Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Healing is often talked about in Pagan or New Age communities but often any purposeful action behind the words is missing. Sometimes, we all need a little extra help in becoming healthy – whether it’s physical, mental, or spiritual health in need. This ritual is an excellent tool to give the participants some extra healing energy while also helping to refocus their minds on what they need to heal.

Ritual Premise

I’ve recently mentioned the Irish goddess of herbalism, Airmid. The idea is to invoke the spirits of Airmid and her brother Miach to help send healing energies to ritual participants. I considered writing a short post just about Airmid for anyone unfamiliar with the goddess/faery healer, but I decided that it would be difficult to beat the classic essay by Erynn Rowan Laurie from Issue 25 of Sagewoman. Click here to read it.

An herbal healer as shown in the Druid Plant Oracle deck. Image copyright – Will Worthington.

An herbal healer as shown in the Druid Plant Oracle deck. Image copyright – Will Worthington.

Attendees bring a sprig of fresh herb or small sachet of dried herb, taking turns explaining what the herb’s use is spiritually and physically, and then sews it onto the cloak that is on the center table. When the herbs have been sewn on and the cloak blessed, the cloak is used to direct healing energies to the participants.

After this, you can add a seasonal celebration before the cakes and ale if doing this at a sabbat. I often do this at Midsummer and honor the Sun with a game of roll-the-hoop or something similar within the ritual circle.

A Note About Scripted Rituals

I’m not fond of scripted rituals. I prefer that participants know the outline and concepts behind the ritual and simply deliver the words that feel right at the moment. The following ritual does provide wording for different things, but feel free to just read it, learn the gist of it, and present it in a way you enjoy and makes you comfortable. 

Preparation

Set up a ritual table in the center of the circle that is clear of all objects except a needle, thread, and snips or small scissors. You can place the cloak on the ground and sew the herbs on that way, but a table makes it easier, especially if your knees aren’t what they used to be. Another table should be set up on the edge of the circle for a chalice or small cauldron with whatever you use as holy water, smudge, god & goddess or elemental items/offering plate, and cakes and ale.

Cleanse the space with your preferred method. I typically sain the area by sprinkling what I consider holy water: moon-charged water with 9 drops of Chalice Well water added in.

The ritual leader can conduct the entire ritual by his or herself, or split into two parts for a high priest and priestess. You can assign parts to others as desired, particularly the quarter calls. If you have a great storyteller in your group, you may assign them the task of learning and telling the story. Another possibility for a group with at least four people comfortable with acting out sacred drama is to act out the story of the physicians, with roles for Airmid, Miach, Dian Cecht, and Nuada. As I’ve discussed before, sacred drama can make a ritual amazing.

The Ritual

Smudge participants and enter into the circle as normal. Use these simple quarter calls or whatever ones you prefer – depending on who is in the ritual, I will sometimes substitute quarter calls with honoring the Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky from the Celtic cosmology.

Air (east): I call to the spirit of Air, breath from the east.

Fire (south): I call to the spirit of Fire, energy from the south.

Water (west): I call to the spirit of Water, blood from the west.

Earth (north): I call to the spirit of Earth, flesh from the north.

If you wish, you can add the common chant, “Earth my body,” at this time, doing it multiple times to build the energy.

Now, tell the story of the Physicians of the Tuatha de Danann:

The Physicians’ Story

Here the facilitator summarizes the story of the physicians as desired. See the last blog post to learn the story.

After the story is finished, call Miach and Airmid:

Ritual Facilitator: I ask that the spirit of Miach join us in our circle. May his selflessness and desire to heal and be healed be reflected those here today. May his wisdom and skill be infused into this world for the healing of all. So mote it be.

Ritual Facilitator: I ask that the spirit of Airmid join us in our circle. May her desire to harvest and to sow healing wisdom be shared among those here today. May we continue to learn her healing secrets so her tears are not wasted. So mote it be.

Ritual Facilitator: Now, we will take turns stepping forward to share our own herbal knowledge and to imbue this cloak with healing power.

Participants take turns stepping forward, explaining their herb’s powers, and sewing it on. It is a good idea for one of the ritual organizers to start this off to help others be more comfortable in knowing what to do. An example is,“I bring plantain, a wild-growing herb good for healing the skin and small wounds.” After all the herbs are sewn onto the cloak, dedicate the cloak.

Ritual Facilitator: Now that we have brought forward all the healing herbs available to us, we will now dedicate this cloak to healing. Though we do not have their healing well, we will sprinkle holy waters from this sacred chalice onto the cloak.

