Creating Ceremony Lesson Five: Wrap It Up, Tie It Off

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles,

When is the ceremony that transforms Cinderella’s life over? Is it once she is gowned and crowned and off to the ball with her fancy shoes? Lots of readers would say yes. The Fairy Godmother arrives, the magic happens, and the rest is up to the prince and Cinderella herself.

But it is not so. The ceremony that transforms Cinderella’s life is not over until she and the prince are actually reunited. THAT is the life-changing event that her ceremony has set out to accomplish. But in order for that to occur and for the ceremony to conclude there is one more thing that has to happen: the lost slipper has to be reunited with its owner.

This speaks directly to the final step in creating ceremonies that are so easy to miss that it is rarely even talked about or taught. This step is the concluding and tying off of the ceremony which includes the ritual disposal of any remains from the ceremonial work that needs to be disposed of.

The tale of Cinderella gives us a clear sense of this because when Cinderella drops her slipper she has left a piece of her ceremony behind and nothing can be resolved until it is recovered and put back into place.

Once the action of the ceremony has taken place there is going to be clean up. In traditional societies when ceremonies are being performed on a large scale, we find that there are roles designated to various individuals so that the people performing the main action of the ceremony are not the same people who are on the clean-up crew. But within our own lives, it is often the case that we are fulfilling multiple roles during our own ceremonies and so making sure that clean up occurs is our responsibility.

I cannot stress this enough. You may well be tired and drained after putting so much energy into creating a ceremony, but if you do not do the required clean up it is very possible that your efforts will be for naught.

Look at the space that you have been working in. What ceremonial remains need to be taken care of? Is there extra candle wax, ash, bits of paper, shells, or feathers, that need to be attended to? Perhaps extra ingredients that were not needed need to be put back into their canisters and on their shelves. Maybe a piece of clothing or ritual tool that has been knocked out of place needs to be returned to its original setting.

In my own work, I call this the wrapping up and tying off phase. It refers to the way that I make prayer bundles and mojo bags, my final steps are to wrap them up in my hands and then tie them off with a firm knot – that is the signal to me that the work and the ceremony are truly finished.

There are many ritual disposal techniques you can call on at this point. The one rule of thumb that I truly think should always be followed is this: DO NOT THROW CEREMONIAL REMAINS AWAY IN THE TRASH. An old teacher of mine told me once that when you throw such things in the trash you are basically saying to the Otherworld that your work and your efforts have been trash. Don’t do that!!! Instead, follow these guidelines:

  • Recycle whatever can be recycled.
  • Consider burying biodegradable objects into the ground at the base of a healthy, living tree.
  • Consider burning things like candle wax or extra herbs and then burying the ashes or scattering them depending on what you are working on and what the goal of the ceremony is.
  • Rule of thumb: for ceremonies where you are arranging things to flourish and thrive, dispose of remains near you. For ceremonies where you are arranging for things to disperse or diminish, dispose of remains away from you and in a manner that allows them to scatter.

After you have ritually disposed of the remains from your ceremony it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labors – literally! It is time to feast! You can do this by yourself or with others – you can go out to a fancy restaurant or stay in and enjoy a meal that you cooked (ideally before the ceremony began). It is up to you but the traditional way to conclude ceremonial work is to break bread, eat your fill, drink plenty of water, and pay attention to your dreams.

After all, you have made magic and its effects will be reverberating long after your ceremony has ended.

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

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 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.

Magical Missive: Home Sweet Home Candle Magic

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles,

A little candle magic Magical Missive to get your December off to the right start. As we know the holidays can be a really stressful time for our families. We are busy, often we get sick during this season, we are spending more money than we usually do…and on and on. There are practical ways to navigate these challenges (hello Vitamin C – I see you), but there are also magical supports we can call on to help us address them as well.

One of my favorites? This candle rite for a peaceful, sweet, and loving home and family environment.

What you will need:
1 blue or beeswax devotional candle
blend of the following dried herbs:
• dried lavender flowers
• crushed vanilla pod
• dried pink rose petals
• pen & paper
• blue & white loose glitter
• olive oil or a ritual oil for peace and calmness in the home

Significance:
Lavender is a sacred flower that has been used in soothing and restorative remedies since at least the Middle Ages. Its calming properties care called on today in herbal medicine, homeopathy, and cuisines as well. It is sacred to many Goddesses and believed to bestow a level of protection on the home as well, especially when planted near the front door.

Vanilla Pod is both sweetening and warming and called for in many enchantments where the goal is to warm people up to each other so that they are kind, gentle, and loving towards each other.

Dried pink rose petals emphasize love, friendship, and the ability to get along with each other.

Glitter to decorate your candle and make it pretty!

Ceremony:
General Instructions for dressing devotional candles ~

If you are working with a paraffin candle, poke holes in the top of it – I like to make 3 or 4. You may use an ice pick, screwdriver, knife or other tool for this.
If you are working with a beeswax devotional candle as I do, then you are going to have a much harder time poking holes into the candle. Instead you may proceed without the holes.

Combine your herb mixture. Sprinkle 2-3 pinches of your herb mixture onto the candle.

