Building rituals and ceremonies are among the more interesting contributions of feng shui and geomancy to our building practices. They can be used to prepare the land for use, to clear out unwanted energies in existing buildings, to bless or consecrate land or buildings for a particular purpose, and even to help with serious problems such as illness or misfortune. We offer a wide variety of rituals that can be tailored to the specific circumstances encountered by the client.
Preparations for rituals can be extensive. Timing is often a significant factor which can contribute to the desired outcome. In general, rituals are keyed to the cycles of nature, the rotations of the sun and moon, the seasons, or other celestial events. Feng shui, in particular, has an array of tools which are used to determine ideal times for ground-breaking ceremonies, initiation of construction, grand openings, and so on. Use of these parameters provides a safe way to forestall any potentially negative consequences and to promote long-term success for the individuals or institutions involved.
Rituals and ceremonies can also be used to correct more serious problems such as geopathic stresses (negative energies in the land), unwanted legacies in existing buildings (negative predecessor energy), financial misfortune, poor health, bad neighborhood energy, and even ghosts and hauntings. Space clearings, for example, are important rituals that should be carried out during and after construction, before occupancy in new spaces, and periodically as part of regular maintenance. In all cases rituals can be joyful events and are often accompanied by great beauty and lavish offerings. Because of this, many clients choose to open them up to their clients, friends, and the press, as they can make excellent public relations events.
WHAT ARE RITUALS?
Rituals are the language of the sacred. Although it is possible to access the world of Spirit through Nature and through personal spiritual practice, rituals afford the best opportunity to work with and on behalf of community and self. The history of rituals is as old as mankind, and there is ample archeological evidence of sophisticated ritual processes already in place in very early human history. Certainly by the time of neolithic peoples (circa 5,000 years ago) elaborate ritual complexes had already been built in all continents, and extensive practices had been devised to assist in the maintenance of communal well-being.
The value of rituals for us today lies in their inherent ability to facilitate action. When carried forth as part of a collective plan with defined goals, for example, rituals can greatly enhance our chances for success, health, and happiness. When performed on behalf of the collective good, they are strong vehicles for integration and healing.
All contemporary rituals can find their origins in traditional shamanic practice. Stemming from a desire to connect with the unseen powers of the Cosmos, the shamanic initiate is encouraged to develop relationships with the purveyors of such power. These forces are traditionally identified with Nature and its phenomena, although unseen forces behind these obvious telluric, biological, and geological events are also included. The genius locii (the spirit of a place), for example, is often described not only as the place itself, but also as the unseen forces behind it that animate it and which make its vitality possible. It is the shaman’s task to communicate with these forces and establish relationships which can then be used to enhance harmony and balance in the life of the community. Earth spirit rituals are ubiquitous around the planet to this day and stem from this idea. Of course, not all places are created equal and certain locations are considered to be inherently better for such purposes than others. Once identified, these locations then become the sites for pilgrimages and visionary quests. Shamans and their apprentices continue to this day to journey to such sites in search of power and favors.
In later times, the direct vision of these spiritual forces became codified into set patterns of behavior which referred to those original visionary milestones. At this point priests and heirophants stepped forth to reenact the performances, dances and songs which the cosmic forces bestowed upon the initial shamanic seer. It is these rituals which are then handed down through the generations and which are preserved today by the organized churches, spiritual fraternities and mystery groups.
NATURE OF RITUALS
It is clear from the above that rituals are primarily collective endeavors. Typically they are concerned with the physical and spiritual well being of the group and can manifest as rituals to promote fertility, prosperity, or health. Even when performed for individual clients or petitioners, rituals must invoke the collective good in order to be of use. It is axiomatic among spiritual practitioners that rituals performed for selfish purposes tend to backlash, hurting not only the client but also the practitioner.
Despite the common conception of rituals as proscribed, strict affairs, true rituals are often loose events which are guided primarily by the intuition of the professional ritualist. Herein lies one of the great mysteries of ritual, in that the initial structure set forth to invoke the ritual must perforce be abandoned in the process of receiving the blessings requested. As Malidoma Some has aptly stated, at the beginning we control the ritual; later, the ritual controls us. (Ritual: Power, Healing and Community, 1993), In fact, rituals work because at a certain point in their performance, the forces of the spirit world take over and become participants in the healing or propitiatory process. Hence rituals can be understood as a way to communicate with the unseen forces of Spirit, in order to request from the sacred levels of reality the gifts and favors our communities need.
TYPES OF RITUALS
Rituals are useful in all areas of human activity, and specific rituals can be designed for specific purposes. However, as part of my professional practice I offer the following rituals:
1. Ground Breaking Ceremonies
These are useful when new construction is being contemplated, as they honor the Earth for the privilege of settling or occupying that space. These ceremonies are also useful because they tend to improve the outcome of construction, helping to insure timely schedules, safety to workmen, and successful lives for those living or using the site.
2. Earth Healing Ceremonies
Earth Healing Ceremonies are procedures that attempt to correct Geopathic stress and other disturbed Earth energies. Geopathic Stress is a form of noxious energy in the Earth which has been implicated in myriad inconveniences, from recurring accidents and minor mishaps to serious problems such as cancer, immune disorders, crib death, infertility, and many more. Diagnosis involves dowsing and the procedure itself can take hours or even days. Please see the page on Geomancy and the Articles section for more details.
3. Space Clearing Rituals
Space Clearing Rituals are used to clear out old or stagnant energies in built environments. Stagnant energy is often implicated in failure to thrive, lack of success, ill health, or bad luck, and may involve predecessor influences (bad luck inherited from the previous tenant or owner). These techniques can also be used against unwanted spiritual forces such as ghosts or elementals. Please see the Articles section for more information.
