Women CIrcle

Reclaiming Ritual

The word “ritual” is widely used in our culture to signify a focused time for doing things in a familiar way. We often participate in ritual unconsciously, calling it our daily routine. From the time we get ourselves ready for work to the time we put our children to bed, our day is full of little rituals. At holiday times we follow more conscious rituals we call “traditions.” Birthday parties, baby showers, weddings—these events are all rituals. For those who attend daily or weekly religious gatherings, ritual (along with its root word “rite”) is used on a regular basis. Rituals are the various customs that people from all cultures and all walks of life practice to honor significant life events.

We do realize, however, that ritual is a word that carries negative connotations as well—and herein lies one of our biggest challenges. So we asked ourselves, “How do we use the word ritual in a way that does not conjure up the image of a spooky gathering?” (an unfortunate association that pervades our cultural consciousness). Perhaps, we decided, by doing just this: by reclaiming it—by using the word ritual and re-infusing it with its deepest meaning. As we searched for the perfect words to define ritual,we found that they had already been said by Thomas Moore in his book The Education of the Heart: “Any action that speaks to the soul and to the deep imagination, whether or not it also has practical effects, is ritual.”

Women and Ritual

goddess_small_teal-01Ritual is what happens when we gather together, with a certain frame of mind and heart, to focus our attention on a specific goal or moment. The main purpose of any ritual is to create conscious connection—with ourselves, with others, with the Earth, with Spirit, with God and Goddess.This in turn facilitates our growth, healing, and personal transformation. Rituals have historically been used to bring power and meaning to the passages between different stages in life. They make it possible for us to approach any life change or transition with clarity, respect, and awareness by raising our level of attention and participation. 
Ritual is about passage, not performance. What matters is that we are willing to participate and remain open to the experience. Through ritual we are reminded that every one of us holds great power within, and when we acknowledge and celebrate this power,we can use it to design our own lives.
Women’s rituals help us to explore who we have been, unveil who we are, and celebrate who we’re becoming. When we take the time to plan and carryout a ritual, we create a safe space where we can share in intimate detail the things we do not ordinarily speak about in our daily lives. We are able to do this because we pay great attention to creating a sacred and safe environment in which to do our work. In every ritual that takes place, it is important that we are assured that we are safe and well cared for.
The collective energy of a group of women produces a powerful environment. When we come together with a shared intention, we become an amazing force that can effect profound—even miraculous—change.
 A group of women can also create an incredibly nurturing environment, for in the company of female people—and all their personal knowledge of what it is to be a woman and live a woman’s life—there is a familiarity that makes it easier to open one’s self without detailed explanations. Therefore, gatherings of women promote good health and general well-being, which increases our ability to be happy and effective in all areas of our busy lives.
"This is the purpose of creative ritual — increasing balance and connection within
ourselves, with each other, 
with the world, and with the larger rhythms and
energies that bring stability and light to our lives."

—Renee Beck and Sydney Barbara Metrick, The Art of Ritual