The Ancient Art of Mother Roasting

The Ancient Art of Mother Roasting

As most people wonder when I begin to speak about mother roasting, I imagine you are also wondering, what could mother roasting be? Is it publicly roasting mothers with our words or could it be cooking them in a human sized roasting pan? Fortunately, I can reassure you it is neither, well no quite! Mother Roasting is an ancient form of caring for a mother after birth. As SacredPregnancy.com so beautifully puts it “Mother Roasters are CAREGIVERS that nurture new mothers after BIRTH while supporting their RECOVERY + JOURNEY into motherhood; as EVERY woman deserves to be welcomed into MOTHERHOOD through GENTLE + LOVING + CARE*.

 

The history of Mother Roasting can be drawn back to nearly every culture around the world and today it is still practiced in many Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin and Indigenous Cultures. All of these cultures recognize the great care a mother needs after birth in order for her to be able to give back to her family. By sealing up the gateways of birth, returning the organs and bones to their normal places, protecting and supporting her back, keeping wind and cold from entering her body, nourishing her with rich, healing, milk-enhancing foods and teas and giving her permission to take care of herself, a mother is able to take the time to heal, integrate motherhood, bond with her baby and seal her story of birth. The different practices vary from culture to culture from sleeping on warm furs beside the hearth to having moxa sticks heat your womb and back, having your belly bound with a bengkung (Malaysia), Haramaki (Japan) or a Faja (latin America) to having your pelvis and womb massaged by a skilled practitioner, but all of these practices are meant to allow the mother to heal, transition and bond with her baby.

Here are two examples of how a mother may be supported if she lives in Malaysia or Thailand:

In Malaysia, The Pantang/exclusion period lasts for 40 days during which the mother’s belly is massaged and bound every day for a minimum of 3 days up to 40. This is done to allow the organs and bones to return to their original places. A week after the birth a stone or metal ball is heated in the fire and then wrapped in a cloth and rolled along the mother’s body. In Malaysian culture, the mother is thought to enter a cold phase after birth, thus she eats only foods that will heat her up and her body is warmed with massage and wrapped to restore her to her normal temperature.

In Thailand, during the pregnancy, the father will collect special smokeless firewood. After the birth the father will create a fire for his wife to sit near or he may place a special bed over the fire. The fire keeps her body warm while the smoke purifies her and keeps evil spirits away. The Thai recognize that after birth the mother is weak and exhausted and her uterus is still filled with harmful fluids, therefore they warm up her body to help recover her energy and to push out the fluids. Her body is not only warmed by the fire but also with hot water that she bathes in and drinks and basic warm foods and traditional medicines that she eats.

In the West, I often see mothers who feel the pressure to be continuously productive and bounce right back from birth like nothing ever happened. I have heard many say that it is their jobs as mothers to serve and there is no time for self-care. I think this is one of the greatest misfortunes of our Western perspective, how are we to raise our children to our greatest ability and their greatest success if we are not giving back to ourselves. One of my wishes for all mothers is the opportunity to honour the babymoon and the transition they have gone through, to ask for and receive the support they need from family, friends and community and to take time for themselves. I know 40 days may sound like a long time but even a week or a few hours a day to enter into a sanctuary with your baby and take time to relax, nurture, heal and honour can make the greatest difference in a mother’s life, her baby’s and her whole family’s.

 

References

*http://www.sacredpregnancy.com/sacred-pregnancy-training/mother-roasting-retreats/#sthash.UZDTUqqi.dpuf.

Priya, Jacqueline Vincent. Birth Traditions and Modern Pregnancy Care. 1992. Element books ltd. Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK. Pg. 108-116.

Johnson, Deborah. With Child: Wisdom and Traditions for pregnancy, birth and motherhood. 1999. Chronicle Books. USA. Pg. 70-73.

Body Shop Team, Mamatoto. 1991. Virago Press ltd. London, UK. Pg. 120-129.

