Ritual Overview for Kindle Cascadia 2019
From Your Winter Solstice Ritual Facilitators, Heron and Dio
On this Winter Solstice, the darkest night of the year, we invite you into honoring and exploring the dark. We invite you to peek into your own knowing, to discover the potential magic we can create together. We invite energy to move through us and between us to feed our individual and collective intentions. We call this a ritual—a liminal space that we energetically define, where our intentions and actions are set in the direction of world-changing, both inner and outer.
As practitioners of ancestral skills and knowledge, we honor the art of magic as an ancestral skill, practiced throughout time in diverse forms by many peoples around the world. In its most basic form, “magic is the art of changing consciousness at will,” says a recent magical ancestor, Dion Fortune. Magic can mean simply taking a deep breath when we are stressed to help us shift our state of being. It can mean conversing with the plants as we walk the trail; giving gratitude to the waters; opening our hearts with song; praying to a spirit, deity or god/dess. Magic can also mean trancing deeply into altered states where we contact worlds far beyond this one. We invite you to come and play, co-create, and contact your own sense of the sacred within this shared space of possibility.
As ritual facilitators with European heritages, we draw heavily from our experience in the Reclaiming tradition and related lineages of animistic, earth-based spiritual practice. These young/rebuilt traditions come from a movement to retrace the old spiritual ways of Europe, drawn from scholarly works as well as some surviving cultural knowledge from folk traditions.
This style of ritual is ecstatic. That means we raise energy together, we want to feel an experience of the sacred within our bodies. Every time we work with energy in this way, it is unique and created in the present. We speak in the moment as our own knowing moves us; we sing and dance and growl and let what needs to move within us move. Here ecstatic does not mean sexual or even always enjoyable, but it does mean authentic and felt within our bodies. Other traditions have a more formal tone, a way things must be done consistently, and that is the power of their ceremony. We believe the sacred moves through each one of us, and we honor that direct contact with ourselves, with spirit, with deity, with ancestors, with however your worldview explains that deep sense of knowing when something “feels right”. For more explanation, check out this short article by Starhawk: https://reclaiming.org/about-working-definition/
The beauty of this way of doing ritual is that we are presenting a form to co-create with, that can be adapted for the group that is present. While we have a framework and a worldview that informs the ritual, we aim to keep the cultural content general—as in, we will not be calling deities from specific cultures, but we may call in archetypal energies/beings that are open to individual interpretation and relationship.
We hope that you find this ritual accessible regardless of your cultural background, ethnicity, racial identity, religious background, or experience doing ritual. You may not connect with all of the energies, archetypes, or ways of doing things, but we hope that you will enjoy the play and the experience, knowing that your own perspective is honored even if you don’t love it or participate in the whole thing.
The earth is alive, and we are intimately interconnected to all life. We honor the elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit as sacred foundations that create the conditions for life to thrive. In holding these elements as sacred, we are also compelled into action to protect them, and thus holding this perspective is inherently political. We see the world as a flexible reality that is constantly being remade by the participants—we can shape and change the world with our thoughts, actions, and energy. Energy is unseen but felt, and we can move energy at will. The unseen world is available for contact and interaction at all times, including speaking with ancestors, nature spirits, etc. We work our magic in service of the greater good.
We are in a time of crisis on the planet, and we assume that it is necessary that we work to heal the wounds of civilization, colonialism and systemic oppression within and around us. We believe in integrating ancestral knowledge and wisdom with our current thinking to heal and fundamentally change the present dominating systems so that we may sustain life on the planet. We are in this together, all our fates, all our histories.
The Bones: What will the ritual be like?
We start by giving an overview, introductions, and teaching songs. We speak the collective intention (you can have your own personal intention too). Different people will hold roles of leadership as the ritual unfolds. We start by grounding, connecting to our bodies and the earth. Then we “cast the circle”, which means creating an energetic container around our ritual space. It’s like a pot to concentrate the energy. Ever tried to boil water without a vessel? It would run all over the place and never heat up! The circle is our vessel to help us raise energy. Then we invoke- we call the elemental energies to be present with us. We know they are always there, but to call them means we invite them closer and honor them. We may also invoke other energies, such as the dark night, the archetypal great mother, any animals or mystical beings that showed up in our ritual planning process. Then, we move into the “working” of the magic.
