Inventing new rituals

by Narkissos 28 Replies latest jw friends

  • jgnat

    I agree, the foot-washing ceremony is hardly worn out, and is highly underutilized in the church. The JW's pride themselves in only following those rituals that Jesus instituted, but the foot-washing ritual is notably absent from their traditions.

    John 13:14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

    That seems like pretty clear instructions to me.

  • greendawn

    People sit at a table illuminated by candles and there is clean water plus clean and dirty bread. They give the dirty bread to a dog to eat and they eat the clean bread saying: "to each one his own, through this light we know." Then they drink the clean water.

  • freedomlover

    I have always thought most rituals hold such a beautiful energy. I know this sounds silly, but I always thought the traditions in Jewish culture were beautiful to observe and be a part of. There is deep symbolic meaning to Jews in their rituals. I have studied somewhat certain rituals in other cultures and we as Americans don't tend to hold many traditions that have a deep spiritual meaning aside from "churchy" rituals and holidays on certain days of the year, which for the majority only means a day off of work. Early cultures held rituals for different life changing plateau's in peoples lives. Birth, puberty, menses for girls, entering manhood for boys, marriage, birth of children, death, etc. They were rituals to make you feel like a part of your clan. These rituals were passed through generations and reinforced so that heritage and ritual became things that gave pride and self-importance to groups of people.

    Mauddib had excellent points about the JW's rituals and how we were kept from rituals that make us *normal* human beings. Helps us to see how we have trouble fitting into a world where we never experience the rites of passage of certain rituals. I too , would love to invent some meaningful rituals for my life that will help me have spiritual meaning. Still trying to figure out what I want those rituals to be, and then I will pass those on so I can feel like I belong to a clan finally.

  • daystar

    Interesting comments, all. I agree that most often, for most people, ritual does appeal to a higher authority. And there is the communal spirit it lends to when group ritual is performed.

    However, ritual can certainly be personal, appeal to no higher authority than ones' own higher self (whatever that exactly might mean), and have a different purpose than bonding to a culture.

    I know a number of people who create and perform their own rituals with their own, personal, symbolism. There are certain frameworks that have been tested throughout time (or a certain amount of time) that have been found to work best. Although the truly free person should certainly experiment as they see fit.

    The most "successful" and powerful rituals combine elements that excite all the senses (or also elements, in the old sense... earth, wind, fire, water, spirit, which should not be seen as literal) of a person. However, the daily ones which keep a person focused in the egregore she is creating, or keeping "alive" will typically be more along the lines of a prayer or some other relatively simply act, or an adoration.

    One rather common daily adoration I have used before is performed three times a day, at daybreak, at noon, and at sunset, each time facing towards the sun. (Yes, rather solar-phallic in nature. Someone of a more neo-pagan sort is likely to use something more lunar in nature, I'd imagine.)

    Holy art Thou, Lord of the Universe
    Holy art Thou whom nature hath not formed,
    Holy art Thou, the vast and mighty One!
    Lord of the light and of the darkness, Amen.

  • Satanus

    Sun rituals make a lot of sense. After all, it is our only support on this planet. During the summer, i bicycle to a place by the river to watch the sun set over the river. I often do qigong. There are generally ten to twenty people there, all watching the same thing. I meet some interesting people there. Although still, it's a connecting w nature ritual, not a fellow human connection ritual.


  • LittleToe

    Having enjoyed the gathered crowds for a sunset in Key West, a few years ago, I can only agree with S.

    Rituals help bind people together, and keep a sense of sanity in a turbulant world. Without them it's all too easy to find yourself endeared to the first thing that seems stable. Ergo the WTS weaves it's magic in the lives of millions...

    Having family/community rituals is more pragmatic than you might otherwsie give credence to. Such is the reality of the sociable creature known as "human".

  • Satanus

    Spectator sports qualify as mass rituals, i would think, as well as rock concerts and other live music concerts.


