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Posts Tagged ‘rituals’

Monday 20th March is the date when night and day will be equal.  After this our days in the southern hemisphere will slowly get shorter and the nights longer.  We will move from summer to winter, from light to dark, and from outer to inner.  The equinox is a time of balance throughout the globe, one of the two times of the year when both hemispheres have days and nights of equal length.

Our ritual group met to celebrate this festival, with a meditation that encouraged us to consider what our psychological harvest might be, and how we might sustain ourselves through the darker time.  We each received a small parcel of seeds to take home and plant, in preparation for spring.

“If only the whole world could be
in balance psychologically.”

 

 

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Today, 10th April, marks thirty years since I was initiated into Women’s Mysteries.   This was at the end of an Auckland University Extension course facilitated by Lea Holford. I’d done Women’s Studies courses before, and had read books, such as “The Paradise Papers”, later known as “When God was a Woman”.  In 1984 I saw Lea’s course advertised, and thought I might go, but left enrolling until just before it started.  I was surprised to find that it was already fully subscribed and I had missed out.  In 1985 I made sure to enrol early.

Lea introduced us to rituals and to many of the ancient Goddesses.  The experiential course culminated in an initiation ritual which had a profound effect on me, and the group which formed after the course became an important part of my spiritual expression and exploration.  Learning about the Goddess added a new dimension to my life.  I saw my place in the world differently, and gained a perspective that’s reflected in everything I do and am.

I helped to organise some large rituals, later taught workshops and courses on Women’s Spirituality, and eventually became a registered marriage celebrant.  Several recent events have reminded me of that early learning.  I took out the initiation card I’d received in 1985 and was intrigued to find the date on it was so close.  It’s satisfying to look back on thirty years of celebration of the seasons and rites of passage.

Initiation card

Initiation card

I wonder how readers of this blog have come to realise/choose their spirituality, and what different paths you may have chosen.

“In sacred circles I have learned
the mysteries for which I yearned.”

 

 

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Today is the fourth anniversary of the most destructive of the Christchurch earthquakes, and I was part of a group which hosted a site for the River of Flowers commemoration at Tautahi Pa/The Bricks, just across the road from my home.

Yesterday I collected the resources for this from Healthy Christchurch, including about 200 flowers which had been generously donated by Moffat’s Flower Company Ltd.  I put the flowers into buckets of water, which sat overnight in my bath.  The bathroom was filled with the divine scent of roses.

Roses in the bathtub

Roses in the bathtub

Before 9am I set up a table on the riverbank with cards (for writing messages of hope) and pens carefully secured inside a plastic bag as it was drizzling.  I realised I needed to also have a sheet of instructions, and went home to organise this.  Looking out the window I saw a man with a bicycle making off with my bag of cards and pens!  I ran out and hailed him, and he returned, explaining that he’d thought someone had left rubbish and he was clearing it away.  I was glad he hadn’t tried to take the table as well.

Before noon I took my five buckets of flowers across and settled down to greet people.  Workers on the river restoration had put a barrier across the water just west of the bridge, and I intended to encourage everyone to go nearer to the bridge to ensure their flowers would float downstream.

River barrier

River barrier

A woman drove up, got out with a bunch of roses, and headed towards the bank above the barrier.  I was ready to make contact if she looked my way, but thought it best not to interrupt her personal commemoration.  After she’d left her roses slowly floated down, accompanied by a posse of ducks.  To my relief they (the roses, not the ducks) found the gap in the barrier and continued on their way under the bridge.

By the time our ceremony started at least 70 people had gathered.  Richard Tankersley, representing Te Runaka ki Otautahi o Kai Tahu, offered a mihi and karakia, speaking about the significance of the area and the date.  At 12.51pm I sounded a gong for two minutes’ silence, after which a piper played a lament.  People then tossed flowers into the river and we watched them float away.

 

Flowers heading downstream

Flowers heading downstream

Afternoon tea at our Community Cottage completed the afternoon’s event, with flowers and cards left by the river until early evening in case others wanted to make a personal commemoration. When I looked at the messages later I found that many had written about remembrance rather than hope.  One person had attached a piece of rosemary “for remembrance”.

Tree of Hope

Tree of Hope

I returned home to find a message from Juliet Batten in Auckland.  She’d been thinking of Christchurch and had created a shrine with roses for this fourth anniversary.

“The local folk were pleased to share
a time where we could show we care.”

 

 

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The Autumn Equinox or Mabon is the time of equal day and night when the world is in balance.  It’s a time to reap what we’ve sown, and to give thanks for the harvest.  Traditionally this was a time of rest and celebration after the hard work of gathering the crops.

Our ritual group met to contemplate our own inner harvest, release anything that we no longer need in our life, and consider what new growth we hope for in the spring.

Equinox altar

Equinox altar

 

We finished with a Mabon prayer:

With equal hours of light and darkness
we celebrate the balance of the Equinox and ask the Goddess to bless us.
For all that is bad, there is good.
For that which is despair, there is hope.
For the moments of pain, there are moments of love.
For all that falls, there is the chance to rise again.
May we find balance in our lives
as we find it in our hearts.

Blessed be.

 

 

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On Monday morning I saw a digger making a hole in the turf of Latimer Square.  On Tuesday morning a large crane had lifted a pine tree into place.

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning

By Wednesday morning there was a Christmas tree, all decorated,  and ready for Carols by Candlelight.

Wednesday morning

Wednesday morning

I enjoy tinsel and pretty lights, and I also enjoy the wonderful warm sunshine we have at this time of year.  I wish more people would celebrate the Summer Solstice at this time, rather than a northern hemisphere winter festival.

Here’s a Wiccan blessing for Summer:

As the sun spirals its longest dance, cleanse us.
As nature shows bounty and fertility, bless us.
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny.

“Let’s celebrate the season here
and spread about some summer cheer.”

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Today is the Spring Equinox, the day when darkness and light are balanced.  At this time we turn away from darkness and embrace the growing light.  It’s a time to plant the seeds of what we hope to harvest in the autumn – in our inner lives, as well as in the garden.  To quote Michael Leunig:

“We celebrate spring’s returning and the rejuvenating of the natural world.
Let us be moved by this vast and gentle insistence that goodness will return, that warmth and life shall succeed, and help us to understand our place in this miracle.”

What inner seeds are you planting to be harvested in autumn?

“The crops we hope autumn will bring
need to be nurtured in the spring.”

 

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Ritual Required

A woman died overseas last week.  I didn’t know her, but she was loved by a friend of mine who couldn’t get to the funeral.  This friend invited a small group of us to share her farewell to her friend.  First she talked about the woman, and times they’d shared.  After lighting a candle she invited each of us to light a candle and bring in the memory of our own beloved dead.  She then sang a song of farewell, and we all shared food and drink to bring us back to the everyday.

I was intrigued to note that there were seven of us, and that the seven candles symbolised the stars of Matariki, now in the sky, and traditionally the time for remembering the dead.

As we ate we talked about various ways of fare-welling the dead, and how these days many people are choosing funerals that are more natural and personalised.  Some of the group were unaware that embalming is not essential, or that it’s possible to organise whatever kind of funeral you want.

There are many ways in which people deal with death and saying farewell to loved ones.  I was honoured to be part of this ritual.

“Each person’s life must end some day.
Fare-welling helps us on the way.”

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