The role of ceremony in our lives
Moving from one stage of life to another, consciously.originally posted on Alora Auntie Substack on Sept 9, 2022
Let’s talk about ceremony.
It’s the first big post I want to make after I announce I’m writing about parenting for spiritual people. Why?
Ceremonies mark the rhythm of our lives.
Birth, changes in age, special moments.
But ceremonies also help us process so that we can move from one stage of life to another consciously.
This is the framework I want to use to talk about ceremony. Not just a celebration or a special event to say “you did it” but a passage that says “you may now release the past and move forward”.
Ceremonies help uncover hidden strengths.
They process grief.
They reveal gifts.
Each ceremony - at its time - creates a sacred container where transformation and shift can happen.
It’s not not a party, it’s a process.
Where are these processes in our modern lives?
The other day my Guides were sharing with a client that the client has to do the work in order to facilitate their own breakthrough. No one else can bring them to breakthrough. Like a movie where the young teen wants something and the wise one says “first, you must build a wall here in this field made of stone” and the teen looks around “there are no stones here” and the wise one says “go gather some”, the teen embarks on a journey that spans a summer of anger, frustration, tears, joy, coming together, community…
…by the time the wall is built the teen is a new person - one who knows themselves - and from these new eyes they are able to fully see, grasp, and allow fully and well the thing they wanted all along.
Or maybe what they want changes.
The point is, the wall is not the point.
It is the journey of building the little stone wall that stretched the field that made the difference to this life.
To take this into a ceremonial context (no long wall-building needed) I was often asked by my shima to bring things to ceremony. Or, often, I was building things in ceremonies that were days long. We sat in circles and crafted our own tools for the ceremony. We went on hikes to gather and dry the sage. We sat in silence under a tree by ourselves dreaming up the symbol for what we needed.
We went on a journey.
The journey was the way to the realization.
The realization was the celebration.
You don’t have to make things for every ceremony, but you do need to bring something, even if it’s just yourself, to a ceremony that facilitates and honors and celebrates the cycles. A circle of women dreaming together in guided journey is a journey. A walk-about in spirit followed by the gathering and the sharing and then, the celebration.
Where are these in our children’s lives?
Where are these in our lives?
In modern day ceremonies in the West much of the teaching is left out. “Stand here. Sit here. Walk here. Then it’s over and we go out to eat.” This is high school graduation. Where is the journey of consciousness? How many wide-eyed teens are left after, blinking, thinking, “That was it? Now I’m equipped to start an adult life?”
But to have a ceremony of shift requires personalization. Each student bringing something they made. Each student going on a meditation that brings them insight. Each student having a journey in ceremony that brings them more up to speed with who they are now, while helping them let go of what they no longer need.
Each student finds themselves - even a little bit more - in the process.
This can happen in large groups (there are large ceremonies) that are experiential. They are designed to facilitate shift too, in the way that they do.
If I sound like I am waxing on poetic about ceremony let me step back a moment and say that not every ceremony held is fantastic, helpful, needed, or wanted. The quality of the ceremony depends on the quality - and timing - and wisdom - of the ceremonial leader and much, much more.
Yet I do want to point out that if you look back on your life and realize that you never had any process points, you might realize a bit of why you are stuck in old hurts, feeling like a child trying to pretend to be an adult.
Feeling lost, unprepared, or ill-equipped creates systemic relationship and personal chasms.
Look at your children or the children around you and ask: what are we doing as parents and aunties to help these children grow up through their cycles with process and meaning? How much of this meaning are they discovering for themselves? How much meaning is being put on them, told to them, or assumed by them that has no resonance with who they are?
And how can we help them better through the changes, the cycles, and the process of life?
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