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The Critic Episode: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/the-inner-critic-1612153312/
Yucca: Welcome back to The Wonder: Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, Yucca.
Mark: I'm Mark.
Yucca: And today we are returning to the important topic of ritual. So we're going to talk what, why, how and why we've come back to this topic.
Mark: Yes. And I think we should probably start with that last one. First obviously rituals are really central to pagan practice. They are a really essential part of what makes us pagans and what makes our practices into a religion. We did the second ever episode, of the wonder about rituals more than a year ago.
And we just have more to say about it. We'll probably repeat some of it cause neither of us have heard the episode in a year. But that's fine. One of the things about paganism is that it's iterative. You come back around to the same time of year, every year. And so you repeat themes and we're going to repeat themes here on this podcast as well.
Yucca: That's right. And it's the sort of thing we've touched on in so many of our episodes. There's very few. I think that we haven't mentioned ritual in because it is just so central.
Mark: Right, right. I mean, in, in many ways being a pagan is I mean, it's certainly far less about what you believe than it is about your value set and what you do. And there's the sort of passive ritual behavior of observing the world around you and stopping for the sunsets and the flowers and paying attention.
And then there's the active rituals, which are the more formal symbolic behaviors that we do in order to put ourselves into a ritual state of kind of trancy hyper presence which is a state in which we can reprogram our brains. We can heal our wounds, we can focus our intention. We can make things easier for ourselves as we go forward into our lives.
Yucca: So we're going to be focusing a little bit more on that second type of ritual that you were just talking about. Yeah. The daily, small rituals, the habits, those are also incredibly powerful. And I think those deserve their own episode, frankly.
Mark: Yes. I agree.
Yucca: but let's go ahead and start with really what is ritual?
Mark: I have a definition. Do you have a definition?
Yucca: Well, your definition is probably going to be a little bit more succinct than mine. So let's hear yours.
Mark: I believe that ritual is symbolic behavior rather than practical behavior for purposes of spiritual expression. And there's a lot of words in there that are very fuzzy. Spiritual is a very fuzzy word. Expression is a very broad term, but generally speaking the difference between brushing your teeth every day and going to your altar and lighting a candle every day is that you do one of them for these spiritual purposes.
And the other one is strictly a matter of practical maintenance.
Yucca: So for me, ritual has an element of intention without there you're intending to do something, not necessarily your trying, that it's an intention of, you're trying to cast a spell or do something like that, but you don't go into ritual, you don't go into that space without a reason. And that reason is often an emotional reason, often a quality of life reason, or a reason where you're trying to figure something out or contemplate. There's a purpose to it. It's intentional are choosing to do it. It's not something that is happening to you. It's you doing it?
Mark: Right. One of the things that is often said about pagan ritual is that there are no spectators. Everyone is a participant. And that if you have people that are in the circle who are being spectators, your ritual has a problem. Because it hasn't engaged them in a way that makes them participants. So I really, and I really feel that's true. Part of what makes group ritual really amazing is that everyone is engaging kind of in their highest self in co-creating this amazing moment in time.
Yucca: Yeah. And that, that brings it to a very different experience than it would be otherwise. Just amazing.
Mark: Yes. I mean, there, there are varying degrees of the amount of satisfaction that one gets out of performing a ritual. I have daily rituals and it's just sort of a little bump of dopamine, right? It's just a little feeling of satisfaction and reward that I've done my daily rituals again, and there are the candles burning on my focus and isn't that jolly. It looks very pretty, very witchy and cool. And I have a good feeling about it. Then there are other things which are more elaborate where I might set up a special altar just for that day and have activities planned that are supposed to be a part of the ritual. And that's all. You know, because it's a special day, it's a holiday, right.
Rather than, or either that, or I have some very specific need that I need to address either in my in my mental health or in my life and my capacity to grapple with the issues that are in front of me. So those are the. So there's this big spectrum of sort of small commonplace rituals, all the way up to sort of grand opera, amazing costumes and music and incense and stained glass and, you know, whatever it is.
Mark: So why don't we talk a little bit about you know, we were talking about the, what about what a ritual is? Why don't we go more into examples of the why? Because I've done rituals for a lot of different purposes over the years, and I'm sure you have too. And it would be interesting. It'd be good. I think, to sort of compare notes on that, about the different kinds of things that we've done.
Yucca: Sure. Yeah. There's such a huge range. There's the kind that you were just talking about with that those daily rituals. And those can be the ones that are really your quality of life rituals. Those are the ones that are how you enact, what you decide you want your life to be like and where you want your focus to be, because where that focus is determined so much about what you experienced and how you feel. And we spoke about this recently in the episode on manifestation. Right. That what you are aware of and where you are, what patterns you are enacting and feeding is what's going to determine so much of your experience.
Mark: Right. Exactly. I think, for example, about house-warming rituals the sort of house cleansing slash blessing rituals that people will do, and they're all different kinds of them, but they tend to have certain shared characteristics like going into every room in the house and doing some kind of activity that helps demark the space as having been cleansed of whoever else was there before.
And now marked as yours belonging to your family. And you know, now being your space and the, I mean, th the reality is that there's no physical change happening there. Right. But how you feel about the place can be radically different. You can go from, you know, Oh, I'm moving into a stranger's house too.
Oh, this is mine. And that's where I want to put the furniture and, you know, here's where I want to keep the canned goods and A much more comfortable kind of way of being
And then there's also those rituals which are for the big rites of passage.
Yucca: So the weddings and deaths and births and separations and coming of ages and all of that, that are those moments that there's only a few of them in your entire life, whatever your particular path is that you're going on with that?
Mark: Right. And honestly, I mean, I feel sort of cheated that I missed a couple of them. You know, I've done. I didn't ever get a passage into adulthood. I didn't ever get you know, that kind of recognition. I've done. Marriage ceremonies, I've done a dissolution ceremony. I've and now I'm kind of pressing onward toward elderhood.
And I'm definitely going to do something for that. That one is very problematic in ou…