Rituals play an important role in our lives.  From the time our day begins until we stop to rest for the night, there are certain tasks we perform "religiously" -- every day, at the same time, in the same manner, in the same order, day-in- day-out.  For example, the simple act of going through the house, making sure all the doors and windows are secure before going to bed, gives us a sense of security so we fall asleep more easily.  Doing the same before leaving the house gives us the peace to keep our minds on the things they should be on.  Then there are the "larger" rituals connected with important dates in our lives, such as birthdays, the naming of a child, a wedding, the celebrating of our holidays (click HERE for a short list of Pagan Rites of Passage).

There are those that scoff at rituals as a waste of time, something that has no place in our modern lives.  Nevertheless, these activities are of importance to our well-being, especially on an emotional level because they give us a sense of being grounded, a sense of security, a sense of belonging.  We are used to our rituals, they help us believe that things are (or will be) alright ... even if it may only seem that way sometimes.  In other words, they contribute to our peace of mind.

Many are the things we do to right a wrong or ward off potential evil influences, things that some call "superstition," such as throwing salt over our shoulder after spilling some, or crossing our fingers for good luck.  We perform these little "rituals" almost unconsciously, they have become habit.  And we feel better for having them.

Holiday celebrations give us a sense of tradition, of belonging, of continuity, a link in a chain that reaches back a long way, and will go on long after we have ceased to exist in our present physical form.  They also serve to help us connect and bond with our fellow celebrants, be it family, friends, or a group of like-minded individuals (as in a coven or congregation, at a convention, or even at a sporting event).

Our spiritual (or religious) rituals are more deeply personal.  They open our minds to something larger, something outside of ourselves, something while perhaps unattainable, nevertheless to strive for and to cherish.  We're all familiar with the preparation it takes for a holiday celebration, but far more important is the preparation for our spiritual rituals, be it through meditation, fasting, a ritual cleansing, or whatever seems appropriate.  Without the opening of our minds and hearts, a religious rite is just so much jumbo jumbo.  The best surroundings, the best performance, the best materials we may work with, it is meaningless if we don't pour our whole being, heart and soul, into what we do.  This is why a preparatory ritual (we could call it the ritual before the ritual) is so important.

In short, be it an everyday thing like getting out of bed and getting ready for the day, special occasions like a holiday or family celebration, or a spiritual  observance, our lives gain a sense of security, a sense of belonging, a sense of order through our rituals.  And from this comes a sense of comfort and well-being for most of us.
Copyright September 2000, Valkyrie Grant.
All rights reserved.
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