Originally published in Birthing Magazine Spring 2015

For more info on Mother Roasting Treatments and packages http://marikareidhall.com/wp/birth-medicine/

Walking with Death: A Reflection on death, dying and grief

“Sorrow is part of the earth’s great cycles, flowing into
the night like co0l air sinking down a river course.
To feel sorry is to float on the pulse of the heart, the
surge from living to dying, from coming to being
to ceasing to exist. Maybe this is why the earth has the
power over time to wash sorrow into a deeper pool,
cold and shadowed. And maybe this is why, even
though sorrow never disappears, it can make a deeper
connection to the currents of life and so connect
somehow, to sources of wonder and solace.”
-kathleen Dean Moore

The day my father died, I clearly remember wondering if I truly wanted to be at his bedside when he finally passed on. That evening I had sat on the phone with my partner during a break from the smells and sounds of the hospital and had expressed this confusion in my mind, was it the right thing to do, would it be better if I slept and took care of myself, would I regret it if I wan’t there? I decided to go. After showering and recentering myself with prayers I walked back to the hospital just as the sun was setting. As I entered into the outer room to dress in a gown and gloves my father’s girlfriend called out to me, I arrived just in time. I hurried in forgoing the protective gear and we sat holding each of his hands, wishing him a safe passage as his breathes became more and more spaced. With each one we thought it was his last but it took time and when he finally went I was ever so grateful that I was there. Death is something none of us will get out of, we will see those we love die and eventually it will be our turn. From this experience I have learned that to be fully present and engaged can be the greatest gift we give our loved ones, in their deaths, our deaths and each day of our lives. In this reflection I hope to offer a glimpse of the beauty, grief, love and loss that accompanies death and how vital it is for us as a society to want a good death for those we love and ourselves. A revolution in death is coming as we remember our place in the nature of things and we all need to be apart of it.

It was a Sunday when I received the call at work that my father’s situation had once again changed. He had been refused his transplant and within 24 hours of getting the news his body had begun to internally bleed. My father was always a strong man, full of energy and activity and as I got that call I knew he had made the choice that sitting and waiting to die was not something he desired to do. So I flew to Edmonton the next morning to find him an even weaker and paler version of himself than I had seen two weeks previous, in and out of sleep he knew who I was but no longer had the sparkle of life in his eyes. I knew that part of my purpose in going was to let this decision he had made be honoured and so, my brother, my dad’s girlfriend and I discussed the options with the doctor and after many tears were shed we all agreed it was time to take him off his transfusions and accept that this was his time. The next two days we sat at his bedside holding his hands, telling stories and singing him songs while friends and family came to say farewell. Sometimes it was calm and peaceful, all you could hear was the rattle in his breath as he slept conserving his energy to be able to smile and say hi to the next visitor, but as death came closer and the veil began to open there were moments of fear and confusion. Watching his once strong body and clear mind, fumble over words and thoughts, unable to rise by himself to go to the washroom, his skin sagging, pale and waxy with purple petechiae dappled over it, this was life and it was incredibly hard! There is one moment that remains seared in my mind, we had helped him to the washroom and were trying to see if he wanted to go outside, his favourite place his whole life, but he didn’t understand or just couldn’t express what he wanted and so he stood trembling with our support as he called out for help over and over again until the nurse came and gave him another dose of morphine. My once powerful father had turned into an old man and at that moment it struck me how these liminal spaces at the time of birth and death when the veil between worlds opens are not like any other experience. They are beautiful and raw, hard and scary and oh so magical, if we let them be.

When my father finally did pass the struggle that had followed him in that last day and in the many hard years he had experienced at the end of his life were erased and his body was at peace. After many tears were shed and the nurse and doctor confirmed his death we slowly began to say good bye to his body. I gathered up warm water and clothes and to the water I added aqua de florida, a powerful and beautiful flower mixture that I use in Shamanic healing. Slowly we undressed him, surprised by the shear weight of his uninhabited body and then we took turns washing each part of his body, thanking it for the work it had done throughout his life. For it’s keen intellect and sharp senses, for the strength to build houses and canoe mighty rivers, for the children it had helped to produce, for the smoothness and grace it had exhibited on the dance floor and the sports field. When we finished clearing, thanking and sealing up his body, we dressed him and said our final goodbyes and then we left the room shaken and exhausted, but knowing we had sent him off right.

