Ritual used to bore me. I couldn’t see the point, had no comprehension of why it might be important. As I came to understand mindfulness and focusing energy, I started to realize that in spiritual matters ritual serves the purpose of bringing your attention to the sacred goal of what you’re doing.
I think too often the ritual becomes so routinized that it loses feeling and meaning and becomes boring and that’s how a lot of ritual seemed to me. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the stole or robe that must be worn and/or the way the altar must be set up and/or the kind of flowers that must be placed in a certain spot that people forget that all those things were just there to serve as reminders of the sacred; they aren’t the sacred thing itself. All too often the need for the exact stuff and the precise order of events eventually trumps the meaning of the rite.
I’ve learned to remind myself that the precise steps and the things like altar objects or the clothes don’t matter as much as my ability to bring my mind into the deeper meaning of the ceremony. When I cast a circle I use the stones I collected for my medicine wheel when studying with a Hopi teacher. I don’t put the stones down in the order of the wheel and the wheel isn’t exactly the same thing as the circle created in Wiccan ritual but the laying down of the circle for me is the act of creating a sacred space in which to meditate or say an affirmation or the words of a spell. As long as I allow the circle to focus my mind on the sacred purpose, to me the exact composition of the circle doesn’t matter.
Sometimes on the way to that understanding I think it serves a purpose to follow a ritual as it has been laid down, especially because your belief and focus on its power is often greater when you follow what you’ve been taught by a master. But ultimately once you’ve learned how to move your mind into sacred space I think you can create your own ritual and allow what you’ve designed help you to focus.
This is for ABC Wednesday, which is “R” this time.