Have you ever found that your inner season is out of sync with the outer season?
This can easily happen in early spring.
‘Spring is sooner recognised by plants than by people,’ says a Chinese proverb. The Chinese knew that while plants respond to the subtle cues of nature, uncurling, unfurling, pushing roots down into the earth and shoots up through the crust of soil, humans are not so fast.
What if the season is greening but you are not?
It happened to me earlier this month. Although I could see that spring was returning in leaps and bounds, lurches and rebounds, I was in a different space.
Preparing a conference talk on death and dying had drawn me back into the underworld of winter.
There, like Persephone abducted by Hades, I entered a deeper level of preparation for my own dying. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to pop off just yet!) In a shiny purple box I gathered music, essential oils, and specific instructions for my family and closest friends.
It was deeply satisfying to do this, but I paid a price. In order to imagine what I might need when I am dying, I had to go there in my imagination. I faced fears, grief and sadness as I excavated the bedrock of my beliefs. I also got sick.
This was not the place where I wanted to be while planning a new course. I wanted to be open, playful, creative and in the energies of spring!
The best medicine
What could I do? I hoped that things would automatically change once I’d delivered the talk. But when I told my business group how I was feeling, my coach said something that had me sitting up straight.
‘Juliet,’ he said. ‘It’s time to take your own medicine. Create a ritual to help you return to spring.’
I knew he was right.
Have you ever found that your own medicine is the last thing you will spot on the shelf, let alone take? It was so obvious, yet I needed someone else to point it out. Yes, I would create a ritual.
Here are the steps
Let me tell you the steps, because this could be helpful for you too. (The process took place over several days, and spiralled a little, so I’m streamlining it a bit in the telling.)
First I had to deal with the purple box. It is hard to release something that hasn’t been completed or resolved. Feng Shui expert Karen Kingston includes ‘anything unfinished’ in her list of the four categories of clutter. Things not dealt with, she says, are ‘a constant drain on your energy.’
The file inside the purple box needed to be completed, and the contents shared with my family and closest friends. This I did.
I was then ready to seal the box with a silk scarf, tied in a large bow, and place it in safe keeping in a cupboard. (In some rituals this would be a time to offer a symbol back to the elements).
The second step was to do a personal cleansing. Visits to the realm of death need to be followed by conscious acts of clearing and return.
In Maori custom, someone visiting a graveyard cleanses with water as they leave. In different cultures, many myths contain warnings not to eat when in the underworld. In the Greek myth of Persephone, she ate pomegranate seeds offered by Hades. She was then fated to return to his dark realm every winter.
Maldoma Somé, West African writer on rituals, tells of the danger that threatens mourners after a death, because the spirit of the deceased wants to lure them to follow. Special rituals are needed so that the mourners can detach and return to life. Somé says:
‘Ritual facilitates and provides us with a unique channel to access higher power. Certain issues don’t want to be resolved mechanistically. We don’t have to know how the power works; we just have to show up and let the higher forces deal with the issues. The trap we feel inside ourselves is removed once we enter into sacred space. The energies know how to push obstacles out.’
And so I cleaned and cleansed my home. I stripped the bed and aired everything in the sunshine. I washed the clothes I’d been wearing during this time. I did a huge spring clean of every bit of dust, mould and grime that I could find. I rang my Tibetan bell until it resounded off the walls and corners. I lit incense, took a shower and meditated.
LIFTING THE DARK VEIL
I was now ready for the third step, which I did with my ritual group when we gathered to celebrate spring equinox.
I arrived early, and on one side created a large flower circle out of rosemary, freesias, cliveas, jasmine, lavender and blue bells. In the centre I placed a fragrant candle, in a jar with a lid. Over the whole I drifted a black muslin cloth.
In the ritual, four of us took the corners of the cloth, and together slowly lifted the dark veil that had been shrouding my energies. The flower circle was revealed, and I lit the candle. Others added extra flowers they had brought. They sang and welcomed me back. Then we danced.
I felt like Persephone, returning to a world that was bursting with joy, and shimmering with new life.
Taking my own medicine worked. I felt different, fully returned and ready to welcome in more and more early birds to the course.
Would you like to take this step?
If you need to shake free from limiting constraints, if you long to enter a flow of healing, if you want to create strong rituals of transition for yourself and your loved ones, then I encourage you to join me for The Sacred Art of Ritual course. I know what a difference this course has made to others. They have described it as ‘life-changing’ and ‘transformational.’
You will be part of a loving, supportive group of like-minded companions. Registrations have already come in from Sydney, Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Masterton, and various locations in Auckland.
The Sacred Art of Ritual online course starts on October 13.
Good news! I have been able to extend the early bird date to September 30 (thanks to extra admin help). Click here to find out more.
Even if the course is not for you right now, I hope you have enjoyed the story, and have found something in it that will help you to shake off the last vestiges of winter and trip lightly into the hopeful energy of spring.
I feel differently inside; something has definitely shifted. I have come home to myself, and had some profound recognition around things I have been doing for many years that were in fact ritual. The course has given me a quiet confidence and joy.—Paula
I’ve had a glimpse into the power and magic of the sacred art of ritual — a new and incredibly beautiful experience for me. I am delighted to have discovered how creative and enjoyable ritual can be while simultaneously being powerful and profound. —Amy