“Weave and spin, weave and spin, this is how the work begins.
Mend and heal, mend and heal, take the dream and make it real.
Breath by breath, thread by thread, conjure justice, weave our web.”
Ceremony and ritual are vital aspects of the human experience. They help us tell story and we are story-telling beings. Ritual and ceremony often mark our rites of passage and give us opportunities to grow and co-create. Unfortunately, the word “ritual” is loaded in our culture. A ritual is a set of actions that we perform to illustrate symbolic value and/or to create meaning. Together with Taproot Journeys you have the opportunity to create a ritual/ceremony that will communicate the importance of whatever you are needing to call in, celebrate, grieve, or release in your life.
I have been actively working to promote healing through ceremony and community for the past fifteen-plus years, making Taproot Journeys an excellent choice to guide you in creating your ceremony (for more on my story and experience click here). You may have heard people say that when one of us heals, we all do. I have found this to be true and ceremony is one of the activators of this powerful healing opportunity in our lives.
There are a variety of ways we might choose to expand our taproot through ceremony. We practice traditions that have been shared by all of humanity.
"I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence."
―Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Our ceremony (and everything we do) is always in circle. At Taproot Journeys we follow “The Circle Way — taking a seat to take a stand.” Circle has been a part of humanity for centuries. It seems like such a simple practice, yet it is so incredibly powerful to be looking at each other as we share our voice, drum, sing, and lean into life’s journey. It is a gift we appreciate that was practiced by our ancestors and it enriches most every environment we are in, increasing our capacity for human connection.
Neo-paganism describes individuals who see “divinity manifest in all the processes of nature” and as such, neo-paganism is a “constantly evolving philosophy that views humanity as a functional organ within the greater organism of all Life” (Adler, 1986/1979, p. 10). Many of these folks pay attention to the goddess. In her book, Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics, Starhawk (1997/1982) cautions,
"Let us be clear that when I say Goddess I am not talking about a being somewhere outside of this world, nor am I proposing a new belief system. I am talking about choosing an attitude: choosing to take this living world, the people and creatures on it, as the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, to see the world, the earth and our lives as sacred." (p. 11)
Additionally, there are three important concepts that underlie the pagan spirituality: animism, pantheism, and polytheism (Adler, 1986/1979).
"A wise witch knows the shadows come from the light"
While individual definitions may vary, for the most part, when contemporary people involved in neo-paganism discuss magick, they define it as conscious will.
Discussing Neo-Pagan magic, Adler (1986/1979) writes:
"Magic is a convenient word for a whole collection of techniques, all of which involve the mind. In this case [that of Witches] we might conceive of these techniques as including the mobilization of confidence, will, and emotion brought about by the recognition of necessity; the use of imaginative faculties, particularly the ability to visualize, in order to begin to understand how other beings function in nature so we can use this knowledge to achieve necessary ends." (p. 8)
Pagans and witches do not see magic as something that only those with supernatural skills can accomplish but rather something that everyone can do (Magliocco, 2004). Mainstream resistance to magic surfaces due to the culturally dominant insistence on the rational as opposed to the irrational. For example, Starhawk writes (2004),
"When we [witches] use language that fits into the established framework of the culture, when we try to make our ideas respectable, we limit what we can say and think. But when we use a term like “magic,” when we leap out of the constrictions of respectability and cease to care if people see us as woo-woo, suddenly we can think about anything. We expand the range of our inquiry beyond the categories already fixed in our minds." (p. 27)
Starhawk’s comment advocates against the rational in favor of the irrational. In this way she teaches us that “learning to work magic is mostly a process of learning to think-in-things, to experience concretely as well as to think abstractly” (p. 27). Starhawk points out that as we grow into adulthood we forget to think concretely in favor of abstract reasoning. Co-creative rituals help us to reclaim the concrete and re-connect to the natural world around us through interactive ceremony and magick.
THE ELEMENTS AND DIRECTIONS
Neo-Pagan practices are rooted in the natural world. One of the ways this manifests itself is through speaking to the elements and the four directions, sky, earth, and center starting with the east (the direction of the rising sun) and ending with the north. Each direction and its meanings (or spirits) are acknowledged, welcomed, remembered, and invited into our circles. Often in circle we also pay attention to to the four elements (earth, air, fire, water). For example, burning herbs evokes fire and air and having water and earth present in some local form (e.g. cinders representing earth for Northern Arizona) can stand in for nature's elements.
How you connect is different depending on your practice, but it is often a process of extraction and filling up, of dying and re-birthing. We practice paying attention to our intuitive guidance, training, and honoring this insight for a heightened relationship with the natural world and all beings.
With all of our practices, often in a ritual or ceremony we reach a point where if asked, we could not describe our experience to a friend. We reach a point where there are no words, we have had a spirit-filled experience.
"Somebody I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift."
RITES OF PASSAGE CEREMONIES
Having your first moon cycle (menstruation)/Maiden Ceremony
Becoming a Mother
Mothering in other ways
Becoming a Father
Fathering in other ways
Becoming a Crone (crones are the third stage of a woman e.g. Maiden, Mother, Crone- the wisdom phase of womynhood)
Wedding or Handfasting (See Weddings)
Drumming Circles with a variety of intentions
Death and Loss
Wheel of the Year ceremony (Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnasadh, Fall Equinox)
Taproot Journeys can co-create these ceremonies with you and perform them, or we can co-create them for you to perform on your own. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Contact me to discuss what we might dream together for your personalized ceremony.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
~ Nova Raye
"Madrone is a gifted leader who cultivated the container expertly, adding really thoughtful, poetic, special touches that took the whole experience to another level... There was a beautiful pace and balance to the evening. Throughout the ritual I felt fully focused, connected, safe, and well held. I'm impressed with the vulnerable depth that I found in myself and feel honoured to have been witnessed in that state."
"Our deepest fears are the dragons that guard our deepest treasures."
―Rainer Maria Rilke
Adler, M. (1986/1979). Drawing down the moon: Witches, druids, goddess worshipers, and other pagans in America today. New York: Penguin Books.
Starhawk (1997/1982). Dreaming the dark: Magic, sex and politics. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Starhawk (2004). Earth path: Grounding your spirit in the rhythms of nature. San Francisco: Harper Collins.