Rituals & Symbols

This South African daisy is drought resistant & blooms in winter A ritual is an act or ceremony carried out on a regular basis, with a specific intention. A symbol is something which stands for something or someone not physically present, or which has no physical presence. Rituals & symbols have meanings both deeper & wider than anything which can be framed in words or intellectual concepts. They involve many if not all of the senses

Ritual has been a part of life from time immemorial, & is not just a human construct. But we have begun to neglect this vital part of our life process. It is imperative that we reclaim it.
Ritual is a powerful method of re-aligning ourselves with the cycles of Nature.

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Simple daily rituals are easy to work out - the most obvious example is giving thanks for food. This can be done silently & inconspicuously, but most people will be comfortable, even these days, if you request them to join you in a simple thanksgiving. But keep it simple! Most people are familiar with the words: 'For what we are about to receive....' the rest can be altered to: 'may we be truly thankful', to avoid sexist or denominational hassles. Many other blessings remembered from childhood, or gleaned from grandparents can be similarly adapted. e.g.

Thank you for the world so sweet
Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the birds that sing
We give thanks for everything.

We were introduced to 'The Permaculture Grace' by Rosemary Morrow. It consists of everyone joining hands & saying 'Yu-mmmmmmm!' It invariably makes everyone laugh, & then turns into an Ommmmm!

A more solemn blessing reminds us that all food is eucharistic:

'We give thanks for the sun
We give thanks for the rain
We give thanks to the Source
May the life of the creatures I am about to consume be worthily renewed in me.'

Many rituals or ceremonies from all traditions can be found on the internet - search Rituals, Traditional+Ceremonies, & similar phrases. Those of the Celtic, Native American, & various indigenous traditions are perhaps among the most 'connected' with the earth, & when you have become familiar with some of these, it is easy enough, & perhaps preferable, to construct your own. You can use a form from your own roots as a model, or devise something entirely new. Neo-pagan & New Age sites have many examples of reclaimed & entirely new rituals, while those of the accepted religious traditions can also be adapted to everyday needs. What is important is that the ceremony should be a celebration, (yes, even, in fact especially for a death or loss) appropriate, & simple.

Here are some examples of rituals devised by environmentally conscious groups:

Sophia is an ecumenical feminist spirituality centre honouring women’s experiences,
nurturing wisdom in all people and working for justice in our world

Byron Bay Rainboweb Community Burial Rites

Transcript of interview with ZENITH VIRAGO and Karen Ashworth.
Creating rituals for living and dying.

A Performance Art Re-earthing ritual from The Medicine Wheel Healing Web of

A ceremony written for a small child born to members of an urban Permaculture group

Grimalkin - The Water Rituals of Homo Sapiens - is a fun link, but also very thought-provoking.

Most rituals make use of symbols of the elements - some form of fire, often candles; water; earth, ashes, or seeds; and incense, feathers, or prayer flags to symbolise the air. Rings are still used as a symbol of bonding, a glass or bowl is broken as a sign of 'no going back'. But many simple everyday acts can be spiritually uplifting if they are given ritual significance. Showering can be seen as a cleansing of the spirit, as well as the body, an appropriate symbol of a new beginning in the morning. A bath before going to bed can symbolise the letting go of wordly cares & sinking into peaceful rest. Once you begin to reclaim a sense of symbolism, you will see the ritual significance of many acts you have not previously considered particularly important.

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URL - http://www.users.on.net./~arachne/ritual.html