Making it up as you go along...

Rhiannon Hanfman on the importance of ceremony particularly at Findhorn and her reflections on how r


Jonathan Dawson is away so I am filling in for him for the next couple of weeks and I would like to pick up the theme of ritual that he touched on in writing about a recent death in our community. At Findhorn we do rituals rather well. Rather than rely on an established forms, we make them up as we go along so our ceremonies are alive and meaningful to those who take part. We have had rather a lot of funerals in the last couple of years and no two were alike yet each was deeply moving and appropriate to the individual being honoured.

News of a different kind of ritual came to my notice in the last week. David and Ilsemarie, a couple who have been married for 12 years or more decided to separate and have chosen to mark this event with a Ceremony of Separation. Initially I thought this was, well, strange but on reflection the idea grew on me. Separation and divorce have become a common rite of passage in our society so why should we not mark it in a conscious way that does not apportion blame or bring rancour and resentment.

Although divorce is no longer a recipe for social ruin, the end of a marriage still brings a sense of failure or shame and a feeling that someone must be to blame. No one celebrates it. Children are wounded, friends take sides and lawyers benefit from the couple remaining at war. Nobody wins.

In this community we try to find better and more loving ways of doing things and this ceremony was a kinder means of dealing with what was potentially a painful situation. This separation was not celebrated but neither was it mourned, nor was the occasion used to air old wounds. David and Ilsemarie symbolically untied the knots that bound them in a detrimental way, and in love and friendship let the other go. It was done in a way that brought healing rather than hurt and that must be a good thing.

This reminded me of another unusual ceremony I attended a few years ago. A young couple I know who lived together and had a baby but were not married had what they called a Family Blessing. It was not a wedding or a christening or a 1st birthday party for the child, though the ceremony had elements of all these things. Their purpose it seemed to me was to show their commitment and say to their friends, ‘Hey, we’re a family.’

We humans seem to have an innate need to publicly and symbolically mark the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another. It’s a way of saying ‘ this is important, this is really happening’. If we can create rituals that reflect what is real and genuine for us at a particular point, they are not merely empty forms but are alive and so enliven us. Our rituals, whether of celebration, grief or simply acknowledging what is, bind us together, strengthen us and bring us joy and healing.

Rhiannon Hanfman is a freelance writer/editor/designer and has been associated with the Findhorn community for more than 20 years. She has a background in theatre, publishing and science. She abandoned the science to go and live at Findhorn and currently does design work for the Findhorn Foundation and facilitates Game of Transformation workshops.

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Just you wait – soon fake news will come to football

No point putting out a story saying that Chelsea got stuffed 19-1 by Spurs. Who would believe it, even if Donald Trump tweeted it?

So it is all settled: Cristiano Ronaldo will be arriving at Carlisle United at the end of the month, just before deadline day. It all makes sense. He has fallen in love with a Herdwick sheep, just as Beatrix Potter did, and like her, he is putting his money and energy into helping Cumbria, the land of the Herdwick.

He fell out with his lover in Morocco, despite having a private plane to take him straight from every Real Madrid game to their weekly assignation, the moment this particular Herdwick came into his life. His mother will be coming with him, as well as his son, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jr. They want to bring the boy
up communing with nature, able to roam free, walking among the lakes and fells.

Behind the scenes, his agent has bought up CUFC and half of Cumbria on his behalf, including Sellafield, so it is a wise investment. Clearly CUFC will be promoted this year – just look where they are in the table – then zoom-zoom, up they go, back in the top league, at which point his agent hopes they will be offered megabucks by some half-witted Chinese/Russian/Arab moneybags.

Do you believe all that? It is what we now call in the trade fake news, or post-truth – or, to keep it simple, a total lie, or, to be vulgar, complete bollocks. (I made it up, although a pundit on French TV hinted that he thought the bit about Ronaldo’s friend in Morocco might not be too far-fetched. The stuff about Beatrix Potter loving Herdwicks is kosher.)

Fake news is already the number-one topic in 2017. Just think about all those round robins you got with Christmas cards, filled with fake news, such as grandchildren doing brilliantly at school, Dad’s dahlias winning prizes, while we have just bought a gem in Broadstairs for peanuts.

Fake news is everywhere in the world of politics and economics, business and celebrity gossip, because all the people who really care about such topics are sitting all day on Facebook making it up. And if they can’t be arsed to make it up, they pass on rubbish they know is made up.

Fake news has long been with us. Instead of dropping stuff on the internet, they used to drop it from the skies. I have a copy of a leaflet that the German propaganda machine dropped over our brave lads on the front line during the war. It shows what was happening back in Blighty – handsome US soldiers in bed with the wives and girlfriends of our Tommies stuck at the front.

So does it happen in football? At this time of the year, the tabloids and Sky are obsessed by transfer rumours, or rumours of transfer rumours, working themselves into a frenzy of self-perpetuating excitement, until the final minute of deadline day, when the climax comes at last, uh hum – all over the studio, what a mess.

In Reality, which is where I live, just off the North Circular – no, down a bit, move left, got it – there is no such thing as fake news in football. We are immune from fantasy facts. OK, there is gossip about the main players – will they move or will they not, will they be sued/prosecuted/dropped?

Football is concerned with facts. You have to get more goals than the other team, then you win the game. Fact. Because all the Prem games are live on telly, we millions of supplicant fans can see with our eyes who won. No point putting out a story saying that Chelsea got stuffed 19-1 by Spurs. Who would believe it, even if Donald Trump tweeted it?

I suppose the Russkis could hack into the Sky transmissions, making the ball bounce back out of the goal again, or manipulating the replay so goals get scored from impossible angles, or fiddling the electronic scoreboards.

Hmm, now I think about it, all facts can be fiddled, in this electronic age. The Premier League table could be total fiction. Bring back pigeons. You could trust them for the latest news. Oh, one has just arrived. Ronaldo’s romance  with the Herdwick is off! And so am I. Off to Barbados and Bequia
for two weeks.

Hunter Davies’s latest book is “The Biscuit Girls” (Ebury Press, £6.99)

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 12 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's revenge