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ceremony is one of the strongest tools we can use to help our clients, students, groups, and audiences.  river otter offers us this beautiful teaching:

‘ceremonies are where humans wake up from the trance, and remember how powerful they are.’

delicious, yes?  good ceremony changes the shape of identity and creation, and is a core component of any strong transformational tool basket.  humans are hungry for ceremony, in our fast, disconnected times.  most likely, that disconnect and yearning is part of what you’re working with in one way or another with the lovely people you help as a teacher, healer, leader, or helper.

what was the last ceremony you engaged in?  the last ceremony you helped someone create?

even in a culture generally bereft of meaningful ceremony, there are so many ways you can invite meaning, joy, and alchemy into your life or the lives of the wonderful people you work with.  ceremony might change identity from ‘me’ to ‘we’ in a wedding or handfast, honor grief of sorrow at a uniquely crafted celebration of life, or celebrate a significant milestone.  ceremony might bring closure to completing a life chapter, navigating a loss, or graduating a time of illness.  ceremony can bring color and life to new beginnings, or jettison old baggage and patterns.

ceremony can skillfully honor anything that happens in a human life, collective purpose, or community. 

the ceremonies I’m mentioning briefly here use power to craft beauty from important turning points, turn poison into medicine, and help humans recognize life cycles, teachings, and triumphs.  here are a few simple examples of life events you might help people create beautiful ceremonies for:

  • relocating: saying goodbye to an old life, familiar places.  starting with intention.
  • publishing a book: setting down the energy of that long project.  reveling in completion.
  • pregnancy or birth: fundamental change.  life will never be the same.  endings, beginnings.
  • new chapter: declaration!  trajectory of the human life has changed, a new voice is emerging.

whether you’re a therapist, shamanic practitioner, chaplain, doula or other kind of helper or healer, it’s very important that we understand how to both create and invite strong ceremony.

note: I like to make a distinction between ritual (something we do over and over again in the same way to achieve a particular state or effect, like meditation or movement practice)…and ceremony (working with spirit, magic, focused intent, and power to change the shape of reality, like bringing community together to anchor miracles).  I hear the two terms interchanged quite a bit these days, and that may or may not be a distinction that resonates for you.

regardless, the capacity of ceremony to change the shape of creation is wondrous.  potent.  mystical.  strong.

as a species, I think we’ve long since graduated needing to ‘rinse and repeat’ ceremonies others have created or borrowed from other cultures.  all of the work we do here at the dreaming otter is based on working in union with our spirit guides – and it is they who can guide us in creating truly unique and wonderful ceremonies that haven’t been performed, or have a unique flair that fits our distinctive personal energetic signatures.

there are basic ingredients for effective ceremony: clear intention, strong preparation, creative symbolism, powerful objects, focused participants, curiosity, willingness to be changed by the experience, distinct opening and closing of the space, time for integration, and letting the work be what the mystery wishes it to be.  there is intention – and surrender.  power and play.  gift and grace.

underneath all of that, is working with spirit guides to change how energy flows in a ceremony.  that’s where the fun and wonder come in!

to flesh out what ceremony might look like (from an endless list of possibility), here’s a summary of one from ongoing work with a client last year…

spirit created a sacred art ceremony to release hurt + welcome support for an empath who was criticized in front of peers and felt paralyzed by fear.  after receiving a healing and her ceremony blueprint in session, she invited trusted friends to help her build a very simple 2-foot wooden boat, and put objects inside it representing her feelings of hurt and humiliation (inner feelings), and adorned the outside with beautiful paintings, representing her public grace and professionalism (outer actions).

after her own kind of invocation, speaking meaningful words of power that we worked out beforehand, the client (safely) set the boat on fire on a lake, and stood with her friends as it burned.  under the stars, her community sang songs of hope and healing, and each gave her a gift to celebrate her resilience and deep support.  bonus: everyone participating received healing through participating and witnessing.  this wonderful woman was able to begin working again, and is now thriving and helping others through similar experiences.

you can see how spirit guides created a creative ceremony we might not have thought of to honor and then change energy around a situation – and it was perfect and potent.  in this ceremony, there was a real ‘showing up’ aspect for an individual and a community, with incredible result.

ceremony is wondrous – it’s witnessing, art, alchemy, and a claiming of power and beauty.  simply, there is ‘life before ceremony’ and ‘life after ceremony.’

if this feels interesting or nourishing for you personally or is a skill you wish to cultivate professionally to help your students, clients, and audiences, please email and we can chat about what might be supportive for you.  if you’d like to work together, we can explore what needs honoring or transforming, receive healings as needed from spirit, discuss how you can prepare for and perform effective ceremony (or guide others in it), and create a custom ceremony blueprint for you to perform on your own or with community based on guidance directly from our helping spirits.

the ceremonies that flow through you could be huge and elaborate.
or simple, sweet, and profound.

…they will be just what is needed.

you are powerful as a healer, leader, teacher, or helper, and honing ceremonial skills honors you, the work you do, and the lovely people you serve.

love,
anna

ps – do you know one or two folks who would benefit from receiving the dreaming otter articles?  if yes, please encourage them to subscribe to the email list here.  I would be so grateful – thanks, and may that kindness return to you a thousandfold.

MAY 10: 6-week community course 'shamanism for healers, helpers & humans'