ceremony

ÁLFABLÓT (The Sacrifice to the Elves)

November, 2018

Brief description

International teacher of sacred art and Northern European Tradition shamanism Imelda Almqvist describes the small Álfablót (Sacrifice to the Elves) Ceremony she performed on her land in Sweden on October 31st in 2018. This is the indigenous Scandinavian version of (or closest thing to) Samhain/Halloween.

 

ÁLFABLÓT (THE SACRIFICE TO THE ELVES)

One day even our children (and their children) will be ancestors…

Today Halloween is celebrated in many English-speaking countries. It originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain.

I was in a large supermarket, here in Sweden, yesterday and the first thing I saw upon entering the shop, was an abundance of shelves stacked with Halloween decorations and sweets. That is a relatively new development!  Halloween is not indigenous to Sweden and the phenomenon only arrived in the 1990s. For good for bad, we live in a global village…

In the car on the way home there was a story on Swedish radio titled “Bus eller frukt” (meaning “trick-or-fruit”) Apparently some children had gone trick-or-treating over the weekend (a bit early by British standards!) and received mandarins for their efforts – they were not at all pleased and they had responded with trickery!

As a mother of three I understand that children yearn for scary costumes and collecting candy but, actually, Scandinavia has a perfect valid tradition of its own, for this period. It is shame that this has (largely) dropped into collective oblivion – though Heathen people have always kept the tradition alive and many Pagan people have rediscovered it today).

My students of Norse Shamanism often ask: “Did the Old Norse people have a festival or ritual comparable to the Day of the Dead, at this time of year?” The answer is yes, the Álfablót, The name literally means “The Sacrifice (or offerings) to the Elves”. This requires a bit of explanation.

The Elves (or Alfar) in the Northern European Tradition are not “fairies” but the souls of male dead ancestors who live on as nature spirits. They often live in burial mounds, though we also find them under big rocks, in caves or in the mountains. We can still communicate with them and making offerings is a respectful way of doing so.

By making offerings we acknowledge that they too once walked the land and that they have now become part of the spiritual Weave of the land. They do not (necessarily or automatically) fit a term often heard in core shamanism: “helping spirits”, though they can choose to be helpful. By honouring them we ensure that they are “on our side” and that we have their cooperation and protection during the harsh winter months (remember that Scandinavian winters are harsh and severe).

In the Old Norse way of thinking every gift (gåva) required a return gift (gengåva). There is nothing cynical about this, it follows the spiritual law of keeping all exchanges balanced. (Today we often speak of the principle of fair energy exchange).

In the past on farms animals would have been sacrificed and their blood poured out as a sacred offering (the word blót is the old Old Norse word for blood) but today many practitioners feel that alternative offerings are acceptable (seasonal foods, drink, the favourite food or drink of ancestors we used to know in real life, or other – as guided by the gods and spirits).

Let me also explain that the Alfar are the male ancestors. The female ancestors (Disir) have their own special day in the Yule period (Modranatt or Ancestral Mothers’ Night) as well as a Disablott (Offering ritual to the female ancestors) in the Spring.

The fertility god Freyr (twin brother of the goddess Freyja) is known as the Lord of the Elves and his otherworld domain is called Alfheimr (the Realm of the Elves)

When we bought our house in Sweden I promised the landvaettir (spirits of the land) and the “tomte of our tomt ” (the spirit of our property, not to be confused with Father Christmas – who also goes by the name of Tomte in Sweden!) that I would observe the ancient festivals and traditions as faithfully as my own understanding allows.

Over the summer I was guided to build a small cairn on our property. I carved a Bone Woman from antler bone and dedicated the cairn to her. (This was inspired by the Icelandic phenomenon of the Beinakerling

https://guidetoiceland.is/connect-with-locals/regina/laufskalavarda-add-a-stone-for-good-luck-before-entering-the-skeidararsandur-glacial-outwash

Today I waited for nightfall (which came at 4 p.m.) and made a small pilgrimage to this cairn. I brought my Rune Drum, a candle and offerings of ale and meat (the traditional offerings for an Alfablót).

I drummed and called in the Deep Ancestors (whose names we do not remember), the Ancestors of Place, the Landvaettir, the animals ancestors of all local animal species and the ancestors that live on in local memory and stories.

As a teacher (and lifelong student) of Norse Cosmology I also called in the great skalds and the writers of the Eddic poetry (including Snorri Sturlason, who gave us the Prose Edda!)