On reflecting upon this experience there are so many emotions and thoughts that bubble up to the surface, gratitude for being there for all of it, fear when I sat alone with him as his breathing changed and I wondered if this was it, aggravation at my family and how they kept trying to talk to him or feed him despite the obvious shutting down of his systems, anger at how the system had dragged him around for so long and how is doctors were unable of being genuine or candid enough to speak about the realities of his situation, grief as the little girl inside who had lost her father many year before had only just recently finally found him again, beauty in the love all around and ease in the never-ending cycles of life and death. Despite all of this I was most amazed at how I just knew what to do, when I sat present to all of this it came naturally to me, sing this song, hold space, pray, call in the guides and angels. My training as a birth doula and a shamanic practitioner came to the fore and I was able to weave together my own presence with the skills and tools of these trades. There is nothing I regret in my experience or actions in those two days, but there are two things I wish I had done after he passed; the first to have spent more time with my family and the second to have taken more time off work and school to fully reflect and convalesce from this momentous experience. I recognize I lost my presence when fatigue, grief and daily life came back into the fold and the weight of responsibility began to be felt again. I understand I can not always be in complete presence and by doing my work and utilizing my tools I can achieve more and more presence in my own life, ready to face all the beauty, loss, grief and joy it sends my way. This is what my father’s death taught me.

As a practitioner I wish to bring these rich gifts forward to my clients. In reading about death, grief and dying, I have learned several things that help frame my experience and give tools to share with my clients, friends and family. The first tool comes from Joan Halifax (2011) who so beautifully shares ‘Any attachment to outcome destroys our ability to be fully present and compassionate.’ Everyone has a different concept of death and dying and to honour that as practitioners we must learn from our clients what their journey looks like to them and how they wish to proceed, not holding opinions, judgements or attachments to their outcomes. This was one of the hardest parts of watching my fathers journey through diagnosis and treatment. I did not want to see him die and I disagreed with his choices in medical care, especially his out right trust for his doctors. But I quickly learned it just caused conflict to hold these attachments.

The second teaching comes from Sarah Kerr, PhD (2017) from her talk on Death Midwifery, ‘Ritual is energy medicine for the collective body’ and when each of us come to death or witness death we must create, support and maintain the proper rituals in order to heal and set the collective body back into balance. These rituals can be simple and personal, we can help guide people to find these ways of honouring a passage and releasing their grief and love as they send their loved one off. Through listening to my intuition and my training in Shamanic ritual I put together the ritual we used to support my fathers passing, helping his spirit to let go, his body to be cleansed and sealed and our own love and grief to be released meeting the collective body of all those who love and grieve.

For my third lesson I find Frank Ostaseski’s (2017) third lesson on what the dying teach the living to aptly portray my experience, ‘Bring your whole self to the experience- When we bring our whole self we can work with compassion and not judgement.’ This bringing of one’s whole self, a calling to be completely present is what I learned most in my father’s death, the gifts and healing that this suffering brought to me have out weighed all others to date and I would not have so fully experienced them if I didn’t bring my whole self to his death. Choosing to walk this path with him after having reconnected with him in the last few years created a great mending in myself and my feelings of grief of losing my father as a young girl. Though I could not prevent his leaving this time I was able to be fully present during his passage.

The fourth Teaching comes from Stephen Jenkinson (2012) in his talk for The Compassion Choices Conference, He states that ‘Death is not the end of health, but an enhancement of health and your ability to be a deeply present human being.’ I feel this is key to shifting our perspectives on death and dying, framing it currently as a lost battle or not being healthy anymore makes us feel like we have lost, but death is part of the process and if we can embrace it as such we can return to the harmony that it brings to the planet and the enrichment it adds to our lives.

Finally as Francis Weller (2005) so poetically shares ‘In truth, without some familiarity with sorrow, we do not mature as men and women. It is the broken heart, the part that knows sorrow, that is capable of genuine love.’(p.9). One of the greatest gifts I have received from my father’s death is this maturing of a maiden into a woman. I will never be the same again and I am ever so thankful for that.

