adornment is ritual

Adornment is Ritual

by: Shiyana Hunter


What is Adornment?

Adornment has a few synonyms, but for myself it evokes something unique to this word: ritual. Perhaps it’s just how my brain works and adornment has become associated with anointment, and therefore it conjures feelings of sacred ritual. An embellishment, on the other hand, isn’t a ritual to me; it’s an addition. Adornment is intentional beauty; choosing to see the sacred in our selves and the world we inhabit. There is no adding or subtracting, just being and appreciating. Adornment may be the material symbols and aspects of ceremony, but for me it can be that and more. It can be dancing, music, makeup and creation.  It’s the intention to impart beauty, to sanctify life. 

What is Mindfulness?

Appreciation of the world around me is akin to mindfulness, a practice I have used off and on for about a decade. Mindfulness is kind of a loose, catchall term to describe being present in the moment. The ceremony and ritual of self care, of adorning my life and body, anchors me and facilitates my being present in the moment. There are many meditations out there to help people practice mindfulness, but one of my favourite examples comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, although he is not the only one to speak to it. He discusses doing the dishes as being meditative, a mindfulness practice. Building on that idea based on “paying attention on purpose in the present moment,” I grew to understand my mindfulness practice could be anything, anywhere, at anytime. This gave me the freedom to cultivate a mental health practice through adornment. Doing my makeup was meditative; I was focused on the task of applying colours, creating shadows, and drawing lines. This has allowed me to expand my toolbox and embrace various forms of self care. 


Tools for Creating A Sense of Reverence

In order to create a sense of reverence in my life I use a variety of tools. 

  • Essential oils

  • Incense

  • Crystals

  • Plants

  • Music

  • Clothing

  • Cosmetics/makeup

  • Dance

  • Yoga

  • Candles

My favourite essential oils tend to be citrusy like bergamot and herby like rosemary. I tend to choose scents that are reminiscent of herb gardens, so there are notes of floral but not in your face floral. The objective, for me, is to create a mood. I am using the scents to heal and uplift. Most of the tools I use are meant to do the same. This makes my practice of self-care inherently connected to my practice of adornment. 


Finding My Rhythm 

I still struggle to create a rhythm in my life I can stick to. I often go through depressive episodes, where I find it extremely challenging to care for myself. In those times the tools and task are simplified: drink water, splash water on my face, change my clothes, eat. When I can, I add in the more decorative parts of my self care. 

To me adornment means decoration, ritual, ceremony, sacred, honouring. It means wearing what makes you feel confident, sensual, empowered, and/or comfortable. It means expressing the light of my essence. Sometimes I have a hard time seeing that essence, but the practice helps me to remember. Your adornment may look different from mine, but whatever it may be, it should feel good



Minds Unlimited /Mindfulnessgruppen. “Jon Kabat-Zinn Mindfulness 9 Attitudes - Introduction to the Attitudes.” YouTube, YouTube, 26 June 2013,