When people find out I married across cultures into a Native American community or that I was fortunate enough to study with Lynn Andrews and Martin Prechtel, they often ask me to suggest a ritual to them.
Usually, the requester wants a ritual to “get something” like love, money, or a longed-for pregnancy. I remember growing up watching Bewitched where the lead character Samantha would simply wiggle her nose to manifest her desires. If only!
Westerners tend to confuse ritual with Samantha’s nose wiggling. Sure, people across cultures and time have used ritual to pray for rain, healing, or protection; however, ritual isn’t just about the ritual maker’s needs. It’s way bigger and more complex than that.
Ritual is performed to open a portal to the holy, the holy being whatever you consider the invisible force behind all this visible life to be.
For earth-based mother cultures, rituals were performed to “feed” these ephemeral energies. Humans were seen as the handmaidens of the divine, animating life and keeping the world alive through their stories, initiations, and stewardship of the land. The world included the things you can see, smell, and touch as well as the imaginal or ephemeral landscape of the unseen.
Rituals were performed as offerings, like you would court a beloved. Offerings of beauty and eloquence were made with rare flowers, the pungent and pleasant smell of burning copal or sage, and sweets like cacao or honey. Songs and dance were used to court, seduce, and embody the “spirit” of the ceremony.
Just visit one of the 22 pueblos in New Mexico on Christmas to see the men and women enduring sub-zero temperatures to perform ceremonial dances for the holy in nature. I am awestruck by the Deer Dance that honors the deer who gives its life so that the hunter can live. Dressed in the finest dresses, kilts, woven sashes, adorned with ceremonial clay paint and fresh deer pelts, “the people” give the day to the deer and so much more.
The ritual itself is the delicious thing that is eaten by the other side (the invisibles) in the hopes that the spirit of the place, dance, upcoming ceremony, or medicinal healing will bless you or the village with good fortune in the form of much-needed rain, good crop, or a healing.
Rituals are performed as a series of prescribed behaviors that act like the twists and turns of a combination lock – opening the door to the multi-layered dimensions of time and space. Modern physicists like to call this “tangled hierarchy.”
What these traditional cultures understand that those of us who are in less contact with these practices have forgotten is that the first step of any ritual is to “give back.” Giving back to the invisible force not because you are not worthy or the spirits are less fortunate, but because you are part of an energetic field that requires your participation in maintaining it.
“When a culture refuses to use to use its technology, art and ingenuity to make sacrifices of Beauty to what it can’t see, then the culture itself becomes the sacrifice: minds close, grief goes to revenge, imaginations harden, feeling helpless we bathe in numbness in order to bear it all, while our souls long to run away with the magician.” -Martin Prechtel
Start your ritual right now by giving thanks and making a sacrifice.
The “getting” begins with the giving.
- Plant two trees for every one that you use.
- Perform an act of anonymous good repeatedly as you pray for whatever “good’ you desire.
- Offer a “free” seat in your business for a person or group of people as your abundance grows.
- Give thanks to the February sun that warms your face.
For those of you looking to master the art of spelling casting check out anything written by Zsuzsanna Budapest. Her books of spells and rituals are fabulous.
Yours in psyche and spirit,