In one of Slacktivists’s recent posts, he writes about he wishes there were more ceremonies or rituals to acknowledge important turning points in one’s life. He gives the example of a Jewish community creating a community-wide ritual for a young person getting his or her driver’s license. This is one thing the Pagan community has done pretty well: we love creating rituals for all kinds of things. One of my friends wrote an absolutely fantastic transition-to-motherhood ritual, for example. But we don’t talk as much about the little rituals that are part of our daily practice.
These rituals are part of sacralizing the everyday. I believe in deity that is immanent as well as transcendent, so things like eating meals and leaving and returning to my home are interactions with spirit as well as with matter; they deserve to have their own rituals, even tiny ones. Those rituals make my daily practice not something that happens once, but something that is a constant process. Every ritual is a moment, even if just a breath, to ground and center, to adjust my perspective, to remember what’s important, to include the spiritual context of my life.
So I thought I’d share a few of my mini-rituals with you, and ask you about yours. How do you make the mundane magical and the straightforward spiritual?
One of my most important ones is my adaptation of a mezuzah. I have a trinity knot, which has spiritual significance for me, carved from cherry wood hanging just inside the door. When I go out, I touch it and murmur a prayer for myself as I travel and for my home and all who live in it. When I come back in, I touch it again in recognition that I am home and in thanks for the safe return.
I’ve found that this ritual’s meaning deepens over time. A lot of Pagans do some form of house warding or blessing. I visualize that delineation of the home’s space as like a cord looping around the edges of my home, with the ends tied together in a knot that rests in the trinity knot. Every time I murmur my blessing, it is also a way of reinforcing that boundary. It says, this is home, not because the outside is bad or dangerous, but this is home, because this space is ours, and we make it so, and we fill it with love.
I think this is especially important for me, because as a military spouse, I move frequently. Even as a child, I moved frequently; I don’t have a sense that I’m “from” some place in particular. So the place I live now doesn’t have years of familiarity that make it from a house into a home. It won’t be my home for very many more years. So I use rituals to make it my home now, and to acknowledge that on a regular basis, and I’ll use ritual to thank and release the space when we leave. Then I’ll hang my trinity knot in a new home, and continue the cycle.
The trinity knot and its prayer are about how home and family are linked. This is home, for now, because this is where my family lives and loves. When my family moves, we’ll still be family, and we’ll be able to transfer our wholeness in that way into a new space. And since my acknowledgment of that remains the same, the habit and meaning have a chance to accumulate, even if not in the same spot, but in the same time: in the same time of my experience as I go in and out of my home.
Another ritual is a blessing over meals, which is common to many religions, but for me explicitly acknowledges the cycles of life and death that are bound up in the meal. (It’s the whole plant-harvest-replant cycle of the Wheel of the Year in a dish!) I also have an altar that honors my ancestors, my living family, and those whom I consider part of my “chosen family,” my close friends and loved ones. I light a candle and incense there nearly every night, and if I have prayers to say for those folks, that’s when I do it. Journaling can be a ritual. What rituals do you have? What do they do for you, in your life and your practice?