Near and Far

Posted: February 14, 2015 in Spiritual Journey

So, new things. I guess the thing that really prompted me to start recording my current explorations in a blog is that it’s finally stepped out of the theoretical. this last week has seen me mvoe from a world of books and ideas and into actively trying things.

I’ve now taken part in two rituals. Both very different, but both fascinating and enriching experiences. If I were to draw some kind of single spectrum on which to plot different kind of spiritual/magical experiences, I think these would be heading towards opposite ends. But that’s not what I’m going to focus on in this post. Instead I want to talk about what was the same between the two.

Both were in some sense quite physical. both had elements of either direct physical action, or some focus on the ‘here and now’. This was through a few different things including singing, chanting, siimple physical actions as part of the rituals that felt more real by the simple act of doing them. I’d say it’s a little like knocking on wood to avert bad things from happening or tossing salt over your shoulder (Apotrapaic magic, is that the term for those things) in that by putting something into a physical action, however small, you’re acknowledging it in a way you don;t when it’s just in your head.

But these actions were made much more powerful by the simple act of doing them amongst others. My biggest fear when going into these was that it would be anti-climactic, full of awkward shuffling and giggles that pulls everyone out of the headspace, but that really wasn’t the case. Despite there apparently being a fair number of first timers present, everyone seemed engaged enough for the atmosphere to really grow. This is something that’s hard to describe and is, I think, fundamentally tied to the experience of coming together with other people in an act.

It’s also, I realise, something I already do. In the martial art I train in there are a few lines, a sort of creed, that we recite before sitting down for a few minutes of meditation. The content of these basically boils down to,  “Don’t be a dick.” But there is something special that comes from reciting it along with other people. The words feel weightier. And what’s more than that, you’re reciting this pledge in full witness of your training companions. Again it’s this idea of putting something outside of your head, making it real, acknowledging it.

It’s heady stuff, and something I’m definitely seeing the value in already.


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