Tag Archives: Chaco Canyon

AWAKENING TO RITUAL

“The purpose of ritual is to change the mind of the human being.  It’s sacred drama in which you are the audience as well as the participant and the purpose of it is to activate parts of the mind that are not activated by everyday activity.”  Sharon Devlin

chaco-canyon-new-mexico-mountains-ruins

Do you like to participate in rituals?  Do you ever create your own?  What do they mean to you?

When people suggest I might do a ritual of some kind to heal a problem, I usually resist.  It isn’t that I don’t like ritual, but I often find that I can’t seem to get involved with it to the degree that it becomes meaningful.  Despite that, I have had several very meaningful experiences with it where the ritual took me to a very spiritual place.

Chanting May Create A Loving Feeling

Chanting is a perfect example.  When I try to chant by myself, it seems to go nowhere—not even to the nowhere it is supposed to go.  When I am with a group and singing a chant, I am carried away into a warm, fuzzy centered place where I am one with the group and it feels like the love of the holy is flowing within us.  But creating one’s own ritual can also create deep meaning and connections.

One of my first experiences of creating a ritual took place in Nebraska when my two dear women friends and I were parting ways.  One was heading to Omaha, another to Texas, and I was moving to Denver.  The thought of leaving each other was painful and we found ourselves withdrawing because we didn’t know how we could say “goodbye.”

Creating Our Own Rituals May Be Very Meaningful

Then we realized that we needed to create a “goodbye” ritual.  The following is a description of the ritual from my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness.

“When the moon was full, we went to the sand pits where we used to swim. We brought with us tokens of the life we had shared: flowers, tea, rocks, shells, dryer lint, unfinished pot holders, orange water, herbs, a fan, and a feather. We played instruments, and Carolyn, with bells around her ankles, and I danced. Donna, with her curly, sandy hair, watched, looking like a wild lion with a morning trumpet rising like a horn from her head. In this sacred space, the moon goddess blessed us, shining clear and bright in the darkness. The water was cool and serene, and the sand was soft beneath our feet. Our burning candles were hidden from the road by a small dune, and while we were there for two hours, no one disturbed us. My friends were like two sides of myself: the daring beast and the mystic. Speaking, I honored them.

North Platte river

The Nature Conservancy

‘Donna, the Leo, you give me strength to speak my own name, to believe in my beauty; you are laughter in my life; you are the fire of anger that sets me in motion; my defender, sister traveler, my comforter, my equal, my loving friend. You are the flower of celebration.’

‘Carolyn, the Sagittarian, you make the cycles of nature sing in my soul; you help me see the beauty, the humor in simple things; you are constancy, you are calm, you show me humility and forgiveness, my sister traveler, my equal, my loving friend. You are the simmering fire that warms the tea we drink together.’

I would never forget the peace of that night when all good forces in the universe came together to protect us, when we brought the ancient into the present and transformed it with our love.”

Rituals May Connect Us At The Heart Level

Many years before I visited New Mexico for the first time, I subscribed to New Mexico Magazine.  I was fascinated with the landscape and the Native American culture and art.  I don’t know why I felt such a deep connection to a place I had never seen.  When I finally moved there, it was for my health, but while I was there I experienced a deep heart-level connection with its original people, and some need that I cannot explain was filled.

One day a friend and I drove to see Chaco Canyon.  We spent the night nearby and drove into the canyon well before the sun was up.   It was the morning of the summer solstice and we stood at the edge of Casa Rinconada, a giant kiva, waiting for the first light of day to flow through an opening and strike a small window within on the opposite side.  The black sky sparkled with stars and slowly lightened along the horizon.  Time seem suspended as the light flowed across the sky and through the window into the center of the kiva, gradually moving its spear of light  through the dark opening of the window and illuminating it.

Rituals May Feel Timeless

I was flooded with the sense that I was connected to the many generations of people who have witnessed this coming of the light on the first day of summer.  This site was the ancestral home of the people now known as the Pueblos, 19 groups of which reside in New Mexico.  They were also the ancestors of many of the students I taught from the various pueblos.  What I felt was more than the sense of connection with the people and land but also a connection with time as a timeless concept.

chaco Ruins

Rituals Connect Different Cultures

In 1994 I traveled to West Africa with a group of teachers, and while we were there, we visited a village where the chief was away.  It is a tradition in Africa to greet visitors with a particular tea ceremony.  Because the chief was away, his teenage son welcomed us and led us to a domed structure build from tree branches where we sat on the floor, and he performed the ceremony.  The tea was brewed three times and passed around the circle.  The first time it is bitter like life.  The second time it is sweet like friendship.  The third time it is syrupy like love.

