Ritual - hows and whys

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DaRC
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by DaRC » 09 Nov 2011, 13:11

But that's it! You can be orientated even in stormy weather. The "stop and check" would be like the mariner having to stop their vessel and then ask the storm to calm down a bit so he can get his bearing, lol. The "inner gimbel" allows one to know your direction without having to "stop and check".
Hmmm I'm not sure about this - having sailed in minor storms and read about the great storms. Having led groups of friends MTBing round various parts of the country.
Ever been tumbled around in surf?
Surfers have drowned because they mistook up for down.
Ever been in a strange pine forest on a grey winters day when the light is dropping and you need to get home before dark?
Suddenly you're relying on primitive skills to work out which way is North.

The key message in all these situations is to stop just doing and take stock, evaluate your situation - this requires knowledge, experience and judgement.
Sometimes it's too easy to plough on thinking that "you know" when really you need to check what you know.
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by treegod » 09 Nov 2011, 21:17

When you read my post, for "storm" read "things to do, places to go, people to see", not "I'm in a desperate situation where I might drown/get eaten by something unmentionable"; And for "stop and check" read "ritual"; And for "compass" read "inner orientation"; And for "gimbel" read "inner balance" (not ritual) - that's how I've been using the words. Ah, the magic of metaphors :roll: :)

The "inner gimbel" represents for me an inner balance that doesn't need ritual (stop and check/ stopping the storm of life circumstances) to find its orientation.

Tumbling around in surf and getting lost in pine forests just aren't times for ritual :wink:

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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by DaRC » 11 Nov 2011, 13:32

Tumbling around in surf and getting lost in pine forests just aren't times for ritual :wink:
Hmm that's where we disagree. Not necessarily a ritual whilst tumbling in surf but certainly taking a moment to meditate on the situation rather than striking out in the wrong direction.
As to being lost in pine forests that is the perfect time for a ritual |-) Although our last outing did leave to suggestion of a ritual-for-sacrificing-the-jonah-to-the-trail-gods (we decided the trail gods had probably taken enough toll from the Jonah as it was...) :grin:

But I do understand and take your point and I think it's probably valid for balanced individuals but for those of us prone to internal in-balances regular ritual is handy to keep an eye on the inner-gimbel just to make sure it's not a bit out of kilter.
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by treegod » 11 Nov 2011, 23:48

Not necessarily a ritual whilst tumbling in surf but certainly taking a moment to meditate on the situation rather than striking out in the wrong direction.
Absolutely. Full blown ceremony might seem out of place, but a moment to centre and orientate - meditate - would be essential.
But I do understand and take your point and I think it's probably valid for balanced individuals but for those of us prone to internal in-balances regular ritual is handy to keep an eye on the inner-gimbel just to make sure it's not a bit out of kilter.
The whole point of a gimbal is that they don't go out of kilter; they stop what they support (e.g. a compass) from going out of kilter. If you have a gimbal that goes out kilter then there's something wrong with it and needs repairing/replacing.

Now, how far can we push a metaphor? :-)

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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by envelope » 12 Nov 2011, 07:02

It seems to me ritual, at its best, is a method of imparting meaningulness into an action on a personal level. It only works if the ritual is true to the person performing it - if a person is performing a ritual to just go through someone else's prescribed sequence of actions (aka 'the motions') in an attempt to impart personal meaning, I think it will either fail or be far less than potent. Kind of like buying a greeting card and reciting it to a person, rather than telling them your real feelings at the moment. I think both you and the recipient would feel a bit flat at the end - you for not being able to express your inner desires for meaning and self, and them for not receiving that part of you that should have been expressed.

I also think it helps focus intent and understanding, aids memory and perception of value, and keeps us on track when otherwise we would divert course for lack of boundaries or discipline.

I have a few rituals, and they're all my own. If they cease to have meaning or provide insight or growth, I cease to perform them.

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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by DaRC » 14 Nov 2011, 15:52

The whole point of a gimbal is that they don't go out of kilter; they stop what they support (e.g. a compass) from going out of kilter. If you have a gimbal that goes out kilter then there's something wrong with it and needs repairing/replacing.

Now, how far can we push a metaphor? :-)
But magnetism or frost can affect a gimbal (purely for metaphoric purposes) thus pushing it temporarily out of kilter.
This is where I see personal ritual (good point there envelope :grin:) at helping identify the problem where something can be done to resolve it.
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by Frog » 16 Nov 2011, 09:25

Just to push the metaphors:

A gimble is a device that can assist stabilisation of an object. We had a few gimballed items on the sailing ship I used to crew - they would mostly work, but like pendulums you could notice that they would continue to swing after force was applied (we don't tend to notice in storms as there is too much else to focus on).

