April 22, 2020
Julian Huxley once
the basic elements in
cultural transmission and transformation are psychological.
is how we change...
Since time immemorial,
high rituals have been performed to transform reality.
Ritual is a spiritual psycho-drama of consciousness, a
deliberate action taken to facilitate change.
It changes to the whole
of the environment people exist in, starting with the mental
landscape of the people themselves:
"the place where our
reality exists is first born in a dream."
Sharon Devlin once bluntly
described the true purpose of ritual as being a:
"…method to alter
It's a sacred drama
in which you are the audience as well as the participant. And
the purpose of it is to activate parts of the mind that are not
activated by everyday activity."
Ritual facilitates the
mechanics of change through specific mechanisms:
Rituals are vehicles
driving home those ideas:
the information, the
data, the symbols which upon transmission create the language by
which new society members communicate after they are initiated.
This new language imparts
a new understanding through definitions that the ritual generates.
A ritual initiation introduces and inducts one into "the way":
...enabling the initiate
to become a full and true member of the new society.
Note that ritual isn't
always a conscious action.
partaking in a ritual is made explicitly aware that they are
And yet, still, new
patterns of thoughts, of significance, are drummed in.
Conscious or not of the
ritual in which the initiate is partaking.
The three stages of
an initiation ritual
An initiation ritual typically involves three stages. Let's see if
any of this sounds familiar to you.
The first stage is
isolation for purification.
In this stage, the
initiate is separated from the mundane.
Did you know that
mundane literally means "of the world?"
The initiate is
largely removed from the otherwise familiar persons, places and
things that they're used to in order to be "cleared" of them.
An initiate is forced to become detached and insulated, purged
An essential element of this separation from one's typical
environment is the suspension of the normal rules of living that
one is used to:
the normal way...
Most of the
initiate's senses will become commanded and regulated at this
In other words,
the majority of what the initiate sees, hears, smells,
touches and tastes, is deliberately controlled.
In the ritual, these
senses may be bombarded, modified, limited or deprived.
perceptions and experiences are ultimately overseen by the high
priest and priestesses directing the ritual's performance.
The ritual enables new light to shine through a newly opened
window of thoughts.
With nowhere else to go except the places that we're "allowed,"
the insulated, isolated, initiated may be forced to confront his
or her own reflection and inner shadows that have been
ignored or buried somewhere deep beneath the average day-to-day.
These things suddenly become unavoidable.
Triggers are detonated:
Just as they involve
surrender, initiation rituals also involve sacrifice:
both the tangible
that can be held in the hand, and the intangible, such as
behaviors, must be given up by requirement.
After all, for
something to be "given," something must also be taken:
a token of
submission, an ounce of blood, a pound of clay to be
overt or deceitfully subtle, the ritual reinterprets reality:
new definition of reality is
Training in the form
of new behaviors and knowledge, including myths and
codes are introduced.
Things necessary for new members to function properly in the
society they're being inducted into are all imbued during this
Repetition is typical, as its use helps hammer home the
spell on the initiates.
The wearing of
masks for the initiates
wearing of masks during an
initiation ritual is almost always required.
Masking has traditionally
played an important role in the rituals of these kinds.
Masks hasten the
facilitate the death of the old identity
identification with, and the manifestation of,
a new identity.
Disguised under a mask and hidden away, the initiate is more easily
able to transcend the self; pushed forward toward that invisible
line between the physical and spiritual realms.
Trauma is yet another key aspect of this kind of initiation
It's used mostly to
personalize the fear of death.
Sometimes in the
ritual, the act of dying is ceremonially role played; the dark
beyond the darkness; the yawning abyss.
Only after death is confronted can the initiated by symbolically
resurrected and reborn anew.
While the process that is playing out is quite coordinated and
sophisticated in reality, it may be executed in a purposefully
confusing manner, so that the goalposts seem to keep moving back
and forth, up and down, here now there immediately after.
This renders the initiate unable to find solid mental ground
from which to make logical sense of anything.
This disorientation is key in the transformation ritual.
The uncertain timing
generates a general anxiety, further removing the initiate from
reality while leaving him or her more susceptible to a type of
This weakens the
defenses just as a virus would.
Only this has the
potential to break down the individual much more completely than
Whatever the finer
details, the previous way of life is shed like an old skin at the
end of the ritual; an end that comes before the new beginning.
The change begins...
This is the second phase:
As the old self
symbolically dies and passes away, the initiate descends into a
state of 'liminality':
a sort of fever-dream
purgatory-nowhere land; the void in the middle...
Thus, the old self dies
as the initiate is purified.
The initiate is now a
white room; a blank canvass washed, primed and desperate for
At the same time his old
existence and way of life dies, the initiate transcending it
is gradually being processed, reprogrammed
and incorporated into his 'new environment':
reconstituted and rebirthed into the new world that
at the end of the tunnel.
At some point in the future, we will see the final phase
of the transformation ritual:
Does any of what's been
described in this article sound familiar to you?
The only question that remains is: