Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On Ceremony and Ceremonials

I have been musing recently on the fact that my life lacks the ceremony and ritual that used to be such a part of the daily round. The stresses of the last few years have pulled me further out of my personal orbit than I am comfortable with, further than I ever thought possible. When I realized that October, my favorite month, which I used to celebrate with an almost obsessive attention to daily rituals - playing in leaves, baking pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, cookies and butternut squash risotto, filling the house with friends for annual Harvest Parties and the carving of Jack-0-Lanterns - when I realized it had swooshed by with hardly a how-do-you-do and ended with a quiet sputtering sigh instead of a bang, well to say I was disappointed and dismayed is an understatement. Not even a half-ass costume or ancestor altar to show for it. Nothing. A pumpkin beer grabbed on the fly. It is disconcerting. These rituals ground me and remind me of who I am. Without them I feel empty, lacking substance, like the continuous thread that weaves back through the years of my personal history has somehow snapped and I fear I shall become lost in the woods with no way to retrace my steps.

So I am consciously gathering the fragments that are closest to hand. Today is All Saints Day, tomorrow Dia de Los Muertos which our fair cities by the bay celebrate with much pride and feeling. I gather a few flowers from the yard, light a single candle and place it on the mantle next to the pictures of my Nana, gone just 3 years though it seems much longer. I burn some cinnamon and orange peel to scent the house. I heat some cider on the stove that will have a shot of whiskey added to it shortly. And I invoke my muses, ask them to guide my writing, to please inspire my mind and quicken my fingers. Writing has been one of the few daily rituals I have been able to keep hold of, knowing as I do that it is often the line between mental health and total collapse. But I want to take it to the next level, to open up and share a bit more about myself with the world. To risk being seen, being known. I know that I need a bit of ceremony - a small private invocation to call forth this sort of commitment and desire. So I go to one of my other favorite rituals. Music and the emotions it can evoke in me. Dance and the surrender to my higher power that it allows. A perfect storm that swells in my chest and hips and unleashes in a frenzy through my crown and feet. And tonight I am blessed to combine that with one of my oldest private rituals - the sacred space I create when I get to listen to a new album by one of my favorite musicians for the first time. Tonight is the long awaited and eagerly anticipated Florence + the Machine album Ceremonies. Pure Magic. Deep Magic. Her voice sending shivers down my spine and giving me literal goosebumps.

Here is to many more little moments, rituals, traditions, ceremonies, offerings.
I offer myself up on the altar of November. May it be consciously savored. May it be full of connection, love, tiny devotions. May it be meaningful.

Time to go Shake It Out . . .