Recovering from Ritual
June 19, 2014
April 18, 2011
Malidoma Some’ is an Initiated Elder from Burkina, Faso, West Africa. One time when he was speaking at an event I was attending he said that the people of his tribe in Africa spent most of their time doing one of three things: preparing for, participating in, or recovering from rituals.
Recently I have been interested in the last third of that process, recovering from rituals. It seems to me we are very caught up in the preparations, and sometimes even in the rituals themselves. And then, bam, it’s over, and we’re right back to our work and life and kids and this crazy, crazy rhythm that seems to be life in the twenty-first century.
Why is recovering from rituals important? What does Malidoma mean when he speaks of “recovery from rituals”? I can’t speak for him, but I think it is in the recovery that we integrate what we’ve learned and received from the ritual, and it is a time that we can take note of how the ritual changed us. This is what ritual is supposed to do; change us.
One weekend about five years ago I participated in a kind of healing work called “Trance Dance”. Words do this type of healing no justice, but as a quick summary, one dances for hours, blind-folded, to wild and crazy music, until you’ve used up all your energy. Then you lay down on the floor, for maybe another hour, and you let the change settle over you. This is not unlike the end of most yoga classes, when one rests in Shavasana or corpse pose, in an attempt to allow the act of yoking mind, body, and spirit to settle in and create a needed change.
For many people, Spring is a time of ritual. Perhaps you are celebrating Passover this week. Or Easter. Or another holiday that is a way of honoring the life-death-life cycle that is the rhythm of life. Think about these three components of ritual: preparation, participation, and recovery. Is your energy equally divided between those three acts? Or will you, like most of us, forget to make time for recovery? Could you give yourself just a moment on the evening after a gathering, or the next morning, and just reflect on what it was all about? Why do we have these rituals? What do they mean? How will we go forward in a changed way? Do we just gather out of obligation or is something happening to us when we gather? And if so, what is that something? Or what would we like it to be? Are you changed in any way after a ritual? If so, how? If not, why not?
Have a beautiful Spring and spring-time rituals! Pay attention to how they change you!
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