Ritual and ceremony accompany every cultural tradition and religious practice I have ever encountered. Practices ranging from a national holiday (thanksgiving) to a month long fast (Ramadan). Having never followed, or conformed to a spiritual or religious group I lack in any deep understanding of the many disciplines. Though the more I have learned of the depth and peace found in ritual the more I want it in my life. My grandmother prayed five times a day, every day of her life in a language she didn’t understand. She even made the hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. Part of the mandatory religious duty of every able Muslim. She followed a discipline I can barely fathom, and millions of people around the world follow daily rituals that keep them in balance between earth and spirit.
My first Native american ceremony was in March of 2011. On one of the stormiest nights in my memory on the California Coast. It was in a roundhouse nearby the farm I was working at. The evening was a blur of smoke inhalation as the wind and rain pounded over the fire in the center of the roundhouse. There were beautiful costumes, and we were fed strawberries to welcome the season. Since then I have learned and dabbled with tarot cards, lunar calendars, and solstice gatherings. I have deepened in my relationships with plants, and found peace with them as my ancestors. I have had personal ceremonies, naked pier jumps, a meditation practice and evening spliffs. All in this quest for reverence, for a gratitude not spoken but felt. It is all for the remembering to remember my peace is not a destination. It is, like breath, something I must do to keep my spiritual self alive. My rituals have been extensive with intention, but short in follow through.
Over the years I have noticed my affinity for cycles. I love tides, seasons, plant life cycles … recycling. The moon is the grandfather of cycles. This consistent reminder of the passing months, of our passing lives. Each time another opportunity, another chance to move and walk the way you want to. The intention came first as a “what if.” What if I fasted with the new moon? If I began each new moon cycle with just a one day fast. I liked the idea and it has sat idle for years as just that. Till now! I am nearing the end of my day long fast, tomorrow is the new moon and a new opportunity to be my best self. I did a liquid fast so I had some juice, and other drinks. I didn’t want it to be so difficult I was miserable I just wanted to have an intention that I held throughout the day. To purify mind and body, to reflect, let go, and move forward into the next month. There are no rules to this sort of thing unless I make them. And heck I can even change the rules if I really want to, though that would dilute the point of developing my discipline It is kind of exciting. I can find what works well for me, what feels right and is meaningful if for no other reason than I made it up myself.
Fasting is a wonderful way to deepen intention. Part of my thought process is developing more mindfulness around food, and what I put in my body. Working as a cook, I’m constantly around food and I make the best tasting, and most nourishing food when I can be mindful. In a sense I feel like I’m honoring the plants that give us life by abstaining from them for just one day. Giving reverence to this simple and necessary gift of life, the privilege to eat. Rumi’s words on fasting
There is a hidden sweetness in the stomachs emptiness. We are lutes, no more, no less. If the sound box is stuffed full of anything, no music comes. But if brain and belly are burning clean with fasting, every moment a new story comes out of the box.
The fog clears and new energy makes you run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier, and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you are full of food and drink, an ugly metal statue sits where your spirit should, when you fast good habits gather like friends who want to help. Fasting is like solomon’s ring, don’t give it to some illusion and lose your power, but even if you have, if you have lost all will and control, they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing out of the ground, pennants flying about them.
A table descends to your tents, Jesus’ table. Expect to see it when you fast, this table spread with other food, better than the broth of cabbages.
Rumi’s words on fasting I found to be inspiring. I hope that you find cycles and circles of thought that you can unravel and perhaps a ritual tied up in it all. Simple things like morning coffee and paper can be riddled with all the intention and reverence of a morning prayer. Maybe the journey to your favorite hike becomes a pilgrimage. Mindfulness, and spiritual intention can come in any way you let it. Blessings and beautiful thoