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The importance of ritual

Rituals and traditions are embedded in all cultures across all religions and take many forms. They can be elaborate and lengthy or short and simple.

The difference between a ritual and tradition is that a ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value, and a tradition is a part of culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation.

It is ritual, with all its rich symbolic value that is used in therapy, it can be used to signify endings or new beginnings, to celebrate or to commemorate, it can help work through grief or pain and it can bring groups together with shared meaningful experience.

There are no rules around ritual, a client will decide what they want, I can make suggestions, but in the end it has to be something that feels right for them. Each ritual will be very personal and needs no explanation.

I have performed two rituals this weekend, a tree planting and fire ritual. I am willing to share that it is coming up to the second anniversary of my mothers passing, and a couple of things happened which made me realise that I needed to somehow commemorate this. The Weeping Willow tree gives us hope, a sense of belonging, and safety. Furthermore, the ability to let go of the pain and suffering to grow new, strong and bold. It is also symbolic of emotion and tears shed. We had a Willow tree in our garden when I was a child, the tree was planted for mum.

Fire to me is a purifier and a generator of energy, and is a symbol of the soul. I am mesmerised by gazing into fire. Growing up in the UK we always had a fire in the hearth, so childhood memories again rekindled, memories of warmth and comfort.

These were my rituals, yours will be different. The intention and symbolism are what are important. What do you need to bring peace into your life?

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