  • tetrapod.sapien

    maudib, liked your post.

    I say the hell with ritual: let's all do our own thing.

    but this is sort of the point of the thread already.


    i really like these things. i have some rituals, personal, symbolic and sometimes sadomasochistic rituals i perform. they often fill me with energy of some sort (doesn't always have to be "positive". can be negative too), and then often also drain me of energy.

    it's fascinating, but your ritual # 1, the looking into the mirror until i truly see myself, free of the paradigm of "my own" self image, and then the smashing it, i have actually done down in my basement a few times this year, with mirrors that neighbors have thrown out. which adds a dimension to the ritual, in that i am conscious that i am using "someone else's" mirror. i was shocked (and relieved i guess) when i read it in this thread. there is just one addition i have in mine, which some may find disturbing, but i take shards of the broken glass and gently cut myself with them. most would see this as a punishment. but after the intense experience of seeing myself, and first a beautiful child and then horrific monster, the cuts are like a reward. a life preserver, of sorts, that brings me back to "reality", reminding me that the year is 2006 and that my name is josh and i live in canada, for example. one thing i have not done, however, is use one of "my own" mirrors. and i wonder if this has significance for me when i break the mirror while staring into it. by the time i smash the mirror, i have often gone so far into my mind (or "out of it" depending on the cultural idiosyncracy of choice) that i am no longer exactly "my usual self". i wonder if somehow i blame the other persons mirror for the anguish? i wonder if i used my own mirror if i would not feel anguish. must try this now.

    some of my other rituals:

