What is Ritual?
Ritual is the process of pairing together a physical act or gesture with words, prayers, or mantras. Sometimes symbolic or special objects are also used. The most powerful rituals incorporate all the senses.
For instance, wedding rituals traditionally include hearing, with music and speech, sight, with pretty fabrics and beautiful locations, smell, with flowers, touch, with hugs and kisses, and taste with refreshments and meals.
Many religious rituals are known to incorporate all the senses, like the Christian Holy Communion which traditionally includes speech, music, beautiful buildings, art, robes, incense, wine, bread and repeated kneeling.
Rituals are found in every culture on every continent and can be anything from a large celebration, such as a wedding or funeral, to a small interaction, such as a special handshake and greeting between two friends.
Why Is it Useful?
The purpose of ritual is to acknowledge, honor and deeply experience the significance of an event in one's life.
Rituals can be very helpful when moving through developmental stages, such as moving from childhood to adulthood, or moving from child bearing years into menopause. They can also be helpful when experiencing life transitions or loss.
Rituals can be done in a variety of ways. They can be performed on a grand scale, or they can be small and unassuming. They can be fairly common, or wildly unusual. They can include many people, or they can be performed by yourself in peaceful solitude.
Rituals give closure to the past, and open the door to the future. Consciously acknowledging significant events by doing something meaningful to honor them creates stronger, healthier bonds to our communities, to our loved ones and to ourselves.
There is no right or wrong when forming a ritual to acknowledge something that is important to you. You can create something as unique and exquisite as you are, no matter how big or small it becomes.
I have helped to facilitate many unique red tent ceremonies. This ritual acknowledges a girl's entrance into womanhood at the start of her menstrual cycle.
(Pictures from my daughter's red tent.)
Rituals of Relationship
Developmental Stage/Rite of Passage Rituals
Rituals Regarding Loss
Loss of Loved One Job Loss Loss of Home Loss of Health or Body Part
Rituals of Wealth