I have sat with this writing in mind for some time now, formulating what to me Ceremony and Ritual mean, and wanting to share these musings with you. Feeling like I was sitting in front of a blank canvas ready to create and being overwhelmed by how to begin. When it came to me that this is what ceremony is about, beginning with a blank canvas and creating in the moment with no desire to imagine the outcome, just trusting in the flow. A ceremony is an event of ritual significance.
This past summer I spent time honoring one of the Great Lakes, Lady Ontario, everyday I walked her shores and noticed her ever changing moods, colors and whispers, this was a ritual, a daily practice. Some days I walked noticing the rocks she had sent to shore, some days I was saddened by the loss of life to her, a dead fish or seagull, some days I submerged my body in her, to come up floating, being gently held by her and allowed to watch the clouds and birds.
Often she brought songs out in me, songs taught to me by my dear Ojibwa friend Darlene. Witicha Hayo, Hey Gwande, Buffalo Medicine Women.
Ceremony came when I choose 13 Grandmother Rocks from her shore, to be placed on the Altar for a Blessing Way Ceremony for my daughter Kadi. Ritual came in designing how this ceremony would be shared with the supporting group of women who came together and helped hold Ceremony for the blessing of this Mamma to be.
The Creating of Ceremony by way of Ritual
Intention is the first element of effective Ritual and Ceremony. A clear intention is where one begins, without this the energy created is poorly structured with little or no direction. Creating a sacred space is not about having a special room set aside for this purpose only, but being in the space you have decided to use, spending time in that space, readying the space. This can be simply setting a Altar, lighting some candles, putting out throw cushions, or making a outdoor fire pit ready. Whatever it is the “being” in the now and beginning the action of holding this sacred space, makes it that, no matter where you choose this to be.
Your morning coffee or special tea drink – is a ritual. Walking in nature and just being, seeing, is ritual and ceremony.
Ritual’s can be simple, without special accouterments, there is no ONE way. Ritual is created with the trusting of Intuition and the act of being in the moment.
Ceremony is lead, but not so strongly directed that it becomes restrictive and does not allow for spontaneity from participants. With this being said, the ego is not part of the equation.
The Effect of Ceremony & Ritual
As apposed to Indigenious cultures, we in the West have been estranged from the words “Ceremony & Ritual” as they may be associated with religion and dogmatic practices. Yet we find that we still create community when someone graduates, becomes pregnant or dies. These gatherings are the same as Ceremony, regardless of religion or belief. They create a space for people to gather, honor and share.
Ceremony and Ritual are essential for a healthy and balanced personal and communal life. Rituals and Ceremonies reduce tension, anxiety and stress, produce deeper self-awareness, and connect us to our community. They reconnect us with our deepest core values and our highest vision of who we are and why we are here.
My Words to You. JUST DO IT! MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO! TRUST YOUR INTUITION!
Lorna – Skydancer