We may have activities that encourage you to move your body, contact your own spiritual knowing, or interact with others. A main tool of the ritual is a trance. Someone or several people will speak and guide you through an inner journey. Trances are an opportunity to slow down, to receive guidance (from yourself, your higher power, guides, ancestors, etc.). Sometimes the speaker’s words will help you get there, sometimes you just have to tune it out and do your own thing, and that’s fine. Then there will be some kind of energy raising. This means singing, drumming and moving together. A “cone of power” is what happens when we move so much energy by singing and moving, that it culminates in a crescendo, and we direct the energy towards our personal and collective intentions.
This ritual in some sense could be seen as an elaborate theater game. It is improvisational; it is about play and trusting your own authority while tuning into the experience of the group and nurturing an experience that holds us all. We encourage all people to hold this dual consciousness – of tending your own and the collective experience. If you aren’t someone that connects to a sense of the sacred in any way, you can still participate as a fantastical game of self expression and connection. There is no need to subscribe to a particular set of beliefs or practices to be part of this experience. Personal authority and freedom of thought is highly valued. You may trust yourself to take care of what you need at any moment—step out, step in, watch from the sidelines, get in the center and deepen in, take a risk or nurture your tender parts. Together we co-create a space that intends to be safe enough for people to encounter and explore generative discomfort.
The ritual planning process is co-creative, and open to whomever wants to participate. We meet for two planning sessions before the ritual, where the voluntary ritual planners will collectively “tap into” the themes and energy of the ritual for the week. Each group and moment in time is different, and so while the ritual generally revolves around honoring and being with the darkness, there is a unique intention for every ritual and a potential magic to discover. We do this through a guided intuitive process, not with our analytical minds. After we gather intuitive information, we will sort it into themes and brainstorm all the possible ideas of what the ritual could be. We explore the wild imagination, allowing us to dream big. Then we get down to what is actually possible and start developing the components of the ritual, the “what’s gonna happen”. During this process, each person becomes a co-creator and leader, and the two of us as facilitators will be there to nurture you in expanding your edges of comfort with leadership. There is a lot of room to bring your specific inspirations to form the ritual. While we do have a format, it’s flexible, and other traditions and practices can be incorporated.
Who we are
Heron Brae [she/her] I was born and raised in Cottage Grove, as a daughter of the counterculture. I have been attending rituals of this sort since I was a baby, and found my own earth-connected spiritual path as a teenager. Since then, I participated for many years with the Reclaiming activist community, in part as a collective organizer for a week long ritual intensive held every summer. I practice nurturing a relationship-centered life, finding truth from my ancestral lineages and from my direct contact to the land. I teach about plants, and organize community-based land tending to encourage reciprocity and an end to the exploitative practices of civilization. I am practiced in listening and feeling deeply, facilitating groups, and understanding the interpersonal dynamics of oppression as they show up in the connections between us. Anti-oppression and decolonizing perspectives inform and motivate both my inner and outer work towards a world that works for all. I love to collaborate on revolutionary projects, play hard, walk barefoot on wet dirt, marvel at natural mysteries, learn new things, identify new plants, deepen my knowledge with old plants, watch birds, garden, and cook real good food.
Dio Dmitri [they/them] I am committed to rediscovering ancestral skills and practices that bring me into deeper alignment with natural rhythms of the earth, cultivating a sense of belonging and rootedness. Herbalism, ritual magic and “rewilding” are all part of weaving this path of re-enchantment for me. Integrating decolonizing and anti-racism work into my life is about coming into right relationship with people and place as a white person descended from European settler immigrants of various ethnicities and nationalities. As a jack-of-all-trades, I am skilled in a wide range of arts, from facilitation to landscaping. I have ten years of formal ritual priest/ess training in an anarchistic Reclaiming offshoot lineage. I enjoy being present in wild places, tending my herb garden, weaving baskets, singing with a group of friends, watching squirrels and looking for beaver, running by the river, working out, engaging the design process, practicing peer counseling, challenging my mind by reading dense social justice literature and sci-fi fantasy, and feeling connected to something bigger than me. I am currently working in the social justice non-profit world.
Together we are a dynamic duo!