14 February 2022
The Purpose Of Ritual
Rituals are sacred, intentional acts that are undertaken with purpose and deliberation. Preparing for a ritual is a symbolic gesture with the intention to connect with sacred knowledge. In essence, the purpose of a ritual is to set up a connection with the Divine, the One Consciousness, or the Universal Intelligence, however you choose to describe it. By carrying out rituals with purpose and intention we give our conscious mind an opportunity to connect with our unconscious, thereby accessing unknown knowledge. Essentially we want all three, the Divine, our conscious and unconscious states of consciousness to work in tandem with one another. To be more precise, the intent is to establish a line of communication between them so that we can access the hidden knowledge within the unconscious—Source consciousness—and make it conscious. So rituals are intentional acts that seek to make valuable knowledge known to the conscious mind so that it can be acknowledged and integrated into our life. Therefore ritual provides a means for self-understanding for our spiritual, psychological, and physical transformation.
The purpose of performing rituals is to connect more deeply with the Self—to deepen our self-knowledge, and with the field of potential–found within the Divine. Connecting to this vastness within ourselves opens us up to the realm of possibility. The more we practise this, the more the Self experiences its own expansiveness within the totality of existence. Therefore, by connecting deeply within ourselves, we become immersed within the realm of possibility, thus expanding our perception of possibility—alongside consciousness. But doing so first requires reverence and respect for the act of ritual itself, for the Self, and the Divine. The Self refers to the totality of our Being which encompasses the sum of all existence.
We can understand the totality of the Self as our Unified Self, or whole-self. By connecting with the unconscious through ritual, we are able to cultivate a deeper understanding of our true nature. This gives us the awareness we need to make connections that are not accessible through the conscious (waking) mind state. What we discover within the unconscious must then be integrated into our consciousness for us to not only be conscious of it, but for us to evolve into our Unified Self. In other words, what we learn through acts of ritual, such as meditation, must be consciously acknowledged and integrated into our life, for it to have an effect. If the purpose of ritual is self-transformation, then we must recognise, accept, and acknowledge those hidden parts of ourselves for integration into our Unified Self.
So for the Self to be realised it is necessary to integrate what resides within the unconscious with the conscious. As the conscious mind works from a conceptual mind state it understands itself in fragments, or parts. This can be understood as the fragmented self that seeks to play out different roles in society. These are our Aspects of Self; the many personalities that live within our total Self. This fragmented self understands itself on the conscious level through conceptualisation, that is, through the intellect, and this comprehension is formed from past experience. We can call it the ego, which derives its understanding through ideas, beliefs and attitudes that are informed by personal understanding and through social conditioning. So the conceptual self understands itself on the conscious level through culture, perspective, and experience. Thus, what is not understood or known, on the conscious level, remains hidden within the unconscious, and therefore lies outside our perception. These aspects, or other parts of ourselves are what make us whole.
We can find these hidden parts of ourselves in the unconscious through connecting with the Divine in ritual. As the unconscious represents the Formless Dimension, it is thus, abstract in nature. Therefore it is formless and boundless, meaning it is not governed by the conceptual mind or the principles of physics. But the impressions found here need a physical representation too. This helps give form to the formless, so to speak. By giving impressions form, we are able to relate with them on a deeper level. By impressions, I mean, thoughts, feelings, colours, shapes, and images; anything that the mind’s eye sees during sacred ritual. To make the unconscious conscious, is the beginning of awareness-based transformation.
To acknowledge and accept Aspects of Self is to move closer to wholeness. This also means integrating these aspects into our total self. Ritual allows the unconscious to experience all of our Aspects of Self. Once this happens, messages are then transported from the unconscious into consciousness. This is important because the unconscious is the original source, meaning its contents contain organic, unadulterated material that has not been mass manufactured, constructed, or altered by social convention. But we must go to the Source—the unconscious to find it. Furthermore, the unconscious is the gatekeeper of our attitudes, beliefs, and values. So going within gives us a method to process these on several levels.
Through different forms of ritual we can facilitate communication with our Aspects of Self. Here we are able to meet the different personalities that live within us, that seek expression in our life. Each of these personalities have conflicting needs and interests. Acknowledging their existence and their needs allows us to form a bond with our Total Self. Thus, we make the unknown, known, by setting up a dialogue between the conscious and unconscious mind. When bonds are formed we establish trust. It’s important to note that in this process you will discover parts of yourself that you would rather not face, or acknowledge. Traits, compulsions, and desires our conscious personality deems deceitful or immoral.
Our Unified Self encompasses the polarity of light and dark that is inherent in life. To refuse these aspects that exist within the Self through judgement will not banish them from the totality of existence. Whatever comes up needs acknowledgement, in some form or another. Denial of what is will only strengthen its presence. All aspects and characteristics are within us. At different times, for many reasons, some are more prominent than others. To recognise this is to accept the duality of life. Good and evil are relative concepts, although our evolution towards consciousness resides in what is pure—and good for all. The purpose here is to understand the polarity that exists within the self so that we can become unified—whole—Beings. As our self-awareness grows, so does our connection with the greater consciousness with all things, and herein lies the basis for change.
Transformation occurs when new knowledge becomes conscious, and new habits are formed as a result, which are then integrated into daily life. As everything arises out of the unconscious, ritual gives us access to it, and by intention, in a state of receptivity we gain clarity. Or more to the point, we access the truth to which the knowledge points towards. Change can take many forms including greater inner peace and confidence, but also physical healing and wellbeing. Furthermore, reverence and our intention make our experience of ritual more enjoyable and purposeful.
Preparations need not be extraneous, elaborate undertakings. Actually, the simpler the approach, the greater the effect. Simplicity, after all, denotes refinement. Also, simple routines are more likely to form part of a consistent practice, and consistency is the desire because it creates the opportunity for change to take effect. What’s important is that preparations have personal meaning and significance. Only you know your own preferences, and your specific needs.
A Simple Way To Prepare For A Ritual
1. Purify – prepare the room by purifying the energy with sage, palo santo, or incense.
2. Set the Scene – light a candle. Low, natural lighting creates an ambience offering serenity while aromatherapy imbues the atmosphere with an ethereal, mysticism, enhancing relaxation, and receptivity. When body, mind, and spirit become united, our total self becomes more receptive and open to experience.
3. Cleanse – your body by bathing or showering. Consider the beauty products you use, natural, decadent, and luxurious formulations enhance wellbeing while elevating experience.
4. Dress – in something comfortable, effortless, and that supports movement and fluidity. Feeling restricted in any way is counterproductive. Opt for weightless, relaxed silhouettes in natural materials to promote comfort and clarity.