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About RITUALS

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Writings about Rituals

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Our world today is a result of an increased disconnect with our inner, outer, and spirit world.  Ritual is a means to mend that broken link by restoring and feeding the sacred relationship to our sentient world which includes all. Once that sacred relationship is understood nothing can be taken without tuning in, prayer, and gratitude.
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If something is called a ritual or a ceremony it may mean something different depending on what tradition or culture one adheres to. For example, First Nations People will only refer to ceremonies, while in the African tradition, working with the Dagara and the Gourmantche people, they refer to rituals. I choose to work with the word ritual. In either case, it comprises of a set of sacred actions and re-enactments of the cyclical nature of life that engage in the balancing of the interconnected relationship between the individual, the community, and the living cosmos through the interface of the unseen world. Within ritual we call upon the assistance of the unseen world to aid us in the navigation of an unknown world so we may feel safe, connected, and whole, even when it means that the outcome of a ritual is very unpredictable.
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her face painted 2015There are rituals based on bringing in Spirit from outside of ourselves and there are rituals where Spirit or the Divine is evoked from inside of us or a combination of the two.  Common forms of ritual are rituals of petition, like pleas for healing and release, abundance, good crops, or the charging of sacred objects, etc. and rituals of gratitude for the pleas being answered; all intend to restore balance in the cosmos.  There are rituals that mark the stages in life, like birth, initiations into adulthood, marriage and death.  There are rituals that create a pact or marriage with the spirit world, and once you have devoted your life to walking with spirit everything becomes a ritual that constantly acknowledges and feeds the spirit world. Solitary rituals can involve a daily or regular practice to keep the individual’s spirit attuned and balanced. Group rituals attune the individual within the group and they strengthen the fabric of a community. In a group the energy becomes amplified allowing for greater healing to occur. There are also group rituals that are specifically designed for an individual which could be a healing or a rite of passage. In indigenous cultures matters of the individual are seen as a community issue, the imbalance of the individual creates an imbalance in the group and requires community attention. The level of intensity in any ritual has to do with the immediacy of the issue that needs tending, or how high the threshold is set for a shift to occur; sweat lodges, fire walks, grief rituals, and burials, as well as acute healing rituals are seen as ‘radical rituals’, a term coined by Malidoma Somé, initiated elder of the Dagara people in West Africa.
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Ritual encourages the flow of emotions, making it safe for an individual to be vulnerable to express their innermost feelings in a container that can hold it, so that something can shift within them. It is through vulnerability we connect and enter into the space of the heart. Ritual takes us outside the mundane literal world and opens the veil that reality can follow us rather than we follow reality. In the ritual container the impossible becomes possible, for spirit becomes the driver and we come along for the ride or get out of the way and particularly get out the way of ourselves so magic can happen. Ritual allows us to step out of the illusions, limitations, and conclusions of our daily reality and allows us to be reinvigorated with the juiciness of life.
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I see myself as an Omnist, where I look at many different traditions and work with what is called for to address the times we are in, based on my experiences and insights. Our worldview is changing so much today that I am shifting the rituals accordingly. I keep asking myself in the awakening consciousness what did the universe call forward in the collapsing of the indigenous ways, knowing that balance is not a static state, energy always moves towards expansion. There must be something in the ancient ways of doing things that needed to shift as well. We know we are not going back to a primitive existence unless everything collapses and we are forced into it. Something is being reborn here that merges the knowledge of the old with the new. We are coming into a sacred way of living with a new awareness. We may not have the time or need anymore to create healing rituals that may take many days when we now can shift mass consciousness in a matter of hours or even minutes. But the rituals are still called for because it brings people together in a sacred way, we live on planet Earth and rely on a deep connection with the land we grow food on.  There is still much to learn from the ancient wisdom that science is only now catching up on.  In so many ways we have not even a clue of the intricate connections with worlds seen and unseen that our ancient ancestors were tuned in to, maintained and guided by.  Little by little, more of us are able to open up the channels to the infinite universe and begin to piece some of the obsolete information together. My work is in weaving ancient ways with new innovative spirit guided ways with respect towards our indigenous brothers and sisters.
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solstice 2013 53 s fAs an artist I intersperse everything with eloquence, grace, and beauty to meet the challenges of today’s issues. Our ability to consciously create beauty with our hands, bodies, and voices sets us apart from other species; this becomes the food for all who participate from worlds seen and unseen. We set up a vibration that allows for our hearts to open and based on the latest scientific findings, the opening of our heart, to allow the love to flow, is what strengthens the electro-magnetic field of the Earth and it raises the vibration in a 1000 feet radius around the open heart, allowing every being within that radius to feel better.
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The different races on the planet steward the different elements of fire, earth, water, and air. Rituals are very practical and are based on what the environment has to offer. The rituals take care of the basic needs of a community to feed itself and live in harmony with its environment so it can feed the generations to come. It takes care of the dead and the living in which the ancestors are the thread woven into the fabric of the continuation of village life.
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The devotional feeding of the Spirit World and the Earth comes from a deep knowing that we are intimately linked to the living world around us, that life is held in sacredness, and that it is based on reciprocity and cooperation. Rituals are created to make sure that the balance is restored, that means the indebtedness to the infinitely giving Mother Earth is properly honored. We keep her alive by praising her with our creations, offerings, or sacrifices that show a sincere effort on our behalf. Life eats life and some take far more life than others. There is a constant awareness of how many resources we use to stay alive which has to be acknowledged and given gratitude for.
