In this modern age where people don’t like to talk about religious or spiritual topics it makes it difficult to approach certain subjects that are very real and commonly used to control and manipulate people. Rituals are used in business and in religion and in many other places. For example, if you look at the rituals around the recent category of Organic Produce you will see that their is special cleaning and even segregation of conventional and organic. This is to communicate to everyone that they are different and one is superior to the other. It reifies to people that one of them has more value and that value is real because it controls the behavior of people. The ritual creates a pattern, a movement of energy in the world.
If you think about it, the person that created the organic standards gets to control the behavior of the people that deal with organics, a special kind of priest class.
There are other kinds of rituals too. Fidem Turbare recently told me that when I am making my photoshops I shouldn’t use too many different fonts, and I should put borders around the words. The border thing actually worked, somehow making my photoshops look more professional and increasing their perceived value and professionalism. The visually separating and emphasizing with the use of boundaries is a subtle kind of ritual.
Wikipedia defines a ritual thusly:
A ritual “is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence.” Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism and performance.
In psychology, the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety; it is a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder.
If you contemplate it the difference between a cult and a religion is the cult’s rituals are different and less common than the rituals of religions and yet people feel the more common and frequently something happens the less innocuous it is and the more correct it is.
If you observe the rituals of Islam, which are more or less rituals of abuse or terror. They attempt to terrorize people into doing what they consider the right thing to do. This horrific behavior becomes common place for Muslims and correct, even spiritual and good.
There are other rituals as well. The packaging of a happy meal, the layers, boxes in boxes, creates anticipation, because you have to open the box and then take a box out and then open the wrapping, before you can enjoy the nutrition poor, gut wrenching, food tasting substance inside. A natural outcropping of unregulated capitalism is to maximize the cost while minimizing the actual value and this is done by manipulating the perceived value of the product, making it look better or more enticing than it actually is. The more prestige you have in the form of brand recognition, the more you can get away with. People want to be a part of something that matters and their cognitive bias tells them the bigger the group they are a part of the more there personal value is increased. The average human is innately a follower, not a leader.