Ritual Reality: Fusing the Ancient & Modern Through Ceremony
There is an obvious disconnect in our world today. We see it in the desire to escape into the metaverse, the numbing effects of information overload, or a common dissociation people have with their emotions and our environment. It is a stark contrast from our collective roots as indigenous beings inhabiting a natural world where every living thing is seen as interconnected, interdependent and sacred. We live in a highly sophisticated technological world and there is no going back. Yet perhaps we can take something from our past and re-incorporate it into our modern world to restore a natural balance?
In this article I use the words ritual and ceremony interchangeably. Generally a ritual happens regularly and involves symbolic acts or gestures whereas a ceremony is meant to mark a meaningful occasion. They are often associated with religious practices but they have been with humanity since long before there were formal religions. These concepts are not stagnant so it is fun to explore new ways to integrate them, personalize them and make them contemporary.
A Return to Wholeness: Just as our technology can leave us divided, isolated, and polarized, it also has the capacity to assist us in unifying the scattered fragments of our shared humanity. Ceremony and ritual are powerful tools for healing this ubiquitous pattern of disconnection and dissociation. These practices are beneficial as individuals connecting within ourselves or with nature and they are profoundly healing when invoked within community.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” -John Lennon
A Simple Practice of Presence: They can be simple practices that one creates with themselves as a means to connect, reflect and expand a sense of presence. For example, 15 minutes of quiet-time while drinking tea uninterrupted can bring you back to center, allow for new perspectives and cultivate important feelings like gratitude, inspiration, connection, joy, or meaning.
Sometimes it is life circumstances that conjure deep feelings like the loss of a loved one, a new job, or an unexpected visit from a friend. Yet people often forget that our feelings also have the ability to attract our circumstances. A heightened sense of presence allows us to recognize opportunities and manifest our desires. By familiarizing oneself with certain feelings we begin to create a “set-point” that allows us to draw forth a reality that matches our internal state.
How does it feel to be free from worry? How does it feel to be totally supported by the universe, by your job, by your community? How does it feel to be connected to your center, to the land, to your purpose, to the source of life that permeates through all beings? When we allow time to be present with these feelings we also increase our ability to manifest circumstances that match and amplify these feelings.
Ceremony and ritual are powerful ways to practice raising our mood, our vibration and the circumstances we wish to manifest. Community shapes and validates these sentiments into values, beliefs and shared goals. New worlds are created as a result.
It really comes down to intention, imagination, and practice. A simple abundance ceremony could be the act of making a delicious meal, being present with the smells, flavors, and feeling of nourishment. A practice in self-love and gratitude could be as easy as making 10 minutes each day to lay on your back with your hands on your heart and focusing on these feelings.
Carnival and Mardi Gras are forms of ritual theater where people often dress to embody their highest self or become a transcendental being free from the bonds of social restraint. Modern Visionary Festivals like Burning Man or Lightning in a Bottle also provide a ritual environment where people explore other worlds of possibility getting lost in the music and festive community. Neurologists now recognize that play, in children and adults, allows us to create new neural connections, open the creative mind, and problem-solve.
Through remembering our divine nature, and creating a ritual way of life, we dedicate our workings to building a legacy for many generations to come.
-Academy of Oracle Arts
Visions Become Reality: This is practical information as much as it is mystical. Before a house is built there is a blueprint. A vision is a map of what you want to create. It invokes our creative brain in the act of problem-solving and helps us find a path towards our goal. This is why effective individuals and teams create vision boards.
Even the most complex technology like an airplane or a smartphone started as an idea, dream, or vision. From that came a blueprint, a practice of trial/error, reflection, problem-solving, and community collaboration until the original abstract idea becomes a physical form. This is the process of creating reality. There is a reason that humans have practiced ritual and ceremony since the beginning of time!
The highest expression of these technologies is to use them in the service of reconnecting us to ourselves individually and to each other collectively. We have the capacity to leverage the tools we have created in order to heal our disjointed world and restore our ecosystem. Let’s explore some of the ways that people are cultivating communities online to rekindle a sense of connection through ceremony and ritual.
Online Global Ceremony: Unify started in 2012 when a group of friends came together with the idea of utilizing social media and online streaming video to host the world’s first globally-synchronized sunrise ceremony. Through their popular Facebook Page they collaborated with individuals at places like The Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, Tulum, Sedona, Chichen Itza, the Big Island of Hawaii and other sacred sites. As the sun rose in these places moving east to west, individuals live-streamed on their phone and Unify broadcast to their audience via Facebook.
It was a beautiful expression of reverence, connection and global community. Unify has continued this work for 10 years bringing awareness to issues of water, peace, sustainability, spiritual awakening, and healing global wounds. As one of the founders of Unify I may be biased but I think it is one of the most beautiful expressions of bridging the ancient and the modern worlds in service to our global community.
We’ve forgotten our true nature and how to be a beneficial presence in our greater ecosystem in which we inhabit. There is an illusion that we are separate from nature and consequently we have mistreated our earth and all it’s beings.
In the past decade as streaming video, social media and Zoom conference calls have become standard aspects of our local and global community many creative innovations have flourished. We see online talking circles that resemble council fires, ancestral healing workshops, full/new moon virtual gatherings where prayers and intentions are shared to mark lunar cycles, and the UNIFY globally synchronized meditations also continue.
It’s as if some thread of our ancient past continues to rebirth itself into endless forms that fit into our contemporary technologies and culture. This seems to be a good thing as it gives us an important reflection about who we are as a species. We are storytellers, culture-creators, dreamers and mystical beings eternally seeking community, meaning and connection.
Despite the concrete, skyscrapers and airplanes we are still spiritual beings experiencing a mystical realm indigenous to a planet spinning through the cosmos. Magic is still all around us yet we may spend most of our time distracted by human-made novelties. Perhaps, like a rites of passage ceremony, we have departed from our perennial roots only to gain great vision and insight about who we are in order to return again to our place in the natural web of life?
Ritual and ceremony will always be with us as tools to help us make sense of our journey, to reflect on where we have been and to dream about where we are heading. Hopefully this short article will inspire you to incorporate and create these practices in your personal life. By honoring what is sacred, mysterious and profound in our lives we can amplify these things. When we do this together as a community we can create new worlds.