We’ve strayed very far from the numinous. In our civilized, industrialized, pasteurized, homogenized world, we’re frozen into form, ossified in the material — and immune to the whisper of leaves, the murmur of brooks, the tenor of life teeming just below conscious awareness. Earbuds in place, we walk on, acculturated to the jackhammer tempo of the 21st century.
In lieu of ceremony to honor the ebb and flow of daily life, typical Western rituals include texting and working out. Lunch-hour laser surgery isn’t far behind. “Tradition” means the product you’re thinking of buying has been made by the same company for several generations: “A tradition of fine furniture since 1946.” Family meals are an anachronism, eclipsed by a nanosecond lifestyle that equates eating with putting gas in the car: get in, get out, get going. We eat to the beat, and our bodies, soil and soul pay the price.
Slowing down to the pace of health
I know this firsthand. In the early 1990s, stoked on my burgeoning marketing communications business that spelled freedom from the drudgery of nine-to-five, I ignored the growing evidence that my health was deteriorating. I loved the ten-step commute in my San Francisco apartment. I was finally taking piano lessons. I didn’t have time to deal with pain or fatigue. I was too busy; business was too good.
So Spirit took over. “Hello!” my angels roared at 110 decibels. “We’ve been trying to get your attention, but you aren’t listening. You’ve mastered being a successful businesswoman; we have other plans for you now.”
It was a colossal summons. My ninety-miles-an-hour life screeched to a halt.
For me, spiritual emergency took the form of illness. In 3-D, it “looked like” I was quite sick, and I certainly felt awful for a long time. I was dealing with a panoply of strange symptoms and medical labels.
Labels limit us, however. In A Return To Love, Marianne Williamson says spiritual progress is like a detoxification, and that’s exactly how it was for me, how it is for most of us. We have to clear out the old patterns and habits that no longer serve us in order to heal. Environmental restoration begins at home.
Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy Of An Illness, once said, “It’s not just the congestion outside us, of people’s ideas and issues, but our inner congestion that’s hurting us. We gorge the senses and starve the sensitivities.” So the deeper work is about coming to our senses. Beginning to really feel, and to trust what we feel.
How ritual renews our memory of wholeness
In truth, our very beings are hardwired for the kind of care we consider an indulgence. Access to the numinous requires only that we choose it. To sit at table with friends and loved ones, sharing “slow food,” is a simple, sorely needed ritual for a starving spirit. It becomes soul nourishing at a deeper level when we join hands to thank the growers, grocers and cooks who have brought the food from farm to fork.
Moonbaths are another elementary way to get in touch with our essence selves, to slow down to the pace of health and release our inner pollution. Sunbathing is standard. But if you go to a serene spot free from streetlamps and traffic lights when the moon is full, allowing her to shine upon you in all her radiance, you’ll tap into an ancient cellular rhythm.
These are just a few of the myriad ways we can use ritual to remember who we are, as multidimensional beings capable of so much more than societal dictates. Surviving in spiritual starvation, we hunger for sustenance beyond food. Ritual renews our memory of wholeness, of a time when we knew how to cast a circle, call in our ancestors and spirit guides, invoke our intention with clarity and conviction. “Invocation” means, giving your vision a voice.
Crafting a new mythology
Living in harmony with natural rhythms expands our sense of what’s possible. The “reality police” have become our invisible, accepted jailers. We can liberate ourselves by reaching past the pre-packaged propaganda for certified organic thought. The replenishing rituals we create now are one way to re-story our lives, revivifying the myths that have kept cultures through the ages cooking up a cauldron of creative possibility. According to the eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell, a myth isn’t something that never happened; it’s something that is always happening.
Disconnected from the source of this knowing, we pervert our productive energy. For example, without a mythological model for how to resourcefully contribute to the collective, teenagers may resort to gang membership and violence — mimicking their elders, who wage war on their own life support system.
But another way was possible from the start. It’s intriguing to learn that the US Constitution is patterned directly on the Iroquois model of leadership, with one notable exception: there is no Council of Clan Mothers, or Grandmother Council, which is the backbone of Native American decision making. Perhaps if our Founding Fathers had included Founding Mothers in the new nation’s governing body, we’d consider ritual-based decision-making that honors both masculine and feminine voices the natural course for balance and well-being. Just imagine what our culture — and the environment — might look like, if the White House consulted a group of wise women prior to implementing any major policy change.
Follow your inner guidance, even if you look like a fool
During my own “dark night of the soul” journey, I frequently found myself walking alone at night, singing, “fire and water”, not knowing why, but trusting the rightness of my inner voice. Fire is the male essence; water is female. They are yang and yin, sun and moon, perfect polarities, as necessary to one another as all complementary pairings are to balance, healing, wholeness, sustainability.
One useful ritual is to start noticing where you are imbalanced, and to spend time nurturing the flip side of the equation. This is holding the “both/and,” which is about integration rather than separation. Our digital devices are binary. Humans are far more complex operating systems!
Take time to wander and wonder. Sit in a stream and sing. Be willing to follow your inner guidance, even if you look like a fool. When you can descend to the depths of your being and release what no longer serves, beginning anew in defenselessness and trust, you’re on your way to becoming a vessel of wisdom for the tribe.
May you enjoy the journey, and remember to resurface when you’re complete. We all — every species, and Gaia Herself — need your unique gifts from the well.
© Copyright 2004-2016 by Amara Rose. All rights reserved.
About the author:
Amara Rose is a “midwife” for our global rebirth. Her services include transformational guidance, talks, e-courses, a digital download CD, and an inspirational monthly newsletter. She is widely published in health, business and new thought magazines, both digital and print. Learn more: http://www.liveyourlight.com