Creating Ceremony Lesson One: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Ceremony and Ritual

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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.

How to Banish Social Media Jealousy

Purification and Cleansing

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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.

Breaking Up with Social Media

Purification and Cleansing

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f you want to take a temporary (or permanent) break from social media, here’s a ritual you can do to cut the cord and feel liberated.

What you will need:
A metal chain, a piece of yarn, ribbon, or string – something you can either cut or break. It should be at least as long as the vertical length of your hand.
 
A lemon or lemongrass-scented hand soap.
Rose or Orange flower water – available in the “ethnic food” aisles of many grocery stores.
A favorite ritual anointing oil or hand cream.

Significance:
The chain, yarn, thread, ribbon, or string is used to symbolize the connection you have to social media at this time.

Lemon and/or lemongrass are both scents that are worked within all kinds of cleansing and clearing work.

Rose or Orange flower water are both worked with for blessing and restoration.

Your favorite ritual anointing oil or hand cream may be used to “seal” the ritual.

Ceremony:
Take a few moments before you log in to Cultivate Calmness.
If you are announcing your intention to break up with a certain social media channel (for now or forever) then go ahead and make that announcement in whatever way is best.
When you are ready, pick up the chain, thread, a piece of yarn or string – whatever you are working with.
Think and feel into your ideas and emotions around social media. This includes the good, the bad, and the neutral. See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that energy gathering at the base of your throat. It may have a certain color, feel or shape to it – if it does simply make a note of that but do not get sidetracked by it.
One you feel the presence of the energy breathe it out onto the chain, thread, a piece of yarn/string, etc.
You may breathe all of the energy out at once or you may need to repeat the breath a few times. You may find that you cry a little bit in which case anoint the thread with some of your tears.
Hold firmly in your mind and heart your goal in leaving social media – maybe you are leaving to spend more time with your kids, paint a new canvas, or take a formal job – whatever your reason and goal, hold it clearly.
As you are ready, snap or cut the thread and as you do so, see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that the connection between yourself and social media is also severed.
Wash your hands with the lemon or lemongrass scented soap.
Then, pour the rose or orange flower water over your hands.
Finally, anoint your hands with the ritual oil or hand cream, blessing them as they are put to good use (away from social media).

Final act:
Go do something related to your goal in leaving social media – paint that canvas, apply for that job, go to the park with the kiddos!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Making Social Media Feel Magical Again

Purification and Cleansing

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emember the early days of the Internet, when we all felt such wonder and awe? But now, many of us feel overwhelmed and burned by all the nonstop chatter and noisy demands. In this article, I share a ritual that will help you take the first major step toward bringing some magic back into your digital life by restoring clarity and intentionality.

 
What you will need:
A clear quartz crystal – it does not need to be huge, fancy, or expensive.
A favorite anointing oil or hand cream
Your computer/tablet/phone – whatever you use to log in to social media!

Significance:
Quartz crystal points have been worked with since ancient times and support us in cultivating a sense of clarity around our intentions and purpose.

This ritual involves the age-old practice of anointing your hands. You may use a favored ritual anointing oil if you have one that you like, or you may use a hand cream that you like. Do note that this ritual is most effective if you have a dedicated oil or cream for it. That way the act of anointing your hands and the scent will start to magically work on an inner level to support you in your magic making.

You want to work with the device that you use to log into social media because the act of logging in is the practical action that we are magicking up!

Ceremony:
Take a few moments before you log in to Cultivate Calmness.
Once you have done that, think and feel into your purpose for using social media today. Is it for work, pleasure, or to contact a specific person about something? Whatever it is, say that purpose out loud.
Once you have uttered aloud your purpose, take the quartz crystal and place it against your forehead, saying: “May my thoughts be clear and aligned with my purpose.”
Place the crystal against your lips, saying: “May my speech be clear and aligned with my purpose.”
Finally, place the crystal on your heart, saying: “May my heart be clear and aligned with my purpose.”
Set the crystal down next to where you are working so that you can see it and it may serve as a visual reminder of your purpose and intentions.
Next, take the anointing oil or hand cream and anoint your hands holding the intention that your hands do good work today, that they are blessed and blessings in turn.
Now you are ready to log in – may you have clarity and may you rediscover the magic!

