In The Art of Ritual, Renee Beck and Sydney Barbara Metrick explain the power, relevance, and need for ritual. American society has many rituals. We celebrate birthdays and marriages, have presidential inaugurations, and happily suffer through college rush traditions. These all have special meaning to the honouree, but oftentimes rituals become habitual and lose their significance. We also have rituals for divorces and funerals, but they often fail to provide the closure and healing that we need during those difficult situations. Many transitions in our lives go completely unmarked leaving us feeling out of balance as we leave an aspect of ourselves behind and move towards something new and possibly unfamiliar. Beck and Metrick recognise that traditional rituals may not meet or even recognise our current needs and present us with a book to help us craft our own creative rituals.
Chapters explore myth, history and symbolism, types of rituals, and the process of ritual. Beck and Metrick carefully consider not only the planning and creative process, but also logistics, the emotional process, manifestation, and evaluation after it’s all over. They provide step-by-step instructions for crafting and enacting rituals, present ideas and give examples, and each chapter ends with exercises for self-exploration. The words ‘Pagan’ and ‘Wiccan’ never appear in this book, but it exudes Wiccan sensibilities with its chapters on the roles of the four elements, consecrating tools, and setting up altars.
In Pagan religions, adherents are often encourged to develop their own ritual skills and style. The Art of Ritual may best serve beginners, but Beck and Metrick will surely inspire readers at all levels to create meaningful ceremonies for growth and change.