Le sagre, the local festivals over summer in Italy are wonderfully special.  It is when communities perform their often centuries-old ceremonies. To remember the past and to honour the bountifulness of summer, whether it be medieval jousting or devouring local gastronomic specialities. With friends in their divine Tuscan home this week, we witnessed their town’s preparation for the upcoming festival. And talked of spiritual informal ceremonies they had undertaken with friends for other reasons.  It resonated with me as I had recently engaged in some of my own ceremonies. Encouraged by my coach as a way to help me move forward on some issues.

Nature based ceremonies

All cultures use nature based ceremonies to mark life’s significant milestones. Such as rites of passages in birth, death, puberty, retirement, and union. And to mark seasonal or recurrent events, or social customs.

In her beautiful book Wild Courage, Elle Harrison offers the use of ceremony as a way to surrender into the richness of life.  To undertake a ceremony helps unite our own personal power, story and needs with the greater power, story and gifts of the universe.

In ceremony, we can symbolically enact where we are now and open ourselves up to receive guidance on where we might go next.   We use ritual and process to give structure and allow spontaneity to emerge.

Ceremonial parts

Typically the ceremonial parts may be:

  • An intention, a purpose, a question we want to explore
  • Preparations which are undertaken with that intention in mind
  • The opening of the ceremony, the opening of the ‘space’
  • And ‘letting the ceremony do you’, in allowing it to unfold, trusting your instincts and finding a way to embody the experience which feels meaningful
  • When the time feels right, closing the space
  • And remaining open to what the experience stirs in you going forward.

Workplace ceremonies

In the workplace, we can be cynical about ceremonies. Either the lack of them or their apparent superficiality.    It is an oversimplification, but one of the reasons so many mergers and acquisitions fail to achieve their desired outcomes I believe, can be attributed to the lack of ceremony to help people work through the changes.  Rather, such events are underplayed. Particularly in companies with aggressive acquisition strategies. There, the emotional and psychological transitions which people experience as a result of the change, are ignored. However, those companies that take time to invest in helping their people make sense of the changes and encourage them to enact the transition, can help them move forward into acceptance more readily.  Vase smashing seems to be effective 😉

May you enjoy undertaking your own ceremonies in work or in life, whatever they involve.

Sources:

  • Harrison, E. (2011) Wild Courage: A Journey of Transformation for You and Your Business, Watkins Publishing, UK http://www.wildcourage.com/overview.php
  • With much gratitude to Pam and Greg
  • Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash
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