Under the item description for Holy Water, we see the following:

A cleric or paladin may create holy water by performing a special ritual. The ritual takes 1 hour to perform, uses 25 gp worth of powdered silver, and requires the caster to expend a 1st-level spell slot.

This very closely matches one of the uses of the Ceremony spell:

1 hour (Ritual)
Components V S M (25gp of powdered silver; consumed)
Bless Water: You touch one vial of water and cause it to become holy water.

Do clerics and paladins actually need to have access to the Ceremony spell in order to bless water into Holy Water, or can they always do it (provided that they have the five pounds of silver powder, 60 minutes, and 1st level spell slot)?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/55526/… \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 May 15 '18 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is an example of a cleric that doesn't have access to ceremony? \$\endgroup\$ – ACuriousMind May 15 '18 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ACuriousMind one that didn't prepare it that day. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 May 15 '18 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ It occurs to me that you could also boil the Hell out of the water. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 May 17 '18 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ACuriousMind playing AL and chose another +1 book, not XGE \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor May 18 '18 at 9:29

No, there are two different, but similar, ways to create holy water

One method, outlined in the PHB under the description for holy water, is not a spell but a special ritual. The other method, outlined in Xanathar's, is a cleric/paladin spell.

One subtle benefit to having a spell and non-spell way to create holy water is that non-cleric/paladins can gain access to the ability by taking the Ritual Caster feat for example.1 Also, the non-spell version will allow a cleric/paladin to be able to create holy water even if they do not have the spell prepared or are out of spell slots.

Yes, they are very similar, but that does not mean we can assume they are the same thing. Nowhere does either ability reference the other or link them in any way save similar wording. In lieu of official errata or clarification saying that they are the same method the only way to treat this RAW is as two different ways to create holy water.

Jeremy Crawford also supports this reading:

The description of holy water tells you how to make it. If another method for creating it appears, that's merely another option.

1 - thanks @HellSaint

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you... Ceremony damaged my calm. To know the RAW is that I can completely ignore its aberrant presence brings me back to center. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth May 15 '18 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would add that Ceremony allows non-cleric/paladin classes to create holy water as well through Ritual Caster feat \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint May 15 '18 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint Druids? Warlocks? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 17 '18 at 14:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth mentioning that paladins cannot cast Ceremony without having it prepared, since they don't have ritual casting. Also, it would appear that by spending 1 hour 10 minutes, a cleric can cast Ceremony as a ritual and it will not consume a spell slot. \$\endgroup\$ – Deltatheduck Aug 29 '18 at 10:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ " the non-spell version will allow [...] if they [...] are out of spell slots." How so, if the non-spell version says you need to spend a spellslot? \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Sep 9 '19 at 11:30

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