In our modern, materialistic civilization many of the rituals which brought meaning and inspiration to previous generations seem to have survived as little more than empty shells, often lacking spiritual power. Yet the order, rhythm and symbolism of ritual is needed now as we seek to draw down the archetypal powers of soul and to reintegrate the sacred into every area of our lives. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the rituals that can help in this process are emerging.
One of the most obvious areas where this is happening is in inter-faith encounters. When seekers from different religions and spiritual backgrounds come together, as they increasingly do they are challenged to evolve rituals and ceremonies to express their sense of the One Humanity in service of the One God, and their delight in the diversity of paths leading to oneness so new rituals for our time are created. The same thing happens when peoples of different cultures gather for a common purpose and devise ceremonies to develop and enhance their sense of community and unity.
Ancient, timeless rituals are also acquiring a freshness and new layers of meaning as a result of the increasing interplay between different cultures. Thus, for example, the wisdom traditions of Tibet are reaching out to the West, bringing profound approaches to ritual that are surely playing a significant role in the evolution of the new humanity. Perhaps the Western Masonic tradition in its different forms will also in time emerge as a power point of ritual in the evolution of the new humanity?
There are other, less obvious but no less significant rituals emerging as a central feature of the transformation process. Take, for example, the growing proliferation of "World Days', celebrating, particular aspects of humanity's struggle to incarnate right human relations Human Rights Day. United Nations Day, World Day of Peace, World Invocation Day etc. These moments of time in the global calendar are dedicated to the future society that is still in process of being born. They provide an opportunity for focused thought and aspiration (conferences, media events and documentaries prayer and meditation) and an occasion for local communities to devise ceremonies to impress upon themselves something of the reality of the oneness of the human family, and the challenges facing us on the path to unity.
The thousands running for Africa in the Live Aid event, and the millions watching the Band Aid concert, were participating in rituals that helped to unite us all. The major global conferences which provide a spotlight for world attention on key issues are also emerging as vital rituals in the collective life of humanity. The Earth Summit at Rio in 1992 and similar gatherings are collective rites of passage in the evolution of a more mature and responsible global civilization. More than this, they provided an opportunity for the soul of humanity to express itself in a way that could be heard by all who work with the energy of goodwill.
In the evolution of the new rituals, humanity is becoming more sensitive to the rhythm of the planet and the cosmos. One sign of this is the steady growth of a diverse network of groups working with some form of meditation and, at times, ceremonial, for world service in accord with the rhythm of the lunar cycle.