As far as deaths go I believe my father had a good one. It may have been earlier than expected and his illness may have caused him much pain and worry, but ultimately when he knew there was no more hope and decided it was time he was supported in that. Death played the central role, as Stephen Jenkinson (2012) suggests it should and we his family were at his side. We were given the space to support him as we saw fit and each one of the nurses and doctors kept their distance except to aid in cleaning up or giving him more morphine to ease his pain and confusion. In coming together we knew we could do this, as he knew he could and I can not imagine a better way to go. Many cultures speak of death as crossing a river from the village of the living to the village of the ancestors, the living’s grief and love met with the joy and welcome of the ancestors help get the dead safely across, Sarah Kerr (2017). In my father’s case I know he was held the whole way and when it is my time to go he will be there to welcome me. Until that day I will continue to cultivate presence in the hardest of situations life brings and work on bringing a good death to all I know. May the future hold a good death for us all.

References
Halifax, J. (2011) Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of Empathy. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQijrruP9c4&t=17s

Jenkinson, S. (2012) The Skill of Brokenheartedness: Euthanasia, Palliative Care and Power – Stephen Jenkinson. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dbmXWLCaRg&t=55s

Kerr, S. (2017) An introduction to Death Midwifery with Sarah Kerr, PhD. James Bay United Church. 13/07.

Ostaseski, F. (2017) Frank Ostaseski: What the Dying teach the living. Available from:
http://longnow.org/seminars/02017/apr/10/what-dying-teach-living/

Weller, F. (2015) The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. Berkeley, California. North Atlantic Books. pp.9.

Imbolc Blessings: When water gives rise to wood

Imbolc Blessings: When water gives rise to wood

Greetings and a Blessed Imbolc to all!

Today more commonly known as Groundhog’s day, is the ancient Celtic Quarter Cross Day, also sometimes referred to as Brigit’s Day. The midway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, this day was and still is celebrated by many as the first inklings of spring begin to pull at our bodies, the songs of the birds fill the air more, the snowdrops and other shoots pop up from the ground, here on the West Coast the Rhododendrons are blooming and the cherry blossoms and magnolias are budding. Our minds and bodies begin to stir and perhaps like me fresh raw greens begin to excite your palate and your skin craves the kiss of the sun.

In Chinese Medicine it is the time when water starts to give rise to wood. In the Winter, Water is the dominant element, it is the deepest parts of ourselves, the collective unconscious, our bones, the wisdom of our ancestors we carry in our DNA or Jing in TCM. Winter is a time to go deep within and revitalize and restore ourselves, listen to the wisdom of our bones and the still waters of nature. From this place of strength, stillness and power we begin to set our true intentions for the coming spring. Just as the melting snow and ice give rise to water to nourish the bulbs and seeds in the ground, so do the waters of our bodies, the deep wisdom of our DNA help to give rise to our own soul intentions, those things that we wish to manifest into form, our own shoots, trees, and flowers. 

So I invite you all to sit with yourself in the next few days (where the water meets the trees if you can) and listen to the rhythm and voice of your bones, your DNA, the water within and see what wishes to be birthed forth in the coming spring. I would suggest you write these down and place them upon your altar or plant them with some seeds to create a living remembrance and ritual of your intentions.

And if you are interested in keeping alive the ancient Celtic ways and honouring the sacred rhythms of nature, you may call upon Brigit, the goddess of healing and poets, midwives and blacksmiths to help you make three wishes: one a universal wish to all beings, one a wish for your family and one a wish for yourself. With each wish light a candle and call upon Brigit, the elements of water and wood and your own helping spirits to support these becoming reality. When you are completed light a fourth candle to welcome back the sun that is growing stronger in the sky each day.  Allow all the candles to burn down while you envision these wishes becoming reality and embody the gratitude you feel for this magic, this life and the support of all our many helpers, seen and unseen. 

And so it is!!

