18 Sep What is ritual?
By: Brianna Darling
Short answer: whatever you want it to be. But here’s more on that:
Dictionary.com defines ritual as “an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite.” Similarly, ceremony is defined as “a formal religious or sacred observance; a solemn rite.” Not only do these definitions lack life and soul, I think they are terribly outdated.
Charles Worsham said that “going back and copying rituals from the past is a very dangerous thing because their rituals did not come from the past, they came from their present and so should yours.” Nicole Christine (Adult Educator, Human Rights Activist, Peace Advocate, and High Priestess) wrote that “ceremony reveals the ways and means to stay in the flow of the process, to engage in sacred relationships, and to live abundant, celebratory earthly lives while dancing to celestial music.” To me, ritual is a concrete earthly action we go through laden with intention or inquiry. This action galvanizes the energy we’re (intentionally or unintentionally) calling in.
A few years ago when I would hear ‘ritual’ I would think of my time in India and have romantic visions of small temples on misty mountain tops with bright flowers, bells and incense. While we can have the mountain top temple if that feels true, ritual is also a part of our everyday lives. Life is ceremony- what if we made the parts of it that normally seem mundane a celebration? Nicole Christine wrote, “the potency of any ritual or ceremony is proportional to the participants’ sustained, focused consciousness and intent preceding, during, and after the activity. The primary consideration regarding co-created ceremonies is that the components are personally significant and relevant to the participants so that a harmonic cord is struck within their feeling realm.”
This isn’t a guide for how to create a ritual for yourself because you don’t need one. But if you’re at a loss for where to start consider that rituals often include:
- Clear intentions
- A sacred space (consider cleansing the space with oils, sage, or water)
- Symbols (which are a language easier to understand by our deeper selves)
- Stimulation for the senses (consider having something to taste, music, chanting, etc.)
Here are a few simple things I do. You may end up trying them out, adapting them, and making something of your own:
- Light a candle or incense daily stating an intention and imagine the smoke delivering it to the ethers.
- Create an alter with items that have meaning/carry energy of loved ones or concepts you’re meditating on.
- Draw a card from an oracle or tarot deck & contemplate the meaning or message while mindfully sipping on tea.
- Take a cleansing swim at a nearby beach at sunrise or sunset to welcome or bid farewell to a day.
Try it out! As co-creators of our own realities we have the agency to create meaning in our everyday lives through ceremony and ritual. We don’t need the stamp of authority from anyone other than ourselves. Today ritual is created by everyone, for everyone, and we get to make it up as we go.