I start my day with a morning grounding meditation. Nowadays, I end my day with my gratitude journal. Morning and evening rituals help me transition from the dark world of sleep and unconsciousness to the world full of light, action, and consciousness and then back to darkness.
Do you pray? It is one of the most intimate questions. Do I? Yes, I pray – earthwise rather than to any off-ground god – and, though I cannot tell you the words I use, I will tell you their core is beauty. These prayers are the strongest elixir of my language. I put the essence of myself into them, but if anyone was looking, they would see no drama, no props, just breath and a certain abstraction from the mundane for a sweet minute
All cultures and all religions manifest in rituals. Rituals play an essential part in the human psyche.
Rituals mark the passing of time and a transformation from one state to another, giving structure to the day, which leads to a calmer life.
Small everyday rituals invite the divine to step forward and provide a feeling of comfort and safety in an unpredictable and chaotic world. We use the word goodbye (God be with you) as we leave to invoke God to protect our loved ones. We bless the meal to remind us to be grateful for the bounty but also as a protection against famine.
Rituals give meaning and order to different phases in one’s life. Celebration of life, death, coming of age, marriage, and divorce are marked by letting go, cleansing, or purifying on the physical or emotional mental levels.
Holidays rooted in the ebb and flow of the seasons, are an ancient way to find meaning and safety in times of uncertainty. The winter solstice, for example, is a prayer for the return of the sun.
‘The meaning of ritual is lofty indeed. He who tries to enter with the violent and arrogant ways of those who despise common customs and consider themselves to be above other men will meet his downfall there.”
You do not need to believe in God for you to be awestruck by the beauty of nature or the wisdom of the human body.
Ritual transcends the daily human experience to a higher level. It allows the participants to feel part of a community, but also, they are a door to magic, to the extraordinary, to the sacred.
In many cultures, the four elements of nature are used as part of the ceremony. Flowers suggest earth, candles suggest fire, then a little holy or purifying water, and the air is made visible by incense, with the ethereal element of prayer.
Rituals always involve the creation of beauty. It is not so much that we look to possess beauty as we want to participate in its creation and acknowledge the beauty surrounding us. Beauty helps establish harmony and balance in our souls. It brings peace.
Rituals have the power to suspend time. They let us step away from the ticking of the clock to an eternal realm. At the same time, rituals are time-consuming and require us to stop and take note. In a culture where “time is money,” acknowledging the beauty and abundance already here is a luxury many of us feel we can not afford.
There is a story circling in the herbal world about a group of elders meeting at one of the herbal conferences. One thing to know about herbalists is that they rarely agree with each other. But when one of them raised the question: “what can best predict the success of a herbal protocol?” There was a total consensus between the herbalists. If a client is willing to prepare themselves a herbal cup of tea, they stand a good chance of achieving well-being no matter what herbs are brewed.
The mare ceremony of making a cup of tea and sitting with it, is as beneficial as any medicine, herbal or not.
In modern culture, we mostly lost our connection to rituals. They either become stale because they are over-commercialized, or we abundant them altogether partly because we want to avoid acknowledging the passing of time and partially because we are disconnected from nature, so the rhythms of day and night and of the seasons lose their meaning.
Rites were never as important as they are now. The modern lifestyle and our disconnection from nature and our bodies created a chaotic world that overwhelms our nervous system and keeps us in a chronic state of stress.
Invite peace into your life by creating ceremonies that are meaningful for you. When I studied to become a Waldorf teacher, I was asked to observe the same tree from the same vintage point every day at the same time. I developed a deep relationship with the Chinese Tallow growing in my front yard.
What will make you stop and note the passing of time? The changes in light patterns? The changing seasons? Growth and decay?