RITUAL AT WORK
RITUALS FOR TRANSFORMATION
WE DESIGN RITUALS SO THAT YOU CAN
CROSS YOUR THRESHOLDS BRILLIANTLY
Rituals for transformation happen once, or as a series of rituals aimed at facilitating a particular change, initiation or ending. They help you cross major thresholds by crafting moments that produce a ’before’ and an ’after’.
This is needed when we are about to enter a new life-cycle in what we are doing, when we need to acknowledge that something is over, when we are initiating a big process and when we want to achieve a change in our group constellations, relationships or identities.
UNIQUE SPACES, UNIQUE THRESHOLDS, UNIQUE RITUALS
In the picture: Next two people to break a tile representing 'negative' behaviors they are feeling held back by.
The threshold and the ritual: An exploration of a community's agreed upon values and the members' behavior. The first step of the ritual was a reflective walk, the second to separate from behaviors and mindsets that the participants wanted to let go of.
Stolzenhagen, Germany, 2018
In the picture: A moment for leaving aspects of oneself outside of a community that is being formed.
The threshold and the ritual: A community is brought into existence through this ritual. The ritual creates a moment of 'before' and 'after' for the people involved.
Bern, Switzerland, 2017
In the picture: Retrospective map of a company's 13 years together.
The threshold and the ritual: A company is ending and a community is reshaping. The ritual is a ritual of separation and it helps everyone to let go of the current shape of the community.
Brighton, England, 2015
THE INTERPLAY BETWEEN SPACES, THRESHOLDS AND RITUALS
Transformative rituals start with an analysis of the space that you are in and of the one you are going towards. Spaces can, in this case, be understood as strong concepts about who you are, what you are experiencing and what you are doing.
The space between those spaces is the threshold space. It is for the threshold space that we create transformative rituals. In one way, we place the rituals in it, in other ways the ritual is the threshold. Rituals are the best thing we have for crossing thresholds.
The threshold space is often called liminality or the liminal stage when understood as part of a ritual. Liminality often refers to a position of having let go of a social position, while not yet having stepped into a new one. Some form of in-between state is to be expected in transformative rituals, even if you are not ritualizing a shift of social positions.
We love thresholds, and we know a lot about thresholds. To design transformative rituals is only possible when there is a lot of understanding about the threshold at hand.
Transformative rituals collect the broad sense of a threshold into a moment where the threshold can become strongly present and interacted with. That is why the air feels thicker in rituals than it does normally. Ritual condenses social reality and turns conceptual thresholds into material thresholds - into liminal experiences.
“The ceremony played an enormous part for me as the founder of the organisation. It allowed me to emotionally move on from this phase of the company. I felt a huge sense of headspace being freed up to allow the next phase of the company to fully emerge.”
- Tom Nixon, Founder of NixonMcInnes and Maptio
In the picture: Happy clients in front of a retrospective map of their time together as a company. NixonMcInnes transition ceremony. Brighton, England, 2015
IF YOU BRING YOUR THRESHOLDS, WE WILL BRING THE RITUAL STUFF
It is all about thresholds! If there is a need for initiating, ending or changing something, then there is also a need for the moment that makes it clear that the transformation is happening. That moment is the moment of crossing a threshold. There is no turning back after such a moment, which is the great (and scary) thing about it.
Our offer is to create moments for crossing thresholds. This also goes for very unique situations. We listen deeply to what is going on for you and what the situation is calling for, then we take if from there. All that is needed to get started with a process is the sense that a 'before' and an 'after' is about to, or should come into existence.
If the ritualized moment that will facilitate this creation of a 'before and after' is just right, then whatever comes after has a massively improved chance of being just right too. By being present in the moment and skillful about it, what you are setting in motion will have the right direction. Rituals for transformation is a manifestation of carefulness and they can create a fundamental, clear commitment to what is becoming alive.
