Free-Form Ritual – Knowing It

I’m a huge fan of the movie “The Matrix“.  Stop me if you’ve heard me say this before.


Damnit.  Ok, just humor me for a few minutes.

As I mentioned, I am a huge fan of the movie “The Matrix“. There is one scene in particular that resonates very deeply with me. That’s the sparring program, where Morpheus spars with Neo.

Morpheus makes the statement to Neo – “Don’t think you are, know you are.” Its this statement that I am building this post around.

I have mentioned a few times that ritual is not one of the major aspects of either being a Pagan or being on a path of Druidry. However, its not really ritual that is the problem for me. Its the structured aspect of ritual. The rote statements for calling the directions. The memorized lines. For me, too much structure kills the moment. Its probably better explained from a previous post:

Well, perhaps the best way to describe it is with the phrase: “its just Jazz, man.”  The musical form of Jazz is so vibrant and alive, in my opinion. The musician doesn’t just play the music, they play the music that’s inside of them. No true set form, Jazz is improvisational – coming from within, to be played as a tribute to the world around the musician in that moment. There are many people that find this style of playing harmonious, beautiful, and very in the moment. I am one of those people. But there are others who find it discordant, out of sync, and sometimes just purely random. I can understand that. Not everyone has the same connection to the world around them. Some folks prefer a bit more structure to what they do.

Just as I may find structure kills the inspiration, the vibrancy of the moment – others like the structure. They find harmony with the rote movements and statements. Its provides them with comfort, and gives them depth of understanding. It works for them, but not me.

There are only two rituals that have any level of consistency in form with me. One is my morning ritual of greeting the sunrise. The other is spending a few moments to say goodnight to the sun as it slips over the horizon. Begging for a promise that it will return again in the East. But even that is full of changes from time to time.

Sometimes, I will stand silently and watch the sun rise or set. Other times, I may silently intone the Awen chant. And other times I may say it out loud…as a whisper, or a conversational voice, or even shouting it. Whatever the moment holds for me. Don’t think I am, know I am.


My backyard circle at the old house in Corinth

My belief system is full of experience. Not XP, like you get in a Dungeons and Dragons table-top game. Experiential. Feeling the moment. Experiencing all aspects of it. One particular morning that I can easily recall is a quite Summer morning sometime around two-plus years back. The morning weather forecast called for rain showers to start shortly after sunrise. When I stepped outside, I could feel the muggy atmosphere all around me. I could smell the aroma of the rain in the air, mingling with the smell of the flowers on the vines of the bush that was growing outwards to cover my backyard window. I could hear the quiet little chatter of the birds, as they gathered nearby, anxiously awaiting the birdseed I had in the two plastic drinking cups I was carrying with my left hand and arm. In my right hand was my cup of coffee, steaming silently, even in the humid, hot air of the morning. I approached the bird-bath, set the bird seed cups down, and stared off into the darkened horizon of the East. The sun would come up behind the clouds, so I would not catch a glimpse of the rays as the Sun rose over the rooftops that made up my suburban horizon. But I knew I would experience the moment of its arrival, as the sky would dim slightly before being a dimly light sky. I drink my coffee in short little sips, tasting the mix of Splenda sweetener with the sugar-free Hazelnut creamer. The slight bitter taste of Community Coffee with the nuances of these tastes is the perfect punctuation to my waiting time. And as the sun started to lighten the cloudy skies, I lifted my coffee cup to the East, and silently bid the Sun a good morning. And as I set my coffee cup down in the two inches of water that comprised the bird-bath’s depth, I heard the song “Days Between” from the Grateful Dead playing in my mind. As I poured handfuls of birdseed into my hand, and scattered it across the ground – I remembered the visuals that are prompted from the lyrics.

When all we ever wanted
Was to learn and love and grow
Once we grew into our shoes
We told them where to go
Walked halfway around the world
On promise of the glow
Stood upon a mountain top
Walked barefoot in the snow
Gave the best we had to give
How much we’ll never know
We’ll never know

For me, moments such as that do not come a second time. And while someone may claim that not to be a ritual. I am reminded that many people do not consider Jazz to be music, but rather dissonant noise. Free-form ritual may not look like ritual to others, but for me – its that jazz-style poetry that rises up in the branches of the trees.

I don’t think it, I know it.

Thanks for humoring me…..

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