Ritual and the Sacred
The ritual act, as we see it, is the way in which human beings materialize the mythical dimension and their various perceptions of it. Usually, there will be some separation (sometimes more distinct and sometimes less) between the daily, mundane activity that one does as part of his/her normative life, and the ritual activity that he/she engages in, to which he/she attributes symbolic meaning and/or religious significance. The ritual activity may take place as part of a daily practice, or include activities that are done more rarely and in accordance with certain events - significant milestones in life, seasonal occasions, religious holidays, and the like.
The common perception attributes the ritual act to religious activity, but, in fact, even ceremonies that are perceived as completely secular, are to be considered ritualistic, since they serve something that originates in mythical thinking. Thus, for example, a graduation ceremony, designed to mark a particular point in the life of an individual or a group, is no different in its motives from religious ceremonies. Similarly, national or military ceremonies can as well be considered as ritualistic acts. For the most part, such ceremonies would also include a series of actions of symbolic significance, and perhaps even certain dress customs, that differ the ritual act from any other daily activity (think, for example, of the traditional costumes of graduation ceremonies at the academy, or of the special treatment of flags in a national ceremonial occasions).
In other words, when an action (or a series of actions) is performed in a setting that goes beyond the daily-basic routine, and involves practices that would seem strange, or even irrational, to an outsider, then it is probably a ritual.
The ritual forms a unique space, which connects (within the practitioner's mind) the physical world with the metaphorical dimension of myth. As we see it, the ritual act carries a dual function: on the one hand, it is designed to impose order upon the chaotic nature of reality, and on the other hand (and simultaneously), to bring the individual closer to the object of the ritual (may it be a god, a state or any other sovereign entity) in a way that breaks down any partitions between them, as much as possible. When one performs a ritual, it is an artificial activity that transcends the everyday and seperates him/her from the natural course of things, but at the same time, causes him/her to approach the spiritual or the mythical, and even to merge or unite with them, in a way no other activity allows.
Ritual activity, as we see it, is a human need. Man, by virtue of being an animal with a metaphor-generating consciousness (or as we call it in some particular contexts, a hybrid between an animal and a god), needs the dual structure of the ritual, which allows him to move away from chaos and be at one with it at the same time. The ritual allows one to connect with myth through physical action, thus connecting the metaphor with the body in a holistic manner.
Therefore, the practical framework of Heterosophy, offers a variety of ritual actions, aimed at fulfilling this human need of ritual activity, without having to address any transcendental beings. The ritual system we offer is designed to bring the practitioner to a deep connection with himself/herself and with his/her environment. This may happen while paying attention to the symbolic and metaphorical elements inherent in this relationship, which is in fact a derivative of the story/myth that every one of us live by.
It seems that our offers for certain ritual practices are in many cases more related to the adoption of a certain point of view, rather than to the execution of an active deed. We seek to make ritual an everyday component in the worldview of the practitioner, and thus to experience a radical change of his/her general thought. We intend to provide you with tools, collected over the years and experimented with some degree of success. You will not find here a clear dogma that must be obeyed or any requirements that must be fulfilled. What is here is a menu of suggestions, which invites you to make use of it as you please, depending on the extent to which you identify with one idea or another. Please, do not do anything that seems phoney to you, and if you did do it for the sake of experimentation and it still does feel ludicrous or redundant to you, do not repeat it. If you have a doubt that something is not quite right for you, it is probably not. From the general variety of offers presented here, try to get the general idea and attitude, and adapt it to your own character, desires and ethics.
Just before concluding this introduction, a word about sacredness: According to our worldview, Nature does not acknowledge sacredness, as it does not recognize other categories of human consciousness. Nothing is neither holy nor unclean, but in the perception of human beings. When a particular object acquires a deep symbolic meaning, then it may be perceived as sacred. Sacredness is part of the human myth, and of the personal, non-factual, truth that this myth establishes for individuals or for communities. What is perceived as sacred by one society may be perceived as unclean by another. Sacredness, it should be added, is not absent even from non-religious societies. Thus, for example, humanism sanctifies human rights, while in the chaotic reality of nature this concept has no meaning at all. In practice, we sanctify the things we want, or feel the need, to sanctify, and it is absolutely not related to any external, transcendent reality. The Sacred is what, to each one of us humans, seems to touch the depths of reality, human psyche and meaning.
As part of the heterosophical practice, you will find that some of the things are considered sacred by us for the purpose of achieving the goals or feelings we want to achieve within the framework of a certain practice. We do believe that sacredness should be present in one's life, but in our view he/she must determine for himself/herself what certain things (or objects) would be wrapped in it, since sacredness has no meaning beyond what we attribute to it.