The Thing with Ceremony

Why am I special?

I am not.

What is real ceremony?

You are in the center

You are the one giving

A place of honour

A place of sacrifice

You always have a payment

There is a cost for being

In the centre of ceremony

To being the main dancer

To be the main story teller

To be the main healer

To be the main singer

To be the main musician

There is alway a payment

There is always a balance

To be maintained

You give as good as you “get”

Getting is the sacrifice

You be honoured by being

In the sidelines 

Be in the circle of singers

Be in amongst the drummers

Be in as the village 

Be in as an auntie or uncle

The one in the centre 

Carries the cost

And the balancing happens 

In their circle

To them

To the ones to the things near

Unless all the ones

Around give – gift generously

With word and action and deed

With gifts to other, to land 

To Spirit. To the ceremonialist(s). To each other.

That is why consumer starseeder human ceremonies are dead

No one gives

One sits there in envy

Jealous heart

Of the one one in the centre

But one doesn’t understand 

To be in the centre

Is not about glory

Literal sacrifice

they say in some sacred ceremonies

The one in the centre loses some years off their life

Each time they hold the ceremony

They say in some sacred ceremonies

That the ones in the center

That is all they do all year long

Is getting ready for one ceremony

Which lasts five days or one

Am I ready for that?

Do the folk who gather

For that ceremony

Are they prepared

To give to Spirit

Or to the Spirits

To keep the ceremonialists safe

To dance and sing again

If the ceremonialist is constantly

Giving to Sprit, they know that

It will cost them

Even their life

Balance balance

Keep the balance

Be at peace with 

“Sitting in the third row”*

Written while thinking about ceremony and preparing for Awakening and dancing Mother Bear.

The questions: Will the group, the small community make enough beauty, bring enough beauty, sing strong songs, speak in a beautiful way that is born from connection? 

Can they make such strong power that all that can happen is for Mother Bear to come out and dance with us? Will we give time and space for this? Or will people tire, not understand, want to get it over with, not pass into that liminal place of world within world within world and so on? Will the ceremonialists be supported by the community? Will they weave in and out within their own responsibilities, their own lineage to carry, their own craft and body of knowledge they carry? Ego dissolve. 

And the teachings carried came from teachers, Elders. And then comes along experience – a lot of this. Which means time – and a lot of hard learning over YEARS before going public to serve.  And that is IF the ceremony is even public. So difficult for the current climate of humans. There are those who are just doing this, in quiet, in silence, not talking about what they are doing over years in and years out of service.

And not everyone gets initiated. Not everyone gets everything! You started a family (I like this one) means there are some things you don’t have privy to and will not get to “fill in the gaps of initiations you missed” because you decided or were on unable to have certain ceremonies: Life and own choices – now you have a family! Is that not an initiation of sorts? Some other initiation ceremony you shall have…. One that is for your present or when you are older or something else happens. 

And having private ceremonies, passed down from others: how does one not just replicate this in a foreign land? How does one not colonise it? How does one sit with this learned or initiated ceremony for some time, sinking into one’s own land and then arriving at perhaps a blossoming, perhaps the first kiss of even coming close to something containing the magic, the depth, the wideness, the mystery, the service to the Holy? To Life? To Earth and all beings?

I think of my friend and her struggles with this for years. I think of my struggle with this since returning from Tuva. I think of some friends who apprenticed for sixteen years, making pilgrimages to the same place before being able to participate in peyote ceremony let alone call upon that specific place to assist them in their healing work! I think of friends who apprenticed (arrange, help, serve, drive, feed, carry, assist, listen….) to Elders, medicine men and women in North America, Central America, South America – and not sharing much or anything nor repeating songs in their own homeland (and waiting or asking or being granted permission to share). I think about a couple who entered my life and were not given permission but did anyway leaving me with the payment part.

This is not an easy discussion. Nor is this the end. All in all, ceremony seems to be against all the “norms” of retail economy. Which brings up another field of wonderment and consternation and follows the ouroboros: what goes around comes around and for another time to write.

But then we come to one centre in the vast web of ceremony, service, teachings, learnings: of passing further out and around: right mind (heart is in there) and necessity. Generosity perhaps even that. Non-indigenous folk are indigenous to Mother Earth. Would that be enough for all humans to reconnect to their memories of why to take care of her, one another, all beings? In ceremony to feed her? Reconnect to bravery of generosity? Do we not have a necessity to change and nurture with right mind and heart? Do we not have a necessity to hold dear, support, be ally to indigenous peoples, peoples with languages and worldviews that are being overcome by states, industry, the 1%, film industry, biohackers, well-being businesses and tourism, etc etc? Read the last sentence again.

Ceremonies are cycle- specific and place specific. Then some dash down wild waterfalls of people specific, gender specific. Then further down the way is a feeding spring of those ceremonies which are for a smaller group of Elders who hold perhaps entire worlds together. All are needed. All feeding into Life, keeping the World (that means all beings, air, water – all!!!) alive and in good relationship through the gifts of service, giving.


Reading suggestions: 

Kate Raworth: Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist and visit

Martín Prechtel – anything. Will return to him later

Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows) & Darcia Narvaez, PhD: Restoring the Kinship Worldview. Interesting read still in process.

Dr. Tyson Yunkaporta, Aboriginal scholar: Sand Talk. Also any lectures, podcasts etc.

Gifting – gift “economy” and by the women writers, not Charles and others (who jumped on the bandwagon very late in the season!)

Bear Clan, Professor Barbara Alice Mann – anything. Definitely riles, confuses, clears the head, and goes against much of what has been force-fed to most of the world about North America. Love fractals.

*quite sure this was a line heard from a podcast by Nordic Animism & Tyson Yunkaporta.

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