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ritual = to flow as a river

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riverFurther to yesterday’s post in which I described an impromptu bedside ritual, Thomas Moore reveals that word’s poetic etymology across several cultures and thousands of years:

The word “ritual” is from Latin ritus, from Greek rheo, meaning “to flow, run, rush, or stream.” A “rite” is a river–rivus–“river or stream”; relating to “rival,” one who uses the same stream as another. One arrives, or, as in this case, derives, by approaching or leading from the river.

To be in ritual, therefore, is to be in the river: Jesus with John the Baptist, the Buddhist on his raft in the river. Using the word from which “ritual” derives, Herakleitos* says:

 Everything flows and nothing abides;
everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.

source: Moore, T. (1984). Rituals of the imagination. Dallas Institute Publications. *Herakleitos was a Greek philosopher. image:


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