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From the Inside Out eMag | lbozeman
Happy New Year
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WOMAN RITUAL

Sep 5th 2010 at 5:26 PM

 

Experiencing incest or sexual abuse as a child has many serious effects. One of the most profound of these is the tendency for the survivor to get emotionally locked into a certain age and never mature much beyond it. The age locked into place is usually determined by the age when the most severe trauma was experienced.

Another factor contributing to this phenomenon is that survivors had their childhoods ripped away from them. They never experienced the innocence and carefree existence of the average child. Thus, many survivors tend to remain eternal children well into adulthood. It's almost as if they are determined to create for themselves the childhood they were never allowed to have. In certain respects this is a good thing. However, when it interferes with the day-to-day functioning required in adult life (paying bills or rent, raising children responsibly, keeping a job, etc.) these people need to reexamine whether their choice to remain "children" is causing unnecessary worry and pain.

Certain attention should be spent, then, on helping survivors move past the places where they are emotionally stuck. There has been much talk recently about the lack of meaningful ritual in our society. In particular, the lack of ritual celebrating the onset of puberty is discussed as a serious problem. Some speculate that the lack of a clear ritual demarcation between childhood and adulthood is a factor in the increasing narcissism, inability to delay gratification and immaturity in many adults today.

This ritual was written to be a kind of coming of age ceremony. It is about the end of childhood and entering into womanhood. Depending on the size of your group, it could take anywhere from three to six hours to complete. The ritual requires someone willing to facilitate; however the facilitator can still participate (it also works best if the facilitator is the only one who knows the ritual beforehand). There are minor costs involved in acquiring the necessary supplies. Participants can pitch in, or costs can be borne by the facilitator. It requires a little bit of homework beforehand, which can be discussed the week before you anticipate doing it:

 

For Each Participant

  • Each woman should think about what special clothing she would like to wear to the ceremony, then come that day dressed in her ritual clothing.
  • Each woman should bring two different "give-aways": two little presents that she would like to give to another as part of the ritual (these should be something each woman already owns, not something purchased for the ritual).
  • Each woman should think about an accomplishment she is proud of; if it is something physical, she should bring it to the ceremony.
  • Bring any special items for the altar, if you have one.
  • Bring goodies to munch if you choose to have a celebration afterward.

 

For the Facilitator

  • The facilitator should purchase one roll of streamers (the crepe-paper kind strung up at parties) for each participant. I like to choose a different color for each woman, if possible.
  • A medium-sized gemstone (choose something meaningful to you) should be purchased for each participant. Pretty sea shells or other items of nature may be used instead if on a tight budget.
  • Other required items: a small cauldron or bowl that can contain burning paper, a ritual dagger (fancy letter openers work great), one small piece of paper for each participant, a pen, matches, a piece of cloth or scarf, and a chair--preferably one set apart from the rest of the furniture in the room.
  • What song to sing during the "Breaking out of the Womb" section should be decided before the ritual. The facilitator can sing to the group or the group can sing together.

Before the ceremony, the altar should be set up. Items brought as give-aways should be placed on the cloth or scarf either near the altar or at one end of the room.

Now let's get into the ceremony itself. Comments about each section are in italics. The actual text of the ritual is in regular print and is spoken, except when noted, by the facilitator.

 

Invocation

The beginning of the ritual may change depending on the time of year you are holding it. I'm presenting three different versions of the invocation to give you an idea of what to say.

  • We come together on the eve of Brigid's fire festival, Candlemas (Feb. 2), to seek a healing of our development into womanhood. Just as Candlemas signifies the quickening of the year, so do we seek, tonight, to be quickened from outworn childhood modes of being into the consciousness of confident, serene, intelligent and loving women.
  • We come together in the summer of this year to seek a healing of our development into womanhood. Just as summer signifies the bounty of nature's growth, so do we seek, tonight, to grow from outworn childhood modes of being into the consciousness of confident, serene, intelligent and loving women.
  • We come together in the fall of this year to seek a healing of our development into womanhood. Just as fall signifies the reaping of seeds sown, so do we seek, tonight, to gather the benefits of our growth from outworn childhood modes of being into the consciousness of confident, serene, intelligent and loving women.

 

Consecrate Circle

Find out the astrological signs of the women participating. Have each sit at the direction represented by their sun sign. Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are earth/north; Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are water/west; Aries, Leo and Sagittarius are fire/south; Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are air/east. If you're missing an element, redistribute those willing to another direction.

