How ritual serves us

Full moon ritual

As I write this, we are under a full Sagittarius moon, and June is about the begin – the season of high summer, of the Solstice and the midpoint of the year. I am preparing a full moon ritual, and feeling so grateful for the increasing depth of work that ritual and sacred practice have been leading me to, both as a woman and a human being living on this beautiful and mysterious planet.

Everything that flows, contains liquid, is fluid in any sense, is affected by the moon. We have known this for centuries, as the first women, and calendar-keepers, inscribed their bleeds, pregnancies and lunar patterns on bone, and yet in recent times under the dark spell of patriarchy and linear masculine-focused ideology, many of us forgot. And as many of us reclaim our understanding of our relationship to the moon, her cyclical rhythms offer a wonderful opportunity for ritual, prayer and intention-setting. I will write more in another space on this as the depths of the understandings can offer us so much, but in brief it is vital for us womb-yn to have even the lightest understanding of the rhythms guiding our bodies, wombs and emotions.

At new moon, (or dark moon), Goddess is hiding: she is behind the veil of the night and it is a time to sow seeds of new intention for the cycle ahead, that will bring the unseen to light as she waxes, grows and gathers power and fullness. It’s a time to invite, call upon, get clear on concepts and ideas we feel we need to bring to fruition, and plant our dream seeds with clarity.

During the waxing moon, as she grows, so does our sense of possibility, momentum and materialisation of these seeds we have sown.

At full moon, all is revealed, she is in full flowering and we may celebrate, express, create and move under her bright light. It’s also a time to release what no longer serves, with clarity, and allow the waning phase to let it go.

And so, as she wanes, we sit back in surrender, in a sense of autumnal rebirth – more being, less doing – as we integrate, follow through and rebuild ourselves and our intentions anew for the next cycle soon to begin.

How does ritual serve us in this context, and any context? In ritual, two main energies are at play: the first is one of retreat, simplification, purification or un-encumbrance, as we remove ourselves from the daily rhythms of doing and bring ourselves to a space of focus, intention and attention. The second, which flowers so gracefully from this devotional first stage, is a connection with the divine, the sacred, the unseen forces at work in our lives; a connection to spirit, source, the ancestors, nature, Ma. The Great Mother. Most non-religious rituals, passed down through indigenous culture, place connection with the natural world at the heart of their structure. It’s a beautiful container in which to fully express our thanks, remember our place in the divine web of life, and ask for what we need. These energies of focused devotion and intentional communication are cornerstones of any ritual, and by honouring them as often as we can, we find great peace, connection, creativity and community within our daily lives. And the more often we can do it with a friend or loved one, the better. And then, of course, there are times when it;s just you and spirit, and that has its own perfect beauty.

In my own journey and that of my mentoring circle of sisters, earth-based ritual is a fundamental practice that grounds us, purifies our intentions and opens up an infinitely beautiful dialogue with nature, source and our many guides that we cannot see with our eyes… the moon cycles, however, offer a wonderful place to start, and there is no initiation we need to pass through, or course we need to take, to be ready to craft our own. Following our wombs, our intuition and our own creative heart, we can offer our unique bundles to the Goddess of the Night that are truly from our heart space.

Below is a basic Full Moon Release Ritual, which is a lovely place to begin. Alongside it, you might like to offer seasonal herbs, incense, an aura-cleansing plant medicine such as cedar, sage, palo santo or copal, crystals to absorb the full moon light… local flowers, bark or herbs from your native land also keep the prayer rooted in the season and the natural landscape that is holding you. Above, I have offered thyme, mint and rose which embody the summer and her medicinal plant allies here in England.

Full Moon Release Ritual

Light a candle and some incense (or some charcoal on which to burn an incense mix). Sitting comfortably, find your breath, your connection to the earth, and your womb space. Breathe into her, softly and with gratitude and love, and quietly listen.

When you are ready, on a small piece of paper, write down something you would like to release, that is no longer serving you – an energy, a behaviour, a pattern… take responsibility for it, name it clearly, and offer it up to spirit. You may like to use your voice and / or an instrument as well. The clearer we are with our prayer, the further its arrow can travel from our bow.

If you have herbs, plants or other offerings as well, you might like to dig a small hole in the ground. Giving thanks to the earth, the moon and the sun that gives us her light, slowly burn the paper and bury whatever you might be offering with presence, grace and gentleness.

Tune into your breath, your womb and your heart once more and in the stillness of the release ritual, oh so quietly ask yourself what you might like to call in to occupy the space of this clearing. The whisper might be faint, the invitation is simply to stay open and attentive to what might come. On the New Moon, you can sow its seed.

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