see what this small list really has to offer.

Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System

In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color-rating scheme:

Red – C Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful and might make for an interesting narrative choice, but they are largely less effective than other tiers.

Green – B Tier. A solid choice but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or it can be very good but only situationally.  

Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective. 

Purple – S Tier. The best of the best. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are definitely worth considering when you create your characters. 

Remember, these are cleric spells, so it’s not like you’ll be stuck with them. If you prepare a spell one day and find that it just doesn’t have utility in your campaign, you can avoid selecting it the next day.

You’re not locked in to any decisions when it comes to spells, so be lenient and experiment to find what works for your character and campaign setting.

Without any further adieu, let’s get into it. 

Ceremony, 1st-Level Abjuration

This allows you to perform many clerical duties, such as funerary rites or wedding vows.

While it might sound silly, each rite has certain benefits that it bestows upon the targets, and these benefits are at least decently long lasting. Let’s take a look at them.

Atonement

If someone has changed alignments (perhaps doing something evil), you can return them to their original alignment.

This can be useful all the way throughout a campaign, possibly even showing the light to the Big Bad that’s been corrupted by evil over the years.

Bless Water

Turn a vial of water into holy water. Holy water is an incredible weapon against fiends and the undead, and this is the best way you’re going to be able to create it.

A vial deals 2d6 radiant damage; just imagine what a bucket could do, or what could happen if you submerge a captive demon in a pool of it.

Coming of Age

You can give a young adult benefits for reaching adulthood. For 24 hours, they roll a d4 and add the result to any ability check.

Obviously, they can only benefit from this once. This is incredibly situational, but who knows, it just may come in handy exactly when you need it.

Dedication

If someone is willing to dedicate themselves to the service of your god, you can essentially baptize them. For the next 24 hours, they add a d4 to any saving throw they make.

Funeral Rite

You touch a corpse, and for the next 7 days, it can’t become undead by any means short of a Wish spell. Listen, this is a huge benefit.

If you’re dealing with undead, you’re probably dealing with a necromancer or some strange curse on a land that brings bodies back to life.

This quick ritual far beats dragging every fallen comrade to the consecrated grounds of a church.

Wedding

Congratulations, as an ordained minister, you can marry two willing adult humanoids. For the next 7 days, the newlyweds gain a +2 to AC while they’re within 30 feet of each other. 

This is very similar to the case of getting married to avoid taxes, but hey, two of your party members can get a +2 AC bonus for a whole week.

Save this for a rainy day because a character can only benefit from this once, unless they’re widowed (until death do us part).

Sure, a lot of this spell is extremely situational, but even on the basis of holy water alone, this is an important spell for clerics to have at their side. At very least, this is the spell to use on your off days.

While it probably isn’t the best thing to prepare if you’re marching toward the big bad, it’s going to be a good spell to use when you have time.

Detect Magic, 1st-Level Divination

Detect magic is a staple in any caster’s pocket. Being able to find sources of magic is useful for detecting magical traps, strange artifacts, and weird enchantments that might be lurking about.

You’ll want this spell prepared a good majority of the time that you go into places you haven’t been before.

Casting it as a ritual makes it all the more appealing. Sure, you’ll have to spend 10 minutes casting it, but then you get 10 minutes to sniff out all sorts of strange magic.

Detect Poison and Disease, 1st-Level Divination

This follows the same logic as Detect Magic, even down to the casting time. The only difference is that poison, disease, and poisonous creatures are just a lot easier to find with mundane observation.

Since you do have to prep a spell to cast it as a ritual, this is one that you’ll often want to leave behind. 

That being said, if you’re going into some locale that’s likely to be rife with poisonous obstacles, swap this in for Detect Magic. Basically, use the detection spell that makes more sense for your situation. 

Purify Food and Drink, 1st-Level Transmutation

It’s not every day that you’ll need to rid food and drink of poison and disease, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Your rations can only get you so far.

Even if you just get stuck out in the wild for a few days, you might want to purify some water and get rid of any diseases waiting for you.

As a normal spell cast with a spell slot, this will only take you an action. That would see it used more on the spot, perhaps if you suspect a “friendly” host of poisoning you.

When it takes 10 minutes to cast though, you’re really only going to be using it in survival scenarios.

This makes the ritual version of Purify Food and Drink a highly situational spell. If you’re in an immersive campaign where food and water are more important than gold, you should probably have this prepared.

If you’re in a city campaign where your general upkeep is just an assumed thing, not something that’s actually discussed and role played, don’t bother with this.

Augury, 2nd-level Divination

Spells like Augury that let you peer into the future are very interesting. This specific spell lets you ask your DM whether or not a specific plan, executed in the next 30 minutes, will work.

The DM, through your patron deity, then tells you that it will work well, poorly, or a mix of both or that the outcome will be anticlimactic.

In order to use this spell well, you really need to be specific with your plan. Get right down to the spells you or your allies are going to cast, including every detail.

Then, if you’re told that it won’t work, you can try to modify it and go in with a better plan.

The more precise you are with this spell, the better it will work. Still, no matter what the outcomes are, you’re seeing into the future.

Cast this as a ritual, and you’re seeing into the future for free. This should definitely be high on your list.

