Ritual for me is a personal survival mechanism. A way of sense-making - patterns rooted in familial traditions, sifted through generations, moulded and adapted with the passage of time. In my family, every generation seems to produce one or two who adhere to and carry forth the family tradition of rituals. Sometimes it skip a few generations. My ancestral lineage from my grandmother’s side were all herbalists, magic potion makers. Stories and secrets of temple art works and plant-based dyes can be traced back to hundreds of years, even if many have been lost. Despite my resistance to engage with all the family stuff as a heretic rebel in my twenties, along with passing decades, colour of hair turning grey, something else was shifting. A perspective. An integration. A silent simmering restlessness being integrated into the shifting edges I lived on. As new patterns emerged so did my new sense -making journey. Being in a far away land - not my own, made the journey very complex. Despite the fact that the new place had became de-facto my new home-land. A place of birth of my two daughters, and a land that provided a safe home for my eldest, safer than her own mother’s land, where she had to go through harrowing child-abuse at the tender age of 8.
Ritual as a form of sense-making
I believe that the art of sense-making through ritual is an embodied experience, reconstructed from the ancient memories of our own lineages. Specific frequencies of ancient memories flow through the universe all time - available just when we open ourselves to these frequencies. Crisis is always a pathway that seem to make available (if we choose to) for these forces to flow through, help us fine-tune, adapt, emerge out of the crisis to continue surviving life. Being a curious person, exploring the science as well as the awesome cosmos with so many unanswered questions still plaguing the scientific minds, I tend to always come back to an equally deeper place inside me. Even for momentary spaces, life pauses here, in this eternal space. I become an observer, watching myself do things that I did not know, actions that emerge spontaneously as though from a deep well of memories buried somewhere in the vast beyond of my inner landscape. With the passage of time, these rituals that I do with no rhyme of reason, no logical understanding, do keep me afloat, help me rise up again and again as I fall flat, stumble down and crack open. Rituals that spring from my heart-space, is like a temporal acupuncture point in the cosmic fabric of the universe. It is not part of my mind-space, my logic-space that sometimes play games. Ritual for me is the conscious act, with an unconscious energy force driving it - I am aware, yet not aware, it is strange to describe that state of in-between spaces and realities - that evoke a sense of past, but not bound by it, yet bringing with it the context of here and now, throwing light on the present, the past that come alive even for a split second with a lucid liminal sense.
I like to differentiate Ritual from routinzed actions. My morning wake up ritual even before I step out of the bed is offering a prayer. A greeting to life for waking up alive. A blessing for the day ahead with a promise of treading lightly on this amazing planet. That we seem to so easily maraud dig, mine, plunder- never once remembering how fragile earths-cape is.
Making a pot of tea in the morning, then sitting down to check mails and messages is what I call a routinzed action. My mind is plugged on, my brain is on high gear, doing its own computing work.
To operate on that high gear, I need to slow down frequently, to recharge my heart-space. My rituals help me shut off the mind, the overactive brain, finding an escape from the relentless inner noise-clutter. My altar space with bits and pieces of years of sacred memories sewn together is very eclectic. The embedded energies are alive here with my daily invocations, a conscious offering to the elementals and all that the cosmos bring for me on any particular day.
My ritual space is a tiny corner in my lounge - An altar with deities and saints, goddesses and animal totems; crystals, stones and sticks. Ganesha and Buddha happily sharing the space with their neighbour Saint Antony of Padua. My cedar wood pieces from Russia I use to create my own little fire ceremony honoring the moon. This little space sets the ‘morphic’ resonance for my living space - of love, light and life. These little rituals connect me becoming part of the ripples of larger waves of morphic resonance - a re-setting of frequencies, cosmos transmuting unwanted dark energies to light. Frequency of Love and compassion, over rides and resets that of violence and hatred. The choice is mine alone what frequency, I as a being beyond flesh and blood want to connect with, and amplify on this planet I live. No surveillance machinery or spyware can do anything about the tacit embodied knowledge frequency I hold and how I amplify it.
Weaponising Rituals for control, inducing fear of the ‘Other’
Historically this script can be traced back to centuries of colonisation, power and control. War and violence is a fail-proof recipe to split humans apart. Be it the genocide of Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Serbia, apartheid South Africa, or the recent violent acts of god-men in India or Myanmar. All are re-enacting the limbic brain’s memories of fear, of survival. While we are more than our limbic brain, it is a well known fact that the last few decades of intense social, economic, psychological experimentation has broken down something inside of us, is being manipulated further through religious and fundamentalist ideology forcing humans to fight one another.
The economic forces controlling global natural resources feed on the desperation and vulnerabilities of ordinary people as a new commodity for selling terrorism, violence and breaking communities. To accelerate the sales pitch involves a calculated disruption, designing the Enemy, the Other who needs to be wiped out, eliminated for safety of families especially so if the enemy is from a different faith, belief system or religion. Weaponising belief system thus has become a pretty nasty strategy to maintain control primarily over the resources while controlling thelives of the masses these desperate times of social and economic unravelling. A powerful weapon worse than nuclear to cover up the failed states of the world , their failed economic policies along with the advancement of techno-state surveillance.
So how do we take back the power of rituals?
How do we recreate rituals in this multi-polar world? Rituals that make sense are never prescriptive, never cast in stone. Rituals evolve as time unfolds. Re-crafting rituals help bridge connection with our lost traditions and lineages in a way that make sense in the context that we find ourselves in. It helps mend the fabric of communities torn apart by interest groups who have no interest in our safety or our lineage. The power hungry ideologues mimicking gods through demonic activities are succeeding all over the world. Since the language of terror works, the alienated masses simply end up herded like sheep with no say in the blatant atrocities happening around them. Living with violence, fear and terror regresses us back to survival mode, back to the limbic brain’s survival instincts.
When dreams are lost, debts drive up -the ideology of hatred and terror works very well. While technology has helped connect people globally, the same technology is being used against us, to divide and malign us as the colonial forces did. But people rallied together and fought colonialism across the world. The same rallying forces need to be awakened. As a matter of fact, such rallying forces are waking up, in many parts of the world. Turning around the very forces, breaking away from mind control, using the power of the individual, power of love and compassion, these rallying forces are slowly resetting, reclaiming the power of the ordinary, power of each individual, and the power of the collective.
The new healing of the tear inside the heart-space of every HUMAN involves in detoxing the poison that has been stuffed into our system, our bodies, through rubbish education, rubbish food, rubbish ideology of consumption. Healing and detoxing take time, every individual ritual to heal the heart-space, heal the collective heart space shifts the resonance frequency from anger and violence to love and compassion. From terror and fear to peace and tolerance.
But we are the key. The ordinary people are the key. Each individual possess the key. Each ritual we create to heal the frequency is the key to open the doorways beyond hatred, away from religious fanatics and their god-men. Power of rituals give us the courage, the wisdom to distance ourselves from what does not serve us or our collective humanity to live with simple dignity on this planet earth, our only Home-land.
Masaru Emoto water ceremony at the Two Oceans Aquarium Cape Town - Photo Nirmala Nair