Sowell Magazine Spring 2000
As dawns light emerges from the dark star-lit night I awaken and give thanks for the gift of another day. I have a personal ritual that begins most days. This morning ritual usually begins as I sit at my altar and breathe to shift my energy and raise my vibration. I burn sage and the call for guidance from my guides, ancestors and all spirit beings that are connected to me. I offer gratitude for all that is in my life and good in the world and also for the gifts that have come from the hardships as well.
Sometimes I am in prayer or empowering a vision of what I see to manifest in my future. I usually include music or some kind of sound vibration; my voice, my guitar, a simple repetitive beat on my hoop drum or an accompaniment on my Ashika drum to a special piece of music I use to move energy through my body and beyond. Other mornings I feel called to use my body in movement through what I call the Honor Dance, which is an expression of honoring spirit, those above & those below, the Earth, and extending my open heart to another and allowing heart offerings to come into mine.
Through this process I am graced with the peace of expanded being, and it is at this point, if I desire, that I will send out healing energy to someone, empower a vision I wish to manifest, or send out an aspect of my being to connect with another person. Whatever I do that involves another person on any level is always offered for the good of all and according to free will. Nothing should ever be imposed upon another being without their permission. With an open heart I then sit in silence. When I feel complete I give thanks to all the spirits who have heard my prayers, who are present in my life. I release my call upon them and offer for them to stay if they so choose. Then I close in some way, with some words or a heart felt honoring of what is sacred, what is Spirit. This is a simple example of a ritual, a personal ritual, held in a ceremonial container, and includes some form of trance inducing aspect like the drum, dance or breath.
Truly there is ultimately no beginning or end of ritual space. That expanded state we attempt to create in such a ceremonial way has no beginning or no end. It is a continuous stream of Spirit, Universal Consciousness, God, whatever you choose to call that inner aspect of our own divine nature where we are one with Creator. Ceremonial use of ritual and trance-inducing aspects of ritual serve to reunite us with that which we truly already are, but have forgotten. The breath, the drum, the song, the dance, the prayer all serve to raise the frequency of our vibration so we may align with Spirit realm and awaken again to the truth of what is most sacred, what is our true nature in alignment with Creator.
Ceremony and ritual then become part of a Way of living expressed in every breath, in every word, in every moment, in every action. Ritual is alive and in harmony with the Natural Law of the Universe. True ceremony is the ritual art of living Spirit. You cannot take a ceremonial ritual and perform it as a rote practice, empty of the living Way. In the beginning many people start in this rote manner, but when ritual is practiced on a regular basis there is the opportunity to experience and expand, to understand it as a sacred Way, a Way of life, a Way of being.
Ritual Space is sacred space and I approach it always with the deepest respect, honor and pureness of heart. The words ritual, ceremony and trance are often used in relation to practices of Spirit work, yet many people get confused as to what they actually are, what distinguishes one from the other. Think of ceremony as a sacred container that provides space for ritual. Now hold ritual as a series of gestures, behaviors and expressions with intent and focus that are practiced in ceremony. Ritual is the symbolic expression of higher truths. Historically and cross-culturally people have used scared substances such as Peyote, Mescaline, Ayahuasca and other psychotropics in ritual to alter and expand consciousness. But more frequently the tool used is trance induction. Trance induction raises the individuals level of vibration through the use of various techniques including repetitive sound like the beat of the drum, light, movement, dance, breathwork, prayer or chanting. An increase in an individuals energetic field expands their awareness beyond the personal level of existence, and creates a point of inner reference that transcends the mind chatter and the emotional & physical veils. Trance becomes the doorway to the other side.
The power of words in ritual cannot be underestimated. Words give form to intent, to creative energy. They carry our intent out in to the world of form as vibration and have impact. It is essential in all of life and in ritual space to be conscious of the words spoken. Be sure they represent your truth and serve the highest good for you and others. I often think of ritual as a story or journey, one with a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning sets the sacred space and creates connection to others and Spirit. The middle raises the power and the energy and directs it with intent to the chosen place, vision or experience, and provides the container for us to travel through other dimensions and realms. The end calls us back, grounds us into the world of form, our bodies, and allows us the time to give thanks and our offerings and bring closure to the whole experience.
There are personal rituals, collective group rituals and trance-inducing rituals. Personal ritual is done for ones own purpose and experience. It may be created spontaneously from the heart and direction of Spirit or it may incorporate a more traditional and formal series of practices. Collective or group ritual usually has an agreed upon tradition or practice of some sort that the group will follow. Group ritual is a powerful experience as ones individual energies merge into the collective and the frequency of the groups energy exponentially raises and expands. The raised energy is so powerful that when directed by group intent, focused in one direction, it has profound potential for effecting creative manifestation, healing and intedimensional travel. The larger the group the more powerful the energy that group can direct with intention. A ritual will not contain a trance induction if the intent does not include shifting consciousness by raising the vibration of the participants energy fields.
All of life is energy and through this energy we transmit, receive and connect. So imagine that individuals are transmitters and receivers, and just as a television receives channels on various wavelengths so do we. Think of our daily state of consciousness as airing on Channel 4, and other dimensions as airing on other channels. If your receiver only gets the frequency of Channel 4 then your experience and your life is limited to that channel. Through various methods, trance ritual is one, we raise our vibration and frequency making more dimensional channels available to our energetic receivers. We transcend the limited channels of mind, thoughts and emotions and now see with our expanded inner eye.
Our ability to perceive and experience other dimensions, other aspects of spirit realms is then possible. Non embodied beings become visible and traveling between dimensions becomes a reality on these expanded frequencies. Shape shifting occurs in this state, where we merge with the spirits of animals and other forms and have access to the energetic Universal imprint, of all that was and all that will be, as we access our own cellular memory and the Akashic level. The elements, seasons, directions, sacred symbols and sacred geometry take on deeper meaning as our ability to perceive symbolic levels expands. This state of consciousness and alignment with Spirit and Natural Law is the intent of most ritual. In this state of awareness not only can we move between the worlds, but also we have greater abilities of healing and manifesting creatively in the word of form.
As your life becomes more aligned with Creator and you walk more firmly on your own sacred path you will begin to see how ceremony and ritual become of part of all that you do. It will emerge easily from within you in such simple ways. You may seek to find a tradition that speaks to your soul and walk that path and explore its ritual practices, or you may have a more solitary walk and ritual may remain a personal and private matter. No matter what path you walk, when you are on Spirits path life will be your ceremony and how you live it will be your most powerful ritual.
Wind Hughes is the author of - Life Is The Ceremony: How We Live It Is The Ritual - The Journey of a Feminine Shaman
and the award winning book - Daughters of the Moon: Sisters of the Sun.
She has over 30 years experience as a licensed psychotherapist, Life Coach, Reiki Master and facilitator of ritual and ceremony.