The power of ritual - by Charlotte

Ritual forms a part of all our retreats and there’s a good reason for that. Human beings have a need for ritual - it’s the reason weddings, funerals and christenings are so ingrained in our society. And, in much smaller ways, we all carry out little rituals every day. My morning one goes like this: get up around 6.30, feed the cats (obviously that always comes first!), have a cup of warm water with apple cider vinegar, light incense, meditate for 20 minutes, make a cup of tea. After that, what happens is anyone’s guess (that’s the unpredictable life of a freelance writer for you) - but one thing I know is that my day is likely to flow much more smoothly if I’ve followed my usual morning ritual. I don’t do it every every single day - if I’m away from home, on a course or running a retreat, I fall temporarily out of my routine, and that’s fine - it’s always important to build in some flexibility. But I certainly aim to achieve my half-hour of peace every morning, as that means I’ll get there 80 per cent of the time.

As a Priestess of Rhiannon, I am trained in more structured ceremonies and holding these is something that’s really important to me. In secular society, we’ve lost a lot of our ceremony and ritual - we only really mark births, marriages and deaths. But we pass through so many more gateways than this in the course of a lifetime: coming of age, relationship breakdown, pregnancy loss, recovery from illness, menopause and many more which may be personal and particular to us. These transitions change us yet are so rarely honoured, meaning we can end up floundering around them, questioning ourselves, lacking any closure we may need and potentially missing out on a full sense of pride and ownership of what we’ve been through.

I have just experienced the benefits personally as I received a miscarriage ceremony from my fellow priestesses, to mark the pregnancies I lost four years ago - the picture below shows a paper lantern (biodegradable!) on which I wrote messages for the babies who never were being released into the wind in Glastonbury. The ceremony was intense, raw and beautiful, and I feel it has enclosed that time of my life in a gentle bubble. I’ll always feel sad about those brief sparks of life, particularly as I haven’t ended up having children, but somehow the energy around it feels different now. Powerful stuff.

What rituals do you have in your life?