The Importance of Ritual

The Importance of Ritual May 20, 2020

My life started to fall apart at the turn of the New Year, a bit before the corona virus was even on the radar where I live. Everything has changed, swiftly, in the months that have followed. I learned a long time ago to never fall for the allure of certainty, because precious few things are certain. One of the foundational teachings of grounding is that it is never good to try to build a foundation on anything outside of yourself. If you are not rooted within yourself, when life shakes loose everything around you, you’re in a free fall. If you haven’t had to learn that in the past and a free fall is where you find yourself right now, know that you will be okay. If you’re not sure how, the truth is, you really don’t have any other choice but to be okay. So now that that’s settled, you can turn your concern to rebuilding your life. If you’re not sure where to begin with creating a new normal, begin with ritual.

Rituals are Empowering

Ritual doesn’t have to be this big show, this overtly spiritual practice. It can be as small as making your bed every single day. Times of chaos are times when we can make significant changes with a bit more ease (because the space is there for it), and often those changes begin with small and seemingly insignificant choices that, made consistently, add up to something very significant over time. These choices are how we create our new normal and they are powerful. So whether it’s taking a short walk every day, setting aside time to sit in the sun, or making moon water on the full moon, whatever it is, do it consistently and with intention and you’ll find that you are actively creating your life and that these choices are affecting you in more ways than one. Sure, there are still many things outside of your control (just about everything), but you’ll start to realize that it doesn’t mean you are powerless.

As my marriage fell apart and I began looking for a new place to live and friends were either showing up or showing their true colors, I tended my ancestor altar, as I do regardless of what is happening in my life. Every single day I give them fresh water and light their candle. I offer them gratitude. Sometimes I sit by their altar and cry. What matters is the showing up, the tending. Tending their altar is a longstanding ritual I’ve had for some time. This practice has helped anchor me to myself, and to something that is greater than myself that I can truly count on. It has produced a solid relationship between me and my ancestors, and it has given me a place I can continue to return to no matter what is going on in my life or in the world. Some things changed with this ritual for me as my life changed. I began doing one large meal offering once a week in addition to the daily lighting of the candle and blessing of the water. Previously, I would offer food throughout the week, but I no longer had the time for this (and I had their permission/understanding to make the change).

Rituals Are Meant To Serve Us

Our rituals should be adapted when needed, but their core purpose remains the same. Some rituals can become unnecessary over time. Some things you just won’t be able to do anymore, in which case the question is, what is the new way? Witches are experts at improvising. Begin by asking what is needed. When the world feels unsafe and uncertain, what action reminds you that you still have control over yourself, that you still have power? What actions can you implement that help you realize this every day? It could be prayer, it could be your morning tea time. Where do you turn when nothing else makes sense anymore? Rituals serve us with the consistency and the connection they create. It’s not so much about the action itself as it is about what the action generates. There is great power to be claimed in this.

I know that I wouldn’t have weathered the chaos of the past few months nearly as well if it weren’t for my relationship with my ancestors and my ritual of tending their altar, or the rituals I already had in place with checking in on my friends, or the intentional joy of developing new rituals to fill the spaces that were created by the giant maw of loss I experienced. So start small. Choose one action (it helps if it brings you even a crumb of joy), and do it daily. Test this claim and see how it affects your life.


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