In my late twenties I sat – for the very first time – through a Catholic Mass. As a rather non-social person who, when put into a group situation, often finds myself studying the behaviour of those around me ‘from afar’, I was surprised when – despite not being an active participant in the ritual – elements of the Mass seemed to have intriguing effects on my consciousness. Alternating passages swapping from droning vocals to the ringing of a bell felt like they were breaking the door to my mind down, one strike of the bell at a time.
Having already studied the consciousness changing rituals of ‘magick’ in previous years, I did afterwards chuckle to myself that the Catholic Mass seemed to be an occult ritual of the highest order. But it also did make clear to me how malleable our mind can be when subjected to ritual elements, and I have had a growing interest in this topic since.
So it gives me great pleasure to announce that Daily Grail Publishing has just released a new book on this very topic: The Power of Ritual, by Robbie Davis-Floyd and Charles Laughlin (available now from both Amazon US and Amazon UK). The beautiful cover was once again put together by our good friend Mark Foster, of Artifice Design.
Here’s the blurb:
This book is about ritual itself – what it is, how it works to influence human belief and behavior, what makes it powerful, what makes it dangerous, and most of all, what makes it useful to contemporary humans. The authors draw often on their own personal experiences with ritual to illuminate its potential for generating and perpetuating group belief and individual transformation, making the book an engaging read. Professors teaching about ritual will find this to be a useful resource, while students and scholars seeking to study ritual will find much to interest them, as will all those interested in designing and performing rituals, and understanding the rituals they choose to participate in or perform.
If you’re at all interested in the human mind, and especially its relationship with ritual and belief systems, then I highly recommend that you add this one to your bookshelf.
I’ve just posted an excerpt from the Preface of the book in which co-author Robbie Davis-Floyd describes the origins of her own interest (and expertise) in ritual, from her anthropological studies – which at one point even led to her indoctrination in a cult – through to personally finding ways to work through the tragic passing of her daughter Peyton in an automobile accident at 20. It’s an amazingly raw and honest piece of writing, which I hope you’ll take time to read.