I drummed and chanted. I poured ale over the cairn and offered the food.

Odinn’s name literally means “The Spirit” (Odr + the definite article “inn”) and he is associated with the wind, sacred breath and The Wild Hunt.

The most powerful thing about my small blót was that every time I called in a round of ancestors – the wind responded by making a howling noise and curling around me.

I felt that my Álfablót was well-received!

Imelda Almqvist, Kärrshagen, Sweden 31 October 2018

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About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016 and her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently in the editing stages of her third book “Medicine of the Imagination” and has started her fourth book “Evolving Gods: The Sacred Marriage of Tradition and Innovation”

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist (YouTube Channel with art videos and Rune Drum videos)

Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages on Amazon

 

 

Book Review – The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

March, 2018

THE MAGIC CIRCLE

Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

A year ago I wrote a brief review of this book on Amazon but in this review I will expand on what I wrote in February 2017:

This is an amazing source book for families, schools, grandparents and youth leaders in different capacities. It offers a breath-taking range of ideas and ceremonies – ranging from fast and simple to more complex. These ceremonies can help children and young people navigate life transitions and events. From losing a loved one, taking courage, the magic of our own body, the weather, animals, ancestral sleuthing and so forth the possibilities are endless and very inspiring! The future of our Earth depends on young people staying attuned to the Web of Life and honoring all different life forms. This book is a must have for anyone raising such children or hoping to raise such children one day! It has given me ideas for the children and teenagers I myself work with!”

This book was co-authored by a team of three people: Ann Dickie, Jennifer Engracio and Katherine Inksetter. As parent, shamanic teacher and author of a book about shamanic parenting it always makes my heart sing to find high quality resources about shamanism for families, teachers and youth leaders!

Essentially this book provides ceremonies for every conceivable occasion, following the Medicine Wheel (starting in the Center: the Land of Void and from there moving South, than West and so forth).

All this material has been tried and tested extensively and a lot of reflection has gone into the way that activities are introduced and structured. This is important because it reduces the risk of misunderstandings or things “going wrong”. – Having said that: when proper preparations are made, things going “wrong” usually means that the spirits are playing with us and getting creative. In a sense you cannot go “wrong” in ceremony when you work from the heart! – Still, some people feel a little nervous about using shamanism with children, which is understandable, so using properly tested material takes some of that anxiety away.

The authors also point out – very correctly! – that any deep spiritual work or personal growth work will flush out issues needing attention. As a shamanic teacher just want to echo how true this is but, I will also say how those things are ultimately the ingredients of life-changing adventures, they open portals and rewire us on the level of soul. Don’t let that put you off.

Working your way through the whole book can certainly be done but it is a big commitment. It might be better to use the book intuitively – do what calls out to you or what resonates with an issue your child (or grandchild, or youth group etc.) is facing right now.

The Medicine Wheel is a wheel in a very literal sense: one could start anywhere and a journey will unfold. Wheels per definition do not have a beginning or end.

Another good thing about this book is that it includes a suggested age range for every activity. If you are going to be working with younger or older children – no problem, but you may need to simplify things a little or add some complexity. Any parent or teacher (or person who spends time around children) will do this very naturally.

Ceremony is a key-concept in shamanism because it opens the door to our soul and allows us to step outside time. Powerful work is done in the place where the spirits, ancestors and sacred dreams of our collective reside. Healing occurs naturally when we perform ceremonies.

This book gives families tools and high quality activities. Following those encourages children to stay tuned and – most importantly – to keep the connection to their own spirit allies alive and strong as they grow older and face the challenges life will throw at human beings. I truly believe that this is one of the greatest gifts we can give a child.

This book encourages creativity, time spent outdoors, connecting to ancestors, knowing that (as my eldest son once put it when he was just four years old) that “everything is medicine” – or can be, when used or embraced the right way.

I invite you to take this journey around the Medicine Wheel and discover what your own calling and unique medicine is – so you can fully embody and birth this in our world. – Our world in great turmoil and transition (paradigm shift) needs every person alive right now to activate their divinely granted talents and medicine. If we all do that – our world can change overnight!

Thank you Ann, Jennifer and Katherine for this magical book!

Essentially a book like this is spiritual dynamite (and the authors may quote me on that!)

Imelda Almqvist, 22 February 2018, London UK

For Book’s Website Click Image

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About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and SACRED ART. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where ART Meets Shamanism will be published in the Autumn of 2018.

