Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Magic of Ritual and Ceremony

Just the mention of the words ritual and ceremony brings up thoughts of Egyptian priests in procession, a Catholic mass,Voodoo Magic rituals, or natives dancing to the beat of drums. The words tend to make us think of something strange, mysterious, or exotic, but in fact our modern lives are filled with ritual and ceremony.

The word ritual can be used to mean any set pattern of behavior that may be carried out consciously or unconsciously (ie. smoking, driving, exercise), but I am using it in the context to refer to consciously organized behavior intended to impress or influence. 

One use of ritual is to mark the beginning of something, so we have rituals like baby showers, ship launchings, grand openings and ribbon cuttings (a modern ceremony for the cutting of the umbilical cord). 

There are rituals for ending things, like funerals, bachelor parties, and happy hours (people having drinks to ease the transition from the uncertain period of twilight to darkness).

We have completion rituals in the form of graduation ceremonies, toasting achievement, and applause. Transition rituals are many, such as birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, baptisms and bar mitzvahs, confirmations etc. 

Connection rituals include Native American rituals , marriage ceremonies, church services, Wiccan rituals, Sufi whirling dervishes, and blind dates.With such an abundance of rituals already available, why are more and more people  seeking out rituals of different kinds from different cultures? 

Ritual can serve many different purposes, but it won't serve them unless it is effective. An effective ritual is one that leaves a lasting impression and strongly influences people to reinforce or change assumptions,attitudes or expectations. The magic behind a good ritual is that it breaks though to the subconscious level.  To do that it must be satisfying to the spirit and the soul. Otherwise it is no more than a lifeless habit and dogma and is ineffective for it's intended purpose. Our interest as practitioners of magic and shamans is to use it for healing and for enhancement of positive patterns.

Sending the Brightest of Blessings,

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