For most who celebrate Samhain, today marks the first day of a new year. I decided to take the day off and truly mark the day. Most of us, whether we say Goddess, Spirit, God, Jesus, Allah (and countless other designations), mean the same thing at a cellular level...not with our heads or even hearts, but down in some deep core we mean something greater than us, something that steers us, knows who we are. And many of us have experienced that prodigal sense of loss, whether we feel the Divine has abandoned us, or we sullenly and firmly turn our backs on that Spirit because something didn't go our way. And every once in awhile, we aren't sure which of those scenarios we're playing out, but regardless of who is to blame, the result is the same...a disconnect, a clanging disharmony that can leave us, in our quiet moments, feeling very alone. I've written before of my spiritual struggles (and laziness), my desire to leave those struggles behind and inability to figure out how to move forward. I'll confess that I've gone from being someone who often created rituals not just for myself, but for others as well, and wrote regularly about the power of daily ritual, to someone who smugly turns my nose up at such things. I've told myself rituals are crutches and what we hold in our minds, hearts and souls is the only relevant interaction with our Divine. I've told myself that remembering to say thank you at the end of the day was enough.
I was wrong. For me and my path anyway. Spectacularly wrong.
As part of welcoming in this new year, I took a solitary walk at Ramshorn-Livingston Sanctuary. I used to wander woods and trails alone on a regular basis, but it's been several years since I last did that. I feel guilty leaving Linda and/or the dogs behind; I feel selfish if I say I want to abandon some of our precious time together for an hour or two off in the woods. But today I did. I started by asking Goddess for some guidance, asked what I needed to know for the year ahead, how to begin to reconnect with Her. I didn't expect much; after all, we've been polite acquaintances for a few years now, with not much to say. I hadn't been walking for more than ten minutes when a single word came to me: Grounded. I need to focus on being more grounded, figuratively but more important, literally.
what I need to know, and re-learn this year, is groundedness.
Ritual does matter. We need to touch, taste, listen, smell and see the tangible before we allow our spirits to soar with the angels (or dance with the faeries). At least, I do. All religions have rituals; they are touch stones that root us, give us placeholders in our lives, soothe and comfort. And so, that's my Samhain resolution...to stop thinking of ritual as training wheels, and begin again living a life that includes daily ritual. Oh, I can do without the trappings that don't speak to me like wands, athames, cloaks and ritual names (these are powerful tools for some; but they never felt quite comfortable for me). I need ritual that's about the life we're living here...small things like stepping onto the porch every morning to greet the new day, being more diligent about my flamekeeping in honor of Brighid, tending the seeds we plant, embracing the ritual aspects of cooking, greeting the moon each night as I used to do. And casting ritual circles to mark the turning of the Wheel.
As I looked over the muddy water, listening to its music, such joy rose in me...it started in my boot-clad feet, curling up and around me, body, heart, soul. I remembered the feeling and had thought it long gone, an ecstatic joy of the spirit that physically manifests as warmth and energy (not unlike Reiki for those who are familiar with that). It's a precious and rare gift I would share with everyone if it was possible.
I was of earth and sky, water and air, part and parcel of this place.
My favorite Goddess chant became a chorus in my head: Earth my body, Water my blood, Air my breath and Fire my Spirit...I had started this journey wanting to find my way home.
The Goddess wrapped Her arms around me and whispered "You're already here."
Happy New Year...may your feet carry you to exactly where you need to be.