Drop 3-4 drops of oil onto the top of the candle.

Add any curios like clear quartz crystal chips, small chunks of rose quartz, or a light drizzle of honey and finish with glitter.

Note – you do not want to “drown” your herbs in oil nor do you want them to be so dry that they catch fire when you light the candle wick.

Write out your petition and anoint the petition paper with the oil you used to dress the candle.

Place petition underneath candle, bless the candle with focus and sincerity for the manifestation of your desire.

Knock the candle 3 times to “seal” it, and then light it, allowing it to burn undisturbed.

Obviously do not leave a flame unattended unless it is in a fireproof container.

Final act:
After your candle has finished burning, you may look at it and see what shapes you find in the glitter and debris. These may be construed as signs and give you information as you work to read the candle.

And, if you liked the above candle recipe or this one for fast action, then you might really like the Lunar Lights candle service. A candle lit on your behalf, with your specific petitions and intentions, every month on the full moon.
Order here. Deadline to order is December 7th.

Wishing you a blessed (and sweet!) season!

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 7: Refusing to Bounce Back

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

Blessed and beautiful New Moon in va-va-voom Virgo! Here is a blessing I wrote for the occasion. It honors our hands – literal, metaphorical, and everything in between. Y’all know I love Virgos – my momma and my BFF are both Virgos and my Venus is in Virgo – so yes, planners, labels, and the Container Store are all catnip to me.

I sat down to write this letter and could not believe that a month has passed since sending a missive out to you all. So much happens for families with school age children those last weeks of August and first weeks of September.We have to get ready for BACK TO SCHOOL with the parent meetings and the parent-teacher meetings, and the parent-teacher-child meetings. I always do a blessing for J whenever he heads back to the classroom and this year I incorporated this delightful oil into the ceremony. I am happy to report on behalf of my precious one that “First grade is awesome, I love it.”

On a more somber note, I have heard from so many of you over the course of the year that you would like to have some instructions or how-to on creating a ritual to protect your school age children in this crazy time when the simple act of going to school can feel so very unsafe. I hear the requests. I see the need. I am on it. When I have it finished, I will make it available here and obviously it will be free.

Amid all of the back to school action, Heath, turned two months and soon he will be three months old – I can hardly believe it, y’all. He is already starting to teethe, which is crazy to my mind, but there you go. He talks and smiles and is ridiculously cute, fun, and cuddly. He teaches me every day, reminding me to be fully present right here and right now.

One of his greatest teachings to me is how to be flexible. For instance, I have a daily journaling practice that I am committed to. Usually I journal first thing in the morning, but for the past few weeks that wasn’t working so well because the morning time is busy with getting J ready for school and then taking care of Heath and all of our creatures. By the time I got to the journaling part, I felt like I had no time, so my entries were rushed and crammed. I decided to switch it up and the relief I felt (and the expansiveness of the entries) was immediate. Babies teach you to pay attention to where you are and to calibrate and re-calibrate as much as you need to: assume nothing!

In the midst of life happening with the boys, two other amazing things happened. Spinning Gold was launched and I am stunned yet again at the gorgeous community of souls that has gathered around this work of my heart. One of my alumni students told me that this course and the practices in it are her spiritual anchors – how humbled I was to hear that! Another, new student, told me a story about how she had wanted to take this course four years ago when I first offered it and every year was not the right time, and finally, finally, this year WAS. I love stories like that. (If you are interested btw, you can still register here as I always do a soft close for this program).

We also just launched the 2019 Book of Hours – yes, because some of us really do start planning for next year in the fine month of September, and I created the Astro RX 2019 page where you can find a bunch of essential astro dates and the questions to consider during them.

And in the middle of all of that, I finished my work for my book! Yes!!! I am happy to announce that Making Magic has come through her micro-editing process and is now off to the copy editors. My editor Amy has been just a joy to work with. I feel very blessed on this count because I have heard many HORROR stories about editors and writers and book editing and that has not been my experience at all.

We authors are the ones with our names on the book cover, but believe me, a book is just like a child in the sense that it truly does take a village. Making Magic has been touched by so many gracious and gentle hands and I am deeply grateful for it. (Psst: to see some of Amy’s brilliant editing in play check out this wonderful book by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann).

Because we are running ahead of schedule with my book, I will get the copy-edited version to review in the last days of October which strikes me as perfect timing given the fact that it will be deep Ancestor season and so my Beloved Dead can assist me with the copy-editing process by looking over my shoulder (hopefully in approval!) Even more kismet – the day the book actually goes to print will be on my husband’s birthday, and believe when when I say that there would be no book without his editorial hawkishness, brilliant mind, and deeply loving heart.

Now that my book has gone off to its next layer of polishing, and I have survived the Back to School craze as well as the re-entry after being away from Texas for a month, I am settling back into my routine. I started spinning again (you know, the crazy exercise routine on a stationary bike) which felt SO good after being away for basically 5 months. My goal the first day was just to stay on the bike because it had been awhile and giving birth is a transformative experience for our physical bodies. I would not say that I have experienced it as physically traumatic (although I know many women do) but  definitely physically altering.

