Sacred ritual gives meaning to our lives.
Sacred ritual is a way to:
- Connect to spirit
- Release and express emotion
- Build personal identity or the identity of your tribe
- Bring order to chaos
- Acknowledge or bring about real transformations
- Solve problems
Sacred ritual brings meaning to our lives. It gives us the opportunity to connect with consciousness – through spirit, our soul and heart, using the tools of invocation, symbol, symbolic action and clear intention.
Sacred ritual is not an intellectual activity, but rather a way to demonstrate our trust in creator/god/life. When we create a sacred ritual, we bypass the analytical mind and tap into a deeper knowing and way to communicate with our hearts. This nourishes our psyche and spirit.
Sacred ritual can be based in a long lineage or history from a religious, spiritual or cultural tradition – or it can be “homemade” and created as spirit guides us in the moment. Large or small, private or public, personal or social, religious or secular, sacred ritual can take the form of funerals, weddings, presidential inaugurations, church services, baptisms, fraternal initiations, and tribal rites of passage.
Everything from family traditions to your morning cup of tea can become small sacred ritual if you cultivate intention for them.
Handshakes, dates, greetings and goodbyes, tattoos, table manners, your morning jog, and even singing the Happy Birthday song can be ritual as well. So do them with intent and awareness!
When sacred ritual is stripped from our existence, and this fundamental human longing goes unsatisfied, restlessness, apathy, alienation, boredom, and rootlessness are the result.
Adding sacred ritual to our lives creates meaning, purpose, clarity, and connection to true self, source and community. Surprising solutions to both everyday problems and spiritual crises are often revealed.
Sacred Ritual is performed for many reasons, including to support, honor and give thanks to:
1. The creator or aspects of the creator. For example, any direct worship of God or aspect of God as a particular deity or guru, or any aspect of God in nature, like trees, rivers, mountains, etc.
2. An individual or group’s transition through a traditional rite of passage. For example, birth, adolescence, death, marriage, birthdays and various initiations.
3. An individual or group’s transition through various life changes. For example, illness, graduation, divorce, retirement, new career, the healing of trauma, milestones and achievements and various initiations.
4. The cycles of nature and the cosmos. For example, seasonal changes, full moons, solstices, planting and harvest time.
Other examples of sacred ritual include:
- Baptism/Water Blessings
- Meditation Rites
- Medicine Wheels
- Fire Ceremony
- Blessingway/Baby Shower
- Trance/Sacred Dancing
- Calling in the Directions (north, south, east and west, above, below, center) or Four Elements (earth, water, fire, air)
- Traditional religious ceremonies
- Traditional secular festivals and special days such as Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day or Diwali
Who is qualified to create a sacred ritual?
All of us create ritual often without realizing it. We brush our teeth or wash our body in a similar manner, at similar times every day. Anyone can create a sacred ritual by adding in intent. What do you want to gain by performing the ceremony? How would you like to feel? You might create an altar to your dreams in life by collecting beautiful objects and arranging them in a pleasing manner on a bookshelf. You could wash your dishes with the intent of being fully present to the sensation of the soap and water, to really looking out the window in front of you, and enjoying the moment instead of begrudging a chore.
Shamans, healers, religious and spiritual leaders, leaders of families and businesses, traditional role models, and coaches often have the experience and training to create sacred ritual for their communities or clients. By holding space for the participants, greater healing, transformation or awareness can occur.
How do you create a sacred ritual?
The basic elements of a creating a sacred ritual or ceremony often include:
- Creating a safe, sacred space
- Calling in guides, helpers or energy
- Stating intent
- Performing the ceremony
- Expressing gratitude, and
- Closing the ceremony by releasing the energy.
For centuries, indigenous cultures have gathered in ritual circles around bonfires to communicate with divinity and each other; to laugh; sing; dance; negotiate marriages; deal with violations of tribal law; share stories and conduct ritual. The ritual circle was associated with the idea of a protected or consecrated space, a ceremonial place where all participants were equal.
Anthropologists tell us that civilization began when prehistoric people began to bury their dead. There have been many archaeological findings of ancient graves that clearly show that the deceased was buried with ritual. The bodies were not carelessly thrown into a hole in the ground, but obviously placed with reverence and provided with what were considered essential needs in the after life. No matter how grand or simply it was done – it was ritual.
There are many, many types of sacred ritual, all of which are a powerful way to open the doorway between the everyday and the divine.
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