A ritual is nothing but the dramatic, visual, active manifestation or representation of a myth. By participating in the rite, you are engaged in the myth, and the myth works on you—provided of course, that you are caught up by the image.
But when you just go through the routine without real commitment, expecting it to work magically and get you into heaven—because you know that when you’re baptized, you get into heaven, after all—you’ve turned away from the proper use of these rites and images.
First, think about your own childhood, the symbols--that were put into you that remain. Think not how they relate to an institution, which is probably defunct and likely difficult to respect. Rather, think how the symbols operate on you. Let them play on the imagination, activating it. By bringing your own imagination into play in relation to these symbols, you will be experiencing the marga, the symbols’ power to open a path to the heart of mysteries.
It is my belief, drawn from experience, that there’s nothing better than comparative mythological studies to let you grasp the big, general form of an image and to give you many different ways of approaching that image. Images are eloquent in themselves; they talk to you. When the intellect tries to explicate an image, one can never exhaust its meaning, one can never exhaust its possibility. Images don’t essentially mean anything: they are, just as you are. They talk to some kernel in you that is.
So ask an artist, “What does your picture mean?” Well, if he despises you enough, he’ll tell you. The point is that if you need him to tell you what it means, then you haven’t even seen it. What’s the meaning of a sunset? What’s the meaning of a flower? What’s the meaning of a cow?