What small rituals make you grateful?
August 20, 2011 8:26 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite rituals or good luck tics?

I wouldn't say that I'm a superstitious person, but I tend to be comforted by small rituals or practices. I'm not sure exactly how to describe this, so I'll give examples. At night, I like to list the things that I am grateful for in a day as a token of recognition, which helps me feel more at ease when I'm falling asleep. I've built a couple of small shrines of leaves and bark and odd found objects at the base of trees, and the combination of collection and thoughtfulness is something that gives the activity a sense of importance regardless of its actual worth. I've also done random things for my friends, when they are too far away to communicate with - made little boats out of leaves and filled them with flowers to drop into the ocean with good wishes for them. I suppose perhaps this falls into the realm of non-religious ritual, and for me it gives me that same drop-in-the-universe feeling that spending the night under the stars or a day of random good fortune will give.

Don't get me wrong, i will also express those feelings and act in rational ways towards gols and I don't believe at all that these are ways to stock any sort of good luck cache in the world - but they are activities that are small, pleasant and thoughtful diversions that I find appeal to my sense of order and place. Keeping in mind that I not religious, are there any other small rituals that you practice which might be seen as frivolous, but which feel meaningful to you? Any and all strange examples are great, I'm thinking of ways to commemorate those elusive moments of gratitude combined with transience.

posted by ajarbaday to Religion & Philosophy (19 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I collect any and all pennies I see on the ground. I keep them separate from my general change fund, as these are my lucky pennies.

Whenever my wife runs a red light (not maliciously, but because of bad timing), she runs the back of her hand on the roof of the car, then taps the windshield twice. I have no idea what that's about.
posted by Gilbert at 8:34 PM on August 20, 2011

This seems pretty chatty, but I'll share mine anyway.

When I was little, I had a thing about "dust" getting into cups. In reality there was nothing there, but every time I'd take a (clean) cup out of the cupboard I'd blow in it to get the dust out. Over time, it became less about me being concerned that there was something in the cup (because that's irrational) and more about muscle memory and habit. Grab a cup, blow in it, pour beverage in cup. I did it without even thinking about it.

And then one day I did it, just like every other day, and a DEAD SPIDER came swooshing out of it and hit me in my face. If it hadn't been for me blowing in the cup, I wouldn't have noticed the spider was in there and happily poured in my drink. I COULD HAVE DRUNK A DEAD SPIDER. My silly little habit saved my life me from drinking a dead spider.

Now I blow in my cups partly out of habit and partly because it's "lucky".
posted by phunniemee at 8:37 PM on August 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Whenever possible, I pick up any garbage I see on the ground. I think it started as an offshoot from my family's participation in the Adopt-A-Highway program.

Over the years though, it has become such a habit that if I walk by a piece of trash and don't pick it up, I somehow feel as though the universe is going to come crashing to a halt and that my karmic energy is going to be thrown completely out of sync.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 8:45 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Around the motorcycle/metal shop I work in, we burn incense while working out difficult or frustrating problems. It originates from my buddy's buddhist girlfriend, but has kind of turned into a general purpose shrine/meditation thing.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:07 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I walked in the same door at work (out of 6) for over 5 years.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:12 PM on August 20, 2011

I've always associated Green Man images with my father in particular and masculine, positive, protective energy in general. I have a resin-cast, antiqued Green Man pendant that gets put wherever I need to feel safe-- lately that's been the rearview mirror of my car since I've been traveling a lot, but it's been on my apartment door handle too. I touch him and rub his face for reassurance frequently.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:17 PM on August 20, 2011

I carry a small metal hamsa hand that was given to me by my mother and make sure to have it close at hand in dangerous, important, or new situations. I love the hamsa symbolism, but ultimately the act and intention of having been given the amulet is more meaningful to me, and if my mom gave me a Q-tip that's what I'd be porting around.
posted by threeants at 9:18 PM on August 20, 2011

Nice question. Until I read threeants' answer, I had completely forgotten a habit I had as a child. Being a child of divorced parents meant a lot of spending long periods of time away from home visiting my dad across country. I was a very anxious child and prone to homesickness. I made up a little portable shrine (in a Sucrets box) of little amulets: a picture of my mother, a little piece of fabric with some of her perfume on, and other reminders of home. I would take this out whenever I was really lonely/sad, and it really did help me. Thanks for bringing up this old, bittersweet memory.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:25 PM on August 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Mom told me as an adult that her magic luck could be had by remembering to (audibly) say "rabbit-rabbit-rabbit" as the first words out of your mouth on the first day of every month. Kinda hard to do ...
I've only ever been able to do it a couple of times so far and I am fifty this year.
posted by bebrave! at 10:10 PM on August 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

A (fairly itinerant) friend of mine always tries to point his head north when he sleeps.

