Power of Ritual

Power of Ritual

“A ritual cannot be created; it grows in accordance with the need to make meaning” N.Hall

“Everything in nature, the sum total of heavens and of earth become a temple and an altar for the services of God” Hildegard Von Bingen.

Deep breath, Melanie Weidner, 2005

Ritual of 
looking at the moon

Ritual heals and celebrates and brings the microcosm into relationship with the macrocosm. (Matthew Fox)  As I contemplate these ideas this morning, I am aware of how one uses rituals to make oneself at home to bring awareness and familiarity to the day. I awaken, look out the window at the day (today’s sunrise was spectacular), stretch, breathe, remember my dreams,  put the radio on, put the coffee machine on, and on it goes. Some of these rituals are common to many, some are common to self only. A ritual can deepen when we do it consciously, according to Woodman

So I wonder if we keep up these rituals if others around us don’t? How strong is our need for it? Are we able to miss a day? In ancient times, rituals were how we survived and gave meaning to life…honouring the seasons, nature, the weather.  We would have harvested at certain times, the animals would have been at a certain watering hole, the tides would have been at a particular level. These days, our rituals do not mean that we die if we do not do honour them. At least not on a physical level. Our biggest ritual may be opening a bottle of wine at the end of the work week.

I love ritualised experiences. I grew up feasting on religious ritual and song. Marius Schneider is an ethnomusicologist. He states that most public ritual is accompanied by music and song as it was in old. Even the football grand final has a musical prelude.  Rituals used to be secret. There were the rites of passage for both males and females. Even the alphabet used to be secret apparently. People still die to this day standing up for their religious beliefs and rituals. 

Tea tree lake, Sister’s beach, Rocky Cape National Park, Tasmania

Deep feminine is about ritual, magic, eternity, altered states of consciousness, art, music, lunar cycles, intuition. Ritual is also the primary means by which people get their inner houses into order, both at an individual level and as a community. One of my friends spoke of a beautiful Sri Lankan ritual of allowing prosperity into a new house by over-boiling milk onto the stove. 

How do we set up our lives so we can honour the ritual of our lives? Our society rewards those who have “been busy” not necessarily those who have been deep in reflection without ‘anything’ to show for it. ‘Daydreamers’ and ‘slacking off’ come to mind. Often our modern life is, on the whole, highly structured. In the past, my creative flow has felt stifled at times by the rigid set up of modern day. How many of us would like some days to not face the world, instead finish writing that poem, or song, nap or daydream rather than head off to work. I know many creatives whose lives are mixed between “day jobs”  and a few sacred hours of inspiration at the end of the working day. In such a patriarchal society, the deep feminine, or creativity is not often revered. I had a client say to me recently “I thought what you did was B-S at the beginning, but now I know it works. You are awesome” Yes, breathwork and technique is magic. So is being aware of what we are doing. 

Hildegard von Bingen wrote that “authentic ritual helps us find our inner selves.” Lately, I have been exploring the deep feminine in relation to caves. I saw a beautiful river that had etched its way through the honeycomb cave last week. It furrowed in unusual ways. The water had found a way through the seemingly impenetrable structure, little by little making a path for itself that was sustainable and which supported its flow. This would have taken hundreds and thousands of years to achieve. It reminded me that nothing is permanent, such in the Buddhist teachings and knowing on a deep level that all things change with time.

Honeycomb Cave, Mole Creek

That is how I feel I am restructuring my world at the moment. Etching out a new course. It requires more structure, but of the kind that supports me on every level, whilst giving the flow the space, and the breath, to move and change course. I am grateful for this new possibility. It also provides hope that the flow can be a force powerful enough to facilitate change through what seems rock-like substances. Something I perceive as dense and solid might shift with time and persistence of flow.  

Whilst in Vanuatu this year, a ritual unexpectedly arose. Routine combined with an unexpected aspect of song resulting in a magical experience. After an operation, unplanned, the whole medical team walked behind a patient’s trolley, wheeling him back to the ward. There were many family members on the ward who were singing beautiful songs of their home and hearts. Their melodious voices floated up as if carrying us all on poop’ed wings. Returning their brother, son, child, future elder back to the tribe after surgery. It was a procession of sorts. A handing over. It was honouring, moving and greater than the individual sum of its parts. I was moved, and the occasion was marked as unique and special. A sign of the great feminine. The kind of experience that gives one body shivers. The power of ritual.