A Compass, like inner direction, is just a tool to assist us. Even if we were to have a compass, it is important to check where we are heading, so that we don't walk into the cow pat, stream, ditch (been there!). And remember, a slight deviation of only a couple of degrees (almost nothing if you look at a compass) can be way off if you look ahead.


For me though, whether ritual is undertaken in solitude or in a group, the focus is still the same - the intention to raise something to achieve something else - whether it's fair winds for a sea crossing, good weather for crops to grow, or for a sick relative or friend.
The difference is the level of "theatrics" (hides behind wall) that we might go through within our ritual; large group work rarely has one person in the corner with everyone else just standing around.
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by envelope » 17 Nov 2011, 15:13

Frog wrote:The difference is the level of "theatrics" (hides behind wall)
*chuckles, looks behind wall with a grin*

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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by JohnPaulPatton » 19 Nov 2011, 02:12

I like tantric writer Dr John Mumfords idea that the etymology of ritual (maybe from Sanskrit?) is 'right action' thus every willed/magical act is a type of ritual if it's done with 'mindfulness' getting dressed in the morning can be mundane by attitude or can be a ritual robing to empower one for the day etc. By this definition ritual becomes a type of living as art, which the illuminated mind brings to everything-the classic example being the Chinese tea ceremony. I recall reading a class book on Zen that rather than just explore how to achieve Satori it had a chapter about what to do next! lol It made so much sense to me... what do the illuminated Masters do? Same sh*t as everyone else-it's just the WAY that they do it that makes the difference... :old:

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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by DaRC » 21 Nov 2011, 13:18

Thanks JPP it reminds me of one of my favourite Zen Buddhist stories.
A pupil has heard that his master has achieved Enlightenment.
The pupil rushes to see the master
"Master how is life now that you've achieved Enlightenment?"
The master smiles serenely and replies
"Ah you know me, I'm still as miserable as ever!"
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
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good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by envelope » 28 Nov 2011, 17:02

JohnPaulPatton wrote:living as art
I like that.

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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by Canu Taliesin » 06 Dec 2011, 13:18

I'm just generalising, but a lot of this discussion seems to focus on creating a set of constants (attitudes or actions), metaphorically explained as directions by which to orientate (I know there are also refernces to working in a circle etc). And now we have the Zen position, which is to undermine all preconceived constants so as to rest in the ground of 'is-ness' as it really 'is'. Doesnt ritual prescribe a projection of idealised constants where Zen (and Buddhism generally) prescribes a dissolution of all projection? Yet both can be a dance for life, a path with heart, a realisation that where we tread the ground appears? Isn't there a lovely paradox lurking here?
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by Frog » 08 Dec 2011, 11:30

Canu Taliesin wrote:I'm just generalising, but a lot of this discussion seems to focus on creating a set of constants (attitudes or actions), metaphorically explained as directions by which to orientate (I know there are also refernces to working in a circle etc). And now we have the Zen position, which is to undermine all preconceived constants so as to rest in the ground of 'is-ness' as it really 'is'. Doesnt ritual prescribe a projection of idealised constants where Zen (and Buddhism generally) prescribes a dissolution of all projection? Yet both can be a dance for life, a path with heart, a realisation that where we tread the ground appears? Isn't there a lovely paradox lurking here?
Interesting comment - and I feel the need to pick up on the Zen aspect.

Personally, I don't see that Zen and Ritual are comparable - for me, Zen is as broad as Nwyfre or Awen. We can use ritual (or ritualised practice such as meditation) to help us to achieve these things, but this is not necessary as we can also find Zen, Awen, Nwyfre in the hedgerow, in the grass or even at the bottom of the coffee cup.

However, ritual (and in general, its prescribed forms) may help some people achieve these things, but it's not necessary for everyone.
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Enjoy this life. It would be a shame if we looked forward to the next, only to find we forgot the one before.

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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by Canu Taliesin » 11 Dec 2011, 21:24

Frog wrote:
Interesting comment - and I feel the need to pick up on the Zen aspect.

Personally, I don't see that Zen and Ritual are comparable - for me, Zen is as broad as Nwyfre or Awen. We can use ritual (or ritualised practice such as meditation) to help us to achieve these things, but this is not necessary as we can also find Zen, Awen, Nwyfre in the hedgerow, in the grass or even at the bottom of the coffee cup.

However, ritual (and in general, its prescribed forms) may help some people achieve these things, but it's not necessary for everyone.
Yes, I agree they're not comparable, hence the paradox, especially if we are assuming here that they both "achieve these things", what ever you mean by that.

