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Summer Solstice Eclipse Ritual

Summer Solstice Eclipse Ritual

This weekend is the summer solstice, solar eclipse and New Moon in Cancer, Cancer and the moon are kindred energies they come from the same deep and holy place, enabling us to feel the feels and wrap ourselves up in the caring and compassion of our hearts. They bring us closer to the motherly energies we all possess and ask us to love ourselves completely and honour our own sacred lives, as well as all life. In Chinese Medicine, the heart is the empress. It oversees the work of all our other organs and houses our shen, the light of spirit that animates us, allowing us to know our true selves. The heart-mind speaks to us through our feelings and helps guide us on the truest path of spirit. The peak time of the heart is in the heat of the summer, a time of connection, play, laughter and energy. Just as the fire element drives the heart, we are driven by our inner fire that asks us to step out and dance amongst the other flames, to connect and create sparks of joy and love. Fire, like all elements is in a constant flux and keeping it from being extinguished or burning up is a practice we all take on each day of our lives.

Through observing nature, ancient Taoist Sages recognized that the simple ways that fire was strengthened and weakened. In moderation, heat strengthens fire and cold soothes it, in excess heat may cause fire to burn up all the body fluids, while cold will freeze the body and no fire can start. The spirit of wood with its direction and healthy anger can reignite and replenish our fires and the soothing nature of water can calm an abundant fire. They also recognized that when we go through a traumatic experience, our inner shen will return to Shen and leave our hearts and bodies empty. In my shamanic training we referred to this as a susto and can result in delusion, anxiety, depression, confusion, despair, fear, panic, numbness or pain in an area of the body, sleeplessness, palpitations, difficulty breathing, digestive concerns, the list goes on. Depending on where the trauma happened and our natural areas of weakness. Sometimes these sensations can come up without an obvious experience of trauma  but from something witnessed, heard or felt that links to our ancestoral or past life traumas. 

The solstice was a fire festival for most of our ancestors, being the longest day and shortest night of the year they would stay up with bonfires through the night asking for the blessings of the sun on their growing crops, relationships, babes and lives. Fire is a powerful transmuter of energy, burning away what no longer serves us and carrying our prayers out into the universe. 

 

Here is a simple ritual for you to work with on this summer solstice, eclipse, new moon:

If you have access to a place where you can safely have a fire that is ideal and you will need a piece of twine or cord, some tobacco, cornmeal or another offering and some twigs, If you don’t you can use a candle and very thin thread and paper along with an offering.

  1. Begin in the dark, sit comfortably and take three deep breaths centering yourself into your body
  2. Call in great spirit and your guides, allies, ancestors and angels to support you and hold you in your work
  3. Take some time to breath in the dark and find that place deep inside you that feels dark and unwanted
  4. invite it to be seen and share its medicine with you. 
  5. pick up your piece of twine or thread and begin to tie knots in it as each aspect of your shadow comes up. 
  6. Once you feel completed, light your fire and offer it some tobacco, cornmeal or other offering to thank the spirit of fire for its support
  7. Now place your twine in the fire and watch it burn away taking several deep breaths feeling it release from your mind and body
  8. Now pick up your sticks and begin to embrace the positive or opposite aspects of what you just released. Fill the sticks with it. If you are using a candle write it down on paper
  9. Once complete add those sticks to the fire or paper to the candle. Again take several breaths, breathing these qualities into your body.
  10. add more of your offering to the fire. Thanking the fire, guides, spirit, etc for there support and release them. 
  11. Sit and enjoy the light of the fire/candle on this the shortest night of the year. 

Please let me know how it went and if you have any questions please reach out. 

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/

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