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Crafting meaningful rituals: Building sacred ceremonies for ANZAC and Reconciliation Week

Over the past couple of weeks, we have reflected on ideas like ‘sacred grounding’, making ordinary spaces ‘special’ or ‘sacred’, and exploring what might be our ‘sacred core for loyalty stories’.

These next weeks, we’ll be drawing on these ideas as we mark two significant Australian moments, that I argue, represent a sacred core for our national loyalty story. The two moments are ANZAC Day and Reconciliation Week. As we move towards them, we’ll be reflecting on Sacred Sites and Sacred Stories.

Redifining the sacred

Earlier (8th March) we talked about “Sacred” as being something that is “set apart and regarded with reverence” (like things of religious or cultural significance, or something very special). “Site” can be understood as an area of ground or a place.

Breaking barriers

Some cultures and faith traditions are familiar with using terms like ‘sacred’ and ‘reverence’, but dominant Australian cultures don’t really use these terms. In fact, Australians pride themselves on saying, “nothing is sacred.” However, I believe we are aware of things that are sacred and should be treated with reverence. For example, we know that we should treat cemeteries and burial grounds, churches and temples, and shrines of remembrance with special regard. They aren’t just regular places.

Discovering sacred sites

Sacred sites are places that we can go to and conduct ceremonies that help sustain our sense of belonging and place in the world. I encourage you not to think only in religious terms, but in practical meaning and belonging terms. 

Ceremony in everyday moments

Here are a couple of examples of ceremony at a sacred site:

– Going to a place where something really significant happened (like Port Arthur) and pausing for a moment to take it all in is ceremony.
– Going to a place that impacted your childhood and sharing your story of that place with others is ceremony.
– Gathering at dawn to remember sacrifices made in war and conflict is ceremony.
– Placing flowers at a site of loss or a burial place is ceremony.

Connecting through sacred spaces

I encourage you to open your senses to see sacred sites around us and in your lives.

Some sacred sites are important to you in your lifetime. Some are important for generations. Some are connected with spirituality, and some are connected with identity and belonging. Some sacred sites connect us back with the oldest cultures on earth.

These special places are not just regular places. They are your sacred sites and when you go there and pause to remember, or share with others, you are treating it as a place of ceremony.

Be encouraged and encourage others.
Mark Yettica-Paulson