Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Ritual to Honor Our Pets and Animal Companions

                                                Elaine Voci, Ph.D. Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant

The Latin word - anima - means “breath” or “soul,” and our pet animals, such as cats or dogs, visibly breathe, and are animated and alive.  Through their faithful and loving companionship with us, they also breathe joy and meaningfulness into our human bodies, minds and spirits. 
One of the things we find so fascinating about animals is that their essence, their being, is not covered up with words or thinking. When we learn to live in the moment, the way our animals do, we regain a sense of the miraculous, a depth of awareness and a core of our own simple being-ness.  As Eckhart Tolle writes in his book, Guardians of Being, Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats, “Be alert as you watch a dog at play or at rest.  Let the animal teach you to feel at home in the Now…to take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment which is where the animal lives all the time – surrendered to life.”

Celebrants take pleasure in creating ceremonies, rites and rituals to honor our pets and animal companions as they reach some of life’s significant milestones.   Some examples of the occasions we mark include welcoming pets into our home when we have adopted them from a shelter or a rescue mission; crafting a simple ritual of naming them; honoring their “graduation” from etiquette school, or the completion of service training; and, poignantly, leading a special memorial service when the day comes that they die and leave our homes for the last time. 

A Candle Ceremony to Welcome an Adopted Pet Into a Family

Here’s a simple, but powerful, ceremony is done at home when a pet has been adopted and the family wants to welcome her/him into its “forever home.”  The purpose is to affirm and celebrate the journey that this pet made to reach his/her family, and their commitment to stewardship and loving care from this day forward.

The celebrant opens the gathering by declaring, “We gather today for the adoption of our new friend, (pet’s name) and his/her family members, (named).  We will light candles in honor of all those who made today possible.”

The first candle is lit to honor’s the animal’s birth family.  It signifies and expresses gratitude for the two animals who created this perfect new life.  We honor them for caring for him/her as a tender young soul.  We express the hope that both parents are in a safe place with good food, warmth and love.

The second candle is lit to acknowledge the people who worked at the shelter and/or rescue and took this precious animal in, caring for him/her without desire for repayment, carrying on their work for animals that come from the streets, from bad homes, those who are abandoned and unwanted, and those left to die.  We give thanks and pray with gratitude that their work allowed this family to meet their destined pet.

The third candle is lit to celebrate this pet and all adopted pets, who bring laughter, joy and enrichment to their families, and who remind us of the presence of the divine in all creation.  We give thanks to this new family member for the opportunity to open our hearts, to be inspired, and to be taught how to give unconditional love.

The fourth and final candle is lit to recognize the adoptive family and celebrate their commitment to the challenge of taking in a new presence, and creating a loving place in the world for this sweet animal’s life.  We express our humility in the face of their courage and generosity of spirit; we pledge to support them through any difficult times they may encounter and to celebrate the good times to come.
The ceremony may end with an expression of joy or prayer as each candle is blown out, and may be followed by a delicious buffet of human foods for the people, and special treats for the animal, such as puppy ice cream, or a new healthy chew bone.  Music may accompany spontaneous toasts given to complete the festivities.  A keepsake copy of the ceremony may be printed on parchment paper and presented to the family to hold as a treasured remembrance.

In today’s world, people love their pets/animal companions and consider them members of the family.  As animal lovers themselves, and as people trained in the art of ceremony, celebrants provide a place of presence for pet owners and their human caretakers.  Celebrants are delighted to create events that share stories and celebrate milestones while pets are alive, and are honored to craft loving memorial tributes to those who have died. This is the circle of life that abides in all things, and the one life, the one consciousness, that is with us now and forever.  

Elaine Voci is a life coach in private practice in Carmel, IN and a graduate of the Celebrant  Foundation & Institute .   Elaine is the Editor of the Celebrant Blog for the Celebrant Foundation & Institute.

Life-Cycle Ceremonies: A Handbook for Your Whole Life 

How do you commemorate momentous events? Memorialize people who have shaped you? Draw support from those you hold dear? This primer offers methods for honoring the special occasions in your life with humor and grace. Its ceremonies help ground each day in the wholeness that supports our entire lives. Each ceremony has been vetted by a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® affiliated with the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, which offers training and support for celebrants worldwide. Visit us at

Please direct all request, comment or concerns about our CF&I Blog to our Social Media Manager ~ Marcia Almeida, Master Life-Cycle Celebrant. at    Or to the Celebrant Foundation & Institute’s director, Charlotte Eulette at: call us at (973)746-1792.  
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