I have been thinking a lot about ritual over the last year especially. As a Bard in training with the OBOD a more systematic approach to ritual has been a big part of my life, not every day by any means but on a much more regular basis than it would have been in the past.
If we think of ritual as something that we do regularly though, it is possible to see many aspects of our lives that we may not have considered to be ritual as such. If we sit down every morning at 11am with a cup of coffee that is ritual as is always making a pot of tea in the same way e.g. Warming the pot, letting the tea stand for 5 minutes, always putting the milk into the cup first etc etc. Since I have cut down to one cup of coffee a day taking time for myself to sit and enjoy that single cup has become a delightful ritual.
The more compulsive we are the more rituals we may find we have in our lives. We may for example may have rituals about washing our hands, turning off the lights, locking up the house when we leave, dressing ourselves, preparing or eating meals, the list is endless.
Then of course there are the rituals to be found in our culture or religion such as baptism or christening, 18th or 21st birthday parties, engagements and marriage, hand fasting, initiation rites and seasonal or family celebrations. Where we are from, the culture we grow up in or develop for ourselves is a strong influence on the type of rituals we perform.
Those of us who are on any kind of spiritual path may have other forms of ritual. Maybe we always clean our crystals at full moon, light a candle when we want to sit quietly, chant, meditate or do Tai Chi every day, or maybe our rituals are more complex.
Some of the ritual that I have been working with over the last year has been connected with the turning of the wheel and the passing of the seasons, and have taken place at the time of the eight Celtic festivals. This has been the first year I have celebrated all eight festivals and it has given me a much greater connection with and awareness of the seasons and the changes that occur during these times. Because I can see the real benefit for me of ritual at these times it is something I know I will continue. There have also been other rituals, at times these have been about creating safe and sacred space in which to work, at others the rituals have helped me to connect more deeply with the elements for example.
What has been important for me though has been making these rituals my own, listening to my own guidance and intuition about what feels right for me at this time and what feels that it needs to be left aside. This I can do as a solitary practitioner, were I performing some of these particular rituals within a group then there would be less freedom to make them my own due to the need for everyone to have a role and actively participate.
One important role of Ritual is to provide us with the structure and familiarity to feel safe and know where we are.
In my work as a shamanic and energy healer I also have rituals. When I prepare my room each day and myself for the work I am to do there is ritual. For me this ritual helps me to shift into work mode, to create the right environment for me to work in and for my clients to be in and it also gives me space and time to ground myself, protect my energy and connect with my spirit allies and guides. Ritual in this way helps me to remember what it is that I need to do.
When I perform ceremonies either public or private these also involve ritual and again here although there may be elements that are always or usually present, the ritual will vary according to the purpose, the place I am working in, the people present, the time of the year, and what my own guidance is telling me is needed.