Friday, July 10, 2009

Spiritual purposes of ordinary/everyday ritual and special/set-apart ritual

This is a paper I wrote for a class at Cherry Hill Seminary on Ritual Theory. In it, I explore some of the purposes of both ordinary/everyday ritual and special/set-apart ritual, with examples from unprogrammed Quakerism, feminist Witchcraft and Paganism, and Judaism. - sm

Is ritual – especially religious or spiritual ritual – something that is ordinary and everyday, or something that is set-apart and special? Or is it both?

When ritual is ordinary/everyday, what spiritual needs does it meet? When it is set-apart/special, what spiritual needs does it meet? What needs do we meet when we bring the ordinary/everyday and the set-apart together in a both/and space?

The place to start might be the question, What spiritual purpose does ritual serve? In an earlier paper, I identified ritual as an avenue for: magic (transformation and change); conservation and stability; expression; inquiry; and encountering Mystery. The next questions might be, How do ordinary/everyday ritual and set-apart/special ritual effect each of these?



chrysalis1witchesjourney said...

Pretty darn interesting paper there Stasa! Dare we hope you will expand it into a book someday?

staśa said...

Hi, Pax!

Thank you!

Goodness, you have me being quite ambitious there. I hadn't thought about it quite yet, but I do like the notion of working out a book on magic and ritual that combines theory and practical reality.

What parts of the paper would you see expanding into a book? (Or would you like to see expanded in a book?)

I've been very much grounded in practice for the last (does the math - wow) 18 years. This course was an interesting stretch into theory for me, and for all of us in the class.

It would be interesting to see how the continued progress of my ministry would inform and help me develop a book, especially since I'm seeing ritual theory as a place to get unprogrammed Quakers talking about ritual more openly and honestly. (See my "Four Doors" write up.) And I think that if the other two Singing Ritual books that are seeds right now bear fruit and are published, that could also help me in developing a book...

So, I don't have plans for a book on this, but I'm open to a leading. :)

chrysalis1witchesjourney said...


Really I'd love to see more in depth examination of the magic of communion with the Divine and the magic of spiritual community and fellowship.

I also would love to see some more examples and in-depth discussion of the different perspectives of set-apart and everyday rituals.

I also think that your examination of the nature of rituals from a spectrum of faith experiences could be a useful tool to expand our movements ritual and community building repetoire...

It seems to me that within the Pagan movement we let slip a lot of opportunities for ritual & fellowship & community building. Opportunities like civic holidays, and like more regularly scheduled rituals... Esbats and Sabbats are wonderful but the real meat and potatoes (or perhaps bread and roses?!) of a religious community is most effective on a more regularly scheduled basis.