1.) In the introduction, the author explains that most rituals revolve around liminal stages, “life’s major transitions, such as birth, coming-of-age, death, and, everybody’s favorite, marriage.” She writes that they were developed in order to calm the anxiety surrounding any change, and to mark the sacred nature of the moment. Can you think of a ritual in your own life that marked a major change? If so, what effect did it have on you? Did it make you feel calmer? More in control?
2.) Are there everyday rituals you use in your own life to help you feel calm and proactive? If so, what are they?
3.) Another purpose of rituals is to connect us to the generations that came before us. Do you have any family traditions or heirlooms that make you feel closer to your relatives or ancestors?
4.) Have you experienced transitions or moments in life that don’t have cultural rituals associated with them, and that you wish did? Perhaps a break-up of a romantic relationship, or moving into a new place? Looking back, what ritual would you invent for that experience?
5.) What do you think accounts for the fact that so many symbols—fire, knots, stars, trees, pomegranates, wheat—have the same significance across many different cultures?
6.) This book suggests incorporating traditions from your and your partner’s backgrounds into your wedding, but also adapting other traditions that might speak to you. How do you feel about that recommendation? Is it cultural appropriation, a sign of respect for another culture, or something else all together?
7.) If you’re planning a wedding, what are some symbolic gestures or actions you plan to include?
8.) Which tradition or symbol in the book speaks to you the most? Which did you find most surprising?
9.) “With lucky customs, there’s always a work-around,” Gage writes in the introduction. What does she mean by that? Do you find that a comforting thought or a disturbing one?
10.) The introduction says, “Rituals and traditions make ceremonies, and life, richer and more beautiful, but in the end, you create you own luck.” How much of life do you think is within our control and how much is left up to fate?