This is a festive time of year but it is also a time to reflect on the previous months of experiences and lessons, identifying what you are ready to release as well as honoring areas of growth and expansion. The soul's journey requires tending. During December I like to read through old journals and set aside time for rituals of release and renewal.
Winter is the final phase of the twelve-month cycle of Earth’s seasons. Like all cycles, winter holds evidence and clues within it about what came before, what is and what will likely be. The energy of winter is an ending and a new beginning. There is increasing darkness, the darkest point and then the shift toward increasing light.
At this time of year I look to nature to show me her rhythm, her way of "being". She is quiet. Her leaves cover the ground, decomposing. During the process of decomposition, the decomposers provide food for themselves by extracting chemicals from organic wastes to produce energy. The decomposers will then produce waste of their own. In turn, this will also decompose, eventually returning nutrients to the soil. These nutrients can then be taken up by the roots of living plants enabling them to grow and develop, so that organic material is naturally recycled. Virtually nothing goes to waste in nature.
During this season of quiet reflection and review, I encourage each of you to recycle your energies. Renew, refresh, and envision the richness of your journey to date and the possibility that lies before you. Read through old journals or inspirational books, noting personal themes that are ready to be released and new lines of inquiry that your soul is ready to explore.
Ritual and ceremony allow us to source from our inner beings, to create from pure intention, to see more clearly what doesn’t serve us any longer and to dream our new direction into being. A ritual has a beginning, a middle and an end. There is no correct way to do a ritual but the creative process is empowering. By identifying the intention and following one's intuition we can open our vision to be in alignment with our communities, the earth and ourselves. When created and practiced with the intention for the highest good for all, we contribute to the alchemical process of transformation and oneness.
This ritual is one possibility for release and renewal...
This December the Full Moon is on the 10th, the Solstice is on the 21st, and the New Moon/Solar Eclipse is on the 25th. All three of these dates are powerful times to do ritual.
Gather Ritual Materials for Altar
Flowers, stones, crystals from nature
Sage or favorite incense
Personal altar objects that align with your intention
2 pieces of paper and string
Access to a fireplace or outdoor fire
Choose a Quiet Space
Find a quiet place inside or in nature where you can be comfortable. Begin to calm your body with deep breaths and bring awareness to your intention for your ritual.
Build an Altar
Place your candle in the center and your natural items in the four cardinal directions. Add your personal sacred objects to the altar.
Use Sage, Palo Santo, or other incense to purify your body and the altar.
Set Sacred Space
Call in sacred space and honor the medicine of the directions. Various traditional cultures see the cardinal directions in different ways but the following is an attempt to provide insight that is in alignment with many traditions.
- East represents spring, new beginnings and rebirth; the intellect and ability to reason; element is air
- South represents summer and abundance; growth, passion, fertility, and happiness; element is fire
- West represents autumn and harvest; the deep self, emotions, and intuition; element is water
- North represents winter and the cycle of death and connection with the Ancestors; powers of stability and silence; element of earth
- Above is Father Sky, Grandmother Moon and the stars and our reverence to the spirit world
- Below is Mother Earth for grounding, creation and abundance
You can rattle, drum, or play music as you sit in meditation. Focus on connecting with your breath and your soft receptive nature. Notice parts within you that may need to be released. This could be in your physical body, your emotions or limiting beliefs. What no longer serves you in your life?
Write on a single piece of paper all the things that no longer serve you in your life and what you are ready and willing to release. Then roll up the paper and wrap it with string. Blow your pure intentions for release 3 times into your rolled-up paper and place on your altar.
Sit again in meditation honoring your whole, connected and vibrant self. Repeat out loud 3 times “ I am whole, I am open, I am love.” Bring awareness to what you are ready to invite into your life. Take time to imagine yourself living this invitation.
Write on the other paper what you are now inviting into your life. Using present tense "I am" and "I" statements are powerful. Blow 3 long slow breaths into your invitations and place on your altar.
Sit once again in silence and observe how you feel. Are there any sensations or images coming to you now? Stay soft, open and receptive.
With focused attention take your rolled up papers and honor the work you have done today to let go of old ways and welcome in the new. Fire has the alchemical property of transformation so as you burn your papers envision releasing the old and birthing the new vision.
Close the Sacred Space
Close your sacred space by honoring the four directions, Mother Earth and the stars, sun, and moon. If it feels right, honor your ancestors and spirit guides. Thank your self for being the open luminous vessel of light and love that you are. Journal about your ritual and share with a trusted friend if you choose.
I leave you with these beautiful words from John O'Donohue...
THE HEART OF WINTER"Within the grip of winter, it is almost impossible to imagine the spring. The gray perished landscape is shorn of color. Only bleakness meets the eye; everything seems severe and edged. Winter is the oldest season; it has some quality of the absolute. Yet beneath the surface of winter, the miracle of spring is already in preparation; the cold is relenting; seeds are wakening up. Colors are beginning to imagine how they will return. Then, imperceptibly, somewhere one bud opens and the symphony of renewal is no longer reversible. From the black heart of winter a miraculous, breathing plenitude of color emerges." ~ John O'Donohue, "Benedictus"
Blessings of peace, love, and light,
Gretchen Crilly McKay