Sunday, August 13, 2017

PsychKicks©: Radical Rituals

Psych yourself up with like-minded sidekicks by exploring the symbols all around us—together.

Source of Inspiration
Life experience, childhood faith

Make your day rite! I’m talking about rituals. Repetitious habits, sayings, prayers or practices that anchor us in the choppy, ever-changing waters of life. Habits that, by their mere “mindless” repetition, put us in a relaxed and receptive state of consciousness. They help organize our lives and temporarily disconnect us from our chatty minds.

One of my favorite aspects of maturity is the ability to see the good in even the most painful parts of my past. I had a number of unfortunate experiences in Catholic school that I’ve grown beyond. Now I’m delighted to realize some of the greatest rewards of my childhood religious practices. The biggest one for me is the value of ritual.

Ritual defined by Merriam Webster
and some great sample uses:

The priest will perform the ritual.
He was buried simply, without ceremony or ritual.
The daily ritual of preparing breakfast ...
His day-to-day life is based on ritual. 

While I learned ritual in the priestly and religious ceremonial context, it’s the daily mundane rituals of my life that provide texture, stability and often a sense of home, belonging and joy. (You can travel or move anywhere, but if you take your rituals with you, you're always home.) I’ve pondered often about that transfer of spirituality to the mundane. This is what I’ve come up with.

As a child, I could not understand the usefulness of repetitious prayers, particularly the Our Fathers and Hail Marys of the Rosary. Show me a Catholic who didn’t mumble them by rote and I’ll show you a saint. How could something work that was so mindless?

Back then I didn’t absorb the value of singsong mumbling or the things that would keep me from stumbling in the morning. (I have a hard time getting up and into my body, much less cranking up my activity level. Rituals are the crank on my Model T of Me. They help me get started, especially making and drinking coffee.) No matter how little you concentrate on the meaning of prayers or a mantra when meditating, the meaning seeps through, maybe even more when you don’t “pay attention.” Again, these mantras, including the rosary, quiet the mind to let spirit and inspiration come through.

My dad was not a church-goer, and from him, I got the idea that God could be found anywhere. Back in the days where I saw God as the Ultimate Father, my earthly father was as close to divine as I can imagine a human being. So something was planted in me to see spirit in everydayness. (My dad was a double Leo with a number of Virgo planets and a prominent Saturn.)

But the truth is …

I Learned the Most about Ritual from My Dog

My husband and I had a big, loopy Yellow Lab named Bear. He was the most
Bear as Groucho Barx
ritualistic being I ever met in my whole life. When Tim and I first got (back) together in 1997, I sang to Bear when he was just waking up from sleeping in his crate. From that introductory moment on, he was hooked on my songs, which led us to a wacky and wonderful nighttime ritual.

Bear always slept in his crate in our bedroom. For him, it was like going back to the womb, his place of comfort and retreat. I created a special tuck-in song that I sang and then gave him a cookie (dog biscuit) before he went in. I usually put him to bed at 9:00 pm. If I hadn’t started the ritual by 9:05, he’d sigh, harrumph, and quickly rise up and lower himself on his front paws to show his impatience. When I got up to start the song, he’d run down our long hallway ahead of me, galloping to his bed. This was the song—to the tune of Rock-a-Bye Baby:

Rock-a-bye, Beary in your sweet crate.
Mommy will tuck you, she won’t be late.
Gallop to dreamland—pills, cookie, kiss.
Isn’t it heaven, nite-nite like this?
(Spoken: Nite-nite, sweet Bear!)

I never saw a being—human, canine or otherwise—who got so much joy out of a custom ritual. On the horrible day we had to euthanize him, I whispered Bear’s song into his ear when we sent him to Dreamland for the last time.

(Astro info: Bear had a stellium in Capricorn and due to his very clownish nature, I’m positive Jupiter was angular, either on the ASC or MC. What a clown. Wish we had a birth time: Jan. 12, 1997.)

From Bear’s Nite-Nite, Sweet Bear song, Tim and I ultimately formed our own bedtime ritual where we say nite-nite to each other and all the pets we’ve raised together. It ends with:

And nite-nite to all the pets and people we have ever loved and ever will love, wherever they are. Peace on Earth. Amen.

Like Bear we can hardly sleep without it.

Holy Everydayness

One of my favorite quotes is by author Anne Lamott, “Laughter is carbonated holiness.” This is an example of how the mundane and spiritual intersect. Rituals can become portals to living a spirited life. I think of my own rituals as percussion instruments that help me keep the beat in the flow of living.

When a habit becomes a ritual, it is energetically raised to that connection with the All. It’s like plugging ourselves into the linked network of heaven and humanity. Rituals don’t have juice in and of themselves, but when their two-pronged plug of mundane and spirit are pushed into the Grid, life is electric and hums the cosmic tune, Om.

Larger Rituals

The rituals we’ve been talking about here are personal, one-on-one or at the most family-involved. We also need community. The rituals we participate in as larger groups, whether it’s at church or other organizations of like-mindedness, are just another way of practicing the mundane-to-spirit connection. For people like me who are more spiritual than religious, my article, Astrology and Ritual, tells how I co-created a ceremonial community and how anyone can do the same.

Why Radical?

In one of the earliest posts on The Radical Virgo in March 2009, I shared how the word radical is derived from the Latin word for root. Rituals root us. Their mundaneness plants our feet fully on earth and with that grounding, we increase our ability to bring spirit down to earth and to grow optimally.
What’s not to love?

This Week’s Questions

  • Can you identify your existing rituals? How do you feel doing them?
  • What new rituals would enrich your daily routine?

Photo Credits: Kids side kicking ~ keigo1027yasuda –, Bear as Groucho Barx by Joyce

"Ritual." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2017.

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Sandra Mosley said...

Fabulous post, Joyce! I'll be sharing it with students as an example of the how the Virgo Pisces polarity can work.

LB said...

Love your nite-nite songs, Joyce! And what a sweetie Bear must've been.:)

Joyce Mason said...

Glad this spoke to you, Sandra! So busy telling my stories, I had not even thought about how Virgo/Pisces polarity this post really is. Of course! Happy you can use it with your students.

LB, Bear was one of a kind. Glad you liked our song. Bear sure did. He was such a lovable goof. We still talk about him almost every day. He crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in 2011.