I completed my ceremony this past weekend in the woods, as explained in my last post.
First off, I chose a terrible spot for the ceremony – and in actuality, my husband chose it for me and I went with it. It was a really nice spot, one of his favourites – with a humongous cedar tree towering over it, and a little trail leading to a lower level and an upper level. The upper level was right under the tree. It seemed suitable, but once I got going I realized it wasn’t at all. I was on the side of a hill, so there was no real flat spot to make the sand paintings – and there were tree roots everywhere so no ground to dig into to bury anything, as was required for the second part of the ceremony. But, I was there so figured I would keep going and make the best of it.
I was extremely uneasy being in the woods by myself, even though I chose a spot that was filled with trails and people around. It was really distracting and unsettling – hard to concentrate on the ceremony at all. Also I was interrupted once by a wandering couple half way through calling in the directions.
In general I was awkward and unsure of myself, to begin with: burned some mugwort, called in the directions, my ancestors, Grandfather Sky and the spirit world and the Lady and Lord of the forest, Artemis/Diana, Cernunos/Pashipati/Janicot; made the(more of a circle of branches around me); built two prayer bundles, one white, one red, filled with sage, sweetgrass, tobacco and snippings from a baby cedar tree that stood over my spot; and got out the supplies for my spirit arrow.
At that point I read my list of things that are holding me back from stepping into my power. I read them out loud, addressing the trees and the forest. I read them with a waver in my voice and feeling silly and weird. Then, I tied the list to my spirit arrow with a crow feather and white, red, yellow and black ribbon (representing the 4 directions) – and said something like, ‘I bind you to this arrow, so that you may go to the spirits and I may be released from your presence in my life’. And … it was like all of my fear and discomfort evaporated! No shit. I felt different – and it was like I suddenly felt different. As I bound that list I felt all of my unease drain from me. I stood up taller and immediately stronger – and I was fully aware of it at the time.
I decided not to burn the arrow there – I didn’t feel like it was safe to be burning stuff in the forest. I lit the end on fire instead to symbolize the burn, and stated I’d burn it later.
I left offerings for the little cedar tree I clipped from, tied my bundles to a bigger tree branch, burned some sweetgrass, poured out my little vial of water in the middle of my sand painting and asked everyone to stay with me for a little while longer.
Went up to build the ‘life’ sand painting in the upper area and discovered I couldn’t. It was just a mass of huge tree roots on the side of a hill – so I balanced myself there precariously and delineated a circle around myself with my staff instead. There was really not any material available to make a painting so I figured this would have to do. This time I read out my list first, because I felt like the bundles should be made after the list was spoken, so they could kind of seal the deal.
This list was 11 things I will accomplish in the next year that will foster my power – things like, choosing a weapon or martial arts training, finishing the Medicine Wheel, observing all eight cross quarter and fire days etc. These were my oaths, in the presence of my higher self, my ancestors, the sky spirits and Pachamama.
I bound the list to a life spirit arrow, another stick I had found on the way up, with an eagle feather and the 4 ribbons. But then I got confused as to what to do with the arrow. My instructions were to bury it, but it felt wrong. I have read that arrows are to be stuck in the ground with the feather sticking up, so the prayer can be transmuted to the spirits through the feather – also I remembered my husband telling me that traditionally eagle feathers bring messages to the Creator … so I unbound the list, stuck it in a tupperware container with a candle and the little vial of water (as instructed), and stuck the arrow in the ground at the base of the tree.
I sat back down to build the last two bundles and my husband texted me – ‘are you almost done?’. So, rushing a bit a began building the bundles and when cutting ribbons, sliced into my left index finger. ak! Blood pumped everywhere, it was a deep cut. I had to immediately bind my hand to stop it and became one-handed in the process. All of my anxiety came flooding back – bleeding in the forest! Will the bears and cougars smell me and come after me? Oh yeah I also forgot to eat this morning so passing out could have been an option. At any rate, I didn’t finish the bundles – instead a wrapped up the ceremony, thanked everyone for attending and closed the directions, hurriedly packed up all my stuff and ran down the side of the mountain, blood streaming through my fist.
I realized that the blood dripped (more like gushed) right into the middle of my send painting, landing in the soft moss – I still have a visual of that second in my head – and into my open mesa, and onto the half-finished prayer bundles. It also left finger prints on my new staff, which I can’t wash off. If everything happens for a reason, especially in ceremony, apparently those oaths needed to be made in blood?
I realized why I felt so uneasy in the forest. I felt watched. From every corner and cave and little dark spot in the undergrowth.
I realized that in calling in my new gods/archetypes/energies, that I felt no fear doing it. Just excitement and pleasure – like any challenge. This is different for me.
I realized that I forgot to blow into everything! And I forgot to open my protective energy bubble at the beginning. And I forgot to leave offerings everywhere like I had planned to.
I did ask for antlers to come my way so I can make my headdress.
I realized that next time I do any ceremony I will not be under time constraints, will not bring my family with me, will eat before hand and will bring a first aid kit.
I asked my pendulum the following:
Were the spirits and gods in attendance?
Were they happy with the ceremony?
Do I need to redo it?
Who wants me to redo it? the gods?
my higher self?
So I feel like it’s for me really, that I have to redo the ceremony, or at last the last part of it. Blowing into everything is important – and I didn’t leave the bundles at the end when I cut my hand.
Do I have to go back to the forest?
Can I do it in my back yard?
in my house?
At the beach?
Energies that Came Up
Flickers – three of them flew across our path when leaving the spot. I see these a lot, since beginning the Medicine Wheel.
The river – right next to the forest – so amazing! I remembered rivers are so powerful, and I wanted to throw all remnants of the bleeding, along with the death arrow into it, instead of burning it all – but I didn’t have time!
The baby holly tree – right at the foot of the big cedar in the spot where I did the life sand painting.
The massive spiders, standing like sentries in their webs, blocking my path here, leading me there.
The ladybug that landed on my head right when I lit my death arrow on fire in my fire pit at home.
My staff – new favourite thing.