If you celebrate endings and separation through ritual, you can support lightness and flexibility. Separation helps you to not be paralyzed by trying to go in too many directions at once, heavy from dragging unfinished business around, or unavailable through being loyal to things you are not part of anymore. Making sure you can bring all of yourself to what you are doing.
"Viktor helped me to develop an inauguration event I was devising to a deeper level entirely.
His wide perspective and tailored advice allowed me to convey a further layer of meaning within this 'rite of passage', which was tangibly moving and powerful to me and those who attended"
Worthing, England, 2018
THE RITES OF PASSAGE STRUCTURE
One useful structure for designing transformative rituals is the rites of passage structure. Designing based on this structure means that if you want a major transformation, you will first have to separate from what is there now, then spend some time in an ambiguous in-between state where neither the previous thing or the next one is manifest. Transform within that space, and then manifest the new. The structure is also useful in cases where a clear shift of roles is not taking place.
The in-between state of a ritual is known as the liminal stage.
The liminal stage is entered through separation. By separating from normality to start with. If your ritual is about changing who or how you are, you have to separate further. You can't just start the new thing, you first have to let go of being the way you are. Otherwise, there is no space for the new way of being. Separating is scary for good reason! It does not come with any guarantees that you will manage to start the new.
Acting so that a new reality gets started is why we speak so much of thresholds. Within the liminal stage, you can imagine that there is a threshold to cross. Crossing it is in the case of shifting social positions done by acting in a way that only the next version of yourself would be capable of doing. Succeeding with such an act proves that you are now that next version. In the case of initiations, the crossing is when the thing becomes alive, and in endings, it happens when we experience letting go.
The ritual: We helped the co-founders of an organisation separate from their 7-year long collaboration.
This ritual was delivered online as a step-by-step process.
"It was amazing. With quiet tears, heaps of understanding and deep-felt smiles and a bunch of sparrows over our head, near the water of the IJ in Amsterdam (we performed the actual ritual outside). Thank you so much - if it weren’t for you, we would never had such a ‘round' experience.”
Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2018
WE ARE GUIDES IN THE SPACE BETWEEN SPACES
Our role is twofold, we design rituals and we guide in the space between spaces. This space is inherent to transformative rituals. We are people of liminal experiences and know this space well. We know what you can expect in this ambguous state and we will help you through it.
IN OUR DAY AND AGE THERE ARE A LOT OF UNQIUE THRESHOLDS, BUT FEW RITUALS?
People change workplaces over a dozen times in life, we start and end projects in an immense tempo, technological advancements and rapid cultural change our society faster than we can move. Meaning we have to cross thresholds on a daily bases. Both big and small.
Unfortunately, we also live in a time when the philosophies of the enlightenment period still echo that ritual is a backward activity for the modern human - and we are left without the best tool we have for dealing with thresholds in a time when we have more of thresholds than ever before.
WHY RITUAL DESIGN IS NEEDED
Societies and cultures have a tendency to contain established rituals for crossing familiar thresholds. If a lot of people over a lot of time share an idea of what relationships should look like, we end up with something like marriage. If a lot of people over a lot of time take part in the same education system, we end up with standardised graduation ceremonies.
Today, more and more thresholds do not enter our lives in this way. There are simply too many options for how to exist and the space between those options are unique thresholds.
A lot of people over a lot of time will not pass through these thresholds, and we shouldn't expect new, established rituals to deal with them. Instead, we have to use the methodologies that are available to us for creating rituals on the spot.
Doing so does not have to mean that the ritual will only be used by one generation. Having many generations enact the same ritual connects them and it is very valuable. You can see it as if they are walking through the same door and thus enter the same space.
Creating rituals for new thresholds is what we call ritual design, and it is very much needed.
It was at the same time luxuriously indulgent and practically useful. It flowed effortlessly, and felt warm, safe and welcoming from the start. It easily got across how ritual doesn't need to seem weird, esoteric or mystical - it's just a practical human tool to focus in on what's important." - Workshop attendee