lemurling (lemurling) wrote in secularspirit,
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secularspirit

Book Report: Rituals for our Times

Rituals for our times : celebrating, healing, and changing our lives and our relationships / Evan Imber-Black and Janine Roberts.

This is one of the best books on secular ritual I've read. It's written by two psychologists, and in this book they focus on how ritual is used to both indicate current issues and also mend them and celebrate change. Their idea of ritual is very loose, all the details are from the numerous examples of families in the book. So this is not a manual for ritual making, but it is a great resource for helping to think about ritual, especially the hidden motivations and expectations we have about ritual, from how Christmas is supposed to be to what our spouse should do when they come home from work each day. The book goes through different types of rituals, daily, seasonal, holidays, life cycle changes, etc. and different approaches to ritual, from flexible to rigid to minimalist etc. They assign some purposes to ritual as well, and discuss how most rituals can serve multiple purposes.

While the way they break up ritual isn't the one I would choose, it works well for the kind of book it is, and didn't grate on me. Probably the most useful aspect of the book is the frequent lists of questions to help you discuss with yourself and your loved ones certain aspects of ritual. They don't appear to have a separate workbook, so I may devote some time to typing out the easily over hundred questions scattered here and there, that's how useful I think they are. The book is heavily focused on relationships, especially families, including alternate families of all kind. While the ritual life of a single person is not forgotten, it is not given a lot of screen time, which might be offputting if you don't intend to involve others much in your ritual life.

It's a good-sized book, but it has a very simple, easy to read style. If you are interested in secular ritual, in focusing on how the way we celebrate (or don't celebrate) holidays, birthdays, graduations, marriages, etc. reflects our past joys and problems, and can hold the key to improving relationships with family, friends, and self, I'd recommend you look for this book at your local library.
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