Final act:
Pick a specific time each day (and bonus points if it is the SAME point each day) to login to your social media accounts. Repeat this ritual every time you do so. Soon it will be second nature to you and take all of 3 minutes to do.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Sacred Arts, Faery Tales and the Wild

Ceremony and Ritual

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Miracles,

You return from that trip to an exotic place – or perhaps to the wilds of nature. There to greet you on the front porch steps is your life again, waiting for you. Then what?

You discover something unsettling.

It’s like you’ve never left in the first place. For awhile you feel fresh again, but then all the bills are there, the push and pull and tensions of everyday living are. still. there.

Ugh! What’s happening? We try to get away and refresh, and maybe it works for a little while, but then the same problems crop up – and repeat themselves.

Since the days of Rousseau (and actually much earlier), all too often we’ve accepted the view that the natural wild is a realm “over there” away from where we live, from our lives.

To begin our journey then, our really soulful work, we believe we must somehow make a big leap, if it were even possible, over into that realm and start from there.

In truth, not only is no such leap is necessary, but the leap itself can actually makes things worse. For the wild – the true wild – is a property of the heart and the real inferiority found in us and in nature, within relationship; and it is found in those encounters where we least expect it. That can happen to us wherever we are – in the car, in the doctor’s office, at the bank, on the street, in the city, the country, the mountains.

Now many important lessons can be learned by stepping outside the human realm and into nature, or outside the familiar to a realm that is foreign and different. Don’t get me wrong.

For the Sacred Artist, it is simply a matter of where you begin. As the old stories teach, the exotic realm is not the wild at all, and not a starting place, but a kind of abstraction. Where the true movement begins is right where we are.

The story of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnelle – the guiding story of Module IV of Spinning Gold – speaks directly to this, and how it plays a role in a life that manifests real enchantment.

It begins with the scene of a deep betrayal, and as a consequence the land of the kingdom in the story dries up, crops wither away, and there is no longer water, moisture, or vitality of any kind. People are not able to have children, all of the food crops and animals are destroyed, the living land turns into one perilously close to death. Spiritually, psychologically and pragmatically, we lose the power to manifest our dreams, desires and intentions.

A betrayal occurs or is experienced: someone tells us “not to quit our day jobs” or that our “sister is really the talented one” or that our art making, prayer making, sanctuary building, word crafting, is a “nice hobby”.

Sometimes the betrayal happens within: every time we tell ourselves that there isn’t anything worthwhile or relevant or meaningful in the creative work we are called to do, anytime we stop ourselves before we even start by getting busy cleaning or talking to a friend or doing five errands all before noon, then we too feel that icy wind blowing across our soul soil and snuffing out our creative spark. Creatively we feel “stuck”, “frozen”, “bored”, “dried up”, “numb” and “dead”.

And so, in order to right this wrong and bring life back to the land, Sir Gawain, bravest and truest knight of the Round Table, is given a specific task: he must learn the answer to a singular and shining question.

And so must we, in our own context, learn the answer to the question.

Failure to do so results not only in the loss of life for the land, but also in the loss of Gawain’s own life. (So you know, no pressure).

Gawain goes into the wild, and it takes him the traditional initiatory time, a year and a day, to discover the answer to his question, an answer that comes at a wild and wondrous price as those familiar with the tale know. Without spoiling the ending of the tale, I can assure you that both life and true wildness return to the kingdom.

The quest, the traveling into parts unknown, and wondering through the deep wild wood, are all necessary steps along the way to retrieving the fuel that can keep the creative spark burning and it is this way for us as well.

Like Gawain, we must brave the icy wilds, go on a quest and find the needed answers that will provide fuel for our brilliant and bright spark to burn once more.

But the wilds need not literally be wilds – like literally wilderness area. For it is only when he returns, that the real magic begins to move: he has an encounter that changes everything and restores wholeness.

Gawain’s story and teachings focus specifically on the Sacred Arts of Ritual and Ceremony and concrete practices you can try out.

The story, like all the fairy stories we encounter, speak in particular ways as helps in breaking down the idea that there is this world of here and now and another world of dream and magic that we can yearn for but never fully participate in.

The practices we learn in the Sacred Arts of Ritual and Ceremony, as well as others, help us weave the worlds back together through stories and the Sacred Arts.