To be clear, on the one hand it must be said that Zen is a school of spiritual philosophy, with teachers and texts. On the other, 'awen' and 'nwyfre' are in danger of becoming rather romanticised concepts - the first being borrowed from the Welsh bardic tradition, the other being the word for air, atmosphere, or ether (it also takes on connotations of 'vague' and 'insubstantial' in the 19th century, probably due to academic sarcasm); in modern Druidry, both are used very far from their original contexts. But regardless, I don't see how any of these can be found in a hedgerow? Or maybe my old brain just isn't up to speed with the lingo these days?
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by Canu Taliesin » 12 Dec 2011, 14:34

I just came across this while doing some reading, it may be of use: ". . . rituals frequently portray unknown and unknowable conditions – ideals or imaginings – and make them tangible and present, despite the fact that they are ineffable and invisible." Moore and Myerhoff, Secular Ritual, p. 18. It's an anthropological perspective, very much in the Turner mould, but is based on ethnographic studies from many cultures. The imagination, therefore, appears to be a constant factor. I wonder how imagination plays a part in your rituals?
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by DaRC » 13 Dec 2011, 13:48

Ahh well mountain bikers have various rituals:
Ritual of the Faff; which is a mix of fettling, adjustment and last minute discussion before actually getting on the bike and riding off aka faffing about. Rain tends to extend the ritual by demanding just one more cup of tea....

The sacrifice of water to the trails gods; usually before a ride to request a good ride without technical problems

The technical problem we shall not name for fear of attracting more, commonly known as the 'gaseous technical' or the hissing tyre sound. Severe cases may require a rubbery sacrifice. A clue is that the word begins with P.

So it would appear modern tribal groupings evolve their own rituals :grin: which is funny as most are neither superstitious or religious.
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by DJ Droood » 13 Dec 2011, 14:06

DaRC wrote:The technical problem we shall not name for fear of attracting more
Is there a name for this spiritual principle? In my experience, it is the most wide-spread "ritual" behaviour....people will say "I haven't been sick in months" or "I hope it doesn't rain for the picnic" and then knock on wood to ward off the bad luck....the other day, I sent an email out to a volunteer group I belong to, and mentioned that it had been "quiet" in the community we interact with over the last month (quiet is good) and someone immediately emailed back telling me not to use the "Q" word, so as not to jinx it...I am not allowed to mention the strange noises our car makes in its presence...we have to be out of "ear shot"....this ritual behaviour of avoiding the gaze of bad luck seems common...clearly irrational, but engaged in by almost everyone.
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by DaRC » 14 Dec 2011, 14:07

It comes under warding - there are many types such as warding against the evil eye or touching wood
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_eye
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knock_on_wood

The northern European tradition of hanging a horse shoe outside the house or having a rock with a hole in it outside the house would also be included. There are many elements of Feng Shui that could be considered warding.

It certainly is a very human trait to want to protect ourselves and our friends/family from bad events.

It also includes old religions where the name of a god becomes taboo...just think Jehovah & bearded women :duck: :grin:
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by Lily » 14 Dec 2011, 14:22

DaRC wrote:Ahh well mountain bikers have various rituals:....

So it would appear modern tribal groupings evolve their own rituals :grin: which is funny as most are neither superstitious or religious.
can you say soccer teams? or actually any athlete? What's with lucky socks etc, tying your left boot first etc...
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Re: Ritual - hows and whys

Post by Frog » 14 Dec 2011, 23:57

Hi Canu
To me, Zen is not just a philosophy - any more than Awen and Nwyfre might be - as there are teachers and texts available to advise the student on how to achieve these. Not being centuries old, or particularly conversant with historical texts, I can only take what I know - which comes from the modern druidic texts.

So with my (now established as limited) understanding - Nwyfre is a westernised equivelant to Chi; energy, which is all around us and which we can use or manifest. It is in the hedgerow as much as it exists in the cup of tea. Awen, creative energy, is (for me) a more specific energy source; and endeaouring to be inspired by the world (and the hedgerow by my window) I look to the world outside to inspire my creative inspirations.


But in return, there is an interesting comment that you make about the use of "imagination" in ritual. Some might argue that in ritual there is no "imagination" but "visualisation". Imagination is allowing the mind to accept concepts and constructs which would be outside the group thinking (say time travel), where visualisation is a more specific scenario. Perhaps a subtle difference, but a world between "dressing up as a druid by wearing a sheet" and being a druid putting on a formal robe.

Please note - this is just my opinion based on my own research. Nothing published in any journal, so probably not worth the server space it takes up. But I'm happy with my thinking.

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