Book: The Power of Ritual
Author: Casper ter Kuile
1. The cover art for “The Power of Ritual” tells a minor story in itself. How did the cover come to be and did you have a hand in its design?
I really wanted to illustrate that it is the everyday practices of reading, walking, resting, and eating together that can be a source of ritual.
It doesn't need to be overly complicated! I was thrilled to find the illustrator on Pinterest and we commissioned her to create these lovely images.
2. When was it that you became aware that you are on a spiritual journey?
In some ways, so much of my childhood was deeply spiritual, as I went to a Waldorf School. So even though I never went to church, we had these wonderful rituals like dancing around the Maypole or singing to the cattle at a local farm on Christmas Eve.
But I think in my early twenties was when I started to think of myself as exploring spirituality intentionally - thanks to a wonderful mentor who introduced me to mindful meditation.
3. It has been said that “attachment to the physical is detachment from the spiritual” Do you agree and if so, why?
This is a very theological question, in the sense that you'll find very different answers from a Buddhist or a Catholic, for example! For me, it is by paying close attention to the physical that we can reconnect with the depth of spirituality - so my orientation is not about escaping the world, but living more deeply in it.
4. Would you consider yourself more religious or spiritual? And what do you believe are the key differences between the two?
Mostly folks talk about the difference in the sense that religion is institutional and spirituality is personal. Though this can be a useful shorthand, it misses out on the fact that much communal activity is very spiritually nourishing, and some of the best individual practices have ancient, religious histories!
So I find myself somewhere in the middle. I'm not officially affiliated with a religious tradition, but I do practice a number of sacred practices individually and together that are really important to me.
5. What do you hope readers take away from “The Power of Ritual”?
My biggest hope is that folks will find the rituals that are already present in their life and deepen their experience of them. The book helps you turn the everyday habits of resting, eating, walking, journaling etc. into sacred rituals through the process of setting an intention, paying attention, and repeating them again and again. Intention. Attention. Repetition.
6. This book is being released while many people are in the midst of social distancing and isolated quarantining. With the hope that this time will allow for more self-reflection and internal discovery, how do you think this book will help readers to cogitate about their current state of being?
COVID has been full of grief for many of us. And I think it has also been a real time of reckoning; how do we want to live? What's important to us? Which relationships do we want to invest in these times of social distancing? And I know a lot of people have been creating new rituals to help them feel anchored at home.
Things like Wednesday pizza night and taking a walk around the block at the end of the workday. My hope is that the book can help readers identify the moments where they already feel a sense of joy and connection - and then turn those into rituals to practice more intentionally.
7. To some, the word “ritual” has a negative connotation. How do you think your book reimagines or even repurposes the word and the associated actions?
Often we hear a word like 'ritual' and imagine intricate ceremonies in which we might not feel at home, or have been actively excluded from. I know that as a gay person, I've experienced some of that too!
The way I think about ritual is very expansive. One good shorthand definition is a way of making the invisible, visible. Rituals can embody the kind of values, memories, and commitments that are important to us.
8. You are the host of the critically acclaimed podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Here is a question I’m sure you’ve never been asked: what is your favorite Harry Potter book and why?
I love so many of the books, but my favorite has to be book 4, the Goblet of Fire. I love the embodied return of Voldemort (I know, weird) because it represents this transition for the young students - it's a twisted coming of age moment, really!
9. What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Talk into your voice memo app and then transcribe later!
10. What’s the best book you have read in 2020 thus far?
I'm being really informed by White Rage by Carol Anderson. There's so much American history that has shaped our everyday experience that White people just don't learn enough about.
11. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
If they'll let me, absolutely!!
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