Develop A Personal Ritual Practice

Earlier this year, a couple of friends told me how they admired my ritualistic tendencies. Truthfully, this came as a bit of a shock. As a freedom loving soul, I never quite have a rhythm that aligns with others. Coupled with a partner who works shift work, I can feel like I don’t belong or understand the nuances that the Monday to Friday lifestyle provides. This leaves me feeling like I straddle or dance between two worlds.

Hearing this feedback from the people whom I value and trust, got me thinking. It permitted me to recognize all the ways I practice ritual. It made me think of how all women have unique rhythms; the one’s intrinsically linked to our menstrual cycle. How our individual ebb and flow can be reflected back to us from the moon, the tides, and the women who cycle alongside us.

All of this led me to further contemplate the ways in which we can cultivate awareness of our own unique rhythms as an act of devotion, thus harnessing them to find moments of peace, surrender, empowerment, wisdom, and joy.

Below I share five steps to assist you with developing a personal ritual practice. Personally, many of my personal rituals align with the moon cycle and the seasons. I also have some daily rituals that I tend to dip in and out of as needed. Some are simplistic and some are more complex. This is the process I use for establishing new rituals and deepening my current practices.

If you aren’t sure about what ritual is, I recommend reading this post.

 
Crystal Heart
 

1. Define Your Intention

The first step in developing a personal ritual practice is outlining what your intention is behind it.

What do you hope this practice will bring you or afford you?

Often times, especially for women, it’s the space to invest wholly in ourselves. To carve out a few moments of peace to convene with our wise mystical inner guidance. It’s our opportunity to breathe, to truly exhale, to settle into ourselves, and make time for that which is important to and for US. It is defining that which we are committed to devoting ourselves to. It is the guidepost that gives us focus to take the steps to fill our cup.

Your intention can be simple or complex. If you are new to ritual practice, I recommend starting simple to gain traction and then moving onto more complex or layered rituals over time as you become established.

2. Get Practical

Once you have defined what your intention is for cultivating this practice, you can move onto the practicalities. How much time would you like to dedicate and more importantly how much time can you realistically dedicate?

In order to get the most out of your practice, it’s important to make your ritual practice doable. We can often have skewed expectations and think we need to commit a lot of time or that we need to invest in whole slew of materials to ready ourselves. This is procrastination tugging at us, trying to distract us from the task at hand.

Consider the long term, contemplate the sustainability of your practice, and how that translates to the ebb and flow of life throughout the year. Can you do five minutes a day or would it be best to set aside an hour a week?

Connect with your intention and remember that this is personal. This practice is meant to support you, not become another thing on the never-ending to-do list.

Imperfectly done is far better than trying to get it perfect and never getting past thinking about it.

 
Journal Practice
 

3. Consistency is Key

Ritual is a practice, so it takes repeated action and doing. I recommend dedicating an entire lunar cycle or season to developing a new ritual practice. Consistency is key and establishing a routine takes commitment.

Once you have hashed out some of the logistics, it’s time to fine tune them. Are you wanting to establish something a few times a week, weekly, biweekly, or monthly? Would your practice be best done at night, in the morning, or does the time of day matter? As you dig in, are your expectations from step 2 still realistic? This is the time to make adjustments.

Chart out your designated times in your calendar and then sit with how that feels in your body before diving in further. This will help you gain clarity on what is realistic for you and allow you to make some tweaks before getting started. If you are feeling tightness in your chest or gut, maybe it’s too far of a stretch. When you feel warmth, ease, comfort, and excitement when you see it all mapped out, know you are on the right track.

Start small, gain momentum, and then expand after your routine is well established. Planning and preparing will eliminate overwhelm; you are worthy of investment, support, and success.

 
Calendar
 

4. Be Accountable

This is where procrastination can derail us. Where the best of intentions never move from a thought into measured action. It is important to have some sort of checkpoint or parameter in place that will remind you of your commitment to yourself.

Are you someone who needs accountability to thrive or are you independently action-orientated?

Buddy up with a friend to check-in and hold one another accountable. Be clear on what your needs are and the expectations from the start. Is this a quick text, email, or phone call? Would you rather meet for coffee once a month? Keep it simple, set a deadline, and stick to it.

If you prefer to work alone, have a system in place to ensure consistency. This might be a simple notification scheduled into your phone, jotting down a note in your day planner, or writing in a fun colored pen on your wall calendar.

 
 

5. Devotion Leads to Flexibility

Last year, I was fairly committed to doing morning pages. My ritual included only doing them upon waking and that I HAD to write three pages. If I scrolled my phone first or made coffee first, it somehow tainted the experience. I dedicated myself to doing them 4-5 days per week, which meant I was up before 6 am most days. Some days were harder than others, sometimes I didn’t want to do it but I always felt better after I did. This was me being consistent and accountable. My commitment allowed me to be 100% invested.

I believe that because of my initial dedication, I now have the freedom to dip in and out as needed. I no longer do them as often and I allow myself to be flexible in fitting them in where I can throughout my days and weeks. Morning pages are there for me when I really need to hash out challenges, gain clarity on situations, or just do a brain dump.

My moon rituals are steadfast. They are the rituals that I tend to regularly without wavering. I have been doing some form of ritual with the lunar cycle consistently for close to 10 years.

When we get into the predictability of preparing and settling ourselves to perform ritual, it becomes ingrained. Once our actions are well established, the core of the ritual comes with more ease. That is the reward of ritual. It permits us access the ethers and nourishes our spirit.

Our commitment and dedication is what hones and refines the practice, which then allows us to become more flexible as we progress. That’s all ritual truly is, a practice and an act of devotion. One where we show up again and again as our messy selves, settling into a routine that suits us best.

