Ritual and Sacred Space
Written by: Michelle Belanger
Ritual is most often associated with gods and with religion. However, ritual itself can be independent of specific religious practices. In this respect, ritual is a tool used to achieve a heightened state of consciousness, awareness, and focus, especially in a group setting.
Ritual is often performed with an expressed purpose such as to reaffirm the bonds shared by a community, to celebrate a particular time of the year, or to acknowledge an individual's rite of passage. Rituals can be constructed for extremely specific goals, and these will vary depending upon the group, the individual, and the situation. The heightened state that ritual inspires in the participants enables them to raise energy, harness it, and direct it toward a unified goal.
An additional purpose of ritual is to build a temporary or permanent structure of energy known as sacred space. Within the confines of sacred space, ordinary reality is heightened and refined so that it may come more completely into contact with the realm of spirit. Ritual establishes sacred space as a crossing-over point between the spiritual and the mundane so that the participants can move beyond the confines of ordinary reality.
Ritual often utilizes hand gestures, drama, music, the spoken word, and objects that appeal to all the senses. The use of candles and incense is common, as is the use of specific ritual clothes. These all serve as tools that establish focus and move awareness from ordinary reality to a more elevated frame of mind.
Ritual balances the sacred and the mundane, integrating body and spirit for all who participate. The elevated state of ritual is very energetically healthy and it provides an atmosphere that induces clarity, focus, and refined awareness. Ritual can also facilitate contact and integration with your Higher Self and for this reason can be very enlightening and empowering.
Sacred space improves the quality of energy in an area, and maintaining a constant presence of sacred space creates a cascade affect that heightens and refines the energy in a widespread location. For these reasons, it is very helpful to integrate some aspect of ritual into your regular routine. It does not matter what form the ritual takes or even if it is an active expression of religious sentiment. How you choose to express and perform ritual will be unique to you and your particular interests and needs. As long as your ritual work is a striving toward something finer than ordinary reality, it will ultimately benefit and enrich you.