Blessings and Love,

Marika

Wild Spring Recipes for the Wood element: Ponderosa Pine Resin Chocolate

Wild Spring Recipes for the Wood element: Ponderosa Pine Resin Chocolate

A few years ago when I was doing a  three day solo during my shamanic apprenticeship, I was gifted with several large chunks of resin from the Ponderosa Pine trees that lined my solo site. These trees had kept me company, aided me in anchoring myself to the earth and growing up to the heavens and even gave me a song to use in ceremony and healings. Since that time the resin has sat in my medicine box just waiting to be turned into medicine and finally I have come up with an amazing and delicious way to use some of this precious tree essence.

As apart of an equinox/eclipse ritual I have been preparing I wanted to offer the participants some delicious treats that invoked the season of spring, the spirit of wood and support the liver/gallbladder. What better way to invoke the spirit of wood, than to ingest it in some delicious raw chocolate. You can find more other recipe for Nettle Pesto Layered Panigacci here.2016-03-21 16.19.11

Pine is incredibly medicinal:

  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-infectious
  • Anitfungal
  • Antidiabetic
  • Neurotonic
  • Decongestant of the lymphatic system
  • Parasiticide
  • anti-catarrhal
  • stimulant
  • tonic

“The pine may be used in cases of bronchitis, sinuitis, or upper respiratory catarrh, [cough], both as an inhalant and internally.  It may also be helpful in asthma.  The stimulating action gives the herb a role in the internal treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.  There is a tradition of adding a preparation of the twigs to bath water to ease fatique, nervous debility, and sleeplessness, as well as aiding the healing of cuts and soothing skin irritations.”

  • The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 124

Pine Resin Raw Chocolate

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup raw honey

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

pinch of sea salt

1 Tbsp Pine essence

  1. In the bottom of a double boiler heat up some water and add your coconut oil and honey to the top of the boiler, whisking it until it melts and combines.
  2. Once honey and oil are fully melted and combined, add the vanilla, cacao and salt and mix until completely combined.
  3. Next slowly add the cedar essence, 1 Tbsp the way I have prepared it is enough to just give the faintest taste without the bitterness. Even with this little amount you are still taking in this precious medicine.
  4. pour the chocolate into a flat glass dish or chocolate molds and put in the freezer. It usually takes about a hour to freeze depending on the thickness.

While you eat these make sure to fully embody the cedar and witness how your body responds to it.

Quick Pine Essence:2016-03-22 07.22.37

1/4 cup Coconut Oil

1 tsp Pine resin

Slowly heat oil and add resin, stirring until it is melted but don’t leave it too long as lots of the essential oils will be burned off.

Strain into a glass jar and let cool. It should keep indefinitely.

If you have more time. You can break up the resin into bits and put it into a glass mason jar and fill it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grapeseed oil or liquid Coconut oil and leave it for two to six weeks. This will keep all the essential oils.

Wild spring recipes for the wood element: Nettle Pesto layered Panigacci

Wild spring recipes for the wood element: Nettle Pesto layered Panigacci

Here in BC, Nettles are growing everywhere at this time of year. You can find them in the local parks and out in the rainforest. Nettle is an amazing healing wild food and I love to go and pick it each spring. Drying some for tea through the year and making it into soup, spanakopita, pesto, really anything that greens go in.nettle

Here are some of the amazing nutritional facts about Nettles, you can find out more info at Organic Facts.

Some of the most important health benefits of stinging nettle include its ability to detoxify the body, improve metabolic efficiency, boost immune health, increase circulation, improve energy levels, manage menstruation, minimize menopausal symptoms, heal skin conditions, protect kidney and gallbladder health, lower inflammation, increase muscle mass, regulate hormonal activity, prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure, soothe hemorrhoids, and improve respiratory conditions.

In preparing for my equinox/eclipse ritual I wanted to include some recipes that would help us to ingest and align with the energies of spring and the wood element. So I revised a favourite old Italian farmhouse recipe of mine with nettle pesto! You can find my other recipe for Ponderosa Pine Resin Chocolate here.

