The word ritual is commonly used to describe religious or spiritual ceremonies. Those of us from traditional religious backgrounds will remember highly structured and precise ceremonies, dictated by traditions so old that their origins may be unknown to the average practitioner.
If we are no longer practitioners we may believe that ritual no longer plays a part in our lives. Most of us, though, if we objectively examined our lives, would find that our days were bound by rituals as ceremonial as any found in organized religion.
Some rituals are highly structured and manage to carefully break up the day into a series of activities one can count on. Those who organize their lives around food, for example, can expect a certain number of breaks in the day (often more than three meals). In addition to eating they can buy food, think about it, look at recipes, and count calories. Some people have the supplementary ritual of promising themselves (or others) at least once a day that they're going to go on a diet, or of feeling guilty that they haven't.
Drinkers can anticipate the first drink of the day or evening, and engage in subsidiary rituals, such as ensuring their supply of liquor and ice cubes. Those who drink at bars get to participate in a group ritual, which may involve buying rounds, complaining or boasting. If they flirt they get to interface the drinking ritual with that of courtship. The next morning there may also be the ritual of suffering or getting rid of a hangover.
Drinking and compulsive eating are generally understood as addictions, but what is not so generally appreciated is that part of the addiction is to ritual itself. Those who stop drinking and eating compulsively may still share this aspect of addiction.
The 9-to-5 job can also be a ritual of the highest order, a time span with its own regulated series of activities: the first cup of coffee, the morning break, lunch, etc. Meetings are a particularly effective option for structuring the day. Those who leave the orderly world through retirement or self-employment often find themselves at a loss. Most, in order to protect their sanity, develop new rituals, which some call discipline.
These can include "I must open my email by 9 every day" (we know this one), or having to read X number of books a week, the daily paper, fill up every stray scrap of time, and if we're self-employed, sometimes be harsher bosses to ourselves than any of our bosses in 9-to-5 land ever were.
And let's not neglect spiritual rituals. "I must meditate every day, clear my crystals at least once a month, say my affirmations." These are all good things to do, but an action undergone out of compulsion loses some of its value.
Rituals prevent anxiety. The experience of unstructured realms of time and space expels us from the protection of the familiar and safe world we believe we need to inhabit, and propels us into the unknown, where anything could happen, including things over which we may feel we have no control, i.e., danger.
And yet, the more our lives are bound by rituals the more we may find them drab, colorless; the more we may complain that somehow our creative abilities have been surppressed--because it's in the unknown where all creative energy lives.
When we do what we already know how to do, when we read books or listen to music we know we'll like, when we take our vacations in Florida because that's where we've always gone, we are choosing safety rather than the stimulation of the unknown which might inspire our creativity, provide new insights about our lives and stimulate change. Imagine the discoveries which may assault the mind of the newly-sober, the physical stimulation which bombards the ex-smoker.
The first step may be to recognize our rituals. Statements such as, "I can't get started unless I have a cup of coffee" or "I call my mother every Wednesday night at eight" may be easily identified, but what about, "If I didn't go to the gym every day I'd never go at all" or "Oh, no, I forgot to take my vitamins today"? Daily exercise can be valuable, so may vitamins be, but when we feel panic about violating our disciplines we may be approaching superstitious dread of punishment by an unforgiving and short-tempered deity.
I do not, however, advocate a parachute-less plunge into the unknown. I do suggest to those torn between the protection of ritual and the thrill of creativity that, as with all opposites, they can be blended. We can consciously create rituals, knowing when they no longer serve us, and changing them.
|Those who are working on dissolving addictions can create new structures, consciously replacing old habits with new ones. Learning to paint or to play a musical instrument has kept many pairs of idle hands out of trouble. Other habit breakers include picking up a book by an unknown author on an unknown subject, going somewhere new for vacation, taking a course or class on that subject you've always been a little afraid to study, or following random links on the Web (I highly recommend this).|
As we move steadily into the unknown we begin to find it populated by choices which had not been present in our ritual-bound past. We find room to explore. to learn more about ourselves, to create new selves and worlds in which we can be unlimited human beings.
Meditating with crystals is an excellent way to replace old rituals with new ones. The more familiar you become with the properties of various stones and different ways to place them on the body the more creative you can become about devising layouts which meet your unique needs.
The stones traditionally associated with creativity--aquamarine, blue lace agate, chrysocolla, and others--are excellent for this. Citrine can be helpful if you've submerged your ability to make personal choices into the following of routine. Visual artists in particular have found the warm, flowing energy of carnelian useful in helping them to paint in new ways.
Another method to vary the ways in which you meditate with crystals is to place an appropriate stone on each chakra and to create an affirmation for each. Our pamphlet, As the Wheel Turns, lists the stones commonly associated with each chakra, and provides a general affirmation for each.
Whenever we take flower essences we find ourselves in rituals: the ritual of making the mixture, then of taking it at least four times a day. And, as with crystals, the energetic function of flower essences is to dissolve blockages which prevent creative energy from flowing.
When we get involved in rituals because we think they keep us sane, Cherry Plum, for the fear of getting out of control, is a very valuable Remedy. It is also traditionally recommended as helpful in the release of addictions.
Many, many rituals focus around cleaning. If you feel very uncomfortable if your home isn't spotless, consider Crab Apple.
For those who kept in ritualized behavior by superstition or unknown fears Aspen is an excellent corrective. Fear of the unknown may include nightmares, religious or spiritual fears, or any situation in which not knowing what's going to happen next inspires fear.
Perhaps the most vital Remedy to take when contemplating change is Walnut. It helps to dissolve the connection to habit and routine, and, once a new path is chosen, assists us in keeping to it, regardless of the temptation to turn back.
Having a business in cyberspace imposes the need for a different kind of discipline. Like other self- and home-employed people we've had to create new structures and new ways of working. Whereas offices may get two mail deliveries a day we get email throughout the day.
Many of our rituals are built upon our commitment to serve you to the absolute best of our ability. We know that placing an order in cyberspace bears no physical relationship to visiting our friendly crystal store, seeing real people, paying for what you've bought and getting a receipt.
That's why we organize our day around our priority to provide you with reliable and prompt service. If you email us we will do our very best to get back to you that day. We ship out all orders the same day or the following day (barring blizzards), and if anything prevents this we send you an email. As soon as your order is shipped you also receive an email from us.
And we're not just here to fill your orders. We're available to answer your questions. And if you have suggestions
about how we can make our service to you better, be assured that our rituals are always open to improvement.