The Ritual-free Life

I often read historic novels and texts that detail life in past centuries. A great deal of any book is occupied with rituals. They can be religious, civil, or military. In all three categories there are some practices that are understandable in practical terms and some that are not.

I can look back on a lifetime of following modern rituals…at schools and university, in the wider community, and at such religious junctures as I have encountered. Admittedly, these last are pretty few; I’ve been married in a church and conducted two family funerals. I’ve seen other ritual occasions as a spectator or a photographer but most of the pomp and ceremony has skidded off my armour – very little has penetrated.

I did participate in theatrical ritual as a re-enactor and quite enjoyed it – it was more educational to do things than just read about them. However, I found the line of reality and theatre can blur if you immerse yourself in it too long. I eventually pulled back from the hobby because of this.

As far as practical everyday ritual, I keep this to a minimum. Most of what I do is to a purpose…though that may be a trifling one. I have cut through a good deal of the superstition that may permeate other’s lives and find it refreshing to ignore what they fuss about.

Do I recommend the attitude? Yes, but no more than is comfortable for the individual. If you have always been a church-goer or someone who celebrates civil or commercial celebratory days you might have a real framework of comfort and security constructed around these rituals. I won’t snort at you for doing them…but equally I request a respect that lets me stand aloof.

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