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Purpose of Ritual

Purpose of Ritual

Purpose of ritual


Ritual and ceremonial activities can serve any of several purposes within the context of the faith of Druidry and we often see rites which serve multiple purposes with a primary action and the inclusion of some secondary activities. The major categories for our religious ceremonies in Druidry are rites of worship and honoring, rites of sacralization, rites of consecration and rites of blessing. Each of these categories has a different purpose or goal at hand though they are not in any way exclusive and are often seen as co-operant goals within a given ceremony.

First and foremost in any faith are rites of worship and honoring. Rituals that have as their primary central goal the establishing or maintaining of connection to the sacred are rites of worship. In the reciprocal spiritual relationships that we have with the sacred it is our job to worship, praise and honor the Gods. We also recognize and honor our ancestors of blood and of spirit. Local spirits are also often recognized and honored. A rite of worship is generally going to include an offering or sacrificial gift being given. Any rite that has as its primary purpose the tending to of a relationship with the sacred falls into the area of a rite of worship.

Next we come to rites of consecration which are ceremonies designed to bring about or acknowledge an ontological change. When something is consecrated it is moved from one state of being to another. When a new object for use in ritual is being consecrated it is being changed from a state where it serves a non-sacral purpose to a point where it serves a sacral purpose and now is given a specific sacred identity or context. Often a consecration is seen as a cooking and so fire is generally present for these sorts of ceremonies.

Rites of blessing are often thought to be similar to or related to consecration but the difference is clear in that where a consecration is a change in ontological state a blessing is designed to invest a person or object with a special gift. So a healing rite performed for a person who is ill is designed to bless that person with a special healing force but it is not designed to bring about a change in the state of being of the individual. People, animals, objects and just about anything can be blessed and so invested with sacred strength.

Sacralization is another ritual purpose that we sometimes embrace and again something that is easily confused with consecration. Sacralization is an act designed to formally contextualize something or someone relative to the sacred. An example would be a marriage ceremony in which the people being married are formally entering into a contract which is witnessed and blessed by the people and the Gods. The couple have not changed their state of being but what has happened is that they have changed their context in relation to the sacred. Rites of passage and many initiatory rites are actually of the variety of rites of sacralization.

By understanding exactly what type of rite we are designing or performing we can better focus on accomplishing the goal of the rite. Through understanding the varieties of religious ritual in our faith we are able to give our rituals and actions a more precise and defined shape. The effectiveness of ritual and its ability to accomplish its purpose is bound up with the clarity of type, goal and structure. The first step in understanding or building any rite is to establish what the primary type of rite is before you.