St. Louis, Senegal

St. Louis, Senegal

This was the second time we had experienced this ceremony, and both times we felt the warm, welcoming greeting of those performing it, but it was the chief’s son who impressed me so much.  He was a teenager much like those I taught at the time.  I thought how lucky he was to be trusted with such an important ritual so young.  It was another step in his learning to be a man.

While I felt a sense of Oneness with the Africans we met on the trip, I also felt honored when they shared their rituals with us, and wondered if the lack of ritual in most of our lives was part of what separated us within a community.  These rituals, like the other rituals I’ve experienced, are ways to put us in touch with earth, sky and humanity without us needing to find words spoken in the same language.

Like my other experiences with ritual, this one brought people together in a simple way.  Sitting in that domed hut, I was amazed at how cool it was on a hot day with us crowded closely to each other, an experience not everyone in our group was comfortable with.  Although this village had just gotten its first electric-driven well, the community relationships in this village were what mattered most, not the things they had.  I was reminded of my own childhood where we played in many yards watched over by many parents while the parents performed their evening ritual, talking to each other on the front steps of our homes.

Rituals Take Us To A Deep Spiritual Place

Perhaps because rituals are predictable, we are able to slip away and experience the deeper connections with one another that we may not share in the business of our day.  Somehow, we each have to find the experience that will connect us meaningfully and allow us to activate the spiritual nature that lies beneath our surface.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  (video) Summer Solstice Ushered at Ancient Sites, Senegalese Tea Culture, Create Your Own Ritual

DANCING WITH SPIRIT IN A NEW WORLD, Part 1

Taiowa is the breath, humankind is the mouthpiece

to carry the sounds of creation to the far reaches of eternity.

The people are the building material,

bringing on their wings the lessons of time.

 Timelessness, selflessness, oneness are

the rhythms of the song the ancestors knew well.

 The preceding excerpt from Powamu: The Last Myth of Creation is on a poster I bought at Chaco Canyon in 2001.  This song is in Meditations with the Hopi.  Chaco Canyon was the center of the great Anasazi culture in New Mexico.

The words of this ancient song speak to me deeply today as they did on that day so many years ago as I watched the first light of day shine through an opening into the Great Kiva and strike the wall beyond as it had for centuries.  A great civilization lived in that place.  As I think about it today, I am struck by how the time in which we live is significant in relation to the future of mankind.  As a result, I will take each stanza of the song as the theme for my blog post this week and for the next two weeks, exploring how the ancient wisdom relates to us now.

What Changes Will We Make in the World

We are experiencing huge changes in physical and spiritual world.  We are in a process of ascension, a change in individual and world consciousness.  We are approaching the end of the Mayan Calendar, another signal that we are moving into a new paradigm. So who will we be in this time and what do we wish to contribute to our new world?

We are the mouthpiece through which the holy speaks.  We are the individual expression of Spirit.  When what we create comes from Spirit, we become who we really are:  beings of Love and Light.  Although we are but a moment in time, our voice travels through all eternity.  When we are gone and our civilization is only miles of ruins, what will the scholars have to say about who we were?

What sounds will we choose to carry to the far reaches of eternity?  Will they be the sounds of falling buildings, the explosions of weapons, the cries of the dying?  Will we carry our obsession with self-destruction into eternity?  Or will we choose to carry the sounds of peace?  To choose silence over noise so that we can hear the sound of the bird’s flight and the fish slipping quietly through the waters?  Will we choose competition or cooperation? When will we begin to listen to the holy within ourselves, to hear our own heartbeat and follow its guidance?

The Dance of Our New Life

The time is now to decide how we will dance in this new life.  Ancient peoples danced for every celebration, for it put them in touch with the eternal spirit in themselves.  To dance in this life is sometimes as simple as listening to the sound of the birds and sharing the laughter of a friend.  It is often about awakening to the choice to see what is positive in an experience and focusing on that.  It is about dancing as a community where we care for others and they care for us. This is the energy we need to take into our new world, spreading the joy and hope wherever we go, committing ourselves to creating new structures that equally meet the needs of all people, and caring responsibly for the resources we have.

Being the Mouthpiece of Spirit

We are the mouthpiece of Spirit, and our words and choices carry the sounds of our creation into the far reaches of the future.  Despite the chaos around us, we have the power to reinvent our lives, our cities, and our relationships.  Let us choose wisely and lovingly as we create this new world.  It is time to create an opening for the Light to come through and venture into a transforming way of life.  Join the dance as we move into this higher consciousness.

What is your vision of a new world?  How are you helping to create it?

© 2011 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: The Quickening (2012), Nearing 2012 of Spiritual Emergence Teachings: Krishnamurti, Gandhi, and Eckhart Tolle

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