“Inversions allow us to rebel against the routines that dictate much of our world.” Take a new look at the world around you by flipping everything upside down.
This ritual is perfect for: Perspective shifts, exploring new parts of your being, letting go of control and flowing with life.
Inversion rituals—rituals that turn social norms on their head—remind revelers of the fragility of social conventions and of the shared, common humanity of everyone: what really lies underneath crowns, armor, politics, and titles. In many cultures around the world, rituals of inversion are carried out to great celebration.
For example, Brazil’s lavish Carnival festival is a way to “invert” society just before the restrictive season of Lent begins. People dress in elaborate costumes and indulge in food and drink—the opposite way of life while observing Lent.
The ancient Celts celebrated a more metaphysical kind of inversion ritual: Samhain (the inspiration for modern-day Halloween). On this day, it was believed, the spirits of the dead and the gods came to the human world and acted as living people. So, in order to avoid meeting them, the actual living wore masks that looked like the faces of the dead. The point was to turn the world upside down, confuse, and play, all the while having a good feast with family and community.
In a tarot deck, the Hanged Man card shows a man hung from a tree by his foot, his head close to the ground. The name and the imagery of this card can, at first, seem scary—just as inversions can seem scary—but its message is one of renovation. In order to grow spiritually and creatively, the Hanged Man suggests, you need to shake things up. You need to get a radically fresh perspective.
Inversions allow us to rebel against the routines that dictate much of our world.
The fresh perspective that comes from a flipped routine, exploring a new route home, or taking an impromptu nap in the middle of the day is incredibly powerful. These small acts of switching up the norm might seem trivial, but their effect can trickle down into all areas of your life.
Practicing inversion is like exercise for your brain—it swiftly adjusts to the change and creates new pathways that open doors to entirely new ways of thinking. You are sparking a fresh start for your creative, productive, and inventive spirit.
Ready to try this perspective shifting ritual? I invite you to get playful with this ritual. Let’s invert.
Inversions do not have to be extreme. Here are some ideas:
- Write or eat using your non-dominant hand.
- Have breakfast for dinner.
- Take a new route to work.
- Wear your partner or best friend’s clothes.
- Sleep with your head where your feet usually are.
- Read a favorite poem from last line to first line.
If none of these ideas appeal to you, you might prefer a different approach: remain open to impulse. If you’re walking along the street and something catches your eye around the corner, take the turn! If you see someone reading an interesting book during your commute, ask them about it. The possibilities are endless.
The key is to spark inspiration and remain open to people, opportunities, and experiences that you might otherwise not notice in your day-to-day routine.
Reprinted from The Rituals by Natalie MacNeil with permission by Chronicle Books, 2019