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Earth as Celebrant:  Winter Nature Rituals

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Look outside; do you see death and dying all around you?  Bare branches of trees resemble skeletons, slumbering gardens appear to present only debris where once glorious blossoms flourished.  Sun-scorched grass may lie underneath blankets of snow.  


The truth is not, however, that the earth or her fecundity are gone during the winter months.  In fact, the ubiquitous signs of winter hide the presence of abudant new life being created and nourished just below our feet.  And this seeming dichotomy can serve as both model and container for a multitude of rituals. 


We offer three examples of winter rituals below; each of these can be custom-made by you for individual or collective use.  continue reading. . .(insert link here for page) but delete this part in page -- it’s just for newsletter


Sharing Sorrow With the Earth

(inspired by Francis Weller’s Speaking to the Earth ritual) 

This ritual uses the earth’s composting nature to help us metabolize experiences, feelings, thoughts, and energy that we may like to move through and deposit out of our being.  Find a secluded place and spend some time opening to any sorrow you feel. Perhaps what you grieve is the loss of your most beloved person on earth, but it may also be your transition to parenting adult children or a recent change in employment.  Maybe you mourn for the earth you knew as a child which is disappearing through our climate crisis. Slowly and deliberately, dig a small hole in the earth. (If the ground is frozen, don’t worry; a clearing of topsoil will fulfill the same symbolic function).  Once the hole has been dug, speak your sorrows into it. You can whisper or scream. Share with the earth whatever you are experiencing. Once you feel complete with this step, sit back and spend time looking into the hole. Remind yourself that the earth can metamorphize all organic materials to create new life from seeming death.  It will do this with everything you have just spoken into it. When you are ready, fill the hole again, offering gratitude for this opportunity.


Connecting with the Potency of the Earth

Are you beginning something new?  Thinking of beginning something new?  Open to perhaps one day thinking of beginning something new?  Soon, our social media sources will be filled with advice on our New Year’s Resolutions, on how to create our 2020 Business Plan, and on Manifesting This or That.  All that frenetic insistence on reinventing ourselves and our routines can be exhausting, paticularly for those of us experiencing loss and transition.  


Perhaps you know that some day you would like to have a quilt created from the ties still hanging in your father’s closet.  Maybe you long for a new dinner ritual now that your beloved is no longer here to help you cook. You might want to disengage from absolutely everything new as you hold on to memories of life before now.  This ritual is for all of us, for it calls on the hidden fertility of the earth to inspire, nurture, and teach us as we nourish any new creation in our world -- or as we avoid such new creations.


Spend some time outside, listening and learning from the earth’s hidden depths.  If you are able to sit on the ground for a short amount of time, do just that -- settle against a tree or lie down in a meadow.  If temperatures or other circumstances prohibit that, position yourself in a quiet place where you can get as close to the earth as possible; sitting in a car near the woods, with your window cracked, works, as does gazing out your window with great attention.


Focus not on what you see but on what your being knows is hidden from your sight.  Imagine that you can peer down into the soil and see it becoming vital and vibrant as it makes its slow work of composting.  What does that feel like? How does it smell? Can you tap into any of the minute changes that occur continually during this process of dying, death, and rebirth?  Ask the earth to teach you how to consciously use this natural cycle that is already happening all around -- and within -- you. Try to avoid any thoughts of what is being created from that which is dying.  Instead, just connect to the cycle itself. You can continue this ritual for the entire winter season. As you complete each session of learning from the earth, note any sensations or feelings that arose. End with gratitude for the blessings received and those yet to come.


Bearing Witness to Darkness and Light at Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice marks the moment when one of the earth’s hemispheres is tilted as far as it can be away from the sun.  In the North, this happens on or around December 21st each year. And folks have been celebrating it for thousands of years.  To read more about some of the forms these celebrations take, visit:  

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Some of us have been experiencing long, dark nights for months, so this time of year may not present an observable change within us.  If that is the case, we can use this special occurrence to remind ourselves that within the darkness there is also a bit of light -- always.  A very simple way to ritualize this day is to go outside before the sun rises and witness its ascent. You may choose to hum as you wait; many of the ancestors of Northern America did this daily -- they hummed the sun up.  Wailing into the darkness can be very comforting. And silence is always appropriate too. As dawn’s first heralding glimmers of light begin to appear, simply be present to them. Notice the changing color of the sky or the shift in the sounds around you as birds or small critters may awaken or be putting themselves to sleep.  Simply witness. You need not do anything to earn the sun’s appearance. You do not have to act in relationship to the emergence of the light. It will happen, with or without us.  


Likewise, there will be darkness within and around us, and there will be light within and around us.  We can try to grasp or hold onto one or another of these, to utilize them for our own endeavors or education.  We can try to bring in more light or shroud ourselves in more darkness, depending on our current needs. Nevertheless, our intentions in relationship to darkness and light remain irrelevant.  Both simply are. Can we witness them without a need to change them?

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