In many workshops, learning is not just the aim. The opportunity to meet people and friends of different backgrounds but similar passion is equally exciting. The Art of Ritual Making fulfilled those expectations, and I felt it has exceeded them. It has set a great hub of not just like-minds, but kindred spirits who have open their hearts and minds to learn what they seek and share what they have got.
The workshop for ritual making was “a space to express yourself without judgment,” said Ishilta, who organized the workshop together with Ms. Leah Tolentino. I find the word “space” an appropriately profound word, for that was actually I felt during the entire day of ritual learning. The place was more than just being conducive. The workshop space was like a womb of new beginning, creation and freedom, true to Ms. Leah’s vision of her advocacy called GINHAWA (Growth in Wholeness and Wellness Associates). Here, Ms. Leah and her friends spearhead spirituality and creativity. Rituals and ritual making both serve the context in which being spiritual and being creative achieve sacred union.
All spiritual-creative pursuits is always a challenging, scary journey. Comfort zones are dissolved and predictability is now gone. It takes a while to realize that what we have been looking for is within ourselves. Becca, an actor and a mother, whose life roles change everyday, succinctly articulates this truth: “Ritual is really going back to myself.” Jenny, a teacher and a ritualist from the Cordillera, shares also her analogy of a ritual with the Humanist parks. “It was the space where you cannot find anything except yourself.” She tells that as people gather in this space, they do not arrive in a place, but they arrive within themselves. It is how ritual does to our lives. It is without anything. It is the inner self that we begin to know more intimately in our rituals’ outside happenings. Day by day, our rituals are not anymore confined within the veil of incense smokes and candlelights. Rituals are now seen in every human action, however mundane they are.
“Ritual is really going back to myself.” —Becca, actor and mother.
“Even in the washing machine, I can see the Universe.” This one is Becca’s interesting words. It reminds me of a Zen aphorism: Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. The mundane and the profane are not anymore out of the sacred moment of rituals. While we can see some ordinary force in the washing machine, it appears for Becca, as well as for me, a vortex of mystery into which the rhythm of all life is moving: a clockwise/counterclockwise movement of rituals that stirs the Universe and our consciousness at the same time.
Rituals can be both organized and organic, planned and unplanned. But it cannot be recycled, as Arlene, a researcher and also from Cordillera, explained to her colleagues when she was asked to do another ritual. They thought that rituals are like objects that can be used over and over when needed. But a ritualist like Arlene knows the depth of rituals: no one can create rituals in a cookie-cutter fashion. The basis of a ritual is an intelligent symbolic understanding that sees beyond the literal, allowing the natural impulse of events to unfold at the present moment. In the now, a ritual is always unique and sacred, irreverisible and once-in-a-lifetime.
Healing is perhaps one aspect of ritual that often go unnoticed, but for Jun, another researcher, it is always the process that takes place. According to him, this is always possible because of the “element of trust that the Universe will heal you.” Through ritual, Remi, a mother and a passionate naturalist, was able to heal her roots with her ancestors, and found silence and solitude in her inner ritual of reconnection.
Rituals are not routines or habits or automatic actions. They are ever-changing, colorful, rhythmical and symbolic way of how our souls interact with the greater divinity within us. Lisa, a doctor, whom admits that she had a staunch westernized education, at first found rituals as something mushy, now sees rituals as a process that one can grow into, as they “…perfect the work of God through you.” A ritual is a healing process, a return to oneself, a divine space, celebrating our collective spiritual birthright: oneness and union with all that is alive. It is because of rituals that we realize that we know how to Love and be Loved, through the Universe, through others and through ourselves.
The Art of Ritual Making was held on June 4, 2011, Saturday. We will send updates for the next workshop schedule for July.