What is ceremony and why do we do it?
Last week I drove down to Gaston, OR, to a small, but beautiful cabin situated on a vineyard. Two of my Golden Stone Wisdom School students had come down from Vancouver, BC to have a visioning retreat for their start-up business. (Check them out @dirtmagicians - they’re doing great things!)
They had asked me to craft and facilitate a ceremony for them as part of their retreat, to help them clarify their visions, and listen to the energy of the business and what wanted to come into fruition next.
Together we created a really powerful, fun, and transformational time that brought a depth and connection to the spirit of their business, and inspired the next course of action.
I love that they asked me to hold this ceremony for them, and what I love even more is that they understand the importance of utilizing their time this way: the importance of dropping into the spiritual and mystical spaces that are behind any big endeavor, business, or action.
When we connect with the sacred, which moves through all, we find more grounded meaning and purpose in our path forward.
Entering into ceremonial or ritual space is one way to intentionally encounter our wider-than consciousness, and is something humans have always done; something that is arguably innately human.
Ceremony and ritual are found cross-culturally around the world, and we can see evidence of ritual back in neolithic times, particularly surrounding seasonal passages like the solstices and equinoxes.
Ceremony and ritual both invoke the sacred, or time out of time, experience. They allow us to contact our wider faculties and our spiritual nature.
To be clear, often folks (including me sometimes) use the words ceremony and ritual interchangeably. But in my understanding, rituals are repeated acts, done with intention, to connect with an essence beyond the typical lens we interact with the world through day-to-day. They are done consistently or repeatedly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. For example: morning or evening rituals, ritual bathing, singing happy birthday and blowing out candles.
In contrast, ceremony is a specifically crafted series of sacred acts, or rituals, that happen on a special occasion, or for a specific purpose or outcome. They change over time or for each specific purpose. For example: marriage/commitment celebrations, funerals and memorials.
Both ritual and ceremony bring us into connection with the wider force of life, or what’s larger than ourselves. They bring us into direct relationship with wonder and mystery, help us make meaning, and find wisdom from the great beyond. They help us make transitions and cross thresholds. They help us release the old and call in the new. They help us meaningfully mark special occasions and rites of passage.
Unfortunately, the presence of ritual and ceremony has become few and far-between in our culture today, and as individuals we’ve all but lost the craft of embedding ceremonies and ritual into our daily lives. Bringing in the sacred, and creating ceremonial space is something integral to both my life and my work. And I love helping others enter into this space. Are ceremony and ritual something that are important to you? Do you intentionally create ritual and ceremonial spaces in your life? Is it something you crave or want more of? What is one thing you can do today to bring in the feeling of sacredness?
I really feel that ceremony is something our ancestral bodies crave, whether we're conscious of it or not.
If you’re wanting support in crafting ceremony for either your own personal rite of passage or a group you’re holding space for, contact me and let’s start a conversation about how I can support you.
May you find time in your day to notice and honor the sacred that weaves in and through your life.