Ceremony is one of the most fundamental tools animists use. In the West, we can get a bit suspicious when we hear the words ceremony or ritual; most of us only have experience of religious rituals like Catholic Mass, stuffy civil ceremonies like graduation, or Satanic rituals in dodgy newspapers!
But ceremony is a powerful way to access parts of ourselves and the world that are usually hidden. Ceremony works on the principle of active symbolism, intent, and set-apart or sacred space; through symbolising our intent, we can communicate that intent to our own unconscious, energy and environment more clearly than if we were to use our rational, word-obsessed minds.
There are many, many ceremonies that are used in traditions the world over, both animistic and religious, and you can find a ceremony for almost anything you need.
Some ceremonies you might be familiar with are:
- Funerals are usually (but not always) ceremonies to mark the letting go of a person’s life and to give structure to mourning. They can also have elements intented to help the deceased through the transition.
- Rites of passage, such as First Communion, can be found not only in Western religious traditions but in animistic traditions, where by young people were given challenges to meet or were celebrated as they made their passage into adulthood.
- Weddings often, of course, include a type of ceremony that we all recognise. The intent is obvious – to call upon good fortune and love for the happy couple.
- Animistic traditions have ceremonies for healing. Ceremonies like these can be performed by a professional or by the person calling on the healing.
You can create your own ceremonies, and it can often be very powerful to do so. That way, you can craft the ceremony to your exact intent and resources, and to your own type of personality.
All you need to do is choose a symbolic action that matches or harmonises in some way with what you want to achieve, and to then perform the symbolic action within a set-apart or sacred space.
Symbolic actions can be anything that’s appropriate, but here are some simple examples:
- Burning a piece of paper on an open fire
- Throwing flowers into a river
- Burying a stone
- Cutting through a knotted piece of yarn
- Getting a tattoo
Ceremonies feature prominently in my series on protection, because they are available to everyone and are independent of heritage; whatever your ancestral line, you can know with certainty that somewhere back in time your ancestors performed ceremonies.
And because of that, ceremonies can also be a solid way to re-connect with that heritage and those ancestors. They will understand the language you are using to speak with them, the language of symbolism and energy.