Tonight, on our Pagan FM! Book review, we’ll take a look at a book that’s not specifically Pagan, but one which could really be of use to anyone on most any path.
The Joy of Ritual, by Barbara Biziou might sound a bit like a cookbook by its title. Indeed the subtitle is “Spiritual recipes to celebrate milestones, ease transitions, and make every day sacred”. It is quite literally presented as a cookbook.
Where this book claims to be a cookbook, it is not speaking metaphorically; it is configured precisely as a cookbook, with each ritual presented as an actual recipe.
Let’s tale a quick look at the various chapters.
Chapter 1, “What is Ritual?” speaks first to the meaning of the word “ritual”. It then goes on to describe how we all use ritual in a less formal way in each of our lives, and then to the purpose of more formal rituals. Any good cookbook will spend at least part of an early chapter discussing the whys and wherefores of that particular book. If it’s an ethnic cookbook, it might spend time discussing the particular peoples from whom the recipes come.
Chapter 2, “Tools of the Trade” discusses the materials, tools and ingredients that are to be used in the various recipes, which make ritual effective. The use and purpose of these tools and ingredients such as candles, incense, essential oils, food, colors, music and more are all discussed in this chapter, and will help you make use of these items in your own rituals.
Likewise, any good cookbook will spend time discussing tools, ingredients or techniques that might be unfamiliar to anyone who has not cooked in this particular fashion before.
The remaining eight chapters are arranged somewhat like categories in a typical cookbook. Instead of chapters on meats, seafood, poultry, breads, cakes and pies, what’s here is:
Rites of Passage
Rituals for moving through stressful times.
Rituals for Relationships.
Rituals of Connection.
Rituals for Health.
Women’s Rituals, and
As any good cookbook will offer substitutions, The Joy of Ritual emphasizes the point that personal rituals’ effectiveness is not based on having the exact objects that the author prescribes, and mentions that it is far more important that we create a ritual atmosphere that communicates with our inner selves. As an example, a ritual to find your power is not going to fall apart simply because you can’t find bergamot. You can quite easily substitute something else that works for you, or simply set that ingredient aside.
At the end of the book is a suggested reading list as well as a section with some of the author’ favorite musical selections to create a ritual atmosphere.
The Joy of Ritual is well and carefully written, with obvious attention to detail. It is designed in an appealing fashion which makes it easy to find what you are looking for. It is not at all pretentious, and is easy to read.
The Joy of Ritual has an associated web page which makes the experience even more interactive. It’s available at: http://www.joyofritual.com/
Published by Cosimo, ISBN 1-59605-842-0