What is a ritualist?
The dictionary definition of a ritualist is "an advocate of ritualistic forms", or a "social anthropologist who is expert on rites and ceremonies." But what place do rituals have in the duties of a celebrant?
Rituals play a significant role in ceremonies across all cultures. They help to define us in society. We need spiritual rituals in order to celebrate joy or salve trauma. They are a place of comfort, a recognisable signpost to mark signifcant life events. Well performed rituals provide a sense of past and future. Of before and after. The ritual provides people with a sense of beginning or closure and will send them away knowing that their lives have been touched by a positive experience.
"Ritual is work, endless work. But, it is among the most important things that we humans do."
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash
The language of ritual
The need for ritual is innate – humankind has long felt the need to ritualise. We need ritual to enable us to connect with our deepest thoughts and feelings, our hidden hopes and fears. Ritual helps us to create a language that authentically articulates our experience of ourselves in the world, and acknowledges where we have come from and where we are going.
In these secular times, I think ritual is more important than ever. As human beings we need a sense of who we are and where we belong in this vast universe and that our lives have meaning. We long for a sense of magic, of meaning. Ritual can facilitate that.
Rituals help us honour the moments, the seasons, the losses, the experiences that we all go through. They connect us and support us to step into the next phase of our lives. They let us bear witness to personal transitions and mark the natural cycles of birth, growth, death and transformation.
We can do rituals for many things: to honour the elements and connect with nature or mark changes in the life cycles of the Earth; connect with ourselves and others on a deeper level, celebrate achievements and new beginnings; and of course, honour the deep spiritual transitions such as birth and death
In her book 'Life Cycle Ceremonies' Sheri Reda, Master Celebrant talks about how each of us is on a 'Heroes Journey' throughout our lives, and that "Ceremonies to celebrate the moments in this journey are salutary in that they acknowledge our struggles, sustain our efforts, console us in our losses and celebrate our victories, large or small. Performing ceremonies brings us that boon of hard-won wisdom we gain from living our lives."
As founder of the Swiss Celebrant training school Ashoka Association, Jeltje Gordon-Lennox says in her book 'Crafting Secular Ritual': "Rituals have rhyme and reason, when they make sense and provide us with safe context for our feelings. Making things special through secular ritual is an intense creative process that explores the subtle boundaries of being human in the present, reframes the past and formulates our fears and dreams for the future."
Rituals personal to you
I will work with you to create the ritual that is just right for your particular moment of experience, whether it be a baby naming ceremony, a ritual to help with personal growth or one to get in touch with the natural elemental world. Using natural objects such as crystals, rocks and wood, and incorporating personal mementoes relevant to the occasion, we will create a ceremony that will mark your special moment and transform it into a realm of magic and meaningfulness.
NB: I will be offering regular Meet Ups soon whereby a like-minded group can explore what ritual means to them in their lives. Watch this space for more information.
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash
Chrissie is an award-winning ex-BBC Radio Bristol presenter, TV presenter and journalist, who is experienced in interviewing people of all walks of life and finding out and writing up their story. She has spoken at the House of Lords and other prestigious events, and will bring all this invaluable expertise to the table when preparing and delivering your service
Please do get in touch to see how Chrissie can help you create something magical!
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"Hi Chrissie, just wanted to express my gratitude again from my heart for your beautiful words on Tuesday..." S.F.