4. Commercial Dedication Ceremonies
Commercial Dedications are procedures that are designed to maximize opportunity in the business environment. They can be used to promote prosperity, efficiency, and good management. They are also useful in situations where financial or commercial fortunes are compromised.
Blessings bring specific powers and consequently, specific influences into our spaces. Through the process of Blessing it is possible to promote desired results, program a space for a given purpose, or increase the odds for success in particular activities. Often quite aesthetically beautiful, Blessings are often performed in public and can involve friends, the press, or other such gatherings.
6. Healing Rituals
These are meant to propitiate the successful outcome of a healing process. These can be performed directly over the patient or remotely if the patient cannot be reached or moved. The healing space itself can also be cleared and blessed.
7. Fertility Rituals
These are meant to help those couples who have had difficulty conceiving.
8. Prosperity Rituals
These are propitiatory procedures that can help to increase income, help with career, and help resolve legal or emotional entanglements with money.
9. Marriage Rituals
As their name proclaims, these rituals are used to enhance existing relationships, promote new ones, and help the community by strengthening the love bonds that tie its members. Such rituals are seen not in isolation, but as part of larger social mechanisms which include the ancestors and the future generations.
10. Soul Retrievals
This ritual is useful when long-standing blocks make it difficult to make changes in our lives, and when it seems that no matter how hard we try, results do not come our way. It is said that our soul can become fragmented by trauma, as portions of our soul or psyche choose to become detached from us rather than suffer. A Soul Retrieval attempts to gather those parts that have been “lost” and re-integrate them into our identity.
Although rituals vary greatly in form and content, there are basic patterns which most rituals need to follow. The following are general steps which most rituals will conform to.
All rituals begin with purification. This includes not only the participants but also the space within which the ritual is to be performed. Purification can take many forms, from simple cleansing of the physical body in baths or ablutions, cleansing of the space with incense or sound, to complex meditation practices designed to cleanse the more subtle levels of consciousness. Once purified, the ritual space is often kept so by separating it from the community through ritual gates, paths, walls or other screening devices. Often this space is formally consecrated to its ritual purposes and strict bans are placed on transgression of this sacred ground.
Once purification has taken place, the next step involves the invocation of the powers being petitioned. These vary greatly with culture, but in general the main forces beseeched include:
It is axiomatic among ritual specialists that a ritual cannot properly begin unless the forces invoked have made themselves present within the sacred ground. Often other, unseeked forces will join in as well. It is clear, therefore, that the timing of a ritual does not depend on the mortals performing the event, but rather on the wishes and timing of the spirit world.
Once the unseen forces have made themselves present at the sacred ground, it is possible to make use of their power. Often it is enough to allow their power to enter our bodies, filling us with strength and blessings. Other times, the specialist will use this channel to petition on behalf of the client, using his or her familiarity with these forces as a bargaining tool. It is also axiomatic that once received, the requested gifts will be granted immediately, although often with a normal delay between the timing of sacred reality and the time of ordinary life.
Once the ritual is done, it is essential to close the ritual process as well as the ritual space. Failure to do so is dangerous, as it leaves open a channel for opportunistic forces to invade the safety of our ordinary world. By the same token, it is considered detrimental to create or consecrate a ritual space such as an altar if it is not to be used. It is better to dismantle or de-consecrate the space if it is to remain fallow.
Cultures differ in the creation, design and complexity of the ritual space. Advanced civilizations with abundant resources often devote lavish attention to the sacred space. It needs to be remembered, however, that what creates the sacredness is not the physical configuration of the site, but the fact that it is imbued with power. Hence it is possible to create movable ritual spaces, and here is where altars become significant.
However, ritual spaces are often stationary and have been in use for many generations. Because the Earth and the Sky are primary agents of power, many ritual spaces are carefully sited to take advantage of auspicious currents in the earth and in the skies. Here again, the genius locii plays an important role. The oracle at Delphos, the megalithic sites of Britain and France, and the temples of India and China, for example, are testaments to evolved ritual societies with profound understanding of the forces required for ritual. Increasingly these sacred precincts have come under attack by secular forces that are ignorant of the potential of these sites to foster planetary well-being. It behooves us to work toward their protection.
Altars are specialized devices which act as two-way conduits between the realms of the sacred and the profane. On the one hand they act as broadcasters of our desires and intentions, and in return, they bring to us the influence and power of the sacred. In order to work effectively, they need to embody within their structure the Cosmos itself. This is achieved by including within them the four basic building blocks of the universe: earth, water, fire, and air. These four elements are also related to the four directions and the four aspects of human nature (body, feeling, mind, and spirit). As such they act as holograms of the larger reality of which we are part. In time, through ritual use, altars become imbued with the powers invoked into them, and begin to take a life of their own. This is the reason why in many cultures specific altars are themselves considered to be places of power.
Creating an altar at home must therefore follow the above guidelines. Because an altar is not an aesthetic object, it is not important to make it lavish or expensive. What is important is to make sure it includes the four elements and that it be handled with respect and care. Often it is advised to place the altar in a place of honor, such as the south of the property, or facing the main door. In other cultures an altar is placed higher than the rest of the household objects, or hidden from view.
As with all ritual spaces, an altar needs to be used to be effective, and it is better to store its components than to leave it unattended for prolonged periods of time. Proper use of an altar always involves, in addition to the steps outlined above, a period of thanksgiving. Hence it is useful to bring into the altar objects which are representative of our gratitude for the gifts bestowed upon us by life. Again, these symbols differ from culture to culture, but they can include such items as food, cash, or objects specially made to thank and honor the spirit world.
Please consult our Resources section “How to Perform Rituals and Ceremonies” for more information.