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isthmus nekoi 
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Join Date: 14 Aug 2001
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dependancy on ritual

My attitude towards rituals have always been like this: they're supposed to be conduits, and they're supposed to help you get where you want to go. Rituals and symbols can be very powerful, but if they stop giving you that numinous connection, or if they start overshadowing the very thing you are trying to connect to... they've lost their usefulness!

Which is why I *never* wanted to 'ritualize' things. I wanted to get to the heart of the issue, not conflate it with symbolic actions.

That was before I started using tarot. I read a lot of books that said to keep things similar, so I thought, why not? and formed a reading ritual of sorts; sitting in the same place, dimming the lights to concentrate, that sort of thing. Truth be told, I think the repetition really helped and for awhile, I could really *read* my Vertigo deck.

Flash forward to this week. I took the deck to my appt and tried to read in an entirely different setting, breaking the ritual if you will. Now, I didn't think it would make a real difference; afterall, it's the same deck, it's the same brain doing the reading... but when I looked at the spread it was like I couldn't see the connections anymore. Usually those will really hit me hard and I don't really have to think those intuitive interpretations; it's been like this consistently for over a year. But w/this week's reading I was really struggling and I thought... maybe there is more to this ritual thing than I've given it credit for. But you know, the last thing I want to be is *dependent* on a ritual, I think that's like worshipping an idol. It's not the idol that's divine... the idol just *represents* divinities.... which one holds the power?

The strangest thing is, I never formed a ritual w/my Rider Waite deck, never felt the need to. It will do anything, anywhere, anyhow; it has never let me down. Curious, no?
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Old 16-12-2002     Top   #1
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Interesting questions.

There is another thread on superstitions on the boards here and it was mentioned that they have the placebo effect on us, which I do agree with to a certain extent.
I also have the Vertigo deck, but don't plan on reading with it anytime during my lifetime because I brought it for Dave McKeans' art. It is a tough deck.
The only advice I can give you is instead of going cold turkey, perhaps try leaving out one ritual aspect at a time, be honest with yourself, and find out by a process of elimination, which aspect to keep - if any - and which were placebos.

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Old 16-12-2002     Top   #2
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It is a tough question. While ritual is important to some people, others seem to find no place for it in their lives.
Really, Tarot is an intuitive experience in which each of us has to find the path that is right for us. I see no harm if ritual is a part of your Tarot experience, or if not. I think we can sometimes over-analyze the process. Find the technique that works for you and go with it.

Just MHO
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Old 16-12-2002     Top   #3
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Originally posted by allibee
There is another thread on superstitions on the boards here and it was mentioned that they have the placebo effect on us, which I do agree with to a certain extent.
Gorry, that were me blowing off at the mouth I think

Here's the link, if it's helpful. What you're describing isthmus nekoi is a lot like what I was trying to get at in the post above though. It *does* help to have a certain way to touch base, and it's not detrimental to have one, in my opinion.

But then, I totally admitted my dependence on them when I perform, so THERE of course I would say that huh?

"Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant." -Henry Miller
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Old 16-12-2002     Top   #4
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Hi all,
I think there is definitely a benefit to ritual. Just like an athlete does warm-up exercises to get ready to compete, ritual can also be used as a warm-up. It helps your mind to begin to produce the proper brainwaves for a reading. There is also the connection to the group that adds power. Ritual can connect you to all the others who have performed similar rituals in the past, present or future. It is a way to tap into this energy. Is it necessary? Probably not. But, I really think it can help a great deal. It also adds to the believability of the reading. Letís face it, if a customer has the choice of going to someone who does a ritual and someone who doesnít, all else being equal, they will probably go to the one who does the ritual. The mystique is part of the show. However, a fancy ritual will not cover up incompetence.

Raeanne - "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is becuase he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away" Thoreau
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Old 17-12-2002     Top   #5
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Okay then Isthmus, from all the pro replies so far that advocate ritual, then may I suggest you work on introducing a portable/mobile ritual that you can take wherever you go?

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Old 17-12-2002     Top   #6
isthmus nekoi 
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Thanks for the replies everyone, I noticed the superstition thread *after* I made this thread Also, thanks for the advice, alibee. Changing the ritual didn't *kill* my ability to read so I don't think it's necessary. I just found it more difficult.... it's like those mornings you know you had a dream, and you can't remember it at first... you have to concentrate more to recall it Portable ritual, I like that!