For Amazon Information Click Image

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86  (Year of Ceremony)

 

Affairs of the Pagan Heart

February, 2018

Choosing Handfasting Cord Charms

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! You’ve planned every detail of the ceremony and reception with your partner and you’ve committed to having a handfasting ceremony, and now it’s time to choose what your cord looks like, from which colour(s) to choose to which charms represent the two of you. Of the two, the charms are, by far, the hardest to choose. There is a limited number of cord colours, but an unlimited number of symbols that could be used.

Charms at the end of a handfasting cord aren’t essential, but if you choose to add charms, the symbols should be the most meaningful symbols to you. After all, there are only two ends to a cord, so make them count!

The current definition of symbol on Wikipedia is spot on:

A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different concepts and experiences.”

Charms you choose may exist already and made of metal, or they could be carved from wood or a crystal, or they could be printed and placed into a photo charm.

As for how to choose symbols for your handfasting cord, think on the symbol you want to evoke meaning for your relationship and marriage. It may help to light some incense, meditate, sit cross-legged in front of each other, or even doodle with pen and paper with your eyes closed until you feel something has come forth.

You may want a literal charm. If you met at the seaside, you may want to walk along the beach together until you find some shells that compliment your cord. If your engagement took place at the Statue of Liberty, find a charm of Lady Liberty and something else to accompany it. If you have Celtic or Norse heritage, perhaps you’ll want to add a charm of a Celtic Love Knot on one end and the Ehwaz rune on the other end.

Sometimes choosing a charm based on what your relationship means can evoke a deeper representation. When you spend time with your partner, does a particular image come to mind? Does a particular animal frequently appear near you or cross your path when you talk about your partner? Does the same symbol keep appearing in any wedding-related dreams you have leading up to the ceremony? The universe is speaking to you in dreams, animal encounters, repetition, and strongest memories and wants you to take notice. So do!

And as relationships change, grow, and mature, the symbols you use to represent it may change as well, so if you reuse your handfasting cord later for a vow renewal or rebonding ceremony, consider changing the charms to represent what and who you are now. Add in charms for your family, your home, your spiritual path, or anything that may have changed or evolved since your marriage began.

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About the Author:

Rev. Rachel U Young is a pagan based in Toronto, Canada. She is a licensed Wedding Officiant and under the name NamasteFreund she makes handfasting cords and other ceremonial accessories. She is also the Chair of Toronto Pagan Pride Day.

Book Review: Crystals and Sacred Sites by Judy Hall

September, 2017

CRYSTALS AND SACRED SITES

BY JUDY HALL

It was with great pleasure that I received this book for review. I am a great believer in the efficacy of crystals, as well as being a fan of Judy Hall, having two of her other books.

I found this book extremely interesting. After a brief discussion of how landscape affects us – “our minds are shaped by the landscape around us”, and how most sacred sites are built on land which is a combination of “geological, geomagnetic, symbolic, astronomical, mythological and shamanic factors”, she touches upon the choosing, purifying and awakening of your crystals.

The bulk of the book revolves around sacred sites the world over and how we can connect with them, even without making the physical journey. As Ms. Hall states, there are “interconnections between landscape, geology, crystals and power”, and that the Earth as sacred energies. The crystals used are those that resonate with specific sites, as opposed to crystals found at the sites.

Each sacred site within the book connects with a crystal, and also an alternative crystal. Legends, myths and stories are shared about each one, as well as what one can expect from each of them, i.e. peace, comfort, spiritual awakening. Each site also has a corresponding ritual/ceremony/meditation.

The photos within the book are breathtaking and can easily be used, in my opinion, for a meditation upon that site, although Ms. Hall recommends using Google maps or Websites to become more comfortable with the site itself.

I believe that everyone will find at least one site that calls out to them; for myself, I am drawn to the Sekhmet Sanctuary at the Karnak Temple, and most especially to Glastonbury, which Ms. Hall describes as “the heart chakra of the world”. I know that I look forward into exploring this more fully in the future.

With that being said, even if you have no interest in the sacredness and connection of the sites themselves, and are only interested in the crystal information, there is a wealth of that here, as well.

)O(

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About the Author:

 

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, WriterTeacher, Healer, and YoginiShe is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through Imagine A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

Witches Soul Work

September, 2015

Witches Soul Work: Laughter and Ritual

Laughing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usually when we think of ritual or ceremony we think of serious prayer led by serious officiates. We can’t imagine a church ceremony where the priest and the congregation laugh uproariously in lieu of prayer! Yet there are many good reasons why humour and laughter can be used successfully in ritual and many examples from around the world where it does.

