It's not what we know that sustains us. It's what we don't know.

~ Bram van Velde, Dutch painter


Crafting Secular<br> Ritual

Crafting Secular

«A decisive step in the right direction.»
- Ronald L. Grimes

Crafting Meaningful<br> Wedding Rituals

Crafting Meaningful
Wedding Rituals

«Read all of Jeltje’s books!»
- Charlotte Eulette, Fondation des célébrants

Crafting Meaningful<br> Funeral Rituals

Crafting Meaningful
Funeral Rituals

« It has everything, and it's so well done.»
- Kyle TevlinI Want a Fun Funeral

Emerging Ritual<br> in Secular Societies

Emerging Ritual
in Secular Societies

«A widespread and accessible work.»
- Peter A Levine

Coping Rituals in Fearful Times

Coping Rituals in Fearful Times

«A great piece about ritualising at the ambiguous edge!!!»
- Saskia Sassen



«We need rituals.»
- Dr Christophe Fauré



«Rituel without bigotry.»
- Temps Présent



Un vent nouveau souffle en Occident sur ce qui touche au souvenir du défunt, amorçant une période de «réappropriation du mort» ainsi que des rites autour de la mort. Alors que les cimetières traditionnels sont de moins en moins visités, les mémoriaux éphémères et virtuels se multiplient comme autant de moyens de réécrire l’histoire et d’affirmer le désir de vivre en société.

  • Mémoriaux éphémères aux morts et la lutte pour exister Download


Alors que les cimetières traditionnels sont de moins en moins visités, les mémoriaux éphémères et virtuels se multiplient comme autant de moyens de réécrire l’histoire et d’affirmer le désir de vivre en société. Nous vivons une période de «réappropriation du mort» ainsi que de nouveaux rites autour de la mort.

  • Célébrer les passages de la vie, respecter ses valeurs profondes Download


Chaque tranche de vie comporte son lot d'événements prévisibles et imprévisibles. Marquer les grandes transitions de nos vies est essentielle pour notre bien-être et pour notre insertion dans notre communauté. Que se passe-t-il lorsque nous ne sommes pas religieux ou pratiquants? Sommes-nous tenu à pratiquer les rituels associés à une tradition spirituelle, même si on n'y adhère pas? Ce sont des questions importantes dans des sociétés de plus en plus sécularisées. L'article présente une approche naturelle à la ritualisation séculière pour marquer les étapes de la vie.

Book chapters

  • The Rhyme and Reason of Ritualmaking - Chapter 4 (ERSS) Download


The effectiveness of ritualizing depends more on the senses and sensemaking than on thinking or dogma. Ritualizing must touch the body’s felt sense and effect a felt shift. Coherence with the values and culture of the person at the centre of the ritual ensure that the ritual is right because it feels right. Over the last 17 years, Gordon-Lennox developed, tested and refined a naturalistic approach to the creation of secular ceremonies for the major passages of life. Her training as a psychotherapist, in particular for the treatment of trauma, and her expertise in world religions enriches the approach she summarises with three watchwords: accompaniment, authenticity and affect.

  • Case Study: A Nordic Rite of Passage Comes of Age - Chapter 5 (ERSS) Download


Confirmation as a coming of age ceremony has deep roots in traditional popular Nordic culture. For hundreds of years Nordic state churches held the key to adulthood. Until 1912 in Norway and Denmark, young people could not legally marry, wear adult clothing or work as adults until they were approved by their parson and confirmed by the church in a public ceremony. A movement in Nordic countries rehabilitated the confirmation tradition by adding a secular twist that gives youth a choice between a religious or a non-religious confirmation ceremony. The first civil confirmation organised by the ”Association Against Church Confirmation” took place in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1915.
Many Nordic youth opt today for a humanist confirmation to celebrate their coming of age because it represents a proud moment for them and their families. Each year over 10,000 young Norwegians are confirmed in humanist ceremonies held in concert halls, medieval castles, municipal cinemas, cultural centres, city halls and community buildings throughout the country. From the small towns in the south, with their white painted wooden houses, to the urban areas such as Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim to the sparsely populated areas in the far north where the Sami communities live families gather on Saturday or Sunday in late April till late May to see their young people move into adulthood.


Children and War -- Special Brochure -- ICRC

Edited by Jeltje Gordon-Lennox


This document was researched, written and edited by Jeltje Gordon-Lennox for the International Committee of the Red Cross (1994). Publisher: ICRC Publications Department, Geneva, Switzerland.