Friday, November 13, 2009

finding ritual.

It's been on my mind a lot, this desire to find some sort of ritual that has meaning to me.

The desire was reignited by participating in Tucson's All Souls Procession. A good amount of that event was just for fun, like dressing up for Halloween. But underneath it, was this urge for ceremony, for ritual, to use creative energy to make something to honor and commemorate someone/something who has passed on. A costume, a mask, a float for a parade. Part celebration, part closure (with a good amount of carnival thrown into the mix).

A friend just made a little alter for peace in her home. A simple thing from a cardboard box, some tin foil, a bit of paint, a few handmade objects, a few found objects (similar to these alters displayed during the Procession of Little Angels).

Another friend just had a blessingway for her upcoming birth, a powerful ceremony of womanhood.

Yet another friend shared with me the little alters she would make and put in her room, and of the little handmade talismans she would put in various parts of the house (each with their own specific meaning for the home and the family).

So this veteran's day, I decided to make something as a ritual. It was really very simple, me and my son each made a little person out of Popsicle sticks and string and fabric and other things. We joined the figures together, holding hands, a wish for peace and for our loved ones in the armed services. Then we took the figures to the El Tiradito shrine located in the historic barrio in downtown Tucson, lit a candle and left our our little peace figurines on the shrine. (I had been wanting to see it anyway, this was as good an excuse as any.)

Now here's the thing about me, and shrines, alters, prayers, blessings, etc...
I have lost the belief in there being anything mystical, or supernatural, etc about them. However, what is still very strong for me is the belief there there is still power there. We are creatures wired for ritual. We respond to it. So while I don't think these objects and actions draw out any special essence from the ether/heavens/spirit world, I DO believe these objects and actions resonate in particular ways in our own psyche's.

I mourned loosing my LDS rituals. (see here and here). Time to start finding my own.


The Numismatist said...

I'm not one for ritual but I was touched by your description of the blessingway.

We will be driving through Tucson briefly next weekend. I'm going to check to see if El Tiradito is an option. My favorite places to visit and photograph when traveling are old missions and churches (weird, considering my agnostic leanings). I'm sure that we will stop at San Xavier del Bac as well.

G said...

Love Xavier, and the other churches too. And have the same 'well that's weird' response also, but there you go.

And your welcome to stop by our place for a cuppa or to meet up in some unique local hangout for a hug in-real-life if your travel schedule permits. :)

email me at galen dara at G mail dot com.

G said...

(btw, El Tiradito is right off the freeway. bonus! :) )

Chandelle said...

I just don't get ritual. I have never been able to feel something about it. Not weddings, not blessingways, not temple ceremony or baptism, not parades. I feel nothing, absolutely nothing. I don't know why. I've always felt like something was wrong with me. Maybe it's just that all of my rituals growing up were consumerist in nature, i.e., holidays were about eating massive amounts of food and opening gifts, nothing bigger than that. Maybe I just didn't have that switch flipped in me that causes craving for ritual. Instead, ritual bugs me, makes me feel really impatient and irritable, just because I don't feel anything about it so it seems really phony, forced, empty.

For that reason, I could never get into paganism, even though the foundational idea of nature-worship appeals the me - the experience of the ritual of it was just laughable (not laughing at IT, but at myself, fumbling around with it).

And even though I've fallen in love with Buddhist philosophy, I can't bring myself to participate in a sangha because the rituals just seem so pointless, no matter how hard I try to get into it.

It bothers me because...well, I guess I crave the craving. I wish I cared about ritual. I can see how important it is to people, religious or not. I wish I could have that feeling of climax and closure. I love that you're sharing your attempts at ritual, because I think what you're creating is beautiful.

The Numismatist said...

Chandelle, I totally agree with you about the Buddhist rituals. My dh, who is a Minister's Asst. at our sangha felt the same way at first. But after his training and study he is okay with most of it now that he understands the meaning. Like you, I just enjoy the philosophy and endure the rest.

I get through the rituals of Christmas by celebrating Festivus. My family never knows when it will happen, I just wake up one morning and know that it is the right day. Festivus for the rest of us!

G: Thank you for the invitation to meet. We will be on a pretty tight schedule and will have my SIL with us. I think we will be able to stop at El Tiradito since it is close to the freeway. Thanks for the info!

Sarah said...

@Chandelle: a friend's family calls Christmas "Greedfest". :)

Love the popsicle peace people! Thanks for sharing!