Nettle Pesto

3 cloves garlic2016-03-21 16.12.39

1 red thai chile

1 loose handful basil leaves

100g nettles, blanched

juice of 1/2 lemon

3 handfuls cashew nuts

1 handful Parmesan Cheese

1 handful Asiago Cheese

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and pepper

First boil a pot of water and add the nettle leaves, allowing them to gently boil for a few minutes to remove the Formic acid. Remove it from the water, rinse under cool water and drain. Use a cheese cloth or paper towel to squeeze out the extra liquid. (You can save the liquid that you boiled and use it to cook pasta or as a tonic drink)

Next, Combine all ingredients into a food processor or Vitamix, starting with about 1/2 a cup of Olive Oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Adding more oil and salt and pepper till you get the desired taste and consistency you like.

You can substitute several things in this recipe, use only nettles or add another green instead like parsley or cilantro. You can use only Parmesan or another mix some other hard sharp cheeses. You can use the traditional pine nuts or another nut. And of course you can omit or add more chile and garlic.

This sauce can be used for all sorts of things; on pasta, with spaghetti squash, as a dip or sandwich spread. I have chosen to use it with layered Panigacci. Panigacci is much like crepes and so I like to use a basic crepe recipe substituting wheat for Spelt.

 

Spelt Crepe Recipe2016-03-22 07.28.10

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup spelt flour

1 1/4 cups milk (I use almond milk)

Butter for melting

Whisk eggs and salt in large bowl. Gradually whisk in flour, then 1 1/4 cups milk. Let stand 1 hour.

If necessary, add more milk by tablespoonfuls to batter to thin to consistency of heavy whipping cream.

Heat 8-inch-diameter nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush with melted butter. Pour 3 tablespoons batter into skillet and swirl to coat bottom evenly. Cook until top appears dry, loosening sides of crepe with spatula, about 45 seconds. Turn and cook until brown spots appear on second side, about 30 seconds. Turn crepe out onto plate. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with butter and stacking crepes on plate.2016-03-22 09.51.48

Now that you have your pesto and your crepes you can begin the magic of layering them!! lay one crepe down on a plate and cover generously with pesto, place another crepe on top and cover with pesto again, continue this process until your tower has reached your desired height.

To serve cut into triangles.

 

 

Sacred Spring: An Equinox/Eclipse Reflection and Ritual

This weekend I spent the day walking through the rainforest filling up on the energies of the spring equinox and the elements of wind and wood. Here on the West Coast of Canada, the feeling of spring is alive and abundant wherever you go. The cherry blossoms and magnolias are blooming, the daffodils and tulips are waving from the ground. The desire to sprout and grow is palpable all around and within myself. It is the time of Ostara (the spring equinox), a time of balance, when the length of light and dark are equal and it calls to us to find our own internal balance, balance between masculine and feminine, inward reflection and outward action, yin and yang…. I personally have a much easier time on the inward planes and often find myself dreaming and wanting to live in my head, but I now one of my greatest lessons is to  move these dreams outward into the world and that is when fear takes hold of me and I begin to question who am I to create this, who will listen, who will come and yet in the wise words of Marianne Williamson:

“…..Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So I am peeling more layers of the onion away and breaking free of these fears and offering my perspective and shining my light, in doing so I hope to share what inspires me and inspire others to do the same, until we have all broken free and are living from a place of heart spirit that allows all beings to flourish.

And with the start of spring I offer to you an Equinox/Eclipse perspective and ritual to help you connect with the seeds within that desire to be planted, find the support that is needed to birth them and let go of what no longer serves, aligning your body and mind to great spirit and the new energies that are here for us to utilize.

Since the dawn of humanity, people have lived in balance with the rhythms of the earth and the planets, using these as markers of time and ritual. Our Ancestors, Shamans, Pagans, Druids, Witches, Indigenous wisdom keepers and all others who honour and have honoured the changing of the seasons and astrological events know the immense power in working with these elements and attuning our bodies and minds to them. This week we have many powerful influences to attune to; the Spring Equinox, Ostara, Eostre, Easter and the full moon lunar eclipse in Libra. The Spring Equinox being a time of even light and dark and the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, means it is a time of balance, as well as, a time to honour the birthing that can be seen outwardly in nature and felt within. Traditionally, this time was celebrated by Agricultural people as a time of fertility, praying to the land to nourish the seeds planted and that the long death of winter has ended and life is resurrected once again. Many of us associate this time with Easter and the resurrection of Christ. This is one of the many stories and celebrations of our ancestors that has been adopted by the church to help ease conversion from the old gods and goddesses and worship of nature. But no matter is you are Pagan, Christian, Jewish or Hindu, these rituals hold immense power and still help us to come to balance with our existence here on mama earth.2016-03-19 13.51.22

