“Must Do” Rituals for a Hauntingly Beautiful Cave Experience [Part 3 of a 4-part series]
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This is the third of a 4-part series on “The Woman Cave”.
- “Must Do’s” for a Hauntingly Beautiful Cave Experience
“Man is a creature who walks in two worlds and traces upon the walls of his cave the wonders and the nightmare experiences of his spiritual pilgrimage.” – Morris West
Interesting word “haunting.” Maybe it’s because the time to start seriously planning your Cave time fell on October 31—All Hallows Eve.
I choose that word intentionally. We want our time in the Cave to haunt us when we leave.
Synonyms for “Haunting”: Unforgettable. Memorable. Seductive. Mysterious. Continuous. Lasting. Indelible. Moving. Abiding. Continuing. Deep. Ever-Present. Evocative. Ingrained. Lasting. Lifelong. Long-lived. Obstinate. Outstanding. Perennial. Persistent. Powerful. Repairing. Resonant. Rooted. Sustaining. Unforgettable. Unshakable.
This is what rituals do for us.
Rituals are Magical
Something happens when we do what’s meaningful to us with intention, attention, over and over again.
If you were raised in a religious institution, you know this. Rituals are powerful “binding agents.”
They strengthen the bonds to whatever we are connecting to—Spirit, family, dogma, a Code of Honor, Nature, our own inner Being.
- They bring us into the NOW, the comfort, power and clarity of the Present Moment. Image
A ritual evokes emotion—the stuff that action is fueled by. Arousing rituals arouse. Calming, centering rituals calm and center.
- They reaffirm what has meaning and importance to us and affirm our intentions.
- They are an anchor in times of turmoil, creating an inner sense of stability and control when outside conditions are unpredictable and difficult to manage. This is also known as grounding. Rooting.
- They help us focus.
Rituals are Practical
“We can define ritual as symbolic action. Every action done in a ritual context, whether it be the speaking of a word, the movement of a hand, the drawing of a breath, or the building up of an image in the imagination, is a deliberate symbol. It means something, and something specific. In a well designed ritual, these meanings resonate together like the notes of a musical cord, expressing a single pattern of meaning in a complete and balanced form.” — John Michael Greer, Paths of Wisdom.
The union of action and meaning in a well made ritual works at every level of our being. It becomes a way of unifying the self and then directing this singular sense of self toward a single, specific end. This combination of unity and direction is what makes ritual a magical tool for action.
And when we are in alignment in this way, whatever we turn our imagination to, our will to, our desire for, must come into being. From something as simple as having the where-with-all to decide and deliver what the evening meal will be to what we will create over the course of the next year when we emerge from the shelter of our Cave to take on the world.
Because ritual is so powerful, when creating & refining your own, it is wise to ask yourself these questions:
What sort of practical uses does this ritual have for me?
(HINT): Seek to identify the ingredients that you recognize are necessary to fulfilling your heart’s desire. What must you feel (passion, joy, excitement, determination), what must you think (clarity, positivity, creatively free thoughts, focused attention), what help from Spirit will you need (in order to risk, for sufficient courage, for energy, for persistence, for patience, for whatever), what connections and relationships and alliances will you need to nurture, what demoralizing feelings and self-defeating thoughts and old patterns and empty relationships will you be required to release?
Your ritual should address an outcome, something you desire in some symbolic fashion. This may include something as simple as an expression of gratitude. An offering. A desire. A request large or small. A declaration of intent to manifest.
What sort of practical uses should your ritual have?
(HINT): Refer to “haunting” synonyms above.
Your ritual should mean so much to you that what you feel, think, imagine and symbolically create there begins to appear effortlessly in every day living. Like magic.
How well your answers to these two questions are aligned will determine how powerful and effective the outcome of your ritual will be.
A Few Elemental Components
To my knowledge, there is no one right way to perform ritual. There have been tons of things written, so if you are at a loss as to where to start, Google “rituals” or consult some of the books you have on your selves, or hie yourself off to your favorite book store. Or brush off a dusty old routine you used to do and give it new life.
Here are some possible components:
- Physical movement. Ex. – stretching or yoga. I often do some taijichuan before sitting or laying down for meditation.
Preparation for Presence or Opening. Ex. I usually light a white candle. Sometimes adding other colored candles symbolic of some aspect that I am focusing on.
- Gratitude & Acknowledgement. Ex. After lighting my main candle, I then light a stick of palo santo and offer the first fragrance to Source, and all of my helpers—known and unknown, visible and invisible. “This one’s for you.” I want to acknowledge that I recognize the ever present help being offered, as well as express my appreciation and gratitude.
