What is a ritual?
I’ve been asked by customers and friends “what is the best way to perform a self-care or personal ritual?”
First, let’s define the word Ritual. One of Dictionary.com definitions is “a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.”
There are many actions and parts to any ritual. They are usually performed daily, can last 30 seconds or several hours and are done over the course of many months. There are small acts, honoring a favorite deity, to larger time consuming ones, the ritual of inner contemplation or mindfulness. Based on this, the best answer I can give is “performing a ritual is a very personal experience.” Broad answer I know, but that only means the ritual you create will be more meaningful to you. I also want to note here that the true power of ritual is to do these rites as often as we can. Our rituals gain power from repetition. Ritual acts (unlike spells) are to create and maintain the alchemical connection of “as above, so below.”
Start with a question
Before you begin to build your ritual, start with a question. I find the following questions helpful.
- What is the intention of my ritual?
- What do I feel would enhance the power of the ritual, a certain type atmosphere or scent?
- Do I feel a connection with the cycles of nature, if so, how can I bring these energies into my ritual?
- What type of energy am I trying to manifest within myself?
I think once you have the answers to these types of questions the time and place will become obvious to you.
Decide on the energy or action
We already start our day with “morning rituals” and end with “evening rituals,” putting some intent into these already habitual acts is a great place to start. We daily rise and set like the stars and planets in our galaxy, tap into that energy. Let’s also not forget that there are many different kinds of energy, and all energy, if approached with respect, is beautiful and deeply moving. I encourage you to consider all parts of the day when performing rituals, not only when the moon rises or sets or what current phase it’s in. Don’t limit your personal power to what’s trendy. I like to perform bathing rituals with the evening light. I find water is healing and calming. I prefer the time between day and night, because it provides a natural doorway to the energies I try to connect with.
Another easy and quick ritual we can perform is in the shower. As you stand under your own personal waterfall, let the water cleanse you spiritually, hold a bar of natural soap to your nose, take three deep breaths and consider the herbs and intention that have gone into it... think about the symbolism as it glides and bubbles across your skin and draw that energy to yourself. You will subconsciously take in those powers. You may not walk out of that shower able to conquer the world (or maybe you will!), but you will have a better sense of what you need to do and embody to get through the day. The symbolism can also act as a helpful reminder when manifesting your wishes and needs. Listen to your intuition – it’s there speaking to you.
Scent in ritual
Why is scent such an amazing enhancement to ritual acts? Scent is a great memory and emotion trigger. Our sense of smell is one of our most primitive and under-utilized super powers. It has an almost direct path to our brain. Using scent in ritual allows you a base to recall, recenter, and reignite your intentions. For example, during a self-love ritual, you use rose petals in a bath and the scent of rose fills the air. After the ritual, if you start to feel that energy sap away, you can recharge by pulling out a rose perfume and applying it to your wrists. The scent will trigger a reconnection to your ritual’s original purpose. The more you practice and use scent in ritual, the easier and more comforting it will become.
Plants and their scent all have associations within the symbolic world. With aromatherapy studies we even have documented proof of their ability to change or enhance our moods. A truly powerful ritual ally.
Taking part in a meaningful self-care ritual can help to elevate and reconnect you to your stronger self. One that’s ready to face cultural and societal challenges. Remember, take a deep breath, listen to that inner voice (even if it’s saying something negative), hear it and acknowledge it. Then work on reminding yourself that you already are a Timeless and Extraordinary Cosmic Being.
Books I found useful in creating my own rituals:
The Way of Four, Deborah Lipp
Water Magic, Mary Muryn
Spiritual Bathing, Arvigo & Epstein
The Magical and Ritual use of Perfumes, Richard Alan Miller and Iona Miller