ritual: a very short introduction
the concept of ritual has been rattling around my mind for some time now. In an attempt to understand it on a basic level, I turned to the book ‘ritual: a very short introduction by Barry Stephenson’. It discusses, in a simple way, the many facets of, and ways to think about, ritual. It is said that ritual tended to occur at a special place and involve special objects and dress, which together would centre around an important occasion. It attempted to bind society, or groups, together.
With that said, my interest seems to orientate around the idea of the daily ritual as opposed to, and quite distinct from, the idea of routine. Routine, whether it be 'a routine', 'the routine, or just 'routine', can feel tiresome, imposed or unexciting. Ritual, on the other hand, smacks of the magical, the interesting, the sacred. Ancient rituals, with all of their quirks and idiosyncrasies, were at one time created, right?
Barry Stephenson, when summarising Jonathan. Z. Smith's view on ritual, commented that: "[Ritual is the] performance of the ideal in full relationship with the messiness of life".
It may indeed be idealistic but if we had an individual ritual, say at the start of the day, then it could help us manage the craziness of the rest of our day. An uninterrupted spell in the morning may compensate for the fact the rest of the day is up for grabs. I’m striving to get my morning ritual cemented into my life. When it happens, it runs like this: a dip in the sea with my local group of swimmers, followed by a drink of hot water and fresh orange juice, a coffee, a hot shower and the putting on of a good pair of socks.