Creating Rituals in Changing Times

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, CDE & Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

“The function of the ritual, as I understand it, is to give form to human life, not in the way of mere surface arrangement, but in depth.”  -Joseph Campbell-

We are living in times of great change!  Rituals can be incorporated into our lives to ease the stress of the fast paced changes and adjustments being asked of us.

Rituals have been part of human life for millenia, since the time of cavemen.  Cave drawings have been found that depict human rituals going back 30,000 years!  Rituals are a major ingredient in the human story; they are part of our being.   (They are also very much a part of animal behavior–if we observe animals in daily life and during mating season!)

***Rituals can be very consciously performed; or they can be done ‘on automatic pilot’–with little conscious thought put into them.***

What is a RITUAL?

A ritual is a set of actions, or system of rites,  often performed for symbolic value.   Rituals may be part of local customs and community traditions.  They may also be used in private- for personal growth or self-reflection.  (See Webster’s Dictionary).

A ritual can be simple or more complex.  It typically involves the use of ceremony, and  specific procedures.   Music, drums, chanting, ceremonial clothing and special foods may be involved.

  • Rituals can be used in creative, sacred, and inspirational ways; or in practical, balanced, “grounding” ways–to add structure and meaning to our lives.
  • They can also be applied dysfunctionally,  in maladaptive, out-of-balance states, for example: in repetitive, obsessive-compulsive habits, and in addiction behaviors.


Rituals can affect our physical health and brain chemistry, and our mental and spiritual well being.  Rituals:

  • Keep us connected to ourselves and others, and to Nature
  • Keep us focussed
  • Can inspire us and change our level of consciousness
  • Can bring us comfort, peace, and security
  • Can give us guidance in times of fear and change

***Old rituals can also keep us stuck in holding patterns–when our SOULS are pushing us toward big changes in our lives.***

TYPES of RITUAL include:

  • Community events and gatherings, for example: an annual Town 4th of July celebration
  • Holidays and birthday parties
  • Weddings and anniversary parties
  • Change of seasons celebrations
  • Religious and spiritual services, the Catholic Mass
  • Rites of passage in Native tribes, and through religious initiations
  • Political elections and swearing-in ceremonies
  • Global peace meditations on the Internet
  • Individual communion with oneself
  • Daily life rituals such as: taking a morning shower, brushing one’s teeth, getting a morning cup of coffee
  • Fraternities, sororities, and secret society rites

We ask you to contemplate how you use ritual in your own lives.

  • Which rituals do you enjoy, or find meaningful, and want to keep?
  • Which ones do you want to let go?
  • Which ones are important to you, but need some modification?
  • Is there a new ritual you would like to create to support your current chapter in life?

How do we know when our rituals have become automatic, stale and in need of re-evaluation?    We will discuss this topic later this month.    We will also present STEPS you can take to create NEW rituals that will support your passage to a higher level of being and enjoyment in life.

                         “One man’s rut is another man’s ritual.”      –Dwight Currie–


The Wellness Shifter Ladies!!

Wendy and Deb

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