There is so much pressure to “bounce back”, by which people usually mean, fit into your old, pre-pregnancy pair of jeans. This, to my way of thinking, is nuts. It reminds me of what I tell clients who are seeking out magical help to heal a broken relationship. In many cases reconciliation CAN happen, but you aren’t going to go back to the relationship you had before – that’s done with. Having a child is the same. You may be able to fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans and you may not; but even if you can, it doesn’t mean for a second that you have “returned to normal” – as if being pregnant isn’t normal and staying the same jean size your whole life is…seriously, who comes up with these ideas?

The pressure to “bounce back” is not limited to pregnancy and birth by the way. I have had women tell me they heard it from friends and family after undergoing major surgeries, in some cases losing their ability to have children, losing a job or partner, or experiencing some other kind of deep grief. I don’t hear it from my male clients and students at all. Instead I hear from them that they are not allowed to show any change of vulnerability in the first place – in other words, they don’t need to “bounce back” because they are never to be knocked off track in the first place. So here is your PSA if you are dealing with any change, any grief, any hard time: You are not made of teflon, you are flesh, blood, bone, and breath. You are not made to bounce, period. (Unless you are in a trampoline in which case, bounce away friends). Refuse to bounce back – it is a revolutionary stance!

So, now that I am back into the new/old/new routine I also have time to start writing again! I had this moment earlier in the week when I remembered: I am a writer. Which means my work is to write. Which means I need to schedule time in my work day, everyday, to write. I know that probably sounds pretty obvious, but when you have a thriving Sacred Arts business as I do, two little children, a bevy of beautiful students, and you also make magic on behalf of yourself and others – fitting in something else can be tricky. Realizing that writing is an essential (and growing) part of my daily work was the shift in perspective that needed to occur. And it allows me to leave you with a teaser that I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the witch trend that is happening right now as well as the power of discomfort.

I also have plans to be more present at Canto – I have several product reviews I want to share with you all, and I am opening up the comments there so that all of you have a place to express yourselves and ask questions that is not owned by some technocratic monopoly. In fact, if you want to comment on this letter you can do so right here.

In the meantime I am reading this and this and enjoying both of them very much, and I just finished this and it was delightful.

Much love and Happy New Moon magic-making!

What are you refusing to bounce back from?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missives: How to Enchant Your Aid

Alchemy and Magic

W

ith all of the current events and weather patterns converging in the various ways that they have AND with the loving, compassion and deep feeling that is always inspired by the Full Moon in Pisces, we have seen the desire to give, pitch-in, help out, and aid in whatever ways we can at an all time high.

This is especially true in our Sacred Arts community. I mentioned it in the Full Moon letter but in case you missed it do you know how much our community raised in Hurricane Harvey Relief in 24 hours? $4500 – pretty remarkable right?!

At the time of writing this, Hurricane Irma is whirling her own path of destruction towards Florida. Hurricanes or not, we know that there is always stormy weather, hearts that are hurting, bellies that need food, and bodies that need shelter.

Fortunately, soulful seekers are not just up for the project; you all are ready and willing. Truly you all have some of the most generous hearts and wise minds I have ever encountered. And of course you also have something else: magic.

For while all people who are showing up and giving have good intentions, those of us practicing the Sacred Arts also know how to make ritual and ceremony; we know how to pray and bless; we know how to enchant.

This extends to the aid that we give – whether you donate a monthly sum to your favorite not-for-profit or are donating goods and money for a specific cause (like Hurricane relief) we know that the act becomes more powerful and makes a bigger, longer, impact when backed up by magic.

So here is one of my favorite ways to do that:

What you Will Need:

This is a Dedication of Merits ceremony so you will need to do something, usually physical, like exercise or garden or clean out your gutters.

This can be as simple as taking a walk down the street or organizing your closet or as complex as running a marathon. It can also be something that really frightens you but you are going to do it anyway – like public speaking.

The key word here is merit – whatever you do needs to challenge you in some capacity. (In other words if running a 50 mile marathon is easy for you it doesn’t count, maybe you need to do a load of laundry or figure out your back taxes or cook dinner instead).

So, pick out your activity that cultivates merit and the focus on where you wish to support and help – where do you want to enchant your aid?

Ceremony:

Before you begin the activity breathe in deeply, stating either aloud or in your mind: “I dedicate the merits of following act to (fill in the blank with the cause or intention you are focused on). May they strengthen, protect, and empower the aid that I have sent and may they bless me so that I am able to support this cause and all that I am dedicated to ever more fully.”

Do the activity!

As you complete the activity breathe in another breath, stating either aloud or in your mind:
“It is done and my merits have been dedicated. May I be blessed and a blessing in turn.”

Final Act: Your giving is in a direct relationship to your accepting. Accepting self-care, accepting rest, accepting pleasure and delight and beauty, accepting healing. We are called on to give, to help and to show up and we are only able to truly and fully answer that call when we also do the little and big things that nourish us. So your final act and way of sealing this particular magical deal? Take care of yourself my loves.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.