In Chinese Medicine, this is the season of the wood element which gives to us the power of blossoming, the courage to make decisions in our lives and go forth into the world to make them a reality. Trees are the perfect example of the spring equinox time, they have gathered up the wisdom of winter (water) that lies deep within the earth and using this wisdom they grow forth towards the heavens, standing firm in their truth and shining their light for all to see while remaining flexible to the ever changing flow of life. The wood element is associated with our liver and gallbladder and the emotion of Anger. When our liver, gallbladder and Anger are in balance they allow us to plan, have courage, make changes and transform our lives. When they are out of balance we may become overly oppressive and while trying to make changes we will try and change others in our path or we may become resigned to our fate and lose the will to make decisions or take action. To help our wood element function better we can spend time with trees, asking for their help and aligning to their energy, eating seasonally available foods like wild spring greens: nettles, dandelion, garlic mustard,  as well as garlic, onion, leeks, mushrooms, kale, lemons, high quality vinegars and brassicas to support our liver and gallbladder, getting acupuncture and honouring the wood element through ritual and ceremony.

The final powerful influence this week is the Full moon lunar eclipse in Libra, I see eclipses as also being a balancing act between light and dark and with Libra being the sign of balance. This whole week is calling us to balance. The full moon is a time of fulfillment, our intentions set at the new moon are being birthed and so we are called to celebrate and honour what has appeared in our lives and begin to shed what is blocking our continued evolution. With Libra being ruled by Venus; love, relationships, balance, diplomacy, the feminine, beauty and appearance may be particular areas that are called to attention or that you may want to reflect on.ostara

Here is the ritual that I have created to work with and balance these energies, I hope you enjoy and please feel free to pass them along to others.

Sacred Spring: An Equinox/Eclipse Ritual

What you will need:

  • an altar cloth, objects or pictures that represent the four directions; East (incense, feather), South (candle, flowers), West (water, ancestors) and North (salt, crystals), The masculine and feminine, the wood element and anything you hold dear or wish to charge up (ie jewellery)
  • Clothes appropriate for the weather
  • a yoga mat, sheep skin or blanket to lie on
  • something to listen to the downloaded drum journey and music for dancing
  • sage, tobacco or palo santo to cleanse with
  • some delicious treats symbolic of the spring
  • something for offering: tobacco, cornmeal, fruit, milk, beer,..

To begin choose where you will do the ceremony, I suggest outside near a tree, but you could do it inside as well. Using your sage, tobacco or palo santo cleanse the area and yourself, remembering to thank and program your cleansing tool with instructions to clear away any low vibrational energies, protecting and filling the space with light.

Now set down your altar cloth and assemble your altar as you feel called to, putting the symbols for each direction facing that direction and lay down your offering to the South and your treats to the North. You want it to be beautiful and filled with light to attract the helping spirits.

In order, to set the container for your ritual, imagine an octahedron around your ceremony space, including the tree and room for yourself to lie down and dance. Program this octahedron to only allow in loving, high vibrational energies and ask your angels and guides to help protect the space. you may also put one around yourself.

Once your altar is laid, call in the spirits to help you. I like to call them in the following way, but you may do it as you feel called to:

“Great Spirit of the East, so bright with the new days light, brimming with new hopes and dreams. I welcome you and ask you to help guide me through the land of all possibility and find the seed that is waiting there for me. Thank you, Aho!

Great Spirit of the South, so full and pregnant with life and beauty. I welcome you and ask you to help me live in full bloom and seek the support I need to live a life of spirit. Thank you, Aho!

Great Spirit of the West, bursting with the harvest, preparing for slumber and moving inwards. I welcome you and ask for your help in letting go of what does not serve me and dreaming a new dream for myself and the world. Thank you, Aho!

