Cleansing: When speaking of some religious groups cleansing practices, one might think of incense, sages, or other such burning ritual. These have been used to create a space where the negative aspects cannot reside. Some Native Americans will cleanse with sage and then burn cedar to bring in positive energies. Remember that whenever you cleanse a space of energy, positive or negative, the space will fill again. This is because wherever a void is created something will try to fill it, positive or negative. In the religion that I was raised in, a great deal of incense was burned during “special” rituals, or designated special days of the year. Cleansing need not be achieved by burning alone though. Sound from bells or singing bowls are also effective. Prayer and intention are the cornerstones of all cleansing. If one only burns sage and has no intention, then one is just burning sage and not cleansing space.
The three primary parts of ritual can be followed or enhanced by several secondary parts of ritual such as; dance or other movement, objects for focus such as statuary, etc., or perhaps elements of nature such as crystals and stones, water of some sort, or other representatives of the earth. This is even seen within most churches. Water is used for baptism rituals. Plants fill many church buildings because it brings the Divine’s beautiful nature inside. Candles are burned in many religious establishments to represent fire and air, which many times are said to be the Spirit. Once again, anything that speaks to your soul and gets you closer to the Divine is what should be applied to ritual. Then all that is left is to put it in some sort of order. Again, rules need not apply.
Here is a quick idea for creating ritual on a daily basis. Get up in the morning and go to your sacred space, whatever that may look like. Burn a stick of incense, a little sage, or sweetgrass, etc. Play a singing bowl and listen to it with your eyes closed until the bowl stops singing. Have a mantra or affirmation written on a piece of paper or memorized and say it out loud once, or begin repeating it as many times as feels necessary. Or just say out loud (or to yourself) anything that seems like the prayer needed for that time and place. Then follow up with a song to listen to, sing, or play on an instrument that follows with the intention of your prayer or mantra for that day. That’s it! This takes less than ten minutes and you have created a daily ritual that will keep you centered, calm, and connected to your divine all day.
If wanting to create ritual for a group of friends, the same technique can be applied only add the secondary elements for a more meaningful ritual. Discover what the group is seeking, needing, or wanting to get from the ritual first. Proceed from there. You could find a poem that speaks to the group and form your entire ritual around that poem. Or a song that is important to the group that can be extended into ritual. Whatever the words are in the poem or song could extend into what is brought in to create the ritual. Even a goal that the group has for each other can be the catalyst for the ritual. Then apply the three primary components and add additional elements you feel help to support and establish what the group is wanting from the ritual. Finally, a gift of sorts to be given to or made by each member during special ritual times is important so that each individual can take the essence of the ritual home as a focal point for their own sacred space. This could be as simple as the words typed out on pape of the song or poem used in the ritual, or perhaps a pocket stone to remember the goal or essence of that particular ritual. It is just that simple. Be creative and enjoy it!
Lastly, laughter and fun are ok! I recall as a child that it was NOT ok to laugh in church. It was a somber place that required quiet and proper behavior. I grew up believing that God had no sense of humor whatsoever! But then I began to wonder why people laugh and play together if that was not ok to God? I guess, for me, church felt a little like practice for a funeral. The ONLY time it was acceptable to smile a little was when the preacher told a joke (which, as a kid, I never got anyway) or we could smile when we were asked to shake hands with our neighbor. Other than that, smiling and laughter were taboo! But what an important part of being human! It’s the best medicine! It makes everything a little brighter! If something happens that is funny, with the exception of laughter at someone else’s expense, smile or even laugh! The Divine will be laughing right along with you! That’s where you learned how to laugh in the first place because we all start in this world with smiles on our faces. So, smile with the Divine and happy ritual to all!