Creating Ceremony Lesson Four: Just Kick the Ball

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles, action

When I was in my mid-twenties I learned how to play soccer. My best friend’s husband had a field and put together an adult league and recruited both of us to come and play. My husband had played the sport throughout school but I have never so much as kicked a soccer ball – to say I was out of my depth is a huge understatement.

After the first game, my bestie’s husband pulled us aside and grabbed a ball.

“Girls,” he said, “You can just kick the ball straight out, you don’t have to run a little circle around the ball and then kick it.”

We were indignant! We were ticked off! We were…running circles around the ball instead of just kicking it.

Years later, watching my son learn to play soccer, I saw that he did the same thing – run a circle around the ball instead of just kicking the darn thing. As it happens, this is a pretty common beginner’s mistake.

The exact same thing happens sometimes when we create ceremonies. We may go through the beginning steps with exacting care…or we may try to rush through some of them. We may think about what our lives will be like after the ceremony has done its transformative work and get lost in detailed fantasies, but in all of that running around we sometimes forget to…just kick the ball.

In our case, that means deciding and then doing the action of the ceremony. There are so many different possibilities to choose from that it is easy to get lost, but this is one of the reasons why we do the preliminary work that we do.

That preliminary work – banishing, communing, and petitioning – prepares us for this next step and gives us a lot of information that will help us decide what the action of the ceremony is going to be if we don’t already know.

In the story of Cinderella, magic is everywhere you turn. Pumpkins turning into carriages and fancy gowns were brought to us by the Disney film, but before that, it was a barefooted scullery maid who received the simple gift of new shoes. The original story was mistranslated, and the shoes were said to be made of glass but actually, they were warm fur-lined boots. (I know, this totally changes your vision of the Cinder girl, doesn’t it? Me too!) Cinderella is literally given the ability to walk in a different pair of shoes – and therefore carve out a different path for herself than the one she has found herself on.

So what action is going to be the center of your ceremony?

Look over your notes up to this point. You will find themes and ideas that you keep circling back to again and again.

Maybe you are working on cleansing and healing a situation and a spiritual bath is the major action of your ceremony. Perhaps you need to turn a sour situation into one that is sweeter and the making of a sugar jar is the central action of the ceremony. It is also possible that you need to nail something down, light something up, bring in more money, heal a broken heart, or make a special dedication – all of these desires have magical acts that go with them.

Pick you an action(s), decide when you are going to do them, gather the necessary materials, maybe put on a pair of fur-lined boots and then get ready to kick that ball.

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Creating Ceremony Lesson Two: And Now You Wait…

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles, wait

We are continuing our week-long teaching on Creating Ceremony. Now we turn to Lesson Two – let’s do this!

Have you ever had the experience of creating a ceremony, casting a spell or laying down an enchantment only to discover that despite your best efforts, attention to detail, and hardcore organization the work falls flat on its face?

Maybe it doesn’t deliver the goal you were hoping for. Maybe it doesn’t result in anything at all. Or maybe it concludes in a tangled web of unintended consequences that have you hiding your head under a pillow.

No doubt you have had this experience. I talk to folks every day who go through this, and I have experienced it myself. It is super common. I call it a ceremony slip. (As if your ceremony slips on a banana peel. Oops!)

Ceremony slip is also easily avoidable because usually, this occurs for one simple reason: we aren’t willing to wait and pay attention.

Here you are. At this point, you have already learned to banish (and maybe had a good cry along the way). You are ready to get started formally on creating a ceremony for a specific need or purpose, a need or desire to change within and without.

Now, most books and teachings will tell you that the next step is to state your purpose, make your prayer, and/or write your petition. Declare your intention!

But, in my experience and in my own learnings that is NOT the next step. That is what results in dead, flat, ceremonies that don’t change a thing.

For truly effective ceremonies that don’t fall flat, the next step is actually to wait and watch.

What I’m talking about here is active waiting, not passive, twiddle-your-thumbs waiting. Through your banishing, you have opened the door and cleared the way. Now you need to take the time to see who and what presents itself to you.

You are looking and listening for communiques from the Otherworld and your Holy Helpers (that’s the name I use to describe spirit allies, guardians, and guides). By looking and listening with care, you are entering into deep communion.

