ritual – the book

art journal

Have you ever stopped to look back on the last few months of your life, and noticed a huge, unexplainable shift? Have you ever wondered how you got from A to B? Are you ever amazed at the path that life has taken you down?

In January 2012 I had one active blog and a vague idea of writing some online content that felt meaningful to me and was helpful to others. By the end of February I had two more, completely unplanned, blogs. By the end of May, I looked at the growing list of daily blog posts that I had written on the theme of ritual, and I realized with shock that I was writing a book. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say, that a book was being written through me.

I cannot emphasize this enough: I did not plan to write about ritual. I did not plan to start this book. I have plenty of other projects that interest me, that I want to work on. But ritual will not let me go. My creative muse keeps feeding me new content at all hours of the day and night: while I’m on my yoga mat, while I soak in my bathtub, while I prepare my food, while I’m driving to work, while I’m walking, while I’m supposed to be sleeping. I capture stray sentences and ideas on index cards, or on the blackboard in my kitchen, hands dripping from washing dishes, or in random emails that I send to myself in the middle of the night, when I’m too lazy to turn on the light and write them down.

The theme of ritual has been my constant companion for nearly two months, and while I published the final (at least for now!) blog post on this theme yesterday, I have, indeed, begun organizing the book. I feel an incredible tenderness and responsibility for it. I’m humbled (and more than a little freaked out) to have been chosen to birth it into the world. And I do feel chosen, although I couldn’t tell you by whom, or by what.

I want to thank the small circle of people who have been faithful readers of the blog material so far. You’ve inspired me and encouraged me, and I appreciate you deeply. If you’re curious about the book, I’d like to make the ongoing draft available to anyone who’s interested. Just email me for access to the Google doc where I’m storing it in the cloud. The book features an abundance of new content (in case you’re wondering if it’a just a re-hash of the blog posts). Below is the introduction and table of contents, to pique your interest…

Ritual as a journey

People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk. ~ Ayn Rand

Do you crave an endlessly flowing spring that nourishes your life? Are you an artist wishing for a deeper connection to your creative muse? Are you a spiritual seeker, looking for meaningful inner adventure, or rich life experience?

What if I told you that ritual could help you find what you’re seeking? That ritual could provide you with a structure on which to focus your attention, so that your efforts didn’t feel quite so flailing and scattered? What if I told you that ritual was a journey that could take you – with strength, passion, bravery, a few well-selected tools, and a pinch of luck – to your destination?

Ritual can be all of these things.

What do you think of, when you hear the word “ritual”? Religion and worship? Dry, antiquated, and somehow distasteful activities, that have no meaning for your immediate life? Here’s a very different definition of ritual to hang onto for the moment: A practice of repeated elements that brings consciousness, presence, alignment, meaning, purpose, and connectedness to your life.

The truth is, ritual is a part of all of our lives, every day. Many of our habits are in fact rituals, or remnants of rituals. Think of your morning routine – the way you get out of bed, wash and dress yourself, prepare your morning meal, get ready for your day. These activities are all part of your morning ritual. And you likely have many more rituals… such as the way you eat your meals, or drive your car, or do your work, or take breaks from your work, or “decompress” in the evenings, or go to bed (or put others to bed).

Have you ever wondered what ritual is for? We know that we have these repeated, almost unconscious activities that we perform on a regular basis. But why do we do them? Why are they so compelling? Why, if someone suggests changing one of our rituals, do we feel so threatened?

What if I suggested that ritual serves a much larger purpose than getting us to work in the morning, or getting our children to sleep at night? What if ritual is the way we connect with the the powerful, pervasive, all-encompassing energy that created the universe, and created us? What if ritual is one way you can enrich your understanding of the world, or deepen your creative practice if you’re an artist?

Come with me on a journey.

This journey will lead you, one step at a time, to an encounter with an energy so vast and inexhaustible that it can soak deeply into the parched earth of your life, if you let it. If you are strong enough, and passionate enough, and brave enough, and vulnerable enough, it may even transform you.

This book may be for you if…

You’re an artist or creator, you have an active spiritual practice, or you’re on a path of personal growth and:

  • You’re interested in practical ways to keep things fresh and juicy.
  • You’d like to acquire some new tools, techniques and skills that can help you on your journey.
  • You’re stuck or lost, and looking for some direction.
  • You’re afraid you’ve lost your mojo, and need some inspiration.
  • You know there’s something missing from your work or your life, and you’re hoping to find it.
  • You looking for a more authentic connection to your unique and awe-some (sic) life.

You’re an absolute beginner and:

  • You don’t know where to start.
  • You want to build some good habits.
  • You need some reliable maps, based on the experience of others.
  • You’re not afraid of hard work, walking alone in the wilderness from time to time, and following your calling.

You’re a celebrant from any faith and:

  • You want to create meaningful rituals that guide you and your community to rich encounters with the divine.

This book may be for you if you can entertain open-ended questions, ambiguity and paradox.

This book may not be for you if…

  • You need someone to tell you exactly what to do to succeed.
  • You think succeeding is the whole point. The only point.
  • You want airtight guarantees.
  • You’re so afraid of making mistakes, falling down, or failing, that you’re unwilling to even try.
  • You’re not interested in contemplating hard questions, poking sticks into deep holes, or sitting still long enough to discover your own inner compass.
  • You prefer guided tours on air-conditioned buses equipped with all the modern conveniences.

Just for the record, the journey of ritual is hot, sweaty, dusty, wet, muddy, messy, bloody, exhilarating, unbelievable, and comes with no warranty, safety harness, or certificate of completion.

Who’s in?

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Destination
  • The Explorer’s Kit
  • The Map Key
  • The Map
  • Master Explorer Tips
  • Boldy Going
  • Appendix