Fantasy Afield began with the goal of finding (and celebrating!) magic in the everyday. And for me, a lot of that magic comes from transitioning routines into rituals.
In this series, I’ll explore personal transformations from routines into rituals. I’ll also look at some of the thought leaders and products aiming toward a similar mission.
But before we dive into the various rituals (and routines) that are part of daily life, I want to take a look at what this transition means. We’ll start with what the difference between a routine and a ritual is and why that difference matters. Then we’ll dive into some of the routines we can re-examine. At the end, I’ll pose a few questions for you to ponder in reflection as you review your own rituals and routines.
What separates a routine from a ritual?
I’m positive there is a more technical answer to this question, but at its core, the difference between ritual and routine comes down to intentionality.
Have you ever used the word “routine” as synonymous with boring? According to my googling, the etymology of “routine” harkens back to the late 17th century from the French “route.”
The most useful definition for our purposes, again from Google, is routine as an adjective. In this case, routine means “performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason.”
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the cliché that humans are creatures of habit. (Though research tends to back this up! Cliché does not denote untrue.) And many of our routines are, in fact, habits. We perform them without thinking.
Where this becomes dangerous, though, is when our routines don’t match up with our dreams and goals for our lives. We can be so busy following our daily habits that we forget to ask if those habits reflect our values.
This is where the transition to ritual is so important.
I first started thinking about ritual in a daily context (as well as weekly, monthly, etc.) when I began researching witchcraft. There are all kinds of witchy rituals to engage in!
As I delved deeper, it stood out to me that the writers I studied used “ritual” to describe their spellwork. They almost never used the word routine. In fact, the only times I can remember “routine” coming up at all were when an author suggested adding rituals to the readers’ routine.
Their use of ritual, like mine above, emphasized the intentionality of the action.
Small Ritual, Big Result
These actions could be simple, like drawing a circle around yourself to emphasize energetic boundaries. (As an empath, this ritual is very important to me!) This circle takes less than a second to complete, and the action in and of itself is not complex or overly involved. It’s the intention behind it that’s important.
When I draw a circle (or a half circle, if I’m sitting down and can’t reach) around myself, either in public or private, I am reminding myself of the energetic boundaries I’ve set. As an empath, I tend to absorb other people’s emotions if I’m not careful. Before I know it, my mood shifts because of the emotional and energetic absorption from someone I likely don’t even know!
But the ritual reminds me to take care. It is an expression of the intention.
Ritual + Plants
It may sound strange at first, but one of my favorite rituals is caring for my plants every week! If you’re interested in adding more green friends to your daily life, I have a post just for you!
Where could ritual show up in your life?
Depending on who you listen to, somewhere between 80 and 95% of our life is driven by our subconscious. Our brains are wired for efficiency. If I do the same thing every morning when I wake up, my brain can save its energy for important things (like blog posts and fiction!).
But if I’m not careful, my morning routine could include things that are bad for my health, mindset, or productivity.
I used to check my email first thing in the day, but I realized doing so makes me feel anxious, like I’m constantly behind. So now I have transitioned to only checking my email after noon, and even later if I can manage. This may or may not be possible for you depending on your work and home life. But identifying the habits that get in the way of our success begins with questioning our routines.
These questions are more fun when we transition our routines into rituals.
One of my new favorite rituals is what I call “coffee faerie-ing.” Every night before I go to sleep, I set up the coffee maker with the water and grounds for the next day so all I have to do when I wake up is turn the coffee maker on.
(As bonus contact, my coffee maker is adjacent to my kitchen and a ways away from the sink, so this ritual takes a few minutes every night.)
As I’m filling the water holder and the cone with the grounds, I think about the next morning and how happy I’ll be with my cup of coffee. I think about sharing some time in the den with my husband before he leaves for work as we drink a cup together. And I think about how much I love our family and how grateful I am for our home and life.
These few minutes of preparation and mediation leave me feeling grounded (get it 😉), thankful, and relaxed as I’m heading to sleep. They also make my morning much easier!
Over to you 💚
I’d like to turn this question of ritual over to you: Where might transitioning routines into rituals bring more joy and goodness to your life?
- Could incorporating ritual create more ease? More mindfulness?
- Are there any routines that are getting in the way of your happiness or productivity?
- Do you feel a buildup of stagnant energy with a certain part of your day, week, or month? What about in a certain room or place? Which routines do you associate with that stagnation?
Coming up soon
In future posts in this series, I’ll share my thoughts on incorporating more ease and simplicity into my life through ritual. Another post will explore tidying and stepping toward an ideal lifestyle. I’m also hoping to product test a few companies that specialize in a ritualistic (and minimalistic) approach to skincare, makeup, and hair care.
Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts and reflections with you! If there’s something you’d like to add in the comments below, a question or an idea, please do!
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