This communion can show up in a huge variety of ways. Some of the experiences reported to me include:

  • Dreams
  • Seemingly random coincidences that are strangely connected
  • Finding specific talismans or omens during my daily business
  • Communications from Ancestors and my beloved Dead
  • Friends reaching out with an essential piece of information
  • Opportunities that just magically show up
  • Direct vision and communication with specific Holy Helpers
  • Employing divination to gain clarity and refinement

Listening, watching and waiting is the part of the creation process that takes the most time. It may take one day or several. The process may take two weeks before you have the information you need to move ahead. Sometimes it takes longer. Some ceremonies are weeks, months, or years in the making.

Because waiting actively is the part of ceremony making that takes the most time, waiting is also the part that people tend to skip over. Traditional societies understood that planning and creating a significant ceremony will take multiple days, weeks, or years. It is a process that cannot be rushed, controlled, or plotted out directly on the calendar.

Those creating and participating in a ceremony understand that after initial banishing work, they need to find a way to enter into communion with the what we call the Otherworld. At that point, we are out of ordinary time and in that space of time-out-of-mind that C.S. Lewis describes so beautifully.

Cinderella’s version of this is waiting for the Fairy Godmother to come. She doesn’t know what is going to happen. She doesn’t know that *anything* will happen. But she has banished, and now she waits. In many versions of the tale she grows closer to the natural world at this time, often the first step in communion with the Otherworld. She does not state her desires until after the Fairy Godmother has arrived.

This is crucial because once you have stated your goal or desire, once you have made your petition, the ceremony is in full swing. Before you have struck any matches, made any songs, or done any magic, the ceremony is hot and going because your request, your desire, your prayer has been made.

The question upon which success now turns is…was it made correctly? Did you ask for what you really want? Did you petition for what you actually need?

When we wait and commune with the Otherworld we find that we often receive critical pieces of information and insights that allow us to refine our desires, goals, and intentions, so that our ceremony really does address what we need it to address. Succeeding in this, we can avoid those awful ceremony slips, and the change we create is actually the change we want.

So go ahead and let yourself wait…Fairy Godmothers show up on their own schedule, but they do show up!

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Creating Ceremony Lesson One: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles, blood

I am sure most of you have heard the expression “blood, sweat, and tears.” We usually call upon it when we have made a huge effort at something. And, like many common turns of phrase, it hides a deeper meaning in plain sight.

Blood, sweat, and tears, are some of the most valuable prizes we possess. In countless fairy tales, a single drop of blood has the power to destroy the most powerful kingdom or overcome the finality of death, where the sweat of physical and mental exertion can show the true nature of a character. And then there are the tears. Tears turn into magical, life-giving waters. Tears heal and thaw out frozen hearts.

In fairy tales and folklore, blood, sweat, and tears are substances that become valuable once they have been shed for the sake of something…or someone else.

We see it in Cinderella. Once the little Cinder girl has realized that she really cannot escape the house…cannot escape her life and cannot go to the ball – which stands for all that is possible and hopeful for her – she begins to cry. Big, body-shaking, river-forming, tears.

The cry of the heart is the action that opens the door and opens the way. Cinderella begins to create her own ceremony. Her tears are what garner the attention of the common creatures around her, creatures whom she has cared for. And her tears are what call in her fairy godmother as well.

Cinderella engages in the first step of creating ceremony: she is banishing.

Banishing is an old word that basically means releasing, letting go or casting out. People often talk casually about ‘letting go’, in order to manage stress. But you’ll also hear on occasion someone talk about the need to banish a room that feels like it is full of funky vibes – they might cense the area with a sacred smoke or recite a prayer of protection to make the area feel cleaner and safer.

But before we talk about banishing rooms or objects, we have to look inwards at our own inner landscapes and ask what needs to be released and put down once and for all.

When we banish, we can take a few moments to acknowledge what is hurting or weighing on or frustrating us. And then we perform a ritual action to release it.