  • We have (name names) at the north, gathering and transmitting the energies of the earth--for grounding, stability and persistence.
  • Imagine yourself standing in your favorite aspect of earth (perhaps peat moss, sand or crystals) up to your hips.
  • Feel the strength of the earth fill this part of your body.
  • We ask that all the angels, masters and light beings of the element earth be present with us tonight to guide and protect us.
  • We have (name names) at the west, gathering and transmitting the energies of water--for purification, nurturance and intuition.
  • Imagine clear water running through your body from your genitals to your stomach area.
  • Feel the cleansing and healing energies of water in this part of your body.
  • We ask that all the angels, masters and light beings of the element water be present with us tonight to guide and protect us.
  • We have (name names) at the south, gathering and transmitting the energies of fire--for our initiative, anger and creativity.
  • Imagine the life-giving, generative energies of the universe coursing through your head.
  • Feel the current of inspiration that connects you to Universal Mind.
  • We ask that all the angels, masters and light beings of the element fire be present with us tonight to guide and protect us.
  • We have (name names) at the east, gathering and transmitting the energies of air--for clear minds, communication and adaptability.
  • Imagine a summer breeze blowing through your lung and throat area.
  • Feel the cobwebs of stuck and unshared thoughts and emotions being blown away.
  • We ask that all the angels, masters and light beings of the element air be present with us tonight to guide and protect us.

 

Invoke Goddesses

  • We ask for the presence of the maiden goddesses--goddesses of the waxing moon--Brigid, Athena, Minerva, Artemis, Vesta, Diana, Kore (and any others you may wish to call on) to protect and keep the child and virgin within each of us.
  • We ask for the presence of the goddesses of love, Aphrodite, Olwen, Venus, Ishtar, Belili (and any others you may wish to call on) to guide, heal and support the sexual woman in each of us.
  • We ask for the presence of the mother goddesses-- goddesses of the full moon--Cerridwen, Demeter, Isis, Corn Mother, Mary, Anu, Inanna, Kuan Yin, (and any others you may wish to call on) to nurture and love the woman to be born this evening.
  • We ask for the presence of the crone goddesses--goddesses of the waning and new moon--Hecate, Morgana, Persephone, Kali, Lillith, Erishkegal (and any others you may wish to call on) to bring us wisdom, especially in destroying the lies we have accepted about ourselves that keep us from manifesting our true soul nature in the world.

 

Death of the Child

Perform this section for each participant, one at a time. Have woman lay with head pointing north; all other participants sit surrounding her.  

  • Search within for a positive quality of your inner child that you wish to hold on to.
  • When woman names a quality, one participant kisses her, saying, "I love and honor the (name quality) within you."
  • Search within for another positive quality of your inner child that you wish to keep.
  • When woman names a quality, another participant kisses her, saying, "I love and honor the (name quality) within you."
  • Search within for one more positive quality of your inner child that you wish to keep.
  • When woman names a quality, yet another participant kisses her, saying, "I love and honor the (name quality) within you."
  • All participants snuggle woman and say, "We cherish this little one, (name woman), who will become a woman tonight.

Place dagger on woman's abdomen, hilt facing north. (The dagger represents discriminating wisdom--the ability to cut away what is no longer useful.) Have someone ready with paper and pen to note what is mentioned in response to questions below.

  • Now search within for the negative qualities of the inner child that will die tonight.
  • What physical qualities does she have that need to be healed and transmuted? Someone writes down what woman says.
  • What emotions does she have that need to be matured and/or eliminated? Someone writes down what woman says.
  • What ideas does she hold that are necessary to let go of to grow up? Someone writes down what woman says.
  • What issues of Spirit are no longer appropriate for you now? Someone writes down what woman says.
  • What is the name of the child who needs to die? Write down name.
  • Sprinkle with water and say, "I baptize thee, (say name given for child who needs to die), and ask that the Mother and the Father attend thee into the light, releasing this energy to be used for the benefit of all beings, and in accordance with Divine Will."
  • Wait a moment, then have woman sit up, take the paper on which her comments were written, place it in the cauldron and set it on fire. Ashes should be disposed of in some other way besides the garbage can.

Now begin this entire section again with the next woman, continuing in this manner until all participants have had their turn, including the facilitator.

 

Breaking out of the Womb

Have everyone stand scattered throughout the room. Give each woman one roll of streamers. At your call, the streamers should be thrown over the heads of the group (holding on to one end). When a roll falls, it should be picked up and thrown again until it is completely played out. This will eventually envelop the group in a "cocoon" of crepe paper--lots of fun! When the group quiets, continue:

  • Imagine your infant womanself as a caterpillar beginning to grow. Visualize her developing her butterfly self: all shining and iridescent and full of life, love and wisdom.
  • Try to get a sense about who she is and what she is like.

