Image: Once upon a time. Watercolour on Handmade Paper. 14 x 10 cm. 2013
Today it really struck home how important ceremonies are for our wellbeing. The Oxford Engish dictionary defines them as: (a set of) formal acts, often fixed and traditional, performed on important social or religious occasions:
Ceremonies are a way of coming to terms with and celebrating fundamental milestones; births, deaths, and all those seminal moments and rights of passage that tie together the threads our journey through life. We today associate ceremonies with churches, but they have been around for well before organised religion. Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The bluestones have been radiocarbon dated between 2400 and 2200 BC, many suggesting as early as 3000 BC. John Aubrey in 1666 recorded the pits, the Aubrey holes, containing fragments of pottery and burial remains. It is inconceivable that these burials were not accompanied by ceremonies. Which begs the question, why we have them?
Many of you will been clapping tonight for the NHS and our vital service workers. Many will be raising a glass to those newly arrived or not now with us. So many thoughts put into heartfelt words or meaningful gestures which help us all navigate this turbulent and uncharted road we have unwittingly embarked upon, the passage of life itself. Through ceremonies we are reminded that we are not alone on our individual journeys and that we are part of a continuum which has its roots in prehistory. We share the right to celebrate and grieve for always and it is a right that no one can deny us, and that no one should.