If you decide to work with the lunar cycle, either biweekly or monthly, I recommend committing to at least six months. This will permit you to recognize patterns and give you a body of work in which to look back on for deeper insight, wisdom, and understanding.

I provide free ritual guides each month to my community of Lunar Lover’s. Each ritual guide is packed with journal prompts, altar item suggestions, different crystals and aromatics to work with, and a guiding moon mantra. You can join the community for free below or learn more about Lunar Love HERE.

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Develop A Personal Ritual Practice
 

What is an Altar?

When looking up the definition of an altar, it is defined as a structure upon which offerings were placed for religious purposes.

I define an altar as a sacred and personal space where we can connect with our intuition, higher guidance, source, nature, memories, ancestors, and so on. It is the creation of a beautiful arrangement of material goods that act as a reminder of an intention, goal, or memory. 

Altars act as physical reminders of what we are seeking or remembering. They constantly remind us of our intentions, acting as portals, calling in and anchoring our dreams here in reality.

An altar doesn't need to be fussy or complicated. I am confident you already have an altar set up in your home, you just might not realize it! 

 
bedside table books
 

Does your night stand contain a few items that aid you in getting a restful sleep? Perhaps you have a book, glass of water, and some nice lip balm or scented lotion that assist you in drifting off. This is a simple example of an altar. 

There are many different types of altars. We will explore three types together.

 
evergreen branch
 

Seasonal Altars

Creating seasonal altars help us usher in the energy of the new season, celebrate with rituals and customs associated with that season, and help us to bookend the previous season. They can assist us with releasing with what was, integrating what we have learned, and welcoming what is ahead.

Many of us already practice celebrating Christmas or Yule by putting up an evergreen tree. While modern times associate the Christmas tree with Santa or Christianity, the Yule tree actually stems from Paganism folklore where trees were worshiped and revered. Evergreens symbolized the Tree of Life and were used an offering to the gods. Greenery was brought inside as protection and to act as a reminder of the sun’s return.

 
incense potted plant
 

Personal Altars

A personal altar is having a collection of items arranged to support and empower us. Back to the example of the nightstand I gave earlier, having a selection of items within reach can support us with connecting and settling into ourselves. Whether you have a daily meditation practice by candlelight or light a stick of incense each morning or applying a favorite scented lotion before bed, having designated space and items that honor and reflect coming home to yourself is so important. It is something we all do quite naturally without being fully aware.

 
art gallery wall
 

Family or Communal Altars

Do you have a photo or gallery wall in your home? A family or communal altar is a designated space where we gather and honor our beloveds, special memories, and our achievements. It is where we can remember those who might not be with us and also celebrate milestones; whether they are personal or shared with others. Is this space adorned with plants, an arrangement of special books, or memorabilia? Maybe you have a collection of travel photography that reminds you of a special adventure. Communal altars are the space where we can be reminded of all we have accomplished, those who have supported us, and all the joys that have been shared along the way.

If you would like to bring more intention into your altar practice, I invite you to download the Cultivating Sacred Space E-book found below.

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what is an altar
 

What Is Ritual?

Ritual seems to be a buzz word that is everywhere lately, especially when paired with self-care. Beyond all the elusive trendiness of fancy photos and lofty ideals, what actually is ritual?!

I see ritual as a systematic approach that purifies and prepares us for something else. It is a series of steps we do to calm down and quiet ourselves so that we can be more present. Ritual is a predictable routine that supports us.

Rituals are ongoing regular routines. They can be daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. Ritual can be broken down into three categories: individual, familial, and collective.

 
coffee and book
 

Individual Ritual:

Relate to us personally. The things we do for ourselves. A few examples of individual rituals are brushing our teeth each night before bed, making our bed, reading, sipping our morning coffee or tea, a meditation practice, or going to yoga once a week.

Familial Ritual:

Involve our family, both blood and chosen. Some familial rituals could be a weekly movie night, ordering pizza on a Friday, Christmas dinner, or birthday celebrations.

Collective Ritual:

Expand outwards to our greater communities. These could involve volunteering, an annual weekend away with a group of friends, the call to order of a meeting with an organization you belong to.

 
rose and lavender bouquet
 

Focusing on personal ritual has been deeply enriching for me, as I tend to struggle with structure and always want to rebel ;) What I have learned from ritual is that it creates predictability which then allows me to feel safe, secure, and settled. Ritual is a system that supports me to focus on the things that matter. We can find freedom within the structures and rhythms that support us.

Some of my favorite individual rituals include buying fresh cut flowers every other week, journaling, making and drinking my morning coffee, taking a hot bath, and lighting candles during the winter months.

Our familial rituals include Friday night movie nights, supper out with the kids at our fave burger joint once a month, picking my grandma up for lunch, and having coffee with both my parents and in-laws.

Collective ritual includes attending a quarterly charity event with friends called 100 Women Who Care. We always have supper together and it’s something I really look forward to. My Lunar Love letters are a community based ritual that I tend to each new and full moon.

Embracing ritual is a practice. It’s not intended to be super rigid or confining. Healthy ritual is flexible and supportive. When I start my day with ritual, I end up being more productive, present, and calm.

It’s often the simplest of tasks such as lighting a candle or taking a few moments to close our eyes that can help us feel supported. My guided visualizations and candles are complimentary to any practice; whether you are just establishing ritual or you want to enhance what you are already doing.

I would love to know what rituals you have developed. Let me know what your personal, familial or collective rituals are below!

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What is ritual? Recognizing the ways we already use simple rituals in our day-to-day lives.