Banishing is the necessary first step in creating ceremony, the thing you do before anything else because it opens the road and it clears the way. When we drop whatever it is that we are clinging too tightly to, we are able to breathe a little easier and see with more clarity and objectivity. Clarity and objectivity of mind are qualities that must be in play if you want to create a ceremony that can really change things from the inside out.

There are lots of ways to banish. There are prayers you can recite. There are specially formulated incense blends that call on the elements of fire and water to assist with removing what is no longer needed. Some traditions call on making noise – like clapping, yelling, ringing bells, or stomping your feet – to clear the spaces both without and within.

Bleeding, sweating, and crying are all forms of banishing – and they are so powerful because they involve our physical bodies and the substances within them. Another beautiful (and simple!) way to banish is simply through breathing. Here is an exercise you can try:

  1. Take a breath in and allow it to move from the soles of your feet all the way up to the crown of your head.
  2. Before you release that breath think of one thing that you need to release and let go.
  3. Breathe it out and into the earth where it can be transformed into something good and useful once more.

There may be many different feelings that this exercise conjure, some very subtle. Each person will find responses in very different ways. But don’t be surprised if you start to tear up a little or have an all-out crying fest. In fact, that is usually a sign that you are on the right track to creating ceremony that really will change you from the inside out.

For more on Banishing, check out this article.

xo
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Creating Ceremony: We are all Cinderella

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles,

The Season of Spinning Gold is upon us and I am getting very excited at the prospect of swinging open the doors to this most magical of courses once more!

Ok, so those of you who have taken online courses know how this works. Typically people do a series of emails marketing their course and convincing you why it is THE THING that will change your life, you get bombarded with, like, 18 emails a day and so it goes.

I’ve never done that and I have no plans to do it this year either because…GROSS.

I did want to up the ante on our own season of Spinning Gold and give you something that will really yield tangible benefits for you whether you take the course or not.

So I decided that I would just give it away for free.

I am not going to ask you to sign up for Spinning Gold in order to change your life, I am going to teach you how to change your life over the next week for FREE. I know that is a bold claim but stay with me.

I blame it on Cinderella. Well, I blame it on the realization that we are ALL Cinderella.

I was thinking about the story the other day and I realized that it centers around the question that I have been asked the most both this year and last year.

How do I change?

The question shows up in so many forms:
How do I change my lover?
How do I change my marriage?
How do I change my health?
How do I change my money situation?
How do I change my story?

But it boils down to: how do I change? How do I make it better?

Now there are lots of practical answers to these questions – steps you can take, tricks you can try, and programs you can buy.

But really, in my experience, if you want to create change then you have to do know how to do one thing.

Create Ceremony.

Think about the story of Cinderella. She is down on her luck. The sun is setting, the ball is starting, her sisters are brats, and her stepmother is wicked. She needs change – not like a little nip here and a little tweak there, the girl needs deep, radically transforming change. So what does she do? She creates ceremony, she makes magic. We know how the story ends and as I have written before, happily ever after is for everybody.

Now of course the problem is that many of us grew up without access to the language and forms of creating ceremony.

It is not hard to do at all, but you do have to know where to start and if you understand the basic framework that all ceremonies have then it becomes much easier to do.

So, that’s what we are going to learn about over the course of the next week: how to create ceremony.

I’m going to give you the five-step process that I work with and that is called on by people all over the world when it comes to creating ceremony.

I’m going to break it down for you and because we are all fairy tale lovers here, we are going to work with the story of Cinderella as our guide.

The steps we will explore are:

  • Banishing
  • Communion
  • Prayer and Petition Making
  • Action
  • Conclusion and Clean Up

I have never taught this process before and I am really excited to make it available for you here and now. I want this to be interactive teaching, so as you are going through each lesson, feel free to pop over to my blog, Canto, and leave a comment so that I can respond to you directly.

Look for the first email in your inbox tomorrow!

And, in the meantime, if you want to check out the different versions of Cinderella check out this wonderful site.

Also, often people use the words “ritual” and “ceremony” interchangeably. This is not really correct. For our purposes a ritual is a single sacred act whereas a ceremony is composed of many sacred acts – so each ceremony contains many rituals.

