Reach Into The Unknown and Listen

Several weeks ago I awoke feeling the “need” to do a ritual. I saw myself sitting with many pictures of me from across my life and holding each one to my heart or body some place, and breathing that part, that essence, of myself back into me.....any lost or frozen pieces that needed to be reclaimed.

When I mentioned this to my dear friend, George, he wrote back that this had just come to him: RITUAL—Reach Into The Unknown And Listen (or Learn). I responded, TCILI—That’s Cool, I Love It....(of course it’s much cooler if the acronym actually makes a word itself!)

It all got me thinking, though, about the nature of ritual and ceremony, and how we can use it and benefit from it in our lives. Sometimes I think these words, ritual and ceremony, are so heavily laden with religious dogma, as if they can only be performed in some grandiose stone cathedral by a priest or pastor. However, I have discovered on my journey of seeking that I can have access the gifts they offer and I often incorporate them into my spiritual practice. Rituals can be fun, serious, well-planned or completely spontaneous. They can be healing, celebratory and transformative. As my friend and teacher, George, always says, “Pay attention to Intention.”

Intention is what brings life to ritual and ritual to life. I can light a candle; or I can light a candle and set an intention for it to symbolize my connection to spirit or ignite my inner flame somehow. Both are the same action, but one becomes more deeply meaningful to me. And it is the meaning I attach to the action that makes that action powerful.

For me, the greatest gift a ritual gives me is an invitation to engage with the unseen realm....to reach into the unknown....into that place which is undefinable, infinite...where Mystery dwells. A “place” where I feel, or at imagine, I am loved and supported no matter my beauty or frailty. A space I can touch into to ask for help with a decision, healing for a broken heart, to let go of something or attract something that is for my highest good.

And, when I am in this space, it calls me to be fully present....to listen....to be present in the moment, to feel my feelings, to listen to my heart or listen for an answer. Say, perhaps, I want to release something, I may choose to burn a piece of paper with writing or drawing on it. As I am in this quiet space, fully present, watching this paper burn to ashes, I can almost feel a transformation being activated inside of me.....as within, so without; as without, so within. And, as I am listening, I may not “hear” anything right away, so I might carry the intention of my ritual with me as I move back into the routine of my life, knowing....trusting that I will receive, or learn, as I continue to listen.

Being in Nature is also a supportive environment to reach into the unknown, and may even inspire a more spontaneous sort of ritual. One day, while overwhelmed with grief, I found myself walking among those little helicopter things that fall from trees. I began picking them up until I had a handful. To this handful I attached all the sadness, anger, frustration about all the things that weren’t going my way, and, with the intention of releasing it all to winds of spirit, I threw them up in the air to fall where they may. That moment of release was so freeing, exhilarating, empowering.....transformative. Later, my brother informed me that those little helicopter things are called samaras.....and the Samara Ceremony was born! Now, even if I don’t have the samaras from the trees, I make my own by tearing paper into tiny pieces. It is the act of releasing, rather than the material released, which holds the power of the intention.

Perhaps, if you don’t already, you might want to weave this RITUAL practice into your spiritual tapestry. Just follow your heart; follow your impulses; pay attention to your intentions. There is no way to do it wrong and EWTDIR—Every Way To Do It Right!