Inspiration Report

Barbara Biziou is a national expert on every
day rituals. She has a couple of fabulous books that
focus on personal and family rituals and teach people
how to evoke practical spirituality in their lives in
ways that mesh well with their current lifestyle. The
Joy of Ritual
Spiritual Recipes To

Celebrate Milestones, Ease Transitions and Make
Everyday Sacred
been enjoyed by people from diverse cultures around the

Family RItuals.jpgHer book, The
Joy of Family

Rituals: Recipes for Everyday Living
, was recently just released in paperback. It offers wonderfully
creative solutions to the challenges faced by modern
families. It can help even the mos
t loving family share
more meaningful moments together — even in the face of
mundane family activities like meal time and bed time —
as well as help bring healing and wholeness to families
in distress. She says the recipe for a successful,
loving family life is merging the sacred with the every
day. We spoke to her about the importance of family rituals.

Beliefnet: Do we need ritual in our lives and what do we
have to gain from it?

Barbara Biziou: Ritual, for me, is a way of bringing the sacred
into your life; a well-thought out, structured situation
in which to open to “spirit” that moves you
from one state of consciousness to another. As a result,
you often find your life changing and evolving in very
positive ways. They reinforce our own desires and
strengthen our ability to achieve them. They open up
resources we weren’t aware we had and help us slow
down from the hectic pace of life.

How exactly does it work?

A ritual can take five minutes or five hours. It can
take five days. A ritual is a consciously designed set
of behaviors designed to evoke certain feelings and
experiences that are needed to effect change in one’s
life. It works on many levels. It influences the
subconscious mind. Part of the psyche doesn’t know the
difference between performing a ritual and actually
experiencing an event. When you complete a ritual, you
are telling yourself you have completed whatever you
have symbolically enacted. For example, if you take a
ritual bath for purification, part of you literally
believes you have released the past. And so it becomes
true in your life.

basketofsupport.jpgWhy are family rituals so important?

To me family ritual is the anchor that really holds
the family together, the glue. One of my inspirations
for writing The Joy of Family Ritual is what I
have sadly noticed in families who do not share special
rituals: they often lack a deep connection, don’t have
a rewarding family support system and the children are
feeling very alienated. Modern life is moving too fast
for people. Everyone has such a tight schedule that
unless you make room for structured family rituals you
can easily go for weeks, or even months, without truly
connecting to one another. Kids in these culture suffer
greatly when they are not feeling connected to a family
unit or a healthy community. They become disconnected,
stressed and in some case depressed. On The very deep
end of it you see drug use and kids acting out
violently, against others and themselves.

Are rituals created for families different than those
for adults?

The same format is true–having a beginning, an
ending, a clear intention — the difference would be
that when you are doing rituals with children that you
structure them to the age appropriate level. For little
kids, you’d make it a shorter ritual and you’d pay
more attention to making it appropriate to who is
involved. There are different ways to include children
and make them feel they are participating. It’s also
taking existing rituals — mealtime, bath time and
bedtime — and putting them in a more sacred container.
You’d be amazed at how sharing a simple blessing at
mealtime can enhance people’s lives!

Sounds like ritual can take the ho-hum out of family life.

Right. And it doesn’t have to be more work. That’s
important for people to know… because people who are
so stressed out anyway will feel overwhelmed, as if
ritual is yet another thing they must fit
into the day. I believe ritual actually gives you more
free time because many of the recipes in The Joy of
Family Ritual
allow the children to take
responsibility for part of it.

As the American family continues to change, how can
ritual help the transformational process with
stepfamilies and alternative families?

With so many extended families and alternative
families–single parents, re-marriages and stepparents,
adoption and same sex parents– families are changing
today. Sometimes there are four sets of parents per
child! Ritual can help them adjust and change with the
times and include everyone. We are constantly shifting
individually and collectively as a family and it is
important to mark transitions with rituals… for
becoming a parent, blessing a new baby, becoming a
sibling, puberty and adoption, birthday and a parents
day that include step parents and god mothers. It’s a
celebration for kids to have in stead of traditional
mother or fathers day with their step or god parents; so
they don’t have to feel split on the actual holiday, a
new date and ritual can be created.

How would you address preparing to become an adoptive

Nine months of pregnancy does not guarantee an easy
transition from non-parent to parent, but at least you’ve
had some time to prepare. Adoptive parents to prepare
for parenthood so that it is not the shock of: one
minute single and the next a mother or father
. I
recommend, first, a ritual on becoming a parent. Then,
an adoption ritual. Every year, you can do a ritual
called “Gothcha Day” celebrating the day the
child was adopted. It’s a way of being very honest
about the fact that the child is adopted and letting
them know that it’s a special day.

How important are seasonal rituals for kids, such as
full moon and spring equinox?

Seasonal rituals are
important because we are too out of touch with nature;
our children, especially our city kids, need to be more
in tune with the cycles of life. It gives them a better
understanding of how life works. Without a proper
understanding of natural cycles of life it is difficult
to unhook ourselves from our society’s orientated
toward instant gratification.

Do kids like rituals?

Kids feel safe with rituals. It’s the same thing as
wanting to constantly eat the same kind of food, go to
the same restaurant, or wear the same favorite T-shirt.
Familiarity and repetition — hence, family ritual —
makes them feel safe and secure. Just as adults have
their lucky job interview outfit or a special object
they carry for good luck, the power of ritual comes from
the symbolism of the object or act. Symbols connect us
to our inner power, remind us who we are. For those who
are spiritually minded, you might say it connects them
to a higher power. To this day, taking my son Jordan out
for pizza remains a family tradition that has made him
feel deeply connected to me since childhood. He’s in his thirties!
But pizza with mom still makes us feel bonded and
connected and joyous! That is truly the joy of family

On a deeper level, what does family ritual offer?

If there really is to be such a change in this new
millennium, it’s like the song… “Let there be
peace on earth …and let it begin with me.” Let it
begin with the family unit. We should start as young as
possible and build strong family units that will be
inclusive of the new families. As family dynamics change
with time and the tides of the culture, we can continue
to create new rituals that are meaningful for all family

For more information, contact Barbara Biziou at

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