Those soulful seekers who practice the Sacred Arts can attest to not only more creative vision and ideas, but more creative vision and ideas that become concretely manifested so that they may be shared with the world. We should expect this result. For if we can learn to see gold in straw, then we can certainly remember the ways to care for a practical intention or a project from start to finish, so that it is able to emerge fully whole and intact.

And it is those concrete manifestations of your creative brilliance that turn anywhere you are, and everywhere you are, into terrain that is wild and overflowing with wonder.

The next Spinning Gold guest teacher I would like to introduce, Ryan Edward, is all about the intersection between the Sacred Arts and creativity. With several Tarot and Lenormand decks to his name, Ryan’s work has been published by US Games and is beloved within the Sacred Arts community, and for good reason: his work is quite gorgeous and his skill is matched only by his kindness. In fact, as a professional designer, he sees the the creative work of design as a form of the Sacred Art of Divination. Intrigued? Give it a listen!

Bri

Ready to Spin some Gold? Register Now 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Two Questions to Ask Before a Ceremony

Ceremony and Ritual

D

ear Miracles,

What I hope each of you take time to consider before any ritual, ceremony, and act of transformation:

What are the outer changes?

What are the inner changes?

Whether the ceremony is one that you have created, one that is quite old, one that is part of a community effort or one that is performed in solitude, these two questions hold, and, once answered, ensure that your participation within the ceremony is clear and direct.

In order to answer the first question you must recognize the stated goals of the ceremony. Is this a rite of gratitude and feasting that seeks to give thanks and honor? Is it a ceremony designed to increase personal wealth or power? Is it a prayer repeated at the same time each day to bring about a long awaited pregnancy or the return of a lover? What state are you hoping to change and how are you hoping to change it? You can also include commentary on what information will let you know that the sought after changes are in progress – or not.

The second question is much less considered and more important than the first – what are in the inner changes that must occur in order for the outer changes to be possible? Do you need to move from a state of focus on a project or effort into a state of reflection on what has been accomplished and gratitude for those accomplishments? If you are seeking personal wealth then taking the time to inventory what inner feelings, thoughts, and sensations either support or work against your goal is at least as much worth your time as gathering the right ceremonial supplies. What inner beliefs or ideas do you have about power that might keep you from having the best possible relationship to that power? In the case of a desired pregnancy or the return of a lover what needs to change within you to best support either outcome.

Transformation never happens on just the outer level. Often we get exactly what we need and more than we had though to ask for. Choose to be ready for results within as well as without.

A final question that can be asked after either of the first two is this: what practical actions can I take to support these changes? And then of course, once you have identified several such actions – take them.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How Long Until We Get There?

Alchemy and Magic

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ear Miracles,

When it comes to ritual work one of the most commonly asked questions is “how long until I see results?” It is a perfectly natural question given the time, energy and resources that individuals dedicate to meaningful ritual, but it is also a complex question.

One rule of thumb which was presented to me as just that, a rule of thumb, and has recently been taken as Biblical law by some, is the Rule of Three. Three days in which you should see a sign, three weeks for movement towards your goal and three months for a completed goal. The rule of Three is handy in that it gives us an outline and a progression of sorts — you do not go about looking for a complete manifested result you begin by looking for some encouraging signs, then you perceive slight movements in the direction you wish to head in and finally you will, with some luck, obtain a concrete result.

I advise my clients to begin counting days, weeks, and months after their ritual has come to an end. For example, if you are doing a ritual for a more loving marriage and the work will last for seven days, you do not start that work on a Friday and then look for results on Saturday. You wait until the ritual has fully concluded and then begin paying attention to signs, dreams, and practical information. While the rule of Three gives us a helpful guideline, I have seen results manifest sooner, later, and in rather unexpected ways for different people. In the meantime, pay attention to possible signs around you indicating that the work either is or is not taking. Typically you will see movement in a number of weeks after the ritual has been performed and you will see the desired outcome in a number of months.

If you do not see positive signs or experience positive movement it is unlikely that you will have a positive outcome to the work fully manifest. A different angle or new approach may be in order. Keep in touch with your ritualist — if they provide divinatory readings you may want to check in and see what they think a reliable time frame would be. If they do not provide such readings ask them to recommend you to a reader who can. And as always whether you are performing work on your own behalf or a pro is doing work for you, during this time you want to have full faith that the best outcome for all will be achieved while at the same time remember that magic works when you do.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.