Gentle Repose, 2nd-Level Necromancy

This spell is incredibly useful, especially if you’re going up against some sort of necromancer. Quite simply, it allows you to protect a corpse from decay and undeath for 10 days. 

There are really two parts to this spell. The first is that you can stifle the undead forces in the area by slowing their recruitment methods. In other words, less corpses that can be raised from the dead mean less undead to fight. 

The second part has to do with the decaying piece. Technically, this extends the amount of time that can pass before a creature, or character, can be raised from the dead.

This means you can potentially help an ally hold out until they can be revived or resurrected by some powerful spell. 

Silence, 2nd-Level Illusion

Silence is a spell with a 10-minute concentration-based duration. Spending 10 minutes just to cast it seems a bit excessive, but it can save you a spell slot.

It comes down to the question of whether you can safely cast the spell for 10 minutes and still get the same pay off you were looking for. 

Fortunately, this isn’t a decision you need to make when you’re preparing spells.

If you like creating an area of silence for stealth, to stop a caster from using verbal components, or for whatever reason, then you’ll have this spell prepared anyway.

Then, if the conditions are right and you can spend 10 minutes in the casting process, go for it, and cast this as a ritual to save yourself some energy.

Feign Death, 3rd-Level Necromancy

This spell has some interesting applications. You touch a willing creature and make them appear to be dead for an hour.

This incapacitates them, blinds them, gives them resistance to all damage other than psychic, puts a pause on any disease or poison in their system, and, most importantly, makes them appear completely dead to any and all detection. 

Why might you want to use this? Well, a lot of reasons. You could be protecting a harmed ally, sending someone on a very specific stealth mission, hiding among dead bodies, or whatever the situation calls for. 

It’s a very interesting spell with a huge range of possibilities, but that really doesn’t make it any less niche.

Sure, this can be massively helpful if used creatively and effectively, but you’ll only be able to pull that off in very specific scenarios. More often than not, a dead body is going to be a bit of a blight on the party.

Meld Into Stone, 3rd-Level Transmutation

Hiding inside of stone for 8 hours with virtually none of your senses is a very interesting ability. It’s almost exclusively going to be used for stealth.

In fact, I struggle to think of an application that isn’t centered around hiding in some way, shape, or form.

That being said, stealth is a huge part of the game, and spending just 10 minutes to get 8 hours of some of the best stealth ever is certainly a good payoff.

Clerics don’t get a lot of stealthy options either, making this a great choice to prepare whenever you’re headed on a stealthy mission.

Water Walk, 3rd-Level Transmutation

This is one of the few ritual spells that has an impact on multiple people. It lets up to 10 creatures you can see walk on any liquid surface (even lava) as if it were solid ground. 

A spell like this being cast without a spell slot is obviously incredible, but we have to again look at how situational it is.

As far as traversal spells go, there are certainly some more widely applicable ones out there. How often are you really going to need to walk on liquid for an hour? 

The answer to that question really depends on your campaign. Fortunately, as a cleric, you can prepare this spell when you anticipate needing it.

In a high-seas campaign, that might be very often, but in a mountain campaign that might only be once when you stumble across a lake with a relic on an island in the middle. 

If you want payoff for this spell, look at maps for the areas you’ll be traveling before you prepare your spells for the day.

Divination, 4th-Level Divination

Divination is just a much more broadly applicable version of Augury.

Instead of the effectiveness of a specific plan within 30 minutes, this gives you an answer to a specific question about a goal, event, or activity that will occur within 7 days. 

Less specific bounds for the spell means two things. First, you have a lot more freedom with how you want to use this. Second, you have to spend a lot more time thinking about how to phrase your question to yield the best results.

It’s a bit of a polarizing spell. Some DMs might all out ban this because it lets players peer too much behind the screen.

Regardless though, if you’re going to be using this spell, you should 100% be casting it as a ritual and saving yourself the valuable 4th-level spell slot.

Commune, 5th-Level Divination

Again, we have a straightforward divination spell that lets you divine knowledge from your divine power. Yeah, it’s a bit redundant, but it’s a good spell to have.

This one lets you ask three questions that will receive a yes or no answer from your deity. 

I’ll save you my repetition because the rationale on this spell is the same as Divination and Augury. Cast it as a ritual, save the spell slot.

Forbiddance, 6th-Level Divination

This spell is insanely powerful. Protect an area of 40,000 square feet from magical travel for one whole day and cause insane amounts of damage to a specified creature type when they are inside of the area (one or more of the following: celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead). 

This is basically short-term consecration of holy grounds. Not to mention, if you cast this for 30 days in a row, the spell lasts indefinitely or until it is dispelled. 

Power aside, this is already a spell that takes 10 minutes to cast. What’s another 10 minutes to save yourself a spell slot?

Ritual spells are an incredibly important part of a cleric’s repertoire. While there may not be many options, each brings something unique to the table, and you don’t have to burn a spell slot to cast them.

Some may be situationally useful, but that’s the glory of being a cleric. You get to plan for situations instead of entire campaigns.

So go out there, set up some candles, draw some lines in chalk, and get to casting those divine rituals. As always, happy adventuring.