Rituals fill deep human needs and provide opportunities to express many emotions. Rituals can convey religious devotion…or they may express gratitude for the pleasures of life. Rituals can also help us through difficult times, providing an outlet for pain and grief.
There are rituals that are shared by members of various religious groups, among the people in a society or culture (the summertime corn-on-the-cob ritual we talked about earlier is one small example). And there are rituals within families. But we all need our own personal rituals as well.
Whether light-hearted or serious, rituals help us to live our lives more consciously and provide a way for us to connect with our spiritual selves. When we celebrate the seasons with rituals, we recognize the passage of time while also acknowledging the cyclical nature of our world—we take comfort in the fact that what we have known in the past will return again in the future.
Take time to think about some of the personal rituals that you celebrate during the summer. What are they? Do you still derive pleasure and comfort from them? If not, they may have become stale. Sometimes we do things simply because we “always ________” (you fill in the blank) but they are no longer as meaningful as they once were. In this case, perhaps it’s time for a new ritual or, at least, reworking the old one.
Or maybe you have not been in the habit of celebrating any personal rituals. If not, why not give it a try? Small, self-created rituals are good for the soul.
In ancient times, the late summer was often the first harvest season, and many common rituals focused on grains or bread. I’ve recently begun the ritual of baking a loaf (or two!) of Anadama bread at this time of year because it contains cornmeal (and it is really, really delicious!) I try to take my time and focus on the whole process—especially kneading the dough.
But you may be drawn to something else. Natural items—like pretty leaves, seed pods, unusual rocks or sea treasures—reinforce our connection to the earth and can play an important role in summer rituals. Or perhaps you’ll want to incorporate incense, essential oils, candles, journal writing or drumming into your ritual.
Whatever you choose, I hope you’ll take the time to nurture yourself this season. Through the ancient power of ritual, you can turn simple actions and activities into life affirming messages.
Do you have a favorite summer ritual? Please share it in the comments.