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How to Banish Social Media Jealousy

Purification and Cleansing

S

taring at someone’s social media account can sometimes trigger feelings of envy—or even despair. You might compare your life to their life—or at least, to a picture of their life—and feel inadequate. Does this ever happen to you? Or maybe you are obsessed with someone else’s numbers – the number of likes and comments that they get. Life is too short y’all – let’s banish that nonsense!

What you will need:
Two candles that have not been used (ie burned) before. I recommend you use small birthday candles for this little rite.
A ritual anointing oil suitable for banishing or plain olive oil
A ritual anointing oil suitable for auspicious joy and happiness or plain olive oil
A clearing and blessing incense like frankincense (Dan makes my favorite).
A list of the things/people that you find yourself getting jealous of on social media.
A list of things you could be focusing on and celebrating if you weren’t so distracted by the green-eyed monster.

Significance:
One candle will be used to banish the envy. The other will be worked with to call in joy and celebration.

The anointing oil suitable for banishing will be applied to the banishing candle – look for scents that incorporate ingredients such as black pepper, cedar, pine, lemon, lemongrass, or sage.

The anointing oil suitable for auspicious joy and happiness will be worked within your joy and celebration candle. Look for a scent that you personally just ADORE.

Frankincense is a traditional incense used for millennia to clean, clear, and bless.

Your lists provide you with focal points for this ritual.

Ceremony:
Begin by Cultivating Calmness.
Light the frankincense
Take your list of things and/or people that you find yourself getting envious over and anoint the corners of it and center with the banishing oil then place it under the candle you are going to use for banishing those feelings.
Anoint the candle with the banishing oil or with olive oil.
Take the list of things you could be (or want to) celebrate when it comes to social media and anoint it with the auspicious oil for joy and happiness in the corners and center.
Place that list under the other candle and anoint the candle with the joy and happiness oil.
Now, take a moment to allow yourself to feel into the envy, jealousy, frustration – whatever the hard feelings are just feel them. As you do so light the candle for banishing and watch it burn all the way down.
Right before that candle goes out, use it to light the candle for joy and celebration so that your feelings of envy are transformed into feelings of joy, celebration, and appreciation. Watch until that candle burns all the way down.
Take the remains from the banishing candle and in a fire safe container burn them down to ash. Take those ashes and scatter them at a four or three-way crossroads.
Take the remains of your joy and celebration candle and bury them next to a healthy tree in your front or back yard or in a park that you frequently visit.
Be free of envy – done!

Final act:
Celebrate a social media moment – big or small – and invite others to join in on the fun!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Three Ways to Release the Old and Call in the New

Divination and Dreams

D

ear Miracles,

Winds blow across the land here where I live and the trees in our front yard are finally bare of branch. I can see various charms that I have hung up in their branches throughout 2015 – a scrap of ribbon here, a pine cone covered in birdseed and prayer there, a dried pomegranate left as an offering on Halloween, an old and twisted root tied up with yarn.

Over the next few days I will gather these little offerings given to the trees and taken out into the world by the winds. I will add them to a pile of petition papers and candle wax and a few other ceremonial items and then, as is our tradition, I will burn them in a sacred fire.

As they burn they will be joined by many of your own prayers and petitions — for all who are participating in 2015’s Banish and Burn ritual have sent in their own words and wishes of what needs to be released, let go of, and banished.

To banish something is not merely to get rid of it. To banish something is actually to honor it for the role(s) it has played in our lives and to release it, to let it go, so that it might be transformed by earth, air, fire, and water into something that is good and of use for others. This banishing, releasing and letting go is the first in a three step process that I work with every year as we move from the old year into the new.

 

The process itself echoes a process we see in ritual and ceremony throughout time beyond time:

First one must cleanse, release, let go, and rid themselves of what is no longer needed. Unhelpful and/or diminishing attitudes, beliefs, ideas, stalled out creative endeavors, relationships that keep trudging on in the same tired cycle, our inability to see as clearly as we might, to love as deeply as we can, to cultivate right relationship in all times and all places to the best of our abilities — these are some of the things we might let go.

Next, we set our homes in order. Many people take this literally – the New Year arrives and we clean out our homes, our cars, our closets, and our wallets. Floors, windowsills, and walls are washed so that our living spaces are not only physically clean, but spiritually cleansed too.

