Ritual is a tool which, when used consciously, can enhance our behavior. Whether we are developing coping skills, survival crafts, or creativity, ritual provides a framework which allows us to play out the would-be's and could-be's of our lives with controlled spontaneity. Anything we choose to do, we will do better with conscious ritualing.
But conscious ritualing will take us only so far. When we add an awareness of qualia to our ritualing we not only can change ourselves, but we can transform the world around us.
First of all, ritual can be stripped of all its atavistic, supernatural and religious baggage; it is a simple behavior, a framework for approaching the world moment by moment. It consists of three parts: a beginning, a middle and an end – otherwise known as the Separation Stage, the Qualiadelic Stage, and the Return Stage.
In ritual, we separate from the routine, and then things happen (we notice qualia) and then we return to the routine. Of course, if we liked what happened, what we noticed, we return to the ritual again. Simple as that. (Of course, we are creating new neural pathways all the while.)
Animals have been ritualing for millions of years. They survive by noticing simple qualia – the stuff of the senses, like color, smell, taste, sound, and sensation. In their repeated ritualing with qualia, animals not only evolve their senses, but the environment around them evolves, too. It is a qualiadelic relationship.
For us humans, something special happened: we started to notice the qualia within ourselves. After a few million years of this qualiadelic relationship, our brains grew quite large. Then, twenty-thousand years or so ago -- boom! -- language, culture, technology and all this human stuff appeared. Civilization. A new landscape -- a qualiascape. A qualiasphere!
So, like animals ritualing with the landscape, we ritual with our qualiascapes. Animals are evolving with their landscapes and we are evolving with our qualiascapes. Animals are at the mercy of changes in their environment; a weather crisis can transform or demolish a species. We, however, have created our qualiascapes, and we can control the "weather" in the qualiasphere. At least, we can if we become conscious of how we ritual with it.