Transcribed from Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community by Malidoma Patrice Some

As humans, we are fascinated by supernatural, spiritual power. Every moment you display this kind of power to the world, that power isolates you. You become displaced by the power you display because that power is also displaced through you.

For example, behind the mighty-looking corporations are a group of wealthy people whose personal lives are lived in marginality. To maintian the show of corporate power, they must give up something of themselves, their spirit. These people start to become invisible becaue they are mere instruments of the power being displayed, the power being made visible. They take a back seat to the corporation’s need to be powerful. They then begin to lose touch with their own souls, with the world of the invisible. This is why they are marginal. The greatest needs ends up being expressed by these people and through these people.

It is the action of those in power that produces the poor, the menial worker, the man and woman in debt and the homeless. Misused power triggers its exact opposite as if that opposite needed to be there to highlight the dysfunctionality of its creator. The menial worker, the man and woman in debt, the poor and the homeless exist, as if they must, to highlight the person in power. The person who displays this kind of power needs more help than those who are, more or less, the casualties of this power display.

The power that is felt, entertained, nourished and kept alive from within through ritual has a much different effect on a person who may be a victim of overt power. This kind of power is what many people in the West seek avidly, and, in most cases, unsuccessfully. It is spiritual power, a power that is invisible, and yet whose presence can be felt in terms of gentleness, love and compassion. A person who lives in constant touch with the invisible realm of incomparable power is always in a good temperament and very understanding of people and situations. He does not fall prey to retaliatory invitations and does not experience wild swings in mood.

It is this kind of balance in a person that people in my village recognize as the p resence of power in a person. This presence of power hides in a balanced person and speaks adequately enough about its aliveness. This hiddenness of power in a person is valued in my village because it speaks to life through its invisibility. This Presence of Power is not presence to the eye, but presence to the psyche.

The more ritualized our space, the more ritualized our lives. I am suggesting that a space (cultural space or community space) in which ritual is the yardstick by which life is measured puts the people living in it in a constant state of ritual energy that sanctifies their lives. A sacred life is a ritualized life, that is, one that draws constantly from the realm of the spiritual to handle even the smallest situation.

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