In Nepal the Gaijatra ceremony, also known as the festival of holy cows (!) featured a parade of participants who had lost loved ones during the previous year. These sad people brought their cows to walk in a parade because cows are thought by the Nepalese to transport the souls of the dead to heaven. The cows were presided over by representatives of the bereaved cow owners but if they could not afford cows, the representatives had to dress up as funny colourful cows instead. People in general that attended the Gaijatra also dressed up, trying to make themselves look funny and made a lot of noise by dragging iron wheels or broken pieces of metal. This festival dates back to medieval times when King Malla, who was the ruler of Kathmandu, lost his son to small pox. To console his queen he gathered people from the populace who had also lost sons, like a royal support group, and asked them to show ‘funny items’ or to entertain the queen. Many decorated themselves like cows (for the same reason mentioned above) and when the queen began to laugh her grief was finally resolved (Deep 1992, 57-60).

Nowadays they make sort of parade floats carrying the photos of their loved ones and the only resemblance to cows are horns stuck up on top with four legs represented by sticks that the ‘pallbearers’ use to move the cows forward in the parade. The noise is made with a stick dance. (Gaijatra, 2013)

Laughter has a physiological effect and can lead to an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, respiratory depth and oxygen consumption followed by a period of muscle relaxation with a corresponding decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Post laughter relaxation can last up to forty-five minutes and is caused by the H-reflex depression of spinal motor excitability (Bennet and Lengacher 2008, 37-40). This translates into a relaxed group of people who are ready to connect with the energy and focus of the ritual.

We read about the Japanese laughing ritual dating back to 1199 when the stone fish was used to create humour and appease the Mountain Goddess (Abe 2010, 31-34). In fact there are seven major traditional festivals in Japan that feature ritual performances of laughter called Wa-Rai-Ko. All of these rituals are carried out in or near Shinto shrines where they dedicate the laughter to entertain and please the Kami hoping the laugher’s wishes will be granted. The word kami is translated loosely as ‘gods’, ‘spirits’ or more accurately ‘sacred’ (Milner 2006, 37). So participants are laughing to the sacred.

Doreen E. Martinez is an ethnographic researcher and trained sociologist as well as being an assistant professor at the University of Colorado and the Director of Culture and Community with the Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative (NASHI). Her paternal grandmother was Mescalero, Apache, born in 1899 and paternal grandfather was Chiricahua, Apache, born around 1897. She describes a cultural ritual she calls ‘Traditional Kindness and Ritual Laughter’(Martinez, 2012).

In this ritual if a person admires something that you have “in the right way”, that is not for material gain, then you should give it to them. Teasing, reflected in the ‘coyote trickster and Native clowns, regularly occurs and reinforces humility’.  The Apache believe that teasing promotes laughter of a certain type and makes the subject of the tease feel they are cared for. As one of her examples she tells of admiring a watch worn by another woman who gives it to her with much ceremony. Actually Doreen never wore a watch but it was considered rude to refuse a gift offered with such grace and friendship. A few days later her friend started teasing her because the watch was in Doreen’s bag, not on her wrist, and she laughingly suggested that she should give the watch back if she wasn’t going to wear it. Doreen returned the watch and later that night found a pair of bone earrings on her pillow.

Another example of cultural laughter comes from the story of the Laughing Buddha, called in China Budai and in Japan Hotei. He is one of the ‘Shichic Fukujin (seven gods of good fortune) and is considered to be an incarnation of Amida Nyorai (the merciful Buddha) and Miroku-bosatsu (the future Buddha)’. He is depicted as a ‘fat, jolly, bald priest with fat pendant lucky ears’ surrounded by laughing children. He carries a sack (hotei) which holds a bottomless pit of sweets and good food for the children. His image is placed at the entrances to many shrines, restaurants and stores both in China and Japan. The ritual of rubbing his tummy is supposed to bring smiles and good luck (Ashkenazi 2003, 168).

