Counterculture author Ken Kesey once said that ritual is necessary for us to know anything — and I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve been doing rituals since before I referred to them as rituals.
Back when I was still compartmentalizing my spiritual calling, I referred to ritual work as “experiments”(and even wrote a book on it). But it wasn’t until I started working with my teacher and the Dagara lineage that a more substantial understanding around ritual started crystallizing.
What I have learned in the time since has completely shifted my perspective.
As someone who worked in technology for the past decade, my training has given me the ability to better understand the often invisible mechanics that power systems and devices. The thing to remember is this: all technology is assistive. Its purpose is to extend the power and utility of whatever wields it. Technology facilitates access and increases influence.
From the beginning, I recognized ritual as a form of primal tech that helped humans engage with subtle energies in our environment. In the same way that a socket is an entrance point to connect your computer to the electrical grid so you can access the internet, ritual functions in a similar way. In other words, ritual is a doorway into more power and possibility depending on how we choose to use it.
So when I get asked the questions:
>> What is a ritual, really?
>> How is it different from a practice or a habit?
>> And, most importantly, how can it help me?
I see it as an invitation to share some interesting conclusions as to what is more possible as a result of an active practice.
Now, like any normal person who is investing money in a healing service, my clients usually want to know whether a prescribed action will lead to an outcome. And rightfully so! If you’re going to rub your undies with honey and throw them in the Potomac River (as I was once asked to do) then it helps to know that there’s some kind of payoff at the end.
The way ritual actually works is beyond my human comprehension, but what I can speak to are some essential teachings that ritual has given me.
What is a ritual, really?
My definition? Ritual is a co-creation with creation. Contrary to popular belief, when we work with ritual, we are transcending our known habit (such as our morning coffee) or helpful practices (such as our morning yoga). We are even leaving behind the realms of sacred traditions (in other words, definitely not Thanksgiving). Some might find this outrageous or offensive, but I’d argue that these are examples of how ritual has been colonized by capitalism.
Ritual runs so much deeper than that. Because when we engage in ritual, we exit the world of human will and habit and begin working at the level of creation itself. This is essential, for we become less of a directed agent and more of a divine vessel. When I am fully absorbed in a ritual, I release my grip and become a channel for something much more vast and all-knowing to work through.
Yes, there are steps one must take with full heart and soul, but paradoxically, in doing so, one is no longer in control. As a result of this surrendering, I experience the following: I become more connected to my original knowing.
Ritual is what some would call a form of sense-making—gathering multiple forms of information in a way that allows us to discern and extract significant meaning from the noise. What this looks like in ritual space is attuning to one’s inner and outer environments in such a way that it surfaces the answers already alive within them.
In listening deeply to what’s happening in our reality, a good ritual often reveals our resistance, our assumptions, our fears, and our blind spots about what is possible. I often refer to this as “the ritual behind the ritual,” because the destination itself is rarely the point. How we prepare for the ritual usually points to where we might need to address deeply buried fears, rewrite limiting stories and beliefs, and do the work so we can actually show up in full presence to do the damn thing already.
In order to see the potential opportunities existing in our periphery, it’s essential to clear the obstructions that blind us. The original knowing is the subtle, absolute truth that exists within us and which we can always return to. This becomes easier if we are willing to do what is necessary to enable total clarity.
I come back into greater coherence with my environment and surroundings.
If there’s anything that ritual has taught me, it’s that human supremacy is obsolete. What I love about ritual is that, unlike many other traditions, it doesn’t require the esoteric texts of some dead priest to access the deep secrets. I find that a good ritual invites me to shut up about what I think I know about how the world works and connect back to the living, breathing dirt.
Sacred intelligence is everywhere: in the earth, wind, and water. Even the things that happen “by accident” can be a form of intervention if we’re willing to be quiet and listen for the real wisdom trying to penetrate our attention. The truth is, you are a singular node in a vast, interconnected web. Yes, you are an apex predator, but living at the top of the food pyramid is an isolating endeavor. Instead, consider what you might learn and how you might benefit if you looked at bugs as your teachers. Or black mold. Or the river. When you flatten the pyramid and remember that you live on the same plane as the rest of existence, you free up energy to access answers literally anywhere you look.
God isn’t a singular entity; it’s a hive mind.
I learn how to honor what is actually alive.
In my honest opinion, real change is birthed from deep-rootedness. But as a species, we’ve forgotten that reality is real. Instead, we seem to be intent on getting sucked back into the matrix through spiritual bypassing schemes. Ascension and light purity and whatever 5D means. I’m looking at you, Instagram priestess advertising the codes for Avalon. These ideas are abstractions that allow the mind to lie to itself. These ideas are distractions that ensure no real growth happens.
Real change is rooted in the body and requires the body. (I say this having lived for most of my life in my clever mind.) Besides—you can only move as fast as your slowest part. For most of us, that’s the anchoring ground of your godly bod. And the body doesn’t lie. When we start moving in ways that are instinctual and ancient, it becomes easier to remember how things really work. Tracking aliveness is a process that builds awareness about where your body wants to shift and how to support it. We might move more slowly than we want, but healing happens faster when we learn how to honor and harness evolutionary patterns and rhythms that have guided us for millions of years.
I learn how to get more ready.
Imagine a lock. In order to get access, many intricate parts must shift into place. When everything falls into alignment, a key can penetrate. This powerful key then opens a door. What’s on the other side of this door is unique to you. It might look like deep release or catharsis; it might look like flow, where before there was obstruction. It might be that an answer just suddenly drops in. Perhaps something you’ve been waiting on finally arrives at just the right time.
Regardless of what you’re wanting to create in your life, this mind-body-spirit alignment is what’s required to welcome it into your world. Unfortunately, we can’t just will ourselves into alignment. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) Instead, we have to move into place—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Ritual helps us bring all the necessary parts of us to the table so we can receive the things we desire. After all, it’s only when we are ready that the things we want arrive.
I remember that life is actually quite supernatural.
And I act accordingly.
So how can ritual support you in making your life more fertile, abundant, ease-filled, and nourishing?
If I were to summarize it in one sentence:
Ritual will change your life because it will shift your consciousness—period.
Ritual will open you to new pathways and perspectives that you simply couldn’t see before. And when you have access to more information, your ability to perceive possibility and the capacity to act on it increases. You become more powerful because you are absolutely aligned with yourself and willing to take steps in accordance with natural cycles.
Life isn’t rational or logical. Existence is wild and supernatural. And if you desire to tap into that energy and use it to your advantage, I highly recommend that you develop a ritual practice.