Ceremony or Ritual it’s a rite old conundrum! So how do you make it work for you?
The closest many of us come to ‘ceremony’ is when we attend the ‘Hatch/Match/Despatch’ variety. There are of course many religions which still celebrate life’s rites of passage. The rest of us, well some don’t even recognise those rites and for me that is the reason we as a culture have really lost our way a little bit perhaps. We just don’t get it.
That is a sweeping generalisation yes. Think on it though, we used to celebrate different ages throughout life – the teens in Judaism for example the Bar/Bat mitzvah is still celebrated but do many others take time out to acknowledge the turning of the page from childhood to that of a ‘teen’? Or indeed we used to have to wait to the age of 21 to get ‘the key of the door’. Kids these days would be outraged to wait that long to get their own key… again though not in every culture.
Ceremony is oft times seen as ‘something others do’. It is only for special occasions. Some would have it defined that way. A ceremony is a situation where people come together to witness/celebrate people’s weddings/anniversaries/birthdays etc. Ritual is a religious rite… hmmm.
Beware the muddied water here however, some would have us believe that the ceremony is in no way a ritual – but the wedding/naming/funeral ceremony well now that is full of ritual. It’s a bit of a quagmire, if you allow it to be. What counts is your understanding of it. Belief can change. Changing a belief though, well, that’s another blog entirely.
Making every day mundane things a rite in themselves almost. How many of us have heard, either ourselves or some other say…’I read the [insert here] religiously.
How can we have ceremony in our everyday life? What would be the point? Ceremony is not always done by an officially appointed person, we make rituals every day – we call it habit. So, what are good habits/rituals? What is the point in making them ‘Ceremony’?
A stray thought occurs… do we now use the word habit to mean ritual too? What do you think? While you ponder, here are your 5 ways to make Ceremony
- Gratitude! For those of a religious bent saying Grace before eating is being thankful. However you don’t have to be religious to be grateful for the food on your plate. Acknowledge the process that got that food to you in the first place. Think about that for a while. So, you don’t believe in [insert Deity] does that stop you from taking a moment to send a positive thought to those who grew it, fished/farmed it? To think about the fact that you are eating something that had other ways to be, not just nutrition for you? So thank the food itself. Even (and especially now) the water you drink/bathe etc. with. Be grateful – it makes you mindful of the wonder of all that is around you. It reminds us all to be respectful.
- Respect! Have respect for things and people around you. Respect your Self. In doing so find what makes you a person worthy of that respect. Being a Human Being is quite a responsibility. We are the stewards of the planet, we don’t own it. In Shamanic terms everything has Spirit. It is that Spirit that we seem to have lost respect for. We are a mirror for each other’s ‘stuff’. We all have ‘Stuff‘ we don’t need to be littering it all around the place. Respect your Self enough to understand that you can release that. You can make a ceremony around that.
- Make Time! Take time to make time. You take a shower in the morning – while you are being grateful re the water, heat, cleanliness of the surroundings you are being mindful and you are making a habit into something that is so personal to you, unique to you even. The evening bath before bed, make it your TIME, We find a way to ‘switch off the day’ for 20 minutes or so… longer if you don’t mind the pruning of fingers and toes! You GIFT yourself a wee splice of time if it’s not every night then it’s even more special – it becomes a ceremony it’s your ritual.
- Ritual/Ceremonial Tools You can use anything. Your can (and in my view it is such a special thing to do) make your own items. You can make your own mix of bath salts, you can dry your own herbs and flowers. Making things like this makes its own ritual, and the ceremony of stages in the making is something that can become sacred to you. Sacred? Yes!! Something that is yours, and yours alone ONLY EVER USED FOR ONE PURPOSE that purpose being whatever it is you want it for. A pot for your bath salts, dry herbs/flowers. A spoon that is only used to make your potions/lotions or item of clothing worn only for your ceremonies.
- Throw out the Book! Unless there is a specific reason, i.e. you are part of a religious order, group or such and you are learning the ropes; there’s really no reason to slavishly follow someone else’s idea of what constitutes a ceremony you want to celebrate. If you want to get a group of friends together in your back garden around a fire pit or just a table of food and drink. It can become a ceremony – it will be what you make it. If out in the woods, in nature, remember respect all ways!
Ceremony doesn’t have to be ritualistic, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with any religion, if you are into celebrations and ceremony and would like to do it often, the Egyptian Pantheon has one going on almost daily and usually involves beer and sometimes even more intimate things you might like to try out… if that is your thing – go to it. If it’s not just enjoy life, celebrate it. Be in the moment. It’s amazing how much of a good habit that can become. The Wiccan Rede is ‘If it harm none, do as you will’ as long as you are mindful of that and I suggest you really are mindful of what that entails cause it’s very much open to interpretation. Aleister Crowley didn’t like the restrictions, and changed it to ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.’ That kind of thinking got us where we are today. Again though, we can change that. One thought, one choice, one act at a time.
Shamanically, all we ask is that you respect your surroundings. Respect the Spirit that is in everything you are, everything you do, everywhere you go. The magic is in the mundane, and once you see the magic, there is no mundane.
Blessings and Joy to you all. Now go, celebrate your own magically, magnificent selves!