    1. cutting. i cut in two different ways. one is when under great duress, psychologically. it is also in the dark, always. i don't see it as much of a ritual, but i suppose it could be. but it's always very simple and un imaginative. the second way is sadomasochistically in front of, again, a mirror. so, there is an element of narcissism in the ritual as well. and i use the term sadomasochistic, because it fits it best. some would argue that this is purely sort of masochistic. the desire for pain. but in this second and rarer ritual, it is not for relief from emotional pain. it is... well... a ritual for pleasure. -- i watch myself as i cut. and i cut in patterns on my chest and shoulders. they are not deep cuts by any means, but more scratches that bleed slightly. as i cut, my mind snaps back and forth between the sadistic side, which has become disassociated and disengaged from "myself". this fulfills my desire to dominate and give pain *as* pleasure. knowing that the masochistic side enjoys it. sometimes i need the help of some marijuana to disassociate like that. and then my mind, on it's own i don't control it, snaps back into the masochistic side, and sort of relishes in the cuts (and the endorphins and lactic acids), and sometimes watches the masochistic side. the two sides snap back and forth the whole time as i finish cutting and i rub isopropyl on them, and then have a hot bath or shower, again prolonging the ritual. after the ritual, i sleep for a couple of hours as i am often exhausted after the endorphines and audrenaline wear off. and then, when i wake up, i celebrate by eating and drinking and going for a walk or out with friends and laughing a lot. i don't know why, but these seemingly simple things seem easy when i wake up.
    2. one of my oldest rituals involves getting lost, geographically. i still do this about once a year, but i have been rather addicted to it's almost spiritual properties since the first time i was ever lost in a forest and i found my way out when i was a kid. the ritual involves not taking anything at all but the clothes i am wearing (no watch), and just walking into a forest, aimlesslym for hours, before turning around and trying to find my way out. invariably i freak myself out at a certain point, cursing my foolishness and stupidity for playing such a game. often i am wet and hungry and cold. but my mind is so lucid. and begins to work instinctually. when i realize that i am close to finding my way out, i get euphorically thankful. when i believed in jehovah, i would thank him for sparing me and promise to never do it again. but every year i do it. sometimes, especially when i was younger and could not justify to my parents disapearing for a long time, it would be just an afternoon walk out camping that turned into being lost. i am sure i would do it on purpose. but in my 20's it was intentional. the longest i have ever been lost for is only 49 hours though. this last year i did it out on the coast, at night. i wasn't exactly lost, but rather i was trapped by the tide up on some rocks until the early morning hours when it went back out again.
    3. another ritual i have is capturing small animals, and then releasing them. squirls, rabbits, hares, mice, garter snakes etc. never domesticated animals. it's not the same with them. i realize this is unkind, but i do it anyways. i often hold the animal up and look at it for a long time in the eyes. i like to feel a connection with it's fear, and it's will to survive. i guess i am looking for myself in them. and then i release them, and watch them run away. this always gives me a sense of well-being for some reason. however, the odd animal does not run right away. perhaps they have come to trust me, or they want some food. i hate this as it always ruins it for me, and i have to just leave. -- the first time i discovered this phenomena, long before it became a ritual of sorts, was when i was about 9 years old. i was camping way in the hills with my dad. he had a .22, for target practice. we never hunted. and i remember one afternoon laying quietly on a mossy hill in the forest, with a chipmunk in the crosshairs of the scope. it was on a log about 50 feet away. it was looking right at the gun, square on, silently. the gun was cocked and safety off. i was excited at first to kill something for the first time in my life. but then as the chipmunk just silently looked at me, i couldn't do it. i couldn't blow it away. i wanted it to run off, but it didn't understand the danger. and this made me so angry. but i couldn't shoot it. my dad had been kneeling behind me watching the whole thing. and when i put the gun down, he smiled at me, and patted me on the shoulder and said "it's alright. i know." now i capture the animals, but i do this all the time still, when i can catch an animal. there are a lot of hares around where i live. and squirels.
    4. some rituals i have are just fantasies. often sexual and highly erotic and sometimes sadistic. i won't get into them here, because my bloody post is long enough already, lol, and they are actually quite graphic. but over time, they are more like internal, psychological rituals. sexual fantasies that i return to on certains dates, or symbolic times in the cycles of my mind. my sexual fantasies are always changing, and have been for 20 years. but some are ritualistic, as they involve certain people at certain times and are always the same fantasies. i have about five in total. i usually do all five throught each year. which is an interesting concept to me because many religious rituals/traditions are calendar based.
    5. a ritual i used to have, but no longer have, is giving original poems (never copied) to random people on the street. i did this when i lived in montreal. i fantasise about doing this again, but keep my poems now instead, for myself. a similar ritual that is actually a fantasy based on a single event. when i was in firenze (florence), i woke up early on a monday morning, and went to the local market and bought a bunch of flowers, and with a smile handed them out to strangers as they walked to work in the sunlight. amazingly, not a single person, man or woman, young or old, turned a flower down. i fantasise about turning this into a ritual of sorts, but have never done it again.
    6. and lastly, a new weekly ritual. i take a few hits on the cannon and put on Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson, and have a hot bath while chain smoking and eating a raw tomato quartered with salt and pepper and a martini. and i think about the universe.


  • tetrapod.sapien

    hey? where have all the "crazy" people gone?


  • Narkissos

    Thanks guys for sharing. That's truly fascinating to me.

    ds, I like your solar/lunar analysis although I alternately identify with both sides. And your litanies are beautiful.

    At one time I used to attend a Catholic church in Paris just for the sunset liturgy (vespers) which was very intense.


    You're simply amazing.

    The closest I came to is about "getting lost". I never thought of it as a ritual but now I think it qualifies. I can remember of two times -- one in Iceland, one in the Pyrenees mountains -- which were decisive spiritual experiences. And I often do that quite deliberately in the forest.

    I loved your experience about animals too. We have semi-wild cats in the neighborhood, wandering from one garden to another as many people (including me) leave food for them. I can spend much time watching them. One of them -- the wildest one, which will never be approached -- I came to regard as a picture of my own soul. Funny.

    Keep'm coming. You "crazy ones" are the salt of the earth.

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