CAREFUL: A bit of warning here. In the past, I have totally depleted myself trying to hold everyone I have ever known and then everyone in pain and then everyone in fear, and everyone who is angry and…..Well, you get it. Spirit has well let me know that taking care of the entire universe is not my job. My job is to hold my Light. Tall enough order.
So if your list is exhausting long or particularly upsetting, I strongly recommend you compress all of your concerns into a sort of spiritual zip file and hand it all to SOURCE with some version of the statement: “You know what to do with this. Thanks so much. I’m eternally grateful.”
- Asking/Receiving (receptivity to allowing) Ex. Finally, I re-light my palo santo (again!) and state my question or concern or hope for myself. Whatever I am experiencing a sense that some extra help would be most welcome. And I offer thanks that this is done. Sometimes I am as clear and specific as possible. Sometimes I go general, not filling in the details of something I haven’t been able to figure out anyway.
- * Sometimes instead of what I described above, I offer thanks to or call in the Spirits Helpers of Light from the 4 directions, Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Heart Opening.
*An alternative to lighting—and re-lighting—incense, candles and all that palo santo, especially if I am in a location where fire of any sort is a bad idea, I will use aromatherapies or fragrance from flowers, grass, leaves, herbs, etc. for my offering.
- Consistency and Flow. Ex. Up until this point, my ritual is pretty consistent. Sometimes that is the entirety of it. Sometimes I will then have a meditation practice. The length depends on how much time or need I feel. Usually anywhere from 10-45 minutes. Sometimes I sit down and take a shamanic journey. Or do a standing grounding ritual. Or create something through active imagination. Or immerse myself in a feeling. Or do shadow work. Or journal. All depends on the internal and external conditions of the day. And what my intention is.
- This is where intention may be expressed. And explored. And visualized or imagined. And, support asked for from any and all Helpers. This business of Helpers is a big topic. Probably worth talking about in more depth. Maybe we will do that when we go to The Cave.
Closing. Ex. Closing for me usually consists of 2 parts. One is a pray to offer thanks for the presence of all the Helpers that are and will continue to be present. A pray offering thanks that all that has been asked for is already done. And then some sort of grounding process again so as to be fully returned to ordinary awareness.
Variations: In a kaballah/tarot study group I belong to, we always open with a brief pray, then 10 minutes of silent meditation, followed by the Prayer of “ONE.” Closure is with the song “Oh Great Spirit” and a prayer of thanksgiving.
Maybe your ritual isn’t sitting at all, but walking in nature, walking a labyrinth, dancing, twirling in circles.
Important Final Considerations
Just like you do the best you can to create a physical sacred space that symbolizes your Cave—a space that is personal and as unique as you are—so should your ritual be also. Personal and unique. Yours.
If you have never done a ritual before or are out of practice, it will tend to feel a little hokey at first. Unnatural. Weird. Try it anyway. After a while you will realize what has meaning for you and what doesn’t. After a while it will begin to be a part of your blood and bones. And completely natural. And profoundly valuable.
Ritual—like wisdom—is not a static thing. It is alive and unfolding and evolving. Just like you. You may realize one day that the ritual you have been doing—and loving—for a long time is no longer serving you. You are changing, growing. And your ritual will reflect this. Let it be so. Bless what has served you and then let it go. Be open to what is coming. Get acquainted with living in the spaces in between what was and what will be. Let the “I don’t know” place be a ritual.
RITUAL—Do It. It will make your Cave your Home.
For it is what we do here that restores and renews the brilliance of the inner fire that has burned down during the course of our labors. And it is what we do here that empowers and propels us into our bliss.
“I read ‘The Crystal Cave’ book by Mary Stewart, and I thought it
was a really, really interesting part of the legend, in which Merlin
could enter into the cave with these crystals and see reflections
of the future in them and learn how to use that and harness those
powers for himself.” — Colin Morgan
*Special Note: This is not the “Part 4” that I originally intended. It is, however, the one that a majority of us have been facing since late last fall with the post elections in the U.S. This is my story: where I’ve been, how I got back, and—best of all—what’s coming.read more
Your Cave is your inner being. It is private, usually a place no one knows about but you. It is a way of being. Quiet. Contemplative. Reflective. A calm place to rest and renew. A still place to connect with your Self, with your Spiritual Guide(s), with Source.read more
By the time the Winter Solstice rolls around on Dec. 21st–or thereabouts, depending on where you live–it will be too late. You will already have become exhausted by total absorption in the crazy frenetic activity of “the holidays” (have we not created an impressively unnatural and stressful 6 weeks?) Winter–the time of hibernation, rest, and re-energizing our power and focus will already have arrived.read more