Saturday, March 27, 2010

DIARY 122 - Getting Into Rituals

Looking at the date of my last entry, its been two months since I posted a fresh diary. During that time I've been putting my creative talents to writing/compiling rituals and pujas for work. Just after Christmas I spoke to Keturaja about Right Livelihood at Windhorse needing to catch up with the profound changes in the business. In my opinion, this could only begin with a revived vision for rituals. We've been in our current warehouse for eight years, and we simply imported most of our spiritual practices from the old warehouse, and I'd say never really embraced the potential of the current warehouse as a ritual space. Well, I should have kept my mouth closed if I'd wanted a quiet life.

As it happened other folk were also thinking about how to revive Right Livelihood too. So in February we launched a months intensive practice in the warehouse, for which I conceived an opening and a closing ritual. Both of these were a great success, if the amount of positive feedback about them is anything to go by. This has personally been immensely gratifying. I do get a real creative buzz out of devising them, because they utilise my previous arts performance/theatrical experience and writing skills so well. A happy melding of my talents and interests. It could almost seem like everything has been unconsciously preparing me for this.

My main focus when devising them, has been to build in elements that will actively engage people in the creation of what happens in the ritual. Rituals can all too easily be passive affairs, emptily mouthing the words, whilst ones emotions stay stalled or in a low gear. So I find I'm thinking about others most of the time when I'm writing them, on what the effect or benefits will be for them. It therefore fits into my recent decision to do more things that are for the benefit of others.

I'm learning quite a lot about myself in the process, how I work on them, how to lead them, what works best in a ritual, and what blunts its impact. Simple ideas, simply executed seems to be the watchwords. Complexity easily leads to confusion, and disengagement. So any tendency from me to over egg the pudding by putting too much into them has to be watched. I like to keep elements in a ritual secret, so people don't know what they are going to be asked to do. consequently they have to respond more directly in the moment, and can't so readily slip into auto-pilot.

I've also realised how a kinaesthetic experience of the rituals spacial organisation is vital for me. If I don't get that kinaesthetic experience early enough, ideas stay lodged in my imagination, not concretised internally, buzzing away like very persistent bees. I have to be able to put them down. I get increasingly tense and stressed if this planning stage becomes too protracted. I'm not happy holding the entire weight of responsibility myself, either. I've done three rituals over the last six weeks, and I've been in a semi-anxious state throughout this whole time. Not a good thing for me, at all, not being able to mentally/emotionally put it down. My energy and sleep get depleted. I had a serious intestinal/stomach upset after the closing ritual, and I was right off food for four or five days.

In future, I need to build a more collaborative role, either with one other person, or a group of folk to devise and organise rituals. For the moment I've become 'Mr Ritual' at Windhorse, though I'm sure there are other folk out there capable of organising one, its just a question of exposing them. There's planned a series of events running up to Wesak at the end of May, which I'm sure I'll be involved in. I'm hoping the responsibility will be distributed more broadly. If not I have to have a fall back position, or a better way for me to be the deviser, organiser and leader of rituals. This might mean only doing specific rituals spaced out throughout the year, and not allowing myself to be on a ritual conveyor belt, creating one after another.

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