"For a society to be healthy, people must significantly mark the milestones in life through ceremony and ritual.” ~ Carl Jung
Ritual and ceremony have been practiced by all known societies throughout history. Although we’ve encountered them most commonly in religious institutions and at formal events like weddings and funerals, they appear in many other contexts.
Ceremonies originally began as a way to celebrate when food was hunted and gathered & shared. The ceremony was not only to celebrate the success and gratitude of being able to eat but also as a way to create inspiration for the tribe to repeatedly go out and do it all over again, together … and again … and again.
At its core the origin of ceremony was a celebration of the fact that we go further together. That we are all interconnected as ONE.
Traditionally, the ceremonialist leads the group in expressing great gratitude for all the help to achieve the desired outcome, of all the help that has been received in the past, and the help about to be received tomorrow and going forth.
All participants are fully involved in the ceremony with the purpose of transformation for all.
The ceremonialist closes the ceremony with a known ritual and lets everyone know the ceremony is over and the feasting may begin.
From the very basic first type of ceremony relating to food — evolved new ceremonies to include the building of a shelter, healing, birth, death, rites of passage, weather cycles (ie rain season), lunar cycles — all in attempt to better make sense of life and one’s surroundings and to convey gratitude for abundance and blessings. With the advent of religion — religious ceremonies evolved further.
When we speak of the home creation being a ceremony — we are talking about something very basic from the beginning of human kind working together as a community for the benefit of one or all. Hence we say “it takes a village”.
The purpose of a powerful ceremony:
- Carry people through a portal to an inner space to create an inner shift.
- Provide inspiration that lifts people out of the focus on the everyday and bring them to an inner place of great hope, faith, anticipation, or expectation that the impossible is now within reach.
- Directly experience that through their actions, and intentions they are able to influence their lives.
- Many voices lifted in harmony as one — in song or chant and dance to pounding drums — so that their senses are flooded and fed with intense stimulation that opens up their hearts and minds — to receive the love, joy and gratitude within the circle.
- Carry people beyond their ordinary everyday reality. The music, dancing, or swaying, and chanting cause people to move into a state where they can experience feelings and awareness that they we are connected as one.
In most all ceremony there is an opportunity for all participants to express themselves or bear witness to something.
Rituals guide us through life, providing symbols and meaning as we make sense of the world around us, as well as the world within. Without these markers at life's major turning points, we may experience isolation, confusion, depression, or turn to unhealthy coping strategies. Ceremony and ritual create a space for conscious transition by providing the context and container for transition to do its work.
Celebrating and marking transitions and rites of passage enables us to develop skills, self-confidence, and wisdom - all of which are crucial to our ongoing development and our ability to do the inner work necessary for change and transition to truly take hold.
"Ritual is the conscious act of recognizing a life change, and doing something to honor and support the change through the presence of such elements as witnesses, gift giving, ceremony and sacred intention."
– Angeles Arrien
When we design rite of passage experiences, we work to assure that initiates come out of the experience with a new and empowering story that helps them take responsibility for the decisions that set the course of their future.
Ceremony allows us to momentarily halt the hands of time and bear witness to these remarkable milestones along our path. It enlivens and transfigures us ~ from the ordinary moments in our lives to the extraordinary realm where time stops momentarily. It helps us to see that all life, as Hallmark would assert, is a special occasion worthy of celebration and commemoration. Through story, song, personal touches, and formalized ritual, we share moments of significance and we shape meaning.
This is why I love the A Sense of Home -- home creation; we share moments of significance and we shape meaning.