Ritual and ceremony add to the richness of life, and help us to celebrate important cultural and personal milestones. The ‘pomp and ceremony’ give colour, style and flavour to the rite being celebrated, such as Anzac Day, a birthday or Christmas. The essence (ritual) of New Year’s eve celebrations is to say goodbye to the old year and to envision our new year. The way we do that ceremonially in our culture is through fireworks and partying.
Traditional cultural rituals include weddings, baptisms, funerals, church services, military displays – all generally done with lots of dressing up and ceremony.
Religions are full of ritual and ceremony because, in the past, all of the important bits of life were celebrated spiritually. Over hundreds of years, the original meaning of a rite can be watered down or lost altogether, yet, rites of passage, dealing with our self-sabotaging dark side or offering our problems to the Divine, are all cogent reasons to embrace our ability to engage in meaningful ritual and ceremony.
Celebrate daily rituals
You already use ritual. It is everywhere in our lives, from what we do when we first wake up, to how we eat, what we do when we get to work, how we clean the house, how we express our spirituality. Most of these rituals and private ceremonies are unconscious, mindlessly repeated. Conscious ritual and ceremony can turn even the simplest of daily actions into sacred expressions of who you are.
Start to be mindful of the things you usually do, and the way in which you do them. Observe your attitude in the small things, because you could be building problems into your future if you habitually do things resentfully, or negatively, without respect for yourself or others.
Here are two easy personal transformational rituals which involve virtually no ceremony at all.
As you clean your house, put on OM (aum) or another chant which has a spiritually and vibrationally uplifting effect on the environment, and on you. Then as you physically clean, you are energetically cleaning the space, as well as cleansing your own energy. Chant along with it, and you will become invigorated. Try to clean from east to west, sweeping out the old, and envisage that you are sweeping in your bright future from the direction of new beginnings, the east. Transform the act of cleaning from a chore to an opportunity to raise your vibration, and give thanks for having the things that you are actually cleaning.
Going to and from work
Take a moment to use the physical separation from your family as a time to cut all ties of attachment and co-dependence. It is these lines of energy that cause low vibrational energies to reverberate between you and those you live with, leading to negative feelings and fueling conflict. Breathe in, release. Invoke, and ask for help in cutting all the ties that bind you to your family. Say, “I am free to be me, I honour your freedom to be you. May we grow in love, friendship and peace” or tailor the words to suit the release of whatever problem there might be. If appropriate, use your hand to actually cut like a big sword down the front of your body, cutting all lines that might be poking out the front of you leading to family members.
When returning from work, tune in and close your eyes for a minute. Say “I now consciously release the day, and cut all ties with all issues that arose at work today. I release all of the stresses of the day, and all negative energy that I may have taken on. I am free”. Breathe in, release. Then focus on all of the good things in your life, even if there might not seem to be many of them. Find some and be grateful for them. This will attract more positive energy to you.
Marking major transitions
Some of the important times in our lives where appropriate ceremonies are no longer used are puberty, menopause, change in job or career, divorce, child moving out of house, etc. Transitions between one stage of life and another are often stressful parts of our life and can evoke strong emotions. Because of our upbringing and cultural restraints, many of these things are not celebrated. We try to deal with them in a logical way, but it doesn’t really work. Instead of giving full expression to how we feel, our thoughts wrap around the emotions that we try to avoid. This explosive energy packet dives inside us, burying a problem that one day might surface in the form of bodily discomfort or disease. Ritual and ceremony give us the opportunity to express any negative energy in a direct and healthy way, and by safely venting it, it is rendered harmless.
How to hold an amazing sacred ceremony
We can develop our own rituals and ceremonies to honour our own changing lives. Below is a 10-point plan giving you a structure and lots of scope to develop your own rituals and ceremonies to mark important life stages, with ease and grace.
1. Have a clear objective. Know what you are trying to do. Be clear on your intent and maintain it throughout. Ensure that everything that is said or done ties into the purpose of the rite.
2. Ensure everyone knows generally what will happen. Detail can be spontaneous, but an overall plan helps people enter the rhythm of things.
3. Create a sacred space. You can decorate your lounge room, the back yard, use a park, or the garage; it doesn’t matter. Cleanse it with incense, bells, holy water, essential oils, etc.
4. Invoke for divine presence and protection. Simple and effective or rich and complex, put your personality preferences into it and ensure it is meaningful to you.
5. Make it visual, auditory, beautiful, theatrical and comfortable. We are multi-sensory beings, and so we really get affected by aroma, colour, sound, costume, drama, but let’s not get unpractical when it comes to issues like how long people will have to stand, or be in hot costumes on a hot day! Make the ceremony fit the circumstances.
6. Deal with the core issue of the rite. Ritual is a great way to deal with the difficult parts of life, such as divesting ourselves of grief or pain or loss, etc. So in the ritual there needs to be a place in which the inner work is done. For instance, if the ceremony was to mark the onset of menopause, then there could be a space in which poetry, song, or memories are shared of the joys of youth which are now passing, as life transforms into the era of the crone, the wise woman, the seer. From the pain of loss of youth, we celebrate the joy of wisdom, empowerment, and enjoyment of our creative processes at work in the world.
7. Celebrate and HAVE FUN. The event should end on a very positive note, the inner work having been finished, then the reasons for celebration are the focus. Joyfulness, singing, dancing, anything can come into your ceremony, depending on your personality and mood.
8. Involve everyone present. We used to have ‘them and us’ rituals. While ritual and ceremony needs organisers and leaders, it is much more effective if we involve everyone somehow. Find a way to do this and you will be sure to have a fantastic ceremony.
9. Have an ending, cut the ceremony free, release the energy. When you create a lot of energy as a ceremony does, there needs to be a big bang or other event to mark the end of it. In church at the end of the service they say something like “go in peace”. That releases the people and the energy to the world.
10. Give thanks, have faith and be aware of results over time. Ritual and ceremony create potent energies that really do have an effect on our lives. If you invest some time in positive and loving ceremony and ritual you will reap the rewards of positive growth and change.
The rite and ceremony of Wesak
For those interested in rapid spiritual development, an important rite is Wesak, celebrated during the full moon when the sun is in Taurus (the moon is in Scorpio at that time). Buddha appears during this full moon on the inner plane in the Wesak valley in Tibet, and gives blessings to everyone who tunes in.
Wesak is like graduation day, when spiritual initiates of all paths are given their new assignments based on how they have performed multi-dimensionally over the past year. Those who have made great progress spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically are given bigger assignments, and they are blessed at this full moon with all of the energy they will need to accomplish the mission that is given to them. We are all born with the seeds of greatness within us. It is up to us to raise our vibration bit by bit, so that our highest possible destiny can manifest. The way this happens is different for everyone, but the energy of Wesak will make it a lot easier.
Many who experience Wesak meditations say that they are the most powerful events in which they have ever participated. Millions of people meditate at this time and my experience of it is that we receive awesome energy, bliss and vigour, to blast through our obstacles and rev up for the spiritual events of the coming 12 months.
Shakti Durga is the founder, spiritual head and inspirational leader of Shanti Mission (Peace Mission), with its head office based in Australia. Her teachings focus on the development of spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health and well-being with the goal of igniting the divine spark within everyone. Shakti Durga was previously known as Kim Fraser, with a successful career as a barrister, prior to her awakening as a guru.
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