Since time immemorial we have come together as people to celebrate special occasions or moments in life. It is not always decisive for whom the ceremony is, but that we come together to honour the ceremony and the occasion as such. And there are some of these occasions that have special significance worldwide – others are specifically anchored in the respective culture.
Today we can still see the traces of our ancestors in the ceremonies we celebrate: From Swedish girls dancing around the maypole on Midsummer’s Eve to birthday cakes and Easter fires. Ceremonies help us to be and stay in the river.
There are roughly three types of ceremonies – the first are year-round and are celebrations in honour of life and the eternal cycle. The second mark transitions and important events in our lives, they allow us to express joy and sorrow, and perhaps most importantly, they help us create and maintain our identity. And the third are those intended for special occasions such as protection, clarification or healing.
Ceremonies in modern times
Each of us has participated in modern ceremonies, which often have their origins in ancient traditions. The cutting of the birthday cake, where everyone comes together and in front of which we blow out all the candles to fulfill a wish. The first documented origin of this custom dates back to ancient Greece and was held in honour of the goddess Artemis, who is a powerhouse. Artemis is one of the most complex goddesses, often reduced to hunting, virginity, moon and birth. In truth, however, Artemis stood for all aspects of the feminine.
On Artemis Day in ancient Greece, a round honey cake was baked with candles on it. They were supposed to make wishes come true with the power of the goddess. The Greeks placed these cakes on their altar. In Germany, the birthday cake as such has only been an integral part of children’s birthdays since the 19th century. And if you once again get involved with where it comes from – and that the Greeks certainly did not invent the custom – then it is originally a cake in honour of the great goddess, the mother – so to speak a placenta. And so this custom already feels much more like a deep ceremony, which reminds us every time on the day of our birth where we come from.
Everywhere in Germany the fires burn on the Easter weekend. What now takes place at festivities of the voluntary fire brigades nationwide and with active participation of shooting clubs has its origin in a deep and important ceremony – the reignition of the fire in spring. So traditionally all fires were extinguished with our ancestors and then again kindled with the beginning of spring. Originally flint stones were used, later stone and metal. This new fire was then used to rekindle all the hearth and house fires. Couples jumped over the fresh spark and promised to be together for a year.
These examples show how ancient ceremonies are still anchored in our lives, even if we sometimes don’t even know the original meaning. But our soul remembers and draws strength from these gatherings and common moments. This ancient memory that flows through our DNA is the reason why we hold on to traditions, even if sometimes we don’t know exactly why. Ceremonies help our soul to locate itself. They give us a home within ourselves.
Ceremony or ritual?
What makes a ceremony a ceremony is the intention with which I commit it. Because through the intention I awaken what I do to life. I breathe faith, magic and medicine into it.
When morality is lost, the ritual prevails.
The ritual is the mere shell of true faith.
It is the beginning of the confusion.
Therefore, the Master deals with
with the depth and not with the surface.
With the fruit and not with the flower.
LaoTse, Tao Te King
This means for us in the modern world to take the moment to look a little deeper than what is on the surface. To ask where the origin lies and what meaning lies behind things. Or to give them our own meaning when in doubt. As long as we simply repeat what we have been taught, “Because that’s what you do”, we create a ritual. A fixed sequence of ceremonial elements, which in doubt are beautiful to look at, but only a shell. This is the moment in which the confusion arises – not necessarily in the outside, but in the inside. For what we hope for remains absent, the connection that our soul longs for is not established. It is almost like an open loop in which we are stuck.
But as soon as we add love, intention and focus as ingredients, the magic and medicine we seek can emerge. Then it is no longer decisive what the arrangement looks like, but how we come together. Then it is no longer relevant whether the situation is instagramable or we are particularly pretty, but that we are present in the here and now. That is the moment in which the meeting unfolds its effect.
Therefore we can decide for ourselves how to commit each individual action. How much energy and focus we put into the birthday cake, with what intention we light the Easter fire, with what depth we enter the next celebration.
Ceremonies are sacred moments that have brought us together since time immemorial. And it is up to us to bring these sacred moments back into the here and now. We can start with the small things. By doing each of our actions with intention. By being consciously present in important moments. By allowing ourselves again to connect with the call of our soul.
Because our soul is at home the the here and now. It has always been. In the past lives the mind, in the future lives the mindfuck with its eternal what-if chains of thoughts. Therefore ceremonies celebrate exactly what is present here and now.