By Marian Connor

I was thinking…

Rituals and ceremonies play a very important part in our lives. Many of our rituals are performed unconsciously and the action, without being present, can diminish their positive effects. We don’t always give credit to the summer barbecue ceremoniously presided over by the host in an apron displaying trompe l’oiel breasts; the December family day put aside to decorate the tree with baubles from our childhood, each prompting a story and reminiscence, never complete without the consumption of fermented grape or grain and baked goods; or the need to regularly revisit particular places from our past, to reconnect to a time, to relive memories and keep them alive.

All require us to perform a task, with a purpose, to connect us to our tribe and give thanks for them. Rituals run through the fabric of our lives. They are a thread that connects us to times and people that have gone before.

3 images of 18th century child grave marker

(An 18th century grave marker for the children of German or Austrian origin – this piece of ironwork was put into the earth to touch the coffin so the mourners feel close to the child that has died.)

Last week I had a conversation with a neighbour who was upset by the recent death of his mother. His sadness was made worse by the fact he was unable to travel abroad to her funeral. He needed to mark the event but as he couldn’t he was at a loss.

I told him the story of my friend who was travelling through China when my mother died. She created her own ceremony for her by the Great Wall of China which made her a participant in the events in London. Even though technology allows us to be connected across the globe at all times I felt an energetic connection through this act.

I suggested he create his own ritual to celebrate is mother’s life, which could be re-enacted whenever he chose to, something that created an ongoing connection for him.

Pink Lotus flower

We are entering a time of year rich with symbols and rituals, All Hallows Eve has just past with its carnival atmosphere that mixes gothic horror with a sugar rush.

The 100 year Anniversary of the Great War has been marked with the ritual of planting 888,246 poppies in the Tower of London moat. Each representing a British military fatality lost to the war with a daily ceremonial recital of the names of the dead. The appetite for this type of ceremony is voracious. Illustrated by the hoards of people visiting the Tower to be part of the ritual, so many, at times Tower Hill Station is closed to maintain health and safety.

Crowds of people viewing the poppies at the Tower

Winter has an abundance of ceremonies to create light, Diwali, Hanukkah, Santa Lucia’s Day and Christmas. They illuminate the ever increasing darkness. All part of our need to mark time, nature and important events.

 “Hearing Mass is the ceremony I most favour during my travels.  Church is the only place where someone speaks to me and I do not  have to answer back.”

  Charles de Gaulle

We have devised and performed rituals for all aspects of the human condition, birth, coming of age, pledging our troth, marriage, giving birth and naming babies, death, remembrance. Many, if not directly religious, still display vestiges of religious ceremonies performed for centuries. All connect to our spirit.

Some of these rituals may appear curious but they are important to those taking part.

 

Rituals satisfy a need to evoke and express emotions, often in times when we lack words. They create a time and space outside of the mundane to express inner dimensions and our connections to others.

The main difference between routine, habits and rituals is attention, bringing your mind to the activity. Routines and habits are acts completed with little or no thought given to them. Whereas rituals require attention. They are symbolic acts that speak to our subconscious, alter our thoughts and energetic vibrations, are often emotional and may be relived in memory to recapture the positive aspects. Rituals can give a sense of relaxation, help us come to terms with the shifting rhythms of nature and living, add structure and meaning to life and increase our satisfaction of it.

Whilst considering the positive effects rituals deliver. Why not introduce more into your life? Something borrowed or created by you, should help make life a little richer. Stop and give a thought next time you are toasting someone’s health, besides quaffing fine wine, are you actually thinking about that person, sending them your very best wishes and relaying a positive thought?  Be in that moment. You want it to have meaning. You don’t want to make it a habit do you?

 

Image Tile/Header – Energy Compass – AFW Craft

The 18th century grave marker was on display in a fascinating exhibition ‘A – Z : an idiosyncratic A to Z of the human condition at the Wellcome Collection from June-October 2014. Wellcome Images

Lotus Flower – google plus

Poppies at the Tower – 8 in the Universe 

YouTube clip – 10 Strange Wedding Traditions 

 

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