A lot of what I’ll be doing in the coming months will be ritual based.
About half of my clients describe feeling detached or distracted, they can’t get on with life, often they’re irritable, sometimes they’re listless. Life has lost meaning: what’s the point of going to work/ struggling with exams/ anything?
Any number of clients who’ve experienced bereavement describe this kind of melancholia, and it seems that a part of them has followed the person they love into the world of the dead. While there may not be an actual ‘Land of the Dead’ it’s a useful idea to play with: you’ve followed the person you loved but since this is a place for the dead not the living, you start to become listless, hopeless, indecisive and get uncomfortable feelings – rage, fear, hatred – that you can’t shake off. You’re not dead but you’re not really alive. To return to life you have to say goodbye to the person you most want to be with.
Every other culture has ritualised life changes, not primarily to control a community but because humans are inherently ritualistic. Menarche, first sexual experiences, becoming pregnant, giving birth, becoming a parent, first day at school and so on towards becoming a post-menopausal woman or a properly mature man; great age, moving closer to your Ancestors rather than your grandchildren; last illness and death. And finally being honoured by the living as an Ancestor yourself.
For a decade I facilitated these kinds of events in a formal setting for large groups of people and saw how powerful and transformative they can be in a very different way from therapy. Therapy relies heavily on words and on exploring how you’re feeling. Ritual speaks to instinct – you move from your intellect to your guts and heart quickly and safely. So powerful is ritual that just watching one can change the way you view the world and your place in it. When you don’t know where that might be, beginning to find out can be very restorative.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be drawing up a list of events, some seasonal, some weekly, some monthly. Let me know what you’d like to be involved in, from Red Tents to shrouding our dead.
All Abandonment Abuse Ancestors Anger Anxiety Ash Wednesday Attitude Banking Bereavement Birthday Bravery Breivik Bystander Effect Camila Batmanghelidjh Carnival Cbt Challenger Charlotte Bevan Childbirth Childhood Children Christmas Coaching Compassion Contemplation Control Counselling COVID 19 Culture Dalai Lama Death Death Cafe Democracy Denial Depression Domestic Violence Dying Eap Earth Day Empathy Employment Eric Klinenberg Ethics Exams Existential Failure Family Annihilation Fear Founders Syndrome Francis Report Gay Cure Genocide George Lyward Goldman Sachs Good Death Greg Smith Grief Grieving Grooming Groupthink Happiness Hate Hungary Illness Interconnectedness Jason Mihalko Jubilee Kids Company Kitty Genovese Life Light Living Loneliness Love Mandatory Reporting Meaning Men Mental Health Mid Staffs Mindfulness Money Mothers New Year Nigella Lawson Optimism Organisational Collapse Oxford Abuse Panama Papers Panic Panic Attacks Parenthood Petruska Clarkson Pleasure Politics Positivity Post Natal Depression Power Priorities Priority Productivity Psychotherapy Ptsd Red Tent Reflection Rena Resilience Riots Rites Of Passage Ritual Robin Williams Sad Sales Savile Scared Seasonal Affective Disorder Self Care Self Preservation Self-preservation Shock Sin Singletons Sport Spring Status St David St Georges Day Stress Suarez Suicide Support Talking Terry Pratchett Time Transition Trauma True Self Truth Understanding Unemployment Valentines Day Viktor Frankl Violence Whistleblowing Who Am I Winter Blues Women Work