“Symbols are the doorway to Ritual”
Symbols, through their meanings, connected us to the unseen world. We become aware of the forces and spiritual energy within the unseen world through symbols.
When we engage in rituals, we are preventing ourselves from destruction. In rituals, we seek guidance from and connect with the ancestors. When we don’t connect with the ancestors, we leave ourselves open to uncertainty and possible harm. Our emotions are invoked when we participate in ritualistic activities.
When communities engage in rituals together, a bond happens. The members of the community develop closer relationships when participating together in rituals. They also create a closer connection with Spirit. Community rituals cause people to be held accountable for themselves in a communal sense. When people are gathered in this way, they are all under the protection of Spirit.
A ritual is similar to a journey in that before you start, you own the path you take. You are purposefully walking forward in order to have certain experiences. After you begin the journey, the journey then owns you because the spiritual connections you’ve made via your experiences now guide, direct and advise you.
A ritual has two parts: 1). A planned part, and 2). An unplanned part. In the planned part, the space must be prepared for the ritual. The individuals concentrate on the contents of the ritual; what the ritual needs in order to be successful. In the unplanned part, there is the presence of Spirit. When Spirit is in control, everything is unpredictable and spontaneous.
Ritual is a “gathering with others in order to feel Spirit’s call, to express spontaneously and publicly whatever emotion needs to be expressed, to create, in concert with others, an unrehearsed and deeply moving response to Spirit, and to feel the presences of the community, including the ancestors, throughout the experience” (Somé, 1999)
When Spirit enters the ritual, the community must have a certain degree of total trust. Spirit will take over the ritual and any doubt must not be greater than trust. Spirit will protect those who trust.
A community that regularly engages in ritual will avoid its members seeking bandages to cover its wounds such as alcoholism and drugs. Some members may not go down the negative road but may seek outside therapy and self-help groups. Ritual, in essence, is an important piece of community togetherness.
Somè, Malidoma, Patrice (1999). The Healing Wisdom of Africa. TarcherPerigee.