The great Sun Bear of the First People of our North American continent, reminds us how important ceremony is in life, he says,“When humans participate in ceremony, they enter a sacred space. Everything outside of that space shrivels in importance. Time takes on a different dimension, emotions flow more freely, the bodies of participants become filled with the energy of life, and this energy reaches out and blesses the creation around them, old is made new, everything becomes sacred.”
Ceremony invites us to stop and smell the roses by setting apart time and space to experience the change inherent in life with dear family and friends surrounding us. When we welcome life's transitional moments with great care and intention; this simple act offers us the rich possibilities of freedom and peace of mind.
Spring is on the wing, a time of renewal. Here are the ingredients to activate ceremony in your life:
Blessing or paying homage - of the space
Consider 'cleansing' the space or preparing it beforehand by smudging, lighting a candle, or chanting if you are so inclined. You can also just sit quietly and state your intention either out loud or silently in your head. Think about including friends or family members to join you in this task.
Processional or entrance
How do you wish to enter the ceremonial space or cross the threshold -- in silence, to music, with great fanfare or would you feel more comfortable poised in the space ready to greet your guests. Think about if you'd like a dear friend or your animal companion to escort you.
A Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant (modern day ritual maker welcomes all who gather, sets the tone, and explains the purpose of the ceremony, and begins to weave your personal story into her welcome. Perhaps she an antique singing bowl or maybe you’d like your friends to shake tambourines.
With ritual the ordinary merges with the extraordinary Be creative -- use a favorite rock from your garden, re-invent a family tradition (i.e., use grandpa's wine glass or craft a symbolic quilt). Allow the ritual to speak for you and to you on a deeper level.
Whether classic or contemporary literature, poetry, song lyrics, prose, an excerpt from a favorite child's book or a scene from a favorite sitcom; these can be read by your Celebrant or dear family and friends. Consider writing an original piece. Choose readings that resonate for you.
This is the portion of the ceremony dedicated to honoring those who came before us, our ancestors and loved ones with words, silence, song, lighting a candle or tossing stones into a stream so they return from where they came. You might want to include your loved one’s framed photo and place it on the ritual table.
Family Member Honoring
This is an opportunity to honor family members or other sung or un-sung heroes in your life with words and gestures.
Your Celebrant's Address
This is where your story is told. It's your own hero's journey and it is often the centerpiece of the ceremony. The tone might be serious, whimsical, humorous, educational or a combination of all of these.
If applicable, the Celebrant will pronounce the honoree (who the ceremony is for) with the new status they have attained, for example: Divorced/single, Married, Retired or New parents or whatever the achievement may be.
This is the portion where all in attendance are acknowledged with a reading or blessing; and/or they are invited to show their support for the honoree in unison with formal verbal decree or fun shout out.
Here, you may choose to 'close' the ceremonial space with chimes, bell ringing, kazoo tooting, broom sweeping, blowing bubbles, passing out flowers to the guests, etc. Once again think about what pleases you and makes you smile!
The honoree(s) walks out of the ceremonial space followed by their Celebrant, attendants and finally their guests. The impact of the ceremony lingers – whether grand or small – and now is a part of the individual’s history (herstory) and remains in their heart - always emotionally accessible.