An alternative view of time

Taking inspiration from religious calendars we can shift our relationship with time, developing our own calendars to mark significant events and rituals.

On one of my lunchtime walks this week I caught up on the Curious Humans podcast. The latest episode is an interview with Casper ter Kuile about everyday rituals. The part that really captured my attention is about litergical time.

How we typically view time is on a linear trajectory. There’s an arrow of progress that just keeps going. The days, weeks, months and years pass one after the other. However, in a religious context time can be viewed in more of a circular motion, cycling through the same series of festivals on the sacred calendar, year after year. Litergical time is marked by repetition.

I found this particularly useful for how I’m feeling about time at the moment. I can’t help but feel that it’s passing me by, that I’m moving out of control along a linear timeline. So the ideas of ritual and repetition offer a way of getting a handle on that.

Our shifting perception of time during the pandemic is something Casper refers to in the interview. He proposes the idea of creating our own sacred calendars of celebrations, traditions and rituals to help provide an anchor. These would sit alongside any religious festivals that we celebrate. The examples he gives from his calendar are Wimbledon, Eurovision, family birthdays etc. Mine wouldn’t be too dissimilar. There would be birthdays and anniversaries, the start of the hockey season, reading the Booker shortlist, and many sporting events, eg snooker’s Triple Crown events and the Six Nations. They each mark specific moments in the year.

Thinking about creating my sacred calendar reminded me of some of the rituals associated with these events. Every month Izzy and I read from Lia Leendertz’s almanac that charts the changing of the seasons. During Advent we choose a book of poetry to read from each day. It’s these rituals, not necessarily the events themselves, that when repeated year-on-year have the quality of being our anchors to the passing of time.

What would you include in your sacred calendar?

And what rituals would you practice to mark these events?

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Featured image by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

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