Recently I wrote a ritual for Beltane 2014 which involved laughter and kissing. My hope was to bring together between 60 and 100 participants, many of whom did not know each other, and help them experience the energy of the Sabbat which I identified as sexual-laughter. In this ritual I created or recruited 5 couples: one to cast the circle, one to bless the maypoles, one to read the Sabbat reading, one to bless the young King and Queen of May and the last couple to be the King and Queen of May. Since this was a non-specific gender ritual I had the circle casters as a married man-woman couple, the may-pole blessers as a man-man couple, the Sabbat readers as woman-woman couple, the King and Queen blessers an older man-woman couple (myself and husband Bran) and the King and Queen of May a younger man-woman couple. The drumming troupe raised energy for the maypole dance and the women’s belly dancing group danced the quarter callings wearing fancy dress.

The circle casting couple kissed very deeply, cheered on by the crowd and then Mielka ran off from her husband going clockwise from East. He gave chase and finally caught her again back at the East quarter after going full circle and they kissed again (more cheering). Hawk and Mitch (two guys) blessed the maypole making a lot of hard pole jokes and then kissed which brought a lot of laughter because it was unexpected. Mitch’s wife laughed the hardest. The Sabbat reading was done by Serafina and Oshun and then they gave the biggest sexiest kiss of the day, which surprised us all as they are not a couple and both are not gay. Bran (my hubby) and I kissed and blessed the Young King and Queen of May played by Ivy and her new boyfriend Paul. This was only his 2nd ritual and as the scheduled King and Queen were late Ivy ‘volunteered’ them. Poor Paul was quite unaware at how much kissing he had to do in the ritual and also that he was expected to perform the “Great Rite” when he got home to finish the ritual.

( Paul: You’re kidding right?

Me: No, it’s part of the ritual. Do you have a problem with that?

Ivy: giggles.

Me: Don’t you love our religion?)

The ritual was full of a lot of laughter and kissing in the spirit of the Sabbat and I achieved what I hoped to with the ritual use of laughter. I want to continue to explore the use of ritual laughter by incorporating a variation of the stone fish ceremony to create laughter and honour the gods during the Summer Solstice Ritual. I was inspired to work on this project by the Laughing Buddha Ritual (Laughing Buddha Ritual , 2013).

References:

  1. Dhurba, Deep. 1992. The Nepal Festival Kathmandu. Variety Printas: 57-60.
  1. Gaijatra Festival. 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIAbshKRcdU
  1. Payne Bennet, Mary and Lengacher, Cecile. 2008. Humour and Laughter May Influence Health: III Laughter and Health Outcomes. Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine 5(1): 37-40.
  1. Goh Abe. 2010. A Japanese Ritual Performance of Laughter. http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/47656885/japanese-ritual-performance-
  1. Milner Davis, Jessica. 2006. Understanding Humour in Japan. Wayne State University Press: 37
  1. Martinez, Doreen E. 2012. Traditional and Kindness Ritual http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/traditional-kindness-and-ritual-laughter
  1. Ashkenazi, Michael. 2003. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Oxford University Press:168.
  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk9-gkT2bI8 Laughing Buddha ritual which inspired the paper, June 2013.

Ask Your Mama

October, 2010

Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more.

*Ask Your Mama

The What, When, Where, Why, How, and Who of

Ceremony & Spirituality

by

©Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

A Question of Ceremony with Children

Dear Mama Donna,

I am not a follower of the Goddess, but I was walking around in downtown Brooklyn with my six-year-old daughter, Beatrice, when she said to me, “Mommy, I don’t believe in God. I believe in Mother Nature and the fairies in the woods. That’s why I make circles with the rocks.” Clearly she is on a spiritual path and I would like to support her, but I really don’t have the background to show a six-year-old the path to the Goddess.

Ready and Willing, Brooklyn, NY

Dear Ready, Willing, and Able,

Ah, to have had a mom like you when I was six and building altars and shrines in nature! I am deeply impressed with your desire to help Beatrice pursue her own personal spiritual path, without coercion, indoctrination, judgment, or repression. Brava!

Children are natural ceremonialists. They are reverent, practical, organized, open, response-able, and utterly sincere. They are still linked with the infinite profound, and believe in the magical power of tranceformation. They are more than willing to suspend logic and take that crucial leap of faith. They believe.

My fairy goddess daughter and soul sister, Shameike, is my favorite ritual partner. Eleven now, she has spent summers and spring breaks with me ever since she was three. Over the past eight years, we have established quite a roster of rites for special occasions as well as for daily life.

Our most consistent and satisfying one has been “Doing Om” at bedtime. After we read stories or talk, we join our energy and chant together. I sit on her bed and we hold (all four) hands to create a complete circle of the two of us. We close our eyes, center ourselves, breathe deeply, and chant “Om.”

