Rituals for Transition and Transformation

 
 

Listen more often

To things than to beings

The voice of the fire can be heard

Hear the voice of the water

Listen in the wind

To the sobbing bush.

It is the breath of the ancestors.

~Birago Diop

Since ancient times, indigenous peoples all around our Mother Earth and our ancestors had sacred ways of receiving and celebrating life’s original instructions. They had a compacto, a relationship with all life. Making offerings and saying prayers was a way of engaging and honoring their relationship with everything in the seen and unseen worlds and in their communities.   

Rituals are an evolutionary art that beautifies our spiritual vision and our humanness.  They bring us back to the original beauty that we witness in nature and in our true nature. Rituals are a way of entering a sacred relationship with all that we love. A way of talking, of communing with the beloved. Rituals connect us with the ancient ways that we carry in the marrow of our bones. They shake us so we can become a hollow bone.  Empty to receive and give with gratitude, generosity, grace, and compassion. They awaken in us ways to receive guidance from the seen and unseen realms and infuse the earth and our lives with that guidance. As Rumi says, “Let the beauty that we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the earth.” Bowing in humility and vulnerably is an instrument of ritual.  If all you do is offer a prayer and blow your breath into the wind, it is holy.

Returning to ritual, again and again, draws us into silence, into deep listening.  Bringing us into the sensations in our body, joining our heartbeat with the heartbeat of the earth.  They are a doorway, a gateway, and a pathway that return us home to our primal embrace.  Thomas Merton reminds us of the intimacy in the heart of ritual when he says, “In solitude we remain face to face with the naked being of things.” It’s a relief to sluff off the thoughts, stories, and baggage we carry and enter moments of innocence. Reclaiming our childlike wonder. Entering the magic that comes when we surrender all the thinking and doing and just listen. We tune into the art of listening, the mystery of silence, and surrender into the nakedness of being.

Offering a ritual can be simple when it is heartfelt and comes from your soul’s wisdom.  An effortless ritual is a relationship with what is sacred to you.  Connecting to what is moving through your breath and heart in the present moment. An intention that is rising that carries your visions and dreams for yourself and all that you love. It has a voice that speaks from within you. You are talking with the Beloved Mother, with Spirit, with the Divine, and you are listening to the messages that come in whispers, images or symbols.  It can be the Holy Ones, the ancestors, the spirit guides, the sacred elements or our beloved Mother Earth and Father Sky.

Rituals are regenerative, magical and practical. They are sustenance for your whole being, bringing your body, mind, and heart into wholeness and holiness with your soul.  We call and spirit comes.  Spirit calls and we answer.  The practice of ritual stirs your remembrance of your authentic Self, the one who re-members the way to walk in beauty.

Ritual practices for me are food for my whole being, reminding me to reset rhythm and balance in my day and my body.  They remind me to call in the essential so I can embody that peace and magic into all the moments of my life. They are the sacred ways that I call in the ancestors and the Holy ones to pray for my family, friends, and our beautiful Mother Earth. There are as many ways to enter a ritual as they’re hearts to offer them.  Sometimes with a heart full of gratitude, or a grief stricken broken heart, or fierce compassion, or bewilderment.  The universal language is being honest, raw, naked and authentic in the moment.

Rumi invites us back again and again when he says, “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” There is no judgment. We may enter just as we are, and the Holy ones will receive us and our prayers. Let the juicy, animated aliveness within you inspire you. Rituals are living. They are not mechanical or prescriptive.  Call in your creative fire to guide you. As don Oscar Miro-Quesada says, “You are creativity creating creation.”

A Ritual Offering

A k’intu is a little prayer fan of three leaves. In Peru, they use cocoa leaves.  I select bay leaves or sage leaves. Choose a leaf that speaks to your heart, that is indigenous to your land. I’m sharing the roots of where this practice was born and is still offered today, so you can enter the sacredness of its transformative energies and respect its lineage. 

The k’intu has rich roots in the ancient medicine ways of Peru.  The three leaves represent the three worlds. They also symbolize the three fields of a mesa, (a shaman’s medicine altar), and their primal curative energies. The k’intu prayer fan is a symbol of the integration of body, mind, and heart, working in ayni, which represents a core guiding principle of sacred reciprocity guiding the Andean peoples. 

For this offering, you collect the most beautiful leaves and make a bouquet prayer offering. You attune and awaken your mind, heart, and belly, to the qualities of Yachay, Munay, and Llankay which are the sacred receptacles for wisdom, love and right action. They come together to bring balance and equilibrium to your whole being and your relationship with all you hold holy. You can add a white flower petal symbolizing spirit and the Apu’s, holy mountains, and a red flower petal honoring Pachamama, Mother Earth. You are invoking the ancestral ways transmitted through the holy mountains, the winds, the elements and primal forces of the Mamapacha, mother nature and the unseen realms.

You become a conduit for the energies of light, love, and earth to unite within and all around you, radiating into all directions for the next seven generations and beyond.

Ritual Guidelines for K’intu Offerings

Center Yourself - Breathe and Ground Yourself between Father Sky and Mother Earth

•    Call in your ancestors, spirit guides that speak to your heart.
•    Show up - speak the truth. 
•    Blow your heartfelt intentions and prayers into the leaves as many times as you like.
•    Reverently touch them to your forehead, heart, and belly.
•    Offer them in the four directions, above and below, connecting your prayers with the East, West, North and South - to the      Heavens and the Earth.
•    Honor all the sacred elements, earth, water, air, fire, and ether.
•    You may continue adding prayers to them for yourself, your loved ones, and for our Mother Earth.

There are Many Ways of Sending your Intentions and Prayers:

•    Send them into the wind and let the wind take them.
•    Bury them in our Mother Earth.
•    Send them into a body of moving water.
•    Give them into a fire.
•    Let go of the outcome.


Praying

It doesn't have to be
The blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together, and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but a doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~Mary Oliver

There are many ways to connect and walk together on your soul's path:

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Deborah Sullivan