My last blog post described one of my favorite rituals, an annual calling back of the sun at year’s end. There are many other rituals that I enjoy and have employed through the years. Whether it’s a regularly scheduled, often-practiced celebration or a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, such as a wedding, ritual can help ground us in the absolute fullness of the present.
Create a small altar or special arrangement somewhere in your living space that offers you a place to pause and connect with life or work up a repeated time for reflection with others.
When designing a ritual, the main components for me are intention and purpose. What is the reason for the ceremony or meditation and what is the intention? Who will benefit from the work? Is this to be a simple act or more complex? Will the ritual be honored alone or will others be present? If in a group, will there be a solitary leader, several leaders, or will everyone attending have a role?
Below, I offer suggestions and pointers that may help you with ideas that you can put into practice. Your imagination is the only limitation. This is the roadmap I use to create a ritual. I know that many folks prefer a step-by-step method of learning to the wide open expanse of “just do it.” I offer options below that you can follow in order, choose from at random, or use as you see fit.
A qualifier: When sending energy, prayers, light, mojo, or whatever you want to call them toward others, make sure that the recipient has requested it and is open and receptive. We should always resolve to do no harm. There are many instances where our best intentions can feel like interference and would be unwelcome. There are also many times when they would be considered honorable offerings and accepted with gratitude. The one exception that I was taught is that sending love is always acceptable.
1. Define your purpose
2. Set the intention
3. Sit with the purpose and intention and listen for cues
4. Design your ritual
5. Gather materials and/or create altar or focal point
6. Perform the ritual
Below is an example of a very simple ritual that can be easily performed on a daily basis. I have chosen Standing Rock to illustrate how a current (or recent) tragedy can be used to direct our strongly emotional energies into focused activity. This is not meant to preclude larger, more tangibly helpful actions but to offer a more constant and positive interactivity.
Perhaps you have been following the Dakota Access Pipeline Saga and you’re frustrated by an inability to do anything more active than send money or donated goods. You decide a ritual is in order. Building one might look like this:
(Purpose) More active connection is needed.
(Intention) You say to yourself, “I want to send loving support to the Water Protectors at Sacred Stone Camp.”
(Sitting) You look around, observe, and think.
(Design) You see a favorite bowl sitting on the shelf. It feels prominent and holds your attention.
(Gathering) You fill the bowl with water and set it in the middle of your table.
(Performance) Each day as you refill the bowl you send positive energies to the Water Protectors. You may also use this bowl as a conduit to strengthen your connection throughout the day.
Consider what actions will add to the atmosphere of your ritual. Is there a specific type of music or even a single song that reflects the space you are creating? If you are practicing ritual in a group setting, can you give everyone a task to make it more interactive?
In my experience, the best rituals are those that combine planned elements with an ability to go with the flow. In group rituals, explain the roadmap and provide leadership but understand that others need to feel the ritual as well and that can cause breakaway moments—these moments can yield amazing occurrence or chaos, so be prepared to cherish them while guiding the group back to the desired space.
Along with listening quietly to my inner voices, when I’m creating ritual I often collaborate with others. In fact, the Out of the Darkness ritual began with an idea of my friend Bengt. He drafted my help and together we created the first service. Through the years the same basic structure has survived with small differences year-to-year as the present circumstances required. The MOOD (Manifesting Our Own Destiny) bowls were added this year due to the knowledge that our congregation will be yearning for stronger hope and deeper positivity.
However you build your ritual, remember: purpose, intention, and do no harm. Ritual can be a lovely way to honor ourselves, others, and the planet. It can also help us to bring more light and love into our lives. You may find inspiration on this page in some of the altar art I have created.
Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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