I think there is a crucial difference b/w ritual and superstition though b/c I see them being conflated in the other thread. Rituals direct you to meanings beyond itself, unlike superstition which directs you only to itself. Rituals can lose their meaning and become superstition, and this is where you'll find the whole "don't this don't that" when it comes to tarot. Rigid rules. Dogmatism. If you find yourself fearing to break a "ritual" when your heart hasn't changed, if you're doing them for the sake of doing them, if it gives you no connection to a higher power, if you're doing them out of fear, then your precious ritual has probably become superstition.... I'm sure it's not totally black or white like I've made it out to be, but that's the general idea.

I think the desire to keep rituals unchanging is b/c it has worked, b/c it contains the ability to maintain the numinous connection. Why do certain archetypes, certain stories captivate us over and over regardless of time and culture, when some stories fade away, or become ridiculous, forgettable? Why do some radical 'reinterpretations' of tales resonate deeply w/a contemporary audience (ie. Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Disney films), and why are others who might stick closer to the original form simply forgotten? Why is tarot structured the way it is and why has Rider Waite's form dominated the contemporary tarot world? Why do some deviations from RW succeed, and why do some fail (ie. majority find the deck 'unreadable')?.... Gee, that's a lot of 'whys'....
Basically, I think there is more to ritual than a placebo effect, powerful as that may be. There's something about a ritual's repetition that drops your consciousness a few notches, something about the structure of it that *works* on a level you cannot understand.
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Old 17-12-2002     Top   #7
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Hullo Isthmus!

With no derogatory thoughts in my head, may I suggest there's possibly some confusion in your original post and some that follow between "ritual" and "habit" and how they can aid concentration.

Certain habits probably improved your focus as a reader- reading in the same place, dimming the lights, I don't get a sense that you found them to be either sacred or containing meaning within their own context, hence they probably weren't rituals. As habits, they improved your ability to read however, because it created an environment with the least amount of distractions, facilitating you better focus and rapport.

Going somewhere else, possibly reading in brighter light, or day light, etc., caused you to suddenly be dealing with new and unanticipated sensory imput. My guess is that if you continually practice reading in environments with a great deal of sensory imput, you will regain the same competency you had in a "controlled environment" as your consciousness learns to filter out all that background stimuli through practice.

Rituals always have some kind of contextual meaning that goes beyond the action. Basically, they comfort us emotionally, get our creativity waxing and help us feel connected to something sacred. Habits just get the job done. Both can help or harm or help on one level and limit us on another, which is definately an important point you yourself brought up.


"Adventure isn't hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life -- facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential."
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Old 17-12-2002     Top   #8
isthmus nekoi 
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Laurel, yes, that's the deciding factor: whether an action has a connection w/the powers that be, or not. ie. if I'm dimming the lights b/c I want to show my respect for what I am dealing with, that might not look very "spiritual" but it has a spiritual feeling motivating it. Likewise, if I say a prayer with a bunch of fancy words and mean none of it, it will look quite ritualistic when it is, in fact, a habit or superstition!
Actually, I didn't know how much importance to ascribe ritual actions at first, but believe me, everything I did was motivated towards the context of the ritual, of showing respect, of recognizing and paying my dues to the nature of what I'm doing. I didn't do those things so I could read better, but that was the result!

Having said that, I think your advice applies anyway I was probably too comfortable in the old setting. Like I said before, the situation w/ritual, habit, superstition is never clearly B&W. There's a fine line b/w these actions sometimes. I think however, when I read for myself, it's a very private thing. I suppose the point is trying to keep the respect in the environment (to the highest degree if possible). If this means keeping things private, and keeping out distractions, I'll do that. If privacy is no longer an issue, then out it goes.... Privacy's never been an issue w/RW and I. I have no qualms about reading in distracting environments as I've done it before. As long as the environment isn't disrespectful, the reading works. I've read in some pretty loud places w/good results, and then some private, quiet spaces when my RW showed me it was not amused b/c that base level of respect was being breached for one reason or another.

I guess w/the decks, it's like when you create some songs or drawings or stories... some of them are real extroverted; they love the limelight, and you'd be doing them a disservice by not sharing them. And then some are really private, they consider their messages very private and secret. They'd feel very betrayed if you made them go 'public'. So showing respect can take different forms depending on the context.

Wow, everyone's comments have made me think a lot, thanks again.
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Old 17-12-2002     Top   #9
Shadow Wolf 
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I really don't have any rituals. I do, however, sit quietly
and try to clear my mind and focus on the cards. Sometimes I just grab a deck and do a quickie 3 card reading. No ritual at all and I've been getting very accurate readings doing things this way.

I don't like to get too ritualized about these things. A little sponteity always works well for me !!!!
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Old 18-12-2002     Top   #10
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