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Crafting Secular Ritual

A Practical Guide
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Answering the call for new rituals in our secular age, this book recognises the essential importance of rituals to the psychological, physical and spiritual health of individuals, families, organisations, and society as a whole. The book examines and explains the history, function and place of emerging rituals in different cultures, as well as providing practical guidance for creating your own secular rituals. The author includes examples, risk factors and checklists for the stages of planning new rituals for life events such as birth, marriage, and death, as well as for public occasions such as graduation and protest marches.
  • Published: Nov 21 2016
  • ISBN: 9781784503505
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Press Reviews

  • Lindy Mechefske, journalist and author (Sir John's Table, 2015, and A Taste of Wintergreen, 2011),

    Crafting Secular Ritual draws on Jeltje Gordon-Lennox's wealth of experience and her gentle, compassionate nature. This practical handbook will be enormously helpful to all those interested in carving out unique, meaningful, relevant, and profound secular rituals for life events of all kinds.
  • The Reverend Margaret A. Beckman

    Crafting Secular Ritual is perfectly written to meet the need of contemporary people for meaningful ritual in their lives without necessarily turning to religious traditions that may not resonate with them or their loved ones. Jeltje Gordon-Lennox provides a blending of historical context with modern tools and checklists that provides the scaffolding needed for those who will create rituals for themselves or on behalf of others. As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I often create personalized rituals for a wide range of people who are religious, spiritual and/or completely secular. This new addition to the body of work supporting the need for ritual to mark major life passages and events combined with a detailed methodology for crafting these rituals is most welcome.
  • Tiu de Haan, Celebrant, Facilitator and Speaker,

    A fascinating and erudite work on a rich subject that manages to bridge the practical and the theoretical, the broad brush stroke and the minutest detail, in a way that is enjoyable to read and easy to understand. As an independent celebrant, I found it both informative and inspiring, filled with ideas that cover a breadth of rituals that our secular society so clearly needs. Whether you are a professional maker of ritual, wishing to deepen the understanding of how and why human beings ritualise their experiences, or an individual driven by an interest in creating secular ritual to help cross a life threshold, this book will provide the reader with a rich foundation for the creation of meaningful experiences.
  • Margaret Holloway, Emeritus Professor, University of Hull UK and Principal Investigator, ‘Remember Me. The Changing Face of Memorialisation’

    Human beings show an enduring need for ritual. We need ritual, Jeltje Gordon-Lennox suggests, to pause in the frantic whirl of modern life, reflect on our past and approach our future with creativity. In this itself beautifully crafted book, the author lays the theoretical building blocks for understanding what ritual is and why and when we need it, before offering a practical guide to creating and 'crafting' rituals which are deeply personalised but connected to the universal rhythms of life. Taking God out of the equation, may, she acknowledges, leave some people feeling lost, until they discover within themselves the capacity through ritual to connect with their deepest needs and wishes. Built on a lifetime of exploring and creating ritual, Jeltje Gordon-Lennox shares her wisdom and experience in a book which is both deeply reflective and intensely practical. It has something to say for everyone.
  • Ronald L. Grimes, author of The Craft of Ritual Studies

    Outside of religious institutions there has not been much published guidance on how to create rituals. Beginning in the mid-20th century though, wedding planners, along with celebrant, humanist, and funeral societies, began to fill the void. Half a century later, DIY rituals can still be awkward, embarrassing, or meaningless. This book takes a decisive step in the right direction. It gives practical advice to readers for crafting rites of passage thoughtfully and creatively.
  • The Reverend Marchiene Rienstra, Interfaith and Unity Minister, Sedona Arizona

    The time has certainly come for a book like this, which carefully, thoroughly, and skilfully describes why ritual is important, how ritual can be created and realized in secular society with people who are either distanced from their root religious traditions, or who have a secular mind set, or little meaningful relationship with any traditional religion. This book contains helpful graphs, lists, and directions for creating ritual, and describes the role and duties of presiders or celebrants of secular ritual. This is a handbook and reference book which can be used in many ways in a huge variety of circumstances, and I personally want very much to have it in my library. It is rich with scholarship, careful thought, clear explanations, and inspired wisdom.
  • Joanna Wojtkowiak, PhD Cultural psychologist and assistant professor, University of Humanistic Studies, The Netherlands

    This book addresses all aspects of contemporary ritualmaking. The author speaks to her reader's heart and mind. The language is clear and concrete. This book is interesting for scholars, celebrants and everyone looking for ways to meaningfully ritualize life-transitions.
  • Gianpiero Vincenzo, Author of New Ritual Society: Consumerism and Culture in Contemporary Society and Sociologist at the Fine Art Academy of Catania, Sicily, Italy

    We have forgotten how to make rituals; the lack of ritual in our lives today leads to alienation and loneliness. By neglecting ritual we lose out on an aspect of life that human beings once gave their utmost attention. This book appeals to all, secular and religious. It allows us to reconsider one of the greatest human needs: our ritual life."