Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Art Of Ritual

Ritual is a way that humans, since we became conscious, have always made sense of the things that happen in life. To create a sacred acknowledgement through a deliberate action or word honours these life changing moments and somehow helps us to accept these changes in an empowered way. Marking these times in life not only enables us to move forward into the new and let go of the old, but helps us take in or transmute the energy created by these things.

"Ritual is the way you carry the presence of the sacred. Ritual is the spark that must not go out" - Christina Baldwin

I'm rather fond of ritual because it focuses my intent and affects the outcome of things I choose, but I'm not talking about elaborate affairs with reams of fancy words and a whole costume department in tow. I'm not against those particularly, they have there place within mine and many lives, except that they cannot be part of your everydayness. I mean the little daily rituals that make my whole life sacred. What about you have you discovered the power of ritual yet?

By honouring the things we do daily, by bringing sacred time in to our life regularly and creating sacred space in our homes, it melds our spiritual path with ourselves and our spirituality becomes our being, not our doing.

The secret to all this is mindfulness ... Having an awareness of the habits we choose is one part of this ... the being careful to take part in uplifting food or activities that energise, honour or heal us. Just one of my simple rituals for this is to clean my teeth, scrape my tongue and drink a pint of lemon water on waking up in the morning. Not overly virtuous or amazing, but it does leave me feeling fresh and whole, and I do it with the intent, real awareness of what I'm doing, of preparing my body and mind for the day. Having started with this intent it is far easier for other things to follow, sacred or seemingly not.

The other part is to add to our life actions, doings or creations, that we intend to bring a certain energy to us or has a certain meaning. The lighting of a simple candle with a specific purpose could be the whole of that one, or drawing a mandala, writing a word or arranging a feather on a stone.

The secret is intent ... Intent is the precursor to thought and is a tricky little bugger to catch hold of or even observe. It is the stuff of magick and well worth pursuing beyond the film of tension that is thought. The energy behind every thought is intent and the energy behind every action and word is thought. So be aware of your intentions. Be honest and true to yourself.

The secret is awareness ... Be aware of the habits and little rituals that do not serve you well. One of mine that I have to keep an eye on is drinking coffee. After a few weeks of a daily cuppa it's starts to deplete my energy. That's just me. Love the cappuccinos, but too often and it becomes a ritual, a habit that becomes no good for me, eating at both my physical and my subtle anatomy. Such a small thing, but for me personally it doesn't work, as soon as it becomes a habit I'm done for. Other little things you may not notice are words we tell ourselves, little habits of negativity when we look in the mirror or rituals of belittlement in some way. They are powerful and not in the good way.

The secret is energy ... Energy flows always and where the mind pays attention the energy will flow to that place. Become more attuned to the way your energy levels rise and fall, to what enhances, what depletes. Your feelings are a good indicator. Find rituals that make you feel more connected to spirit. Cultivate habits that make you feel whole. It takes 21 days to form a new habit. Contemplate deeply upon what feeling, what energy you would like to bring to your life and meditate upon it. Allow your intuition to tell you the little thing that you could do each day, or each week that will bring this to you. Take time for that habit to take root, let the ritual come into being and watch the changes within that it brings.

It could be as small as lighting a candle when coming in from work every evening and having a moment in silence. It could be a simple as writing down the first thing that pops in to your head upon waking. It could be creating a piece of land art on your weekend walk an leaving it as an offering to nature and for others to enjoy. It will grow into a whole practice that infuses your whole day, your whole life, your whole being.

That is the art of daily ritual. This is when ritual is useful and becomes a tool. Not a rigid framework that constricts our natural flow. Allow your rituals to grow and change ... just intend it so. Don't get hung up on holding fast to them. You are changing and growing too. So everything changes.

To mark those more important times in life then let your self be guided by your own impetus to create ceremonies, big or small, to honour these moments. Find out about the connections between herbs or flowers and meanings, colours and energy, and use these to enhance your magick moments. Make life sacred. Make all of it connected to spirit. Have sacred spaces in your home. This means that what ever you do you do in a blessed place. I have sacred spaces in every room. Little shrines for different things. Yep ... even the bathroom. And no it's not a holy loo roll holder. Sometimes just a simple candle place with intent and a picture or three. It changes.

Here is a picture of one of the little spaces in my kitchen ... this was created to maintain my awareness of the cycles of the seasons and has evolved to keep me connected to sacred places in the land that I have previously made contact with, whilst I walk alongside a particular archetype and teacher.

“This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert

Be practical, be resourceful, be intuitive, be creative and just remember it's not the display that counts it's the intent with which it is carried out, it's not long winded words necessarily it's the awareness with which words are spoken and the it not the grand gesture, but the mindfulness that comes with every action ... (spi)ritual. That is the art of ritual.

The Dreadess xx

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