Facilitator takes the chalice and sprinkles water from it onto the cloak.

Ritual Facilitator: We will now use the healing charm of the physicians of the Tuatha de Danann:

ALL:

Bone to bone

Vein to vein

Balm to Balm

 

Sap to Sap

Skin to skin

Tissue to tissue

 

Blood to blood

Flesh to flesh

Sinew to sinew

 

Marrow to marrow

Pith to pith

Fat to fat

 

Membrane to membrane

Fibre to fibre

Moisture to moisture

Ritual Facilitator: May this simple cloak be imbued with the healing power of Airmid and Miach so that it may facilitate healing for us all. Now, I will bring the cloak to each of you and place it around your shoulders. When you are done receiving the energies, remove the cloak and return it to me.

Go around the circle and put cloak on attendees one at a time, keeping your focus on the healing for each individual. Sometimes it will be physical healing they desire, but other times a spiritual or mental healing – try to be grounded and supportive in your energies as you take the cloak around the circle.

After you’ve gone all around the circle, you can add a chant or toning that you feel focuses on healing – or use sound vibrations like that from singing bowls or gongs, which are becoming better known for healing work. I was trained to use a toning that goes: E-A, E-A, E-O. Each vowel is toned individually and held for a long as possible. You can use anything you wish.

At this time if you want to do a seasonal observance, do so.  

To help reground the circle, distribute the cakes and ale with the traditional blessings of “May you never hunger” and “May you never thirst.” Start to close the circle by thanking Miach and Airmed:

Ritual Facilitator: We thank the spirit of Miach for joining us. May his story continue to inspire us on our healing journey. Blessed be!

Ritual Facilitator: We thank the spirit of Airmid for joining us. May her wisdom and dedication to healing continue in us. Blessed be!

Air (east): We thank the spirit of Air, for breathing new life into us. Blessed be!

Fire (south): We thank the spirit of Fire, for re-energizing us. Blessed be!

Water (west): We thank the spirit of Water, for cleansing us. Blessed be!

Earth (north): We thank the spirit of Earth, for regrounding us. Blessed be!

ALL:

“May the Circle be Open” chant to close

 

Well, that’s it. If I’ve left out anything or if you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll answer a soon as possible. As we are between the Vernal Equinox and Beltaine, we are heading into prime time for this ritual, though it could easily be done through early fall in most regions.

Until next time, blessings!

Thistle

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Winter holidays have come and gone, and many of us are left feeling like the months of January and February must simply be gotten through until the warmth of spring returns.

As an introvert and someone who enjoys curling up with a good book, I’ve never really felt this way. But a lot of people have a difficult time once the hubbub of the holidays is past. Regardless of one’s personality, this time of year shouldn’t be overlooked or simply gotten through – it’s a key time for introspection, spiritual work, and clearing the way for future action.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com

Years ago, I researched Yule traditions for a study focused on the wheel of the year. Along the way, I found that I’m not the only one that finds this season so potent. In the liner notes of his luminous album If on a Winter’s Night, artist Sting says:

“. . . there is something of the Winter that is primal, mysterious and utterly irreplaceable, something both bleak and profoundly beautiful, something essential to the myth of ourselves, the story of our humanity, as if we somehow need the darkness of the winter months to replenish our inner spirits as much as we need the light, energy, and warmth of the summer.”

Waverly Fitzgerald of the School of the Seasons adds that while we often represent the cycle of dark and light as a battle, we do understand that both sides of the battle are important. She recommends taking time in this season to just sit in the dark and quiet.

“Honor the dark before calling in the light. This is the season when animals hibernate and nature sleeps and we can turn inward too . . . . This is a natural time for letting go and saying farewell. Release your resentments and regrets into the darkness, knowing they will be transformed.

Fitzgerald’s advice really hits home, as it is difficult to be introspective and to eventually move forward when we hold on to anger, guilt, and old wounds. This is hard stuff, to be sure. Sometimes we use these things to energize our actions or, worse, we start to build our identity around them. It is easy to resist this process of letting go when you feel like it’s taking away a part of you.

Frankly, I have no sage advice for accomplishing this. In my experience, I had to simply decide that anger was no longer going to rule and come to peace with the past hurts. Spiritual work came much easier after this point, though I admit to having to revisit this lesson from time to time. It helps if we can realize that when we let go of the things holding us back, other things will eventually take their place – and often more wonderful things than what we could have imagined.