Another way we set our internal homes in order is through plotting out our year, making the first mark on the virgin page of that new planner or calendar, and getting our astrological dates lined up so that we have a good sense of what is happening and when it might happen.

Finally, we call in blessings along with the New Year. Our New Year’s resolutions are actually remnants of very ancient practices involving our ability to ask for what is most needed, desired, hoped and wished for and promising in turn to do our part to be blessed and a blessing in turn.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Mommy Magic: How to deal with bullies

Ceremony and Ritual

W

hen I was in high school my best friend’s kid sister tried out for the middle school cheer leading squad. This is Texas and we take cheer leading seriously…way too seriously if you ask me. The kid sister was extremely talented — a great dancer with amazing moves and a smile that lit up the room. But…she was also a little shorter, and chubby, and – good heavens alive – was not a blonde. So…because her looks “didn’t quite fit” she did not make the squad, and there were many other girls who did not make it either.

They were given a pat on the back, some were ushered into mini-vans by angry parents who had invested time and who knows how much money into gymnastics classes and cheer school, and they were also given a consolation poem. I can’t remember the whole poem but I do remember the first line… “if you cannot be a tree, be a shrub.” She tearfully showed me the poem and then started crying all over again.

Well. It was clear that this was totally not acceptable, that these children were being bullied by the very people supposedly put in place to help them.

One of my favorite teachers says: “if you cannot change it, make it holy” and that is exactly what we did. We went to my house, a car load of crying girls, took the stupid poems and set them on fire in the kitchen sink. Then we scattered the ashes to the four directions and took turns telling each other what we liked about ourselves and one another.

That little ritual did not change the fact that none of the girls I was taking care of hadn’t made the team. It did not magically make the next day totally OK for them. But there was healing, and laughter, and they woke up the next morning knowing that life would go on and that their worth was not determined by whether or not they “made the team.”

If you cannot change it, make it holy.

If you have a child that you love and they are experiencing a hard time…at school, in life, with their teachers or their peers, please know that you are not alone. And while there are excellent practical resources for parents and caretakers, I like to focus on the more magical and holy-making possibilities.

So, whether your child is experiencing bullying, mean behavior, or simply going through an award and difficult time, here are some sacro-magical approaches that can help:

Sweeten  it up — Sugar has a long and storied use in magic. You can work with sugar in a variety of ways to make life a bit sweeter for your child, my favorite method? The tried and tested sugar jar.

Burn it down — Very much as we experienced with that silly “consolation prize” sometimes the most effective magic is a deep and true banishing. I love setting things on fire and scattering the ashes (and the issues) to the four cardinal directions.

Look in the mirror — Anyone who has read Snow White knows that mirror magic is a real thing. If you have a child who is having a hard time with self-esteem/self-love, the tried and true practice of affirmations may not be enough. What if instead they saw a beautiful blessing or charm inscribed directly onto their bathroom or bedroom mirror? Use washable marker in a color they love and if you feel fancy add the planetary glyph for Venus or Jupiter.

The Power of Touch — For children who experience high stress situations and/or children who are incredible sensitive, shy, and empathic, a talisman is an excellent tool. It provides a literal touch point that can remind and re-orient your child throughout the day to what matters most and what brilliance they bring to the table.

Keep it clean — One of the best ways magically minded parents can support their wee ones is by keeping the house spiritually clean. Take the cleaning one step forward by working with a floor wash or spray that is imbued with qualities your child needs the most such as clarity and success if they are having trouble in school or protection and empowerment if they are being bullied.

Light through the night — Lighting a devotional candle for your child is never a bad idea. You can make a ritual of selecting the right candle, dressing it with your favorite ritual oils/herbs, and then lighting it. Beautiful. Simple. Bright.

 

Mommy magic is a new series here at Canto. The questions and topics come from moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and caregivers who have school-age children. Traditionally many magical systems belonged under the provenance of women and it was understood that these magics, these “medicines of the home” as one elder named them, were for the betterment of the household and all who dwelled within. That is our focus in this series: practical, how-to, magic-making that encourages healing, wholeness, and blessing.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.