Thirteen years ago I went to a Gathering in Pipestone, Minnesota. It was a beautiful place, its’ gifts the local Pipestone used for ceremonial pipes, pink quartz and miles of native sage grass that I made into smudge sticks. Not unlike now I was nursing a small child, and had similar feelings of fatigue and occasionally overwhelm. How do you get through the long days when you are tired to the bone?
I spent a lot of time sitting by the Sacred Fire, listening to the Elders. They came from many traditions. I felt very privileged to be part of age-old traditions of sharing.
The simple words of one Dakota Elder really struck me though. Often the wisest words do seem to be the simple ones. I may not do justice to the flow of words all these years later, but their essence is still with me. “Life is sometimes hard, and on occasions boring. Ritual is the thing that helps us get through each day. It is the way we join the dots of a long day. Each small, simple ritual helps create the fabric of a beautiful day“.
So each day at that gathering we honored the rise and set of the sun, the breaking of bread, the presence of the elders both physical and past, the power of story and the act of healing. So many little things to give thanks for. There was also larger rituals such as sweat lodge or purification ceremonies. And lets not forgot that humor is also important, so a Chocolate Ceremony, initiating willing devotees of the sweet thing!
I do not always perform ritual in my life, but mostly I do. I light candles everyday, I give thanks for food and other things. I burn herbs and other incense to cleanse space or create a particular energy. Some days I light fires for the purpose of shedding and transforming. When I want to focus on a particular thing I put particular objects on my altar.
None of my ritual is sophisticated, complicated or requires things that are expensive or difficult to procure. None of it requires a PhD in Witchery 101. I do not consult a high priestess, shaman or guru. I am my own counsel, and I do what resonates well for me. Mostly I am happy with what passes.
As I allow more time in my life to work in these simple ways, I find my life runs more smoothly, and if it doesn’t I accept it with a greater state of grace. Life is not always meant to be smooth.
So today I honor my ancestors before me, and give special thanks to the wise Elder at Pipestone, who taught me the power of simple ritual, conducted with grace and ease.