Art as Ritual

There are many major events in our culture that have their own ritual from weddings to graduations yet there are some that have no ritual at all, a girl’s transition to womanhood with her first period or a boy’s transition to manhood (when exactly is that?).  There is a growing movement to make moments more special by personalizing rituals that aren’t very meaningful anymore (the commercialization of holidays comes to mind) or creating new rituals where there isn’t one.  I had to do that when Buddy, my dog of 13 years, died.  I mentioned in my last post how it affected Pixie, my darling Shih Tzu.  I don’t have to go into detail about how deeply it affected me, too.

To honor Buddy’s memory, give him a proper good-bye, & give myself closure, I created my own ritual that included a burial with his favorite stuffed animal, a eulogy where I mentioned many of the wonderful memories we shared, journal writing, & the creation of a portrait that was based on a silly photo of him & Pixie in a washtub.  How he hated that experience!  I could practically hear him protesting the humiliation of being photographed in a plastic tub.  Totally embarrassing for a dog of his stature 🙂  The portrait wasn’t meant to be realistic; it was meant to capture his playful yet curmudgeonly spirit as well as Pixie’s sweetness.  This artwork helped me heal & still makes me laugh each time I see it.  Art is one of the great healers & a valuable component to meaningful ritual for me.  How do you make rituals meaningful for yourself?


Their expressions say it all!


5 thoughts on “Art as Ritual

  1. That sounds lovely! When I published my post today about my alternative decorations, within about 10 minutes, someone clicked “Like”, so it must be that many others out there feel the same way. My Christmas is a little different from yours. Ours is all about tropical summer and the wet season with lush green plants, and beautiful flowers in full bloom. Camping, bbqs and swimming in the ocean and an abundance of beautiful seafood. It is a wonderful season to be celebrating. So we celebrate the gifts of Mother Nature and Her abundance. The schools all close down and so do manybusinesses, so it is a time of rest and family time and fun.

  2. You and I think very similarly. I am about to post about how we have changed Christmas to reflect our own personal belief structure. I am not at all comfortable with the Christian-inspired Christmas. No offense to others who believe in Christianity. But we all automatically jump on that easy bandwagon and put an angel on our tree and sing Jesus inspired Christmas carols. Without giving much thought to where Christmas really came from and how we can celebrate in a way that rings true with our own belief structure.

    • We’ve taken traditional holidays & put an earth-based spin on them. Instead of the Pilgrim invasion, we honor the harvest for Thanksgiving. Instead of a Christian winter holiday, we celebrate the solstice & the return of the light by putting up a tree with lights & ornaments made from metal, wood, felt, … We also light a candle with every meal during the winter. It started from cynicism brought on by commercialism & the rewriting of history but soon took a positive spin when we made the days meaningful for us. While we felt alone in this at first, I’m amazed at how many others feel the same.

  3. I agree. The world today has lost its “magic” somewhat. I think special rituals to mark significant milestones are a really important tool to keep family values strong. My husband and I don’t have children yet, but introducing family traditions and rituals is something we discuss often. We believe very strongly in things like eating together as a family at the dinner table, with television and any other distractions switched off, which can be considered a “mini-ritual”. We also like the Christmas idea of each person in the household handmaking a gift for every other person. Not just a picture or macaroni necklace, but a serious craft project to be made with love. A hand painted jewelry box or windchime for example.

    • You make a really great point. Ritual is a way to recapture the magic & make significant moments special. We make a point of eating at the table with candlelight & no television, too. We’ve even reinvented major holidays like Thanksgiving & Christmas to represent who we are now. It’s all about togetherness & love.

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