Ritual and fear

On a daily basis we are confronted with fearful events from around the world. The globalization and digitization of our lives lead to an increase in fear through the confrontation with horrifying events every moment we hit the refresh button. Rituals are traditionally cultural tools for transforming fears and insecurities into a symbolic language, which helps to deal with these emotions in a constructive way. However, ritual also increases fear when symbolizing the most dehumanizing acts. The question is: what is the role of ritual in decreasing and increasing fear in our complex society? When is ritual healing? And when does it become a destructive power?

Rituals are powerful tools, for dealing with loss, sadness and despair, but rituals evoke fear when being used for terrifying purposes. I think the secret to this power lies in the use of imagery, which often works more on our emotion than cognition. Verbal language is immediately processed by thinking processes, while images and sounds might perhaps be more directly processed as sensory and hence emotional events? In any way, it is worthwhile to think about this relation between ritual and fear in more detail. Perhaps ritual can help to transform our growing fears and insecurities into a collective consciousness? Expressing fear and cultivating it into something else, might be a start. What is behind that fear? How can you go beyond fear? What kind of symbolic act might reduce fear?