incorporating new experience

felt tip marker drawing of flame body

Once the ritual is finished, and you’ve returned to your regular daily life (hopefully transformed, and with the treasure you’ve brought back with you), it’s time to incorporate your new experience. (This is where reflecting on your experience can be useful.)

I love the word incorporate. It literally means to “put in the body,” or to make flesh. Incorporating our experience means not just folding our new results or insights into our lives. It means truly living our ritual experience – not just in our head, with our mind and our consciousness – but also in our body. It’s the marriage of energy (or spirit) and matter.

In their BodySoul Rhythms® work, Jungian psychoanalyst Marion Woodman and her colleagues Mary Hamilton and Ann Skinner developed a method for incorporating the fruits of depth psychology or ritual soul work into the body using movement, voice work, mask-making, and other techniques. A simple practice I use is active imagination*. I think of new symbols that have come out of my creative, ritual or dream work, and I imagine placing them in my body. I breathe in their energy, and watch to see what will happen next. The above drawing is one I made while I was in Jungian psychoanalysis several years ago. I imagined a hot, orange energy from one of my dreams, seeping in my torso and warming my body.

However you choose to explore the embodiment of your ritual experience, actively spending time on this step will help you realize the full benefits of your practice, and have more of a lasting impact on your life.

How do you incorporate your ritual practices into your life?

*Active imagination can be a very powerful and potentially volatile technique. Most depth psychologists recommend practicing it (at least in the beginning) only under the guidance of trained professional.

Untitled drawing, January 1998. Water-soluble marker on paper.