Great Spirit of the North, slumbering giant of power and wisdom. I welcome you and ask you to fill me up with power so I may make my dreams a reality and serve my community and spirit. Thank you, Aho!

Father Sky, Sun, Moon, Star and Planets, thank you so for your wisdom, your light and inspiration. I welcome you and ask you to fill me with light and align me with the great wisdom and plan of spirit. Thank you, Aho!

Mother Earth, thank you for nourishing me, supporting me, letting me rest and walk upon you. I welcome you and ask you for your support, love, strength and nourishment, helping me to live in balance with you and bring spirit into living form. Thank you, Aho!

Spirits of the land, thank you for allowing us to live here, nourishing us with your beauty. I welcome you and ask you to help support our ritual with the energies of the spring and changing seasons and offer you any healing you need from this ritual. Thank you, Aho!

Great spirit, thank you for my life, my family, my friends, all the blessings around and within me! I welcome you and ask for your continued guidance and support in living a life in alignment with you. Thank you, Aho!!

Spirit of Wood, so strong and flexible, I welcome you and ask you to help me harness the wisdom for below and make it manifest in my life, to have the courage to move forward and the flexibility to bend when needed. Thank you, Aho!”

Now lay down your mat or blanket to the east and listen to this drum journey I have prepared to visit the spirit of the east.

Return to the altar and thank the spirit of the East and turn to the spirit of the South and welcome it in.

Now that you have your seed of wisdom, you will be asking for support and alignment with the element of wood. Sit or Stand in front of a tree and introduce yourself. Thank it for its beauty, strength, courage, flexibility and ask for its support. Tell it what your seed is, what dreams you have for it and what fears or blocks you may have of making it a reality. Let the tree spirit align with you and ask for courage, strength and any other support you wish from it. Once you feel complete thank the tree for its support and guidance and leave it a small offering.

Return to the altar and thank the spirit of the south and turn to the spirit of the west and welcome it in.

The spirit of the West is all about letting go and dreaming a new dream. In order to work with these energies and let go of what might be blocking us from manifesting our seeds, you will perform a bone dance. You may do this in silence or you may put on some music to dance and shake to. The purpose of this is to shake and dance each layer of our beings off; skin, fat, fascia, muscle, nerves, blood vessels, organs, bones. Imagining each layer is falling to the earth like leaves being composted by the earth. Once there is nothing left of you but spirit enjoy this freedom of spirit for a few minutes and then slowly begin to dance each layer back onto you, imagining that it is in perfect health and has been aligned to your new dream and the highest vibration you can hold at this time.

Once you are completely reassembled, return to the altar, thank the spirit of the West and welcome in the spirit of the North.

Move your mat or blanket to align with the north and the full moon and lay down upon it. The moon is a powerful source of energy and we can ask for it to fill us with power to help us manifest our dreams and have the strength and energy to put our seeds into action. Firstly, Introduce yourself to the moon and thank it for it’s light and beauty and wisdom of balance. Ask it to fill you up with power and begin to breath that power into your body, feel each and every cell being filled with moonlight. Continue this until you feel you are full and then thank the moon.

Return to your altar and sit in front of the north and the treats you have prepared for this time of spring and wood, begin by offering some to the land and all the helping spirits and giving gratitude to all the plants, animals and people that helped bring this beautiful nourishment to you. Then slowly enjoy them feeling the energies of the spring and the wood element enter your body, nourish your liver and gallbladder and making your tastebuds dance. Finally sit in this energy and the gratitude for all that is and the opportunity to practice and honour in this way.

Close your circle by releasing each of the elements in the reverse order that you called them. Thanking them for their gifts, releasing them from the ritual and asking for their continued support.

Wood, great spirit, mother earth, father sky, north, west, south, east.

Here are the recipes for what I am making to invoke the Spring and Wood element:

Nettle Pesto Layered Panigacci

Ponderosa Pine Essence Chocolate

May you be blessed with love, light, laughter, courage and balance and set further into your light and power!

With deep gratitude and love for sharing in this with me,

Marika

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