Like it or not, ritual epitomizes the types of experiences that most exemplify the baby boomer generation: the experimentation, the discovery of Self, the uninhibited expression, the penchant for questioning authority, the sense of community, and, of course, the itchy idealism. We just have to learn to do it all consciously.
Experience. Ritual opens the doors of perception. In fact, it is the source of human consciousness, because it is the source of all our symbols for both self and community. To experiment with ritual is to experiment with perception and experience.
Self. Out of ritual come the symbols by which we choose to live. As we identify them they identify us. In controlled spontaneity we act out beyond the norm and try out the power of new symbols like so many magic hats, in order to discover our Self in the company of like-minded souls.
Expression. We are drawn into rituals because we get something ineffable out of them, some feeling or sense that we can’t describe; but, returning to the ritual time and time again, we learn how to express this ineffable feeling. Our feelings, thoughts and intuition are made manifest through ritualing.
Questioning Authority. Our need to belong and to express ourselves draws us in to ritual, but the very nature of ritual goads us into acting out beyond convention – which has a tendency to bring out the shalt nots of authority. While “we the people” can see up the block, “authority” claims to be able to see up the block and around the corner. When do we start to question? As parents, we know there is a time to let the kids find out what’s around the corner for themselves. As aging adults we need to make our own decisions about who is to guide us through the rest of this odyssey.
Community. Part of the ineffable quality of ritual is the feeling of belonging, the nature of which, over time, we learn to discern and to appreciate. Thus, ritualing creates the symbols that speak for the community, and which ultimately become central to its traditions. To participate in ritual is to participate in the creation of history.
Idealism. Our ideals inevitably lead us onward into the in-between – between our reality and our dreams, between who we are and who we want to be, and between all states of perception. Ritual, as the ageless human tool for coping with crisis, allows us to explore different in-betweens and unknown situations with courage and confidence.