The various shades of devastation in our planetary ecosystems reveal a humanity who’s awareness is torn from the web of life. This crucial time which we inhabit asks no less of us than to pick up the threads and start mending our relationship with the natural world – because our life depends it. Each of us are called, in our diverse roles and capacities, to head the call. So how do we go about such a task? As a celebrant, how do I create rituals and ceremony that can act as salves in healing our relationship to the natural world?
I believe that nature-based ritual and ceremony are one of the threads that can mend our frayed relationships with soul, psyche, and nature, and help restore our sense of wholeness, purpose, and belonging to this world. Through nature-based ritual, we converse with the seasons, the elements, the wild kin that inhabit our bioregion and shape our psyches. If ritual is a language of the heart, then ceremony is a heart-to-heart conversation. When we attune our rituals and ceremonies with the natural world, we can come into conversation with the living web of life.
At the heart of ceremony is story.
Turning towards nature allows us to inhabit a greater story of our human existence – one that reaches into the world of rock and river, wind and willow, sea and sand. The story of our unique and precious lives, embedded in this unique and precious world. We come to see our lives entwined with the seasons that breathe us, the cycles that shape our inner rhythms, the sensual impressions that texture our psyches.
Yet how often during the day do we open up to this interconnectedness and allow it to shape our awareness? And do we take the time to slow down, and then slow down some more, to open our senses, to tap into our embodied-feelings, to pay attention to the images emerging from our deep imagination, and then make sense of it all on the weft and warp of our hearts?
The world we live in also lives within us.
If we expose ourselves only to the inside of a car and what resides within building walls, our imagination will consequently be diminished to these experiences. On the other hand, if we open our awareness to the textures of the seasons, its sounds, its expressions in the unique place we inhabit, then our inner world is enriched by these living presences that touch our heart and mind. So how do I open my awareness ever more fully to this living world, so that the inspiration for ceremony and ritual emerges from the Earth that sustains us?
There are many portals in.
Through the upcoming series of blogs on my website, entitled “Wild Encounters” (https://fireandhoney.ca/the-grove/), I explore the portal of a nature-writing practice in fostering a ritual mind-space and soulful engagement with the natural world. My understanding of a ritual mind-space is a state of open awareness, receptivity, and surrender to a greater source of wisdom – such as Earth’s living presence, its wild inhabitants, its rhymes and rhythms, cycles and seasons.
Nature offers us living images and sensory experiences that mirror the seasons of our lives. Nature’s cycles and rhythms, offer archetypal lenses to intuitively grasp and make-meaning of the perpetual endings and beginnings that shape our journey. Landscapes provide us with living metaphors of change and evolution that help us make sense of our transitions. Our wild kin bestow vastly varied ways of being in and of this world – from feathered flight to stone stillness – broadening our perspectives.
What is this dance between my inner world and the outer world?
And how does this dance illuminate the question: what is being asked of me here and now? It seems to be a lifelong practice of tracking the golden threads of insight that weave themselves through my journey, of attuning to what makes my heart pulse more strongly. It also seems to be a lifelong practice of learning to open and surrender to nature’s soulful presence and polymorphous intelligence, which demands no less of me than to let go of my preconceptions, to discern clear perception from fantasy, to lean towards, to become more porous, less guarded, less preoccupied with my own thoughts…
…so that I might experience the world through the eyes of a mysterious Other – of fur, frond, or fin.
As a celebrant, I am therefore constantly living into the following inquiry: how do I open my awareness ever more fully to this living world, so that the inspiration for ceremony and ritual emerges from the ground up, so that it emerges from the sky and skylarks, lakes and cricks, body and breath that sustain us? These nature-writing blog series are an experiment in making sense of my world through a creative writing practice, with the intention of receiving inspiration from being with my surroundings. This exploration is not about crafting rituals in themselves; rather, I’m exploring a way of perceiving and engaging with nature – and thereby shaping the ground of perception out of which ritual inspiration can then flow.
It is also me reaching out, inviting you to join me in this exploration.
This spring I will be offering an online retreat to explore our connection with the living world through nature-based practices, creative writing and ritual. You can sign-up for my monthly newsletter to stay connected! (https://fireandhoney.ca/the-grove/)