Most traditions and religions have specific ceremonies and events to mark different stages and landmarks in life such as; baptism, confirmation, bar mittzvah, initiation, marriage/handfasting, anniversaries, wakes and funerals.
Is it important to mark key events and stages of life with ritual and ceremony?
I have been to several weddings which left me feeling rather cold and I certainly don’t want that for myself. However I was a guest at a Wiccan handfasting and found that very moving so if I ever decide to tie the knot I would like to mark the event with something of that nature, even if it is an informal private ritual between just my partner and myself.
The first ritual I was involved in (that I remember) was my first communion. I felt very odd and awkward about it, but it was somehow important to me. Later when I was supposed to have my confirmation, I didn’t go through with it;- but even not going through with it was somehow important and left a big impression with me. Oddly enough one of the reasons I was unhappy with the Catholic Church was because I thought I didn’t like all the ritual. Since then I have realized that ritual is quite important to me, particularly when I play a part in creating it.
I have always tended to make my own little rituals (even before I called them that) for anything that seems like a first. For example at school I always used to buy a new diary at the beginning of the school year and cover and decorate it in a certain way at a certain time.
Loosing my virginity was quite ritualistic in many ways, from first broaching the subject with my parents, going to the family planning clinic, rehearsing in my mind how, where and when it should happen and then after the deed had been done I remember looking in the mirror the following morning and having a kind of spontaneous meditation which I can still remember vividly.
Later in life I felt very transformed by a small “Welcome to the Coven” ritual and although I have never (as yet) had a full initiation with that coven I did do a private self initiation ritual, a la Cunningham!
All of my tattoos have significance in one way or another and I think the very act of getting them done is quite ritualistic and adds to their meaning.
So, for me I think ritual is important to my personal psychology. It is a way of affirming important moments and changes. And in a sense it makes it easier to leave one stage or part of the journey behind and get on with the next.