Element of Ritual: Reorientation

The process of ritual disorients by design, in order to make people receptive to the transformative experiences contained within the liminal sphere. Well-designed rituals, however, never leave participants in this fluid state. Because the purpose of ritual is transformation, effective rituals end with processes that solidify people in their new social roles and close the door to the threshold experience through which they have traveled.

Ritual processes of reorientation contain the spirit of rebellion that flows freely within liminal settings. Reorientation not only brings ritual participants back into alignment with normal dimensions of time and space, but also brings them into touch with the moral rules of the identity they are soon to adopt.

In commerce, processes of reorientation ensure that consumers who have engaged in conspicuous acts of rule breaking are given reliable means of rehabilitation, or are prepared to enter new social roles in which their transgressions become acceptable. Likewise, through reorientation, employees who have been engaged in projects of rebellious innovation are redirected to apply their insights to company culture.

The completion of ritual brings free-flowing creative ideation into practical focus. It places ritual participants into the well-organized space of the concrete tasks and social priorities of new roles for which they have been prepared. In business, tactics of reorientation create a structure for the insights derived from threshold experiences, so that companies can apply them to their specific, practical goals.

Although reorientation provides a socially useful interpretation of the individual experiences that take place within ritual, the validity of these experience remains, and continues to motivate, long after ritual is over. However, the meaning of that experience is connected to the engines of society, so that its power can drive collective purpose forward. What’s more, reorientation puts people at the right place and time to act in a socially meaningful manner.

monk in train station