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In some places in Africa the more an image that inhabits the spirit is buried under a thick layer of ash, blood, and feathers the more powerful the medicine. While among the Mayans the more beauty, color, and artistry is shown the more spirit is fed, all infused with the deep love we humans are capable of expressing. While some go for simplicity others go for complexity and elaborateness. Yet, it is eloquence that gets expressed across nations and throughout the different traditions. To please spirit and step out of the efficiency and literal day-to-day life, a different language is called for; this language is poetry which becomes the prayer to praise and court the holy. The power is in the prayer to stir the heart allowing our tears to shimmer with that sacred SAM_1013 wetness that feeds all life.
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It is about cracking the world heart open. It is the power of our heart that heals and within ritual it gets amplified, focused, and directed. In ritual differences fall away, the emotions get stirred, allowing us to feel the deep connection to all that is as we touch upon the roles we play in the great unfolding of life so it may continue. The individual’s suffering is the collective suffering; the individual’s joy is the collective joy. We raise each other’s vibration which allows all of us to embrace more of who we are and in the process come home to our essential self.
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Ritual opens the door to a co-creative process with the spirit world. In all of ritual we are constantly building a personal relationship with spirit in the living and unseen world around us, this deepens our intimate connection to the infinite universe around us. Martin Prechtel refers to a ‘courting of the Holy ones’. This allows us to be constantly in love with life. It allows us to turn our suffering around into beauty to become food for the spirit world, which is the ultimate acceptance of who we are, the loving what is, that makes us whole. The awakening moment is the realization of our self-love in embracing all of our suffering and all of who we are, and that is the love that feeds galaxies and beyond. In ritual we find a symbolic means to weave our stories into a form which then gets offered to the spirit world. It is here where creativity is combined with the deep inner journey allowing the individual to profoundly express in a tangible way this defining moment. The focused making of a physical object, infused with the energy of the heart through prayer and intention, carries a noticeable frequency and vibration. This frequency and vibration is what the unseen world recognizes and responds to. We can replace the unseen world with words like the Universe, the Great Mystery, Source, the Divine, God, etc.
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If we are seen as the creators of our own reality, then ritual actions can shift our attention to creating a different reality.  There are worldviews in which we are victims of an unseen world that constantly needs to be appeased. Not all rituals have been based on love. Many rituals have been based on power with a constant focus on how unsafe the world is and how much we have to protect ourselves from certain energies; this is based on a belief that is rooted in a very polarized world view. The most powerful moments in ritual are the ones where we come from a purity of intent when the heart cracks open and there is no longer a veil between the infinite universe and the self.  Based on my experience, I have come to realize that what we do in ritual is allowing stuck energy to flow again.  We bring what was solid and dense into liquidity again. Energy is just energy, it either moves or is stuck. Our stories and projections of what goes on with the energy are not so important; it may have a momentary place to give us a context for the nature of that stagnation and what to do with it as long we are not attached to making it about the projected story.
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The universal story has its own place in ritual. It gives the ritual continuity, gives meaning to the various layers of the cosmic drama, and makes us part of it. Each being goes through similar cycles at a different speed. The story becomes the thread of connection that we can see ourselves reflected in the world around us and allows us to make sense of our lives. To see the Earth as the body of a woman totally shifts our relationship to her. No longer is she an inanimate object, she has blood vessels, lungs, a heart, and a womb. She breathes, she gives birth, she has tremors, she adjusts her body, she dances in space with other planets, she evolves, and she changes. She is inhabited with energy transmitters. We are such power plants here to transmit energy, particularly love energy through our particular unique vibration.
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solstice 2009I started doing ritual in 1992 and you will find more information about how I got into ritual on this page. The rituals I facilitate keep evolving as I keep expanding. Ritual has been living in my bones as I have always created things that I did not know what it was but in the course of life the pieces started to fall into place as the information came through what people recognized or through teachers and readings. There is never a fixed moment of now I am there. The infinite possibilities of the universe keep moving me into new directions. The rituals are accessible to anyone because it is everybody’s story, yet the rituals go deep and it is up to the individual’s own willingness of how deep they want to go and what they get out of the experience. I get people from all walks of life and all spiritual beliefs. We come here to share a love for the Earth and its inhabitants and we create beauty and that pulls people in. I come up with images and symbols that people can relate to and make things very participatory. It becomes obvious in the process that their unique contribution creates the beauty. For years I have been thinking about how to slow people down enough to make the act of placing a prayer on the shrine of the Earth meaningful. I have come up with some amazing rituals to bring people together for up to three hours and have them be profoundly touched.
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I have no attachment if people can or cannot make it through the whole ritual. Many people have never had a ritual experience and do not have the stamina for a three hour ritual. What counts for me is to have touched them for whatever duration they were involved. The fear of the unknown plays out so much that anyway I can open a door to make a difference or create an awareness that brings people together is what matters to me. This why I can do ritual at America’s Stonehenge were the public mills around and I can bring them into the sacred space and have them taste of something exquisitely divine. Even when I mention here sacred space, and indeed I delineated a consecrated space for a particular ritual, I see everything as sacred. We come from a culture that thinks in a compartmentalized way separating the sacred from the non-sacred. In the indigenous worldview the entire river is a shrine not the place where we do the offering. Panache Desai said so beautifully, ‘if we cannot find the divinity inside of us we can never find it outside of us’. And this is where we have to return to, to see the love and the sacredness even in the most difficult things to accept in our world.

Katja Esser

June 2013  
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