Take a few minutes to let everyone fully contemplate this. Then, a song should be sung. I like to sing "Never Never Land," from the musical Peter Pan, to my groups. You may have another meaningful song either to sing to the group or have the group sing together. After song is finished, continue:

  • Now that you've had a chance to get in touch with your butterfly womanself, you may feel her itching to be born.
  • When you feel ready, burst out of our cocoon by breaking the streamers surrounding us.
  • Take as many pieces of the streamers as you wish and adorn your body with them.

 

Presenting the Woman Born

This section is done for each woman. Have woman sit in special chair while others sit on floor in front of her.

  • Tell us about yourself, what do you look like? Woman responds.
  • Are you willing to do what you can to manifest this image in the physical world?
  • Group says, "We acknowledge the physical woman born."
  • What are your emotional strengths and virtues? Woman responds.
  • Will you give yourself permission to always feel your true feelings and honor where you really are?
  • Group says, "We love the emotional woman born."
  • What ideas do you hold as important? What are your values for yourself? Woman responds.
  • Will you communicate always in honesty, both internally to yourself and externally to the world?
  • Group says,"We perceive the mental woman born."
  • What spiritual goals do you have? Woman responds.
  • Will you honor your chosen discipline and make every attempt to work toward these goals in this life?
  • Tell us about the accomplishment(s) you chose to bring tonight. Why are they important to you?
  • What significance does this accomplishment have for this ritual in particular (if any)?
  • Woman presents and discusses her accomplishment(s).
  • Does this particular accomplishment say something to you about the woman born here?
  • The group honors the woman born by giving their insights and impressions of the deeper meaning in her accomplishment(s).
  • Woman then goes to the give-away cloth and chooses a gift for herself. The next woman should now sit in the chair.
  • This section is repeated until all have presented their new self to the group.

 

Naming Meditation

  • Everyone should sit comfortably and close their eyes.
  • Now imagine yourself rising up in the air and flying off to the west, crossing the continent. Visualize the wind burning off the last remnants of useless mental constructs and ideas.
  • When you reach the ocean, plunge in and continue your westward movement, speeding through the water. Feel the water cleansing you of every last impure feeling and imagining about yourself.
  • When you reach the next continent, soar off into the sky up to our sun or another star. Become aware of how the starfire burns away karma and negative bonds and vows no longer useful to your spiritual development at this time.
  • Now head back to earth. Go to a place on the planet you've felt particularly drawn to in your life. Plunge into the ground and burrow deep into the earth. Experience the earth drawing all the impurities out of your body as you go.
  • Now, deep in the earth, you come upon a crystal cavern, lit with thousands of candles. The candles make the crystals sparkle like gemstones.
  • Enter the cavern and walk toward the far end. There you will find the representative(s) of the Great Goddess that are there particularly for you.
  • Is there anything she (or they) have to say to your new womanself?
  • Is there anything you wish to say or ask of her (or them)?
  • Ask to be given the name of your new womanself. Who is she? What is her name?
  • Thank the Goddess' representatives and exit the cavern, come up the tunnel, and back here into your body. When you are ready, open your eyes.

 

Presentation of New Name

This section should be done one at a time, with each woman sitting in the special chair. However, if time is running short (and it often is by this point) this section can be done as a group.

  • Describe your experience with the Goddess. Woman responds.
  • What is the name of your newly born womanself?
  • Each woman then kisses her and says, "Welcome, (new name), into the sisterhood of all women."
  • Facilitator takes the gem, sea shell, or other nature item chosen and gives it to woman saying, "I present this gem in the name of the Old Mother, and rejoice in your becoming a woman tonight."
  • Woman then goes to the give-away cloth and chooses another gift.
  • Repeat this section until all woman have had their turn.

 

Closing Circle

  • Stand in a circle, holding hands.
  • We thank all of the angels, masters and light beings for being present here tonight to guide and protect us.
  • We thank all the goddesses who were present tonight, energizing our birth into new awareness.
  • Let's all privately give thanks.
  • Facilitator then squeezes hand of woman next to her, and she squeezes the hand of the woman next to her, passing the squeeze around the circle.
  • When squeeze gets back to facilitator, she says, "The circle is broken." Everyone lets go of hands, hugs, etc.

It's now time for your feast, if you've planned one!

 

 

From the book: Dancing in the Shadows: Individual and Group Processes for Women Survivors of Incest and Sexual Abuse

Laura Bryannan :I've been a student and teacher of spirit, consciousness and metaphysics since the early-1970s.

http://homestar.org/bryannan/index.html LauraBryannan@hotmail.com
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