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Why should we care about rituals?  

A Universal Tool 

There is evidence that the practice of ritual goes back to the Paleolithic Age, some 40,000 years ago.  


Since then, throughout history and across all geographical locations, our human ancestors used ritual for all sorts of pro-social reasons, including fostering belonging, transmitting cultural values, coping with anxiety, preparing for the hunt or battle, mourning loss, communicating with deities, and marking seasonal and/or life transitions. 


Of course there are myriad cultural differences - fertility rites practiced in ancient Egypt  are completely different from the Green Corn Ceremony of the Lakota people in North America. But the structure of all rituals, from daily ablutions to years-long rites of passage are remarkably similar. 


This is pretty astonishing! It is not some viral Tiktok challenge we are taking about here. It is a universal human expression of creativity and connection. And it’s one that we desperately need to reclaim. 


Ritual vs Routine 


Ritual and routine both refer to repeated actions, but they differ in some important ways.  


Whereas the goal of a routine is to efficiently complete a series of tasks with minimize cognitive load, a ritual is imbued with a deeper meaning and is always performed with a specific intention. Rituals work because they speak directly to the unconscious via symbols and metaphors. They help us retell old stories and create new ones. They give us a safe, structured container of time and space to process difficult experiences. And they connect us to ourselves, each other, and to a greater sense of purpose. 


The Modern Role of Ritual 


If you belong to an organized religious tradition, there are many more rituals available to you.  In our secularized and hyper-individualized culture, however, our communal rituals are few and far between. We have holiday rituals that center around family (biological or chosen). We have sports rituals like the Super Bowl and kids’ rituals like trick-or-treating. Most of our rituals are centered around consuming and, more recently, Instagram-ready spectacle.  

But there is a real need to reanimate meaningful communal ritual, especially in these complex and uncertain times. 


My work is to help people create these rituals for modern contexts.  I do these within groups and with individuals. Some examples would include: 

  • Visioning for the future

  • Improving collaboration

  • Strengthening connection and belonging

  • Processing loss, grief, and other difficult experiences 

  • Celebrating and learning from "failure"  

  • Managing major transitions

I am also developing a methodology to prepare young people with the skills and dispositions for a healthy digital adolescence. (see my company Pandora’s Way for more on that!)  


Using my Resilience Through Ritual framework, we will work together to create a meaningful ritual that first your needs. For more on my ritual work, please check out my organization,  Center for Ritual Design


I love this work, and have seen it transform the lives and loves of those who do it. I hope you will reach out with any questions. 

The 8 Gates of Initiation are

 Ritual Design

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