Ritual: The Elements of Creating Ceremony
The handout I share when I am teaching ritual and ceremony is an outline, and a sort of shopping list. I have learned from many expert teachers who know how to make a ritual rock. So this is a distillation of what I learned and what came from within or through me. It is meant to be passed on in the context of a class, yet I felt was useful to a greater audience. If you would like me to help you craft a ceremony or to facilitate a special ritual for you, I am available through Mimosa several times a week to consult. (I am interchanging the words ceremony and ritual in this brief article.)
There are lots of choices on this crib sheet. What is selected and how it varies is a matter of the type of ritual, the audience, size of location and whether it is a solitary, small group or large group ritual. (And yes, even solitary rituals have an audience: the non-humans we invite.) A wedding, a child blessing and a memorial service are ceremonies. There are seasonal rituals, ceremonies honoring beloved ones, initiations and other rites of passage — and many more. Yet they all follow the same pattern for me.
Ritual is ceremonial and custom. When something called a ritual is codified, stagnant, I think it becomes more of a rigid practice than it is a true ritual or ceremony at all. Yet, many true new ceremony weavings can contain elements of regular practice and share traditions for their type. A wedding includes vows. A memorial includes memories shared. A seasonal ritual works with elements of time, location and is generally communal. It is a paradox.
The esoteric elements of ceremony are generally experienced and handed down orally. It is also important to note that a spiritual daily, weekly, monthly practice is not ritual or ceremony. It may follow a similar form yet the intention is much different. The intention is to improve the quality of your spiritual life. Rituals also do that, yet the intentions are much more narrowly focused and reap transformational benefits of a different type. Improving on something that anchors, nurtures and sustains is a practice. Ceremonies are one of a kind, even mixed with some traditional or repeatable elements as a part of the whole. And of course you can use some things from your spiritual practice in ritual or ceremony. Especially when you share practices with kindred.
The lines blurry some, and I wanted to be specific in language to distinguish the two. Not all people who can facilitate ritual have a regular practice, though it may be rare. Not all people who have a regular practice can, or choose not to, do ritual and ceremony.
Essential Elements of Ritual and Ceremony
Intention: It’s best to focus on one, or two at the most. State your intention clearly.
- Create sacred space
- Focus energy
- Focus on talisman
- Repeat affirmations
- Read a poem
- Listen to a song
- Invoke or Evoke, Aspect
- Guided meditation
- Visualize, speak and will
- Become magically active; raise energy
- Like waves
- Like a peak
- Sharing from the heart
- Guided Visualization
- Charging objects
- Direct energy
- Use Feri Flame
- Will and visualization
- Shout it out
- Blow it out
- Stop drumming
- Crystal bowl
- Open sacred space, ground and center
- Touch the Earth
- Guided visualization
- Tree and Root
- Devoke, Hail and Fare Thee Well
- Give thanks
- Open Circle
* State intention(s) clearly upfront.
* Use as many sensory elements as possible.
* Preparation of space and tools is simply a pre-ceremony task, after Intention and adding or changing after outline is complete.
* The first rituals were Sacred Theater to connect with / honor the ancestors and mark important individual and communal life events.