I've always liked the one about greeting magpies. (They're thick around here, so I've had plenty of opportunity.)
posted by brennen at 1:14 AM on August 21, 2011

A coworker brought me a small crystal when she returned from vacation. I don't even remember where she went, but the crystal stayed on my desk, usually in my paperclip holder. Whenever I needed to think deeply to solve a problem, or was stressed at work, I held the crystal in my hand. I always called it my lucky crystal, and for some reason just the naming of it made it so. That was probably 15 years ago, I no longer work outside my home, but I still have my lucky crystal.
posted by raisingsand at 6:27 AM on August 21, 2011

Oh jeeze, to comment on others -

bebrave! - that's one I've heard of before, I have a colleague who has taken to posting it on Facebook even - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_rabbit.

brennen - that's one of my morning rituals at work, we've got a flock of crows/ravens on our campus and I always greet them. Some days they're my favorite coworkers.

I've got too many of these to really even catalogue, but few that have been brought to mind by everyone else -

When I see roadkill on the road, I say a little word of prayer for the life lost, and then if it's a domestic animal (cat/dog) I say an extra blessing for my own pets that are at home waiting for me.

There are pieces of local graffiti that I drive past every day that I think are so beautiful that are art. I make a concerted effort to look at them each, even a glance in passing, during my commute. To appreciate their beauty, but to also pace my driving, shake off the annoyance of others and their actions and my reactions to them, and center myself within my surroundings.
posted by librarianamy at 7:53 AM on August 21, 2011

As I'm boarding a plane I kiss my right hand, slap the plane with the kissed hand to the right of the boarding door, then pound the slapped place with bottom of a fist. I started doing this as an adult, when I was flying twice a week for work. One time one of the FA's asked me if it works, to which I replied, Every time! So far.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:22 AM on August 21, 2011

When I take a leak out of doors, I say, "Pardon me I'm going to pee," so the fairies can get out of the way and not get peed on. Because they don't like that.
posted by bricoleur at 9:48 AM on August 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

I tend to fall asleep on my left side with my right fist tucked under my chin. When I can't sleep, or if I'm having troubling thoughts before I fall asleep, I make the fig sign with my fist (thumb tucked between first and middle or middle and ring fingers) and tuck that under my chin. Makes me feel better every time.

Also, when I see a Medivac helicopter, I send good vibes to the medics and the people they're rescuing.
posted by coppermoss at 12:40 PM on August 21, 2011

Whenever my wife runs a red light (not maliciously, but because of bad timing), she runs the back of her hand on the roof of the car, then taps the windshield twice. I have no idea what that's about.

I do something similar except I rap the dashboard twice then windshield. My daughters picked this up from me except one added a rap to the overhead. So hers is two raps to the dashboard, one to the windshield, and one to the overhead.

I didn't start doing this until I drove extensively with a friend of mine in New Mexico and I picked it up from her. I guess it's like knocking wood for good luck when I say something and I don't want to jinx it. The sound supposedly scares away the evil spirits. When going through the yellow light, it's meant to ward off accidents or bored cops.
posted by patheral at 2:00 PM on August 21, 2011

Whenever I go through a yellow light, I kiss my fingertips and brush them against the roof of the car. My brother does it, too, but neither of our parents do - I have no idea where we got it.

Whenever I have a near mishap - a close call - that I narrowly avoided, I look straight up and say, "Thank you" out loud. Yeah, I've gotten some looks.

If I ever see a wild animal looking straight at me - even something as ubiquitous as a squirrel - I nod to it.

Yeah, I'm weird. Tell me something I don't know.
posted by pecanpies at 4:01 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

When we were kids, whenever we all left the house at the same time, like when we were going out to dinner or something, we would tell the ghosts in the house that we were leaving and when we would get back, and ask the ghosts to watch over the empty house. When we returned, we would call out to the ghosts to let them know we were back. We thought this was hilarious, because of course there are no ghosts in the house, but we did it every time anyway.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:01 PM on August 21, 2011

Whenever I am leaving one place and going to another I go through my ritual checklist of the things I always have on me (wallet, keys, cellphone, iPod) and touch the place where each thing should be. It's saved me from locking myself out of my apartment, so I'd say it's pretty lucky. :D
posted by JDHarper at 5:55 PM on August 21, 2011

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