After achieving this, it helps to maintain a centered and calm state of mind and to try to understand why things have happened in the past (to avoid a repeat performance). Meditation and journaling are good tools for this and often seem more fruitful during this dark season. And, as luck would have it, there are many ways to do both of these. Meditation can be difficult if you are new to it, but there are many recorded meditations available and some of you may even have an alternative healing practitioner or center that offers guidance with this. Of course, there are more traditional forms of meditation, such as mindfulness or serenity meditations. However, guided imagery or relaxation meditations can be easier to start with for many people.

As for journaling, a lot of people are turned off by traditional pen and paper journaling. But there is no reason not to use a laptop or ever an audio recorder. Some people even make their journal into a blog, choosing to make a more public statement with their thoughts and searching.

Whatever methods you use to look within and prepare for a spiritual spring emergence (and I would love to hear how any of you go about this), I hope we all take some time to look within during the remaining weeks of winter. After all, clarity, understanding, and peace are valuable things that seem more readily found within the stillness of winter. And perhaps the point of being in winter’s dark and cold is finding the light and warmth within ourselves.

Bright blessings,

Thistle

 

© 2014 PJ Graham

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(This is the last of a series of posts focused on healing the self. The first three are here and here and here.)

Well, we’ve finally arrived at the last of the healing trifecta! Yes, we’re discussing spiritual or soul healing. Again, I’m no minister and have no pastoral counseling training. What follows are things I’ve learned over the years – either from personal experience or from those I know, especially my Hearth Sisters in the Daughters of the Sacred Grail.

Experience Beauty

These trees make a beautiful sight with the sunset in the background.

This seems so basic, but many of us run from one task to another without appreciating the beauty of our world. Watching a glowing sunset or clouds drift across a full moon, taking a walk in a woods, viewing an art exhibit, listening to gorgeous music, tasting fine chocolate (or whatever you prefer) are all ways of experiencing beauty.

Sometimes watching something ordinary and seeing it with an open mind and heart helps us appreciate the extraordinary gifts we have. Frankly, nothing takes my breath away more than watching my dog Zoe running in a field, free of inhibitions and full of joy. Whatever captures your fancy, having images and memories of experienced beauty is helpful when we face ugliness in the world or within ourselves.

Get Ecstatic

And I don’t mean just to get exited. I mean to stop worrying about what people think and experience an ecstatic state. This is a hard one for those of us raised in a more restrained culture where this might be considered immoral or a waste of time

Yet the ecstatic experience is really part of the human experience. Sadly, some people turn to drugs to achieve an ecstatic state, though modern versions of it include dance clubs and rock concerts. A drum and fire circle in a safe environment where people feel comfortable to drum, sing, and dance is a great way to cut loose and connect with that primal side.

This can help balance our lives and spirits by allowing us to feel the wild yin to our cultured side’s yang.

Meditation

Walking a labyrinth is a meditative experience.

Well, you just knew this was going to be included, didn’t you? The ability to clear the mind and focus on one thing or nothing) can help you deal with stress and develop better focus. Whether you prefer the more traditional Buddhist style of meditation, guided imagery (what I call journey meditations), or another technique, being able to still your mind and body and calm the soul has tremendous value.

A physical method of meditation is walking a labyrinth. Walking the candlelight labyrinth at the Pagan Spirit Gathering a couple years ago was a tremendous experience of going within my soul. However, we can’t always set up a labyrinth in our yards or homes, but you can achieve some of the same goals using a finger labyrinth. There are labyrinth patterns to download here: http://labyrinthsociety.org/download-a-labyrinth.

Trance Out

OK, trance has connections to both the ecstatic state and meditation. But it can be a great alternative to traditional meditation. It still helps you to disconnect and rest the conscious mind and tap into the subconscious.

Chanting, dance, breath work, hand drumming (or listening to) certain rhythms, or spinning wool with an old-fashioned drop spindle can well known ways to achieve a trance state. Yoga is another tool. Some people trance very easily by doing repetitive tasks such as crocheting or knitting. And don’t laugh, but I’m pretty sure I tranced once while snapping a wheelbarrow load of green beans!

Face the Shadow Self

You thought this was going to be a long section, didn’t you? Well, I’m just including it in the list because it is important, but I’m not going to delve into right now. Shadow work can be heavy stuff, so it will get a couple posts all to itself later.

Bright blessings!

Thistle

(Photos courtesy of Morguefile.com)

 

© 2012 PJ Graham

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