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Appreciation, Purpose & Containment.
Little things that make big impacts in our rituals.
This morning's ritual: Appreciation of Abundance.
I’ve been writing about ritual quite a bit lately; that is because it is such a big part of my own my life, but also my professional healing/creative practice, and retreat spaces that I host.
With every ritual there needs to be a beginning, a middle and an ending. This structure might look like summoning, recording evidence, making requests, and then giving thanks.
Not only is ritual important to me for personal as well as esoteric reasons, but I truly believe ritual is one of the ways that we can bridge the emotional, mystical, and psychological realms. Maybe bridge is not the right word. What we are really doing is braiding what can feel like disparate realities together.
In any ritual we need a couple of key ingredients: we need intention, we need power, we need a container, and we need an offering.
These components can be anything; we don’t need to procure special instruments for ritual, though that can be satisfying. However if we are on a budget or for many other reasons, regular home supplies will fully satisfy our needs. A cauldron might be a bowl or a kitchen pot, an overturned tin lid might serve as incense brazier, a cheap tea light is a perfectly serviceable candle. And a sacrifice can be as simple as part of our meal that we set aside.
For me, ritual must encompass the mundane.
Ritual cannot be something that is engaged solely for esoteric reasons, it cannot be something that is solely self-serving. It must be something that is practical and relational. And it cannot be something that needs to take a lot of time out from a normal routine to perform. Performing rituals seems a little too… well, performative.
Ritual needs to be as my own breath.
It needs to be effortless and organic, otherwise it can become another one of those ADD-type things that I am really into when it is in front of me and that I “disappear” as soon as something else takes up my attention or I start to feel stressed and overwhelmed (which is more frequent than I care to admit).
Routines are good for all of us, but especially those of us who did not get an established structure while growing up. We tend to struggle a bit more with completing tasks and even sometimes with things like basic hygiene, bedtimes, proper nutrition, etc.
This is why mundane rituals are so important to me: they give meaning to everyday life that does not demand that we look outside of ourselves for answers. Instead, we get to look inward engaging our minds, hearts, and hands in activity that is both deeply personal and mystical.
Everyday I make my coffee (we've talked about that), light a candle, say prayers to my ancestors, and write in my journal. I make requests, offer appreciation, and ask for support and protection for my family, friends, clients, and lover.
Today was even more about appreciation because in the last week I've accumulated this lovely pile of cash from doing the work I love.
I have been asking for this.
Part of my morning prayer/incantation is to ask:
“May the way be cleared for those and that which belongs with me.”
That includes personal and professional connections, money, goods, clothes, clients, friends, family, and intimate connections. I have been asking for this for several months now ever since I began this morning practice with my ancestors. I have been recording evidence of this practice, as well.
I notice deer as an indication of the closeness of the Unseen acting through and with Nature: a doe bedded down by my back door, a buck and a doe were frolicking one day when I was hanging out with my lover. Another doe or, more likely, the same one who took respite in my backyard strolled lazily by while I was on the phone with a client, and then again later that evening while I was zooming with another one; and then again while strolling around my neighborhood with a good friend. I’ve seen fawn hiding in the grass and a random solo deer grazing in the street immediately after meeting a new and deeply compatible client.
I have had various gratitude practices at different times in my life. I once started a Facebook group called “Forty Days of Gratitude.” It was an encouragement to practice noticing and sharing gratitude consecutively for 40 days as a ritual; it had thousands of members. It was a truly nurturing online space.
Gratitude can be used as a form of emotional and spiritual bypassing, like so many things. It can be used as a way to deny a painful reality, or make excuses for a situation, and I have even seen it leveraged at people as means of inverse victim-blaming. “If you were more grateful you wouldn’t… be sick, be broke, etc.”
But that is not the current conversation about appreciation. We are talking about engaging it in ritual, and incorporating it as a container.
When we ask for something we need somewhere to put it.
Part of having a place to put things is not just about material location, but also about having a “toned” nervous system. What I mean by that is we need the physical (neurological) capacity to contain energy, emotions, experiences, relationships—and that includes money. Capacity isn’t just about learning how to tolerate what is hard, difficult or stressful; it is also about being able to hold pleasure, as well as success.
After some time practicing neurological (and emotional) regulation processes, I definitely notice the difference in my ritual practices, as well as the other areas of my life. It feels easier to stay in the groove of my commitments, and I notice even more efficiency in my spell work. As I already said, rituals create a bridge between the spiritual and psychological realm by using the language of the unconscious or super-conscious: symbols, sensations, and emotions.
Calling up power depends on our ability to contain and direct our emotions.
And this is where we come back to the utility of appreciation in regards to ritual, but also regulation. We cannot feel anxious and grateful at the same time—our nervous systems run those energies very differently—and where gratitude tends to create cohesive energy in our system, anxiety does the opposite. It scatters and diffuses us.
This is why I feel it is also important to take time to form actual rituals that contain elements of appreciation, but are completely devoted to it.
So that’s why I am shamelessly basking in this abundance—lying my money out on the table so I can see it, playing with it a bit, and then storing it in something that is pretty.
And it feels great!
Aside from this lovely stack of cash (seen in the photo), last week I also received the largest transaction for session work to date!
This surplus is going into the "magic pouch" to be applied to important home renovations later this season. So it has a purpose, and won't be squandered to overindulgence.
I find money likes having a purpose, just like everything else. And purpose, put simply, is offering our energy a form of containment.
For anyone looking to bring more mundane ritual into their lives, I would love it if you check out my retreat Creative Care for Your Wild Soul this September 15-17 in the wild’s of Montana. Info at www.bedheadmystic.com
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