I'm a big fan of good ritual. It pleases me every time I conduct a ritual that transports me and those who share in the ritual with me into another time, another place, somewhere fantastic and awe-inspiring. The product of good ritual is transformed consciousness of all who share the ritual space.
I love masks. I love costumes. I love make up and props. I love music - both on the mp3 player and made by ourselves. I love good things to eat and good things to smell. Though minimalism has its place, I'm definitely appreciative of the maximalist ideal when it comes to ritual. Engage the senses. Speak to the inner child, and invite her to come out and play. Cultivate the land of make-believe, of wonder and wide-eyes.
I love words and motions that inspire the heart, rouse the spirit, and awaken the mind. Along with the surface trappings, though, must come depth. Just as the inner child must be satisfied, so must the higher self. The externals should reflect a powerful story, an important message, a moment of awakening, something that will touch the core of all who are there. When the hairs on the backs of the necks of everyone there have stood up, then you have done your job. An understanding of myth and psychology and how they overlap can be a powerful aid in this area.
A wise person does what is required and appropriate in any given situation. When meeting clients, I dress in a way so as to focus their attention on the business at hand rather than my cleavage. When having a romantic dinner with my lover, I show skin because I know it turns him on. And then there is a very practical side to it all: I live in Memphis, TN and right now it's the brunt of summertime with 100-plus degree heat and air so thick you need gills to breathe, so I say screw wearing any more than I have to. But make no mistake: I don't consider modesty a virtue any more than I consider wearing a sharp suit to meet a business client a virtue. There is nothing holy, sacred, or divine about covering my body; in my moral paradigm, it's simply something that needs to be done when the situation requires it.
Our over-culture is obsessed with it. Just look at creepy sites like the one discussed in this article, "The Ugly Side of Modesty," which tell little girls to cover up because Grandpa might see their panties. There's this underlying presumption of pedophilia everywhere and it's kind of disgusting. And of course, the best way to teach a girl that she's a sex object is to treat her like a sex object. "You've got to cover that up so that men think impure thoughts about you." The irony of these modesty teachings is that they teach girls to be sex objects - tightly controlled, covered up ones who are only allowed to express their sexuality through the confines of their religious doctrine - but sex objects all the same.
Clouds of heady incense fill the room, the curling smoke lapping against the flesh. A low bassline rumbles through the floor as a woman's voice sings to the angels of love. The breath fills the belly and the chest, deeply inhaling of the universal energy current which is there for all to swim in. The sparkling air fills me, invigorates me, and ripples through the body, alighting the glistening skin. A wailing violin courses through my veins, and the energy flows out my arms which create a mysterious sine wave, snaking through the incense. The bass brings one hip to roll and another, arcing my hips into a hypnotic figure eight.