The up-coming Salmon Ceremony on Salmon River, May 26, 2012 is a chance for people to gather collectively and river dance for the return of the salmon nation.  Will it help bring the fish home? Do salmon hear the people? Are outside forces at work? Do spirits from the other world lend a hand? Is there some creative source of the universe at work? Is there a monotheistic god pulling all the strings?

Does any of this really matter? If the desired results of a set of prescribed activities happens, where it came from, known or not, may not matter much.  A positive feedback may prevail and be answer enough to the people who participate.  The importance of ritual is about intention and influence. Where the influence comes from is secondary. Intention is about focus, direction, and attraction.

Rituals began a long time ago, yet prevail in many forms and uses in today’s world.  A ritual is usually some kind of activity that mostly carries symbolic value to a group of people for various reasons.  The efficacy of ritualistic actions is a nebulous and often contentious evaluation as to the effectiveness such behavior may have.  More curiously, aside from actions that seem to have a desired effect, the reasons why, are also quite ambivalent.

Special music, songs and dance, are often a big part of human rituals. Often they are copied from the animal realm that also contains many biological and social rituals in their world.  Such as mimicry of a sage grouse dance,  a wily coyote on the prowl, flight of an eagle, or the butting heads of bighorn rivals.   Even celestial events are copied and given names like the Sun Dance in the Sioux Culture. Most things are done in circular fashion, as many of natures events, from planet shapes and orbits, to cycles of the seasons and circadian rhythms.

Some people believe spirits from the other world can be solicited to aid their wants, and is fundamental to a lot of religious organizations, or spiritual appreciation in a more secular hinged earth flavored paganism.  Rather any force outside of man exists and comes to the aid of the asking, will always be debatable. However, often rituals do help groups become more grounded in a commonality that often helps bring about desired changes, in itself.

The human animal is very much effected by group dynamics and ceremony. Chemical changes in the brain take place and do have an effect on behavior. Thus, the reason a placebo often works as good as any prescribed medicine in healing illnesses or maladies plaguing the unfortunate.  So the act of believing sets in motion changes to the brain that indeed sometimes allow for bringing the desired effect.

In this light, the importance of ritual for humans is that it unites them with a common cause, and in subtle ways very small, perhaps even subconscious, actions may be combined with the right chemistry to be of just enough efficacy to create a welcome desire.

In the case of our Salmon Ceremony and Dance to help bring more salmon back to their spawning grounds, we hope that collectively, all cultures of people can come together and become much more focused on that very intent.  Ritual can help spread a ripple affect across the universe.  It may mean that more people will return home, and in some small way, sometime in the near future, align their own behavior more akin to that with the salmon.  It may lead to changing a vote for a certain politician, with enough like-minded  support, that is more fish friendly when it comes to policy changes that effect biology and ecology of the natural world.

Like it or not, politics is the bottom line to all human events, from ancient times to now, and most likely forever into the future. So what we do today, will have impact for tomorrow. Dance the salmon dance. It is good practice to keep from stepping on nature’s toes. The better you dance and sing, the more likely it will make good  music of the world come to be. You can be religious, or not, atheist or theist,  or appreciate science, mytholodgy, or any other form of spiritualism to particiapte or spectatorate.  The beauty of the Great Mystery, is an  appreciation for the  unkwown future of wonders  ever yet to unfold.