Every night it is different — sometimes our energy carries us longer, sometimes the chant is quite brief. Occasionally, a visiting friend will join our intimate circle. Once in a while, it gets silly and giggly, but more often, we tone until we feel relaxed and peaceful. She usually drifts off to sleep, while I feel revitalized for the rest of my night’s chores.

This has become sacred to us, and we never miss. On her first day back in Exotic Brooklyn last summer after our months-long separation, she asked, “Can we Do Om for a really long time tonight?” This ritual binds us in an unbreakable embrace, which is at once physical and spiritual. It cements our connection as family, and honors the divine union of our eternal soul-selves. We are bound by our breath.

Once we attended a wonderful Passover seder with the extended clan of the Living Theater. At one point during the ceremony, someone started to intone Om. Soon, everybody lent their attention and voice. Shameike slipped her hand into mine and squeezed it in silent affirmation of the years of our shared understanding and experience of Doing Om.

The moon is another great way to link to the Goddess. In most cultures, the moon represents the divine female principle. Luna is the Lady in the Moon. She is the Queen of the Subconscious, the Emotions, the Spirit, and Maternity. She rules creativity and invites our admiration and interaction. Women have always claimed a special relationship with La Madama Madonna Moon.

Kids, too, have a special affinity to the moon and identify it as a friend and companion. Remember the feeling that the moon was following you wherever you went? The first thing Shameike always wants to know when I pick her up in the summer, is when the full moon will be. When she was little, she called it the “whole moon.”

Keep track of the lunar cycles and do something really wonderful together to mark the full and new moons. Treat the new moon like a mini new year, a new beginning. Create an intention for the coming moonth. Make a resolution. Start a joint project. Plan to do something new. Make a wish on the first crescent.

Celebrate the full moon by walking, dancing, drumming, swimming, bathing, sleeping it its bright light. Turn off all your lights, raise the shades, and invite the moon light in. Make shadow puppets. Take a middle-of-the-night field trip to some beautiful place in nature. Get dressed up all in white and take family pictures. Don’t forget to bring snacks!

You might want to say some version of grace at meals, acknowledging the bountiful Earth Goddess for all of the fruits and vegetables from Her belly. Set a beautiful table, light candles, and make pretty food in honor of simply being alive and loving each other. Decorate your house, her room, the windows, the yard, for every holiday and seasonal change.

Since she already seems to be drawn to altars and shrines, you can encourage her to make a very special one for her room where she can  “make offerings” to her own vision of the Goddess of Nature. She will certainly have her own very distinct idea of what that might mean.

Take your cues from your daughter. She still remembers.

xx Mama Donna

Dear Mama Donna.

Can we get together and make a Goddess circle or a Mother Nature Circle or a water circle or an earth circle or an air circle or a fire circle?

Beatrice

Dear Beatrice,

Yes. It would be my honor to do a circle together with you. But you know you can also do a circle whenever you want to all by yourself. Or you can invite your mom or a friend if you feel like sharing. You can sit down with a bowl of water and a bowl of earth. You can ask your mom to help you light some incense to make fire and sweet smelling air.

Keep on making your stone circles. Stones come from the earth. They are like the bones of the body of Mother Earth. Circles are powerful magic. The moon is a circle. The earth is a circle. The year is a circle. People all over the world have made circles out of stone to use like a church or temple for their ceremonies to the Great Goddess.

Why not have your own circle ceremony inside of one of the circles of stones that you have built? You made the circle. You can make the ceremony, too. You can make it any way you want!

Also you can talk to the Goddess any time you want to. You can ask Her for help, or you can just tell Her how you feel about Her. Of course, if She does help you, I’m sure that you will remember your best manners and say “Thank you!”

Whenever you have a question, please write to me and I will answer you.

I send circles of fire, water, earth and sky to bless you.

xxMama Donna

*Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more. Send your questions about seasons, cycles, celebrations, ceremonies and spirit to Mama Donna at: CityShaman@aol.com

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Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, ritual expert, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books, a CD, an acclaimed Ezine and writes for The Huffington Post, Beliefnet and UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.

www.DonnaHenes.net

www.TheQueenOfMySelf.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Henes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Queen_of_My_Self

Watch her videos:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MamaDonnaHenes

Follow her on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/queenmamadonna

Connect with her on Facebook:

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Read her on the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donna-henes/

Read her on Beliefnet:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/thequeenofmyself/