by Michael Ketterhagen
“All physical protection rituals are manifestations of our faith and hope
that actions of justice, peace, and love actually work and
bring protection, justice, peace and love to our present life.”
--Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
Every religious tradition has a protection ritual whose purpose is to cleanse the space of any “evil” spirits or entities that might seek to harm or “mess up” the purpose of the space and the purpose of the activities there in that space.
Catholic and Orthodox Christians use incense to purify the altar, the people, the presiders and the entire space for their celebrations of Eucharist. They use it also to protect the light of the Paschal Candle and the burial coffin of a loved one just before the pall bearers carry the coffin from the Church.
Native American elders and now also many “New Age” people use sage to protect the space in the camp, lodge, or in the space of their healing practices, dances, or drumming.
In the Hindu Tradition, before a fire ceremony, the leader either puts some water in the palm of his hand or soaks a branch or grass with water to sprinkle it around himself in a circle. The purpose is to drive away all the beings that might cause disturbance or harm during the ceremony.
In Judaism, the groom smashes a glass wrapped in cloth at the end of the wedding ceremony to mark the beginning of the marriage and to drive away the Jewish demon, Lilith, known as the incarnation of lust. The bride also circles the groom several times under the wedding canopy to build up a wall of protection against temptation, other women, and the evil eye.
Taoists use talismans to remove or keep away evil spirits from the person. They are often strips of paper, usually put around the neck, on which words of power and religious symbols are written to help spiritual energies to purify, heal the sick and drive away demons.
Within the Vedic (Yogic) Tradition, the practice of protection is drawing a circle of light around one’s self before one meditates. This circle of light might be considered the edge of our auric field, as talked about in the holistic healing world.
So why do we do all these things? Each member of these traditions wants to protect themselves from “evil” during sacred, important times. Each tradition believes that the action or the practice actually protects the person or the space or the ritual. It is not merely a superstitious action, as some might argue. Whether it is a superstition or not is not important.
The important thing that is common to each of these practices is the faith that one has in the practice. According to the yoga tradition of Sri Vidya, it is FAITH that really makes the protection happen. Yoga understands and scientifically asserts that the mind and the way we think is the power behind all that happens in the world. What we think, as quantum physics and the teachings of Swami Rama say, moves our perception to create our world. We are the creators of our destiny.
Even this Hanukkah/Christmas/Solstice/Diwali/Kwanzaa season verifies our power to make the world more peaceful and more loving than at other times of the year. People have decided to think differently during this holiday time…and it happens. Our life becomes one of sharing and caring at an incredibly high level. We begin to take care of the needs of strangers, not just our own family and friends. It is amazing that we can make the world and our lives better, just by thinking and believing differently.
May our Diwali/Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice/Kwanzaa celebrations and the thinking that accompanies them last the whole year.