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.

Hearth and Home, Vol. 4: Make Space for Life

Foundations

M

iracles,

The above photo gives you a glimpse of what our garden looked like right around Beltane, May 1st. We had entered into a period with our land where certain plants needed to be uprooted, soil turned, and bedrock prepared for the coming of new life. It has been deeply allegorical for where our family and our work has been too. Since the last New Moon I entered into the final month of my pregnancy and this week our second little one will be arriving at some point! Plants have rooted down in the garden while pictures have gone up onto the walls of the nursery, and baby clothes – some old, some new, – have been placed in drawers.

As is always the case with life, it doesn’t take much to get things started if you are willing to make space. Plants are placed into the ground, fed with water and the right amount of sun and moonlight, and with a little time and attention (and daily offerings to the faeries and our Holy Helpers) our stone and cardboard covered garden became a lush and beautiful wonderland – no small feat in South Central Texas during the hot month of June! The same has been true for the life of our family and home – a little attention here, some detailing there, making sure that we all have plenty of time not just for work but for rest and dreaming and creating – these have been the priorities as our family makes room for the newest addition.

My book and writing have also been reflective of this process: the completed manuscript was sent in to my publishers on May 1st. A few weeks later I received notes for the first round of edits and so dove into them. Fortunately there were not that many and the entire process struck me as a tightening and refining that felt fantastic. It reminded me deeply of stories I have been told about my great-grandmother.

She was a Cherokee woman who lived in rural East Texas and kept a chicken snake in her kitchen cabinet – to keep away mice or to startle visitors or maybe both – and one of the tales that has been passed down about her is that she would braid her long dark hair tight, tight, tight, into a braid, and then take a lit match and run it down her braid singeing off any errant hairs. This, she claimed, was how she kept her hair smooth and glossy. Editing felt like that to me. Taking the tightly braided words and then running a match over them – gently, but firmly, burning away the excess and the loose ends so that at the end of the day we are left with something more potent and refined.

It has touched me deeply how our community of soulful seekers has also been making space for life and what sings of life. Personally I have felt this in all of the well-wishes that I and the family have received from so many of you. I have experienced it too in the generous gifts that have been sent our way – some for the baby and some for me!

Over the past week as the news has been filled with the tragedy and the deaths of luminaries who touches the lives of so many, I have also been humbled to see how our community comes together to create space for hard discussions, thoughtful takes on controversial issues, and perhaps most meaningful of all, a sense of not assuming that we understand what another soul is encountering in their deepest hour of shadow. For these things too are part of life and cannot be overlooked, swept away, or ignored. I appreciate the nuance, and the time and thoughtfulness that seem to have become ever more endangered, that our community takes in feeling and thinking and speaking – we lead by example, it is the only way.

And amid the sadness that has been so thick in the air I hope that you too are making space for life, in all of its divine mess, radiant beauty, breadth and depth. As the below picture of my garden shows you, we do not, any of us, flourish in spite of the hard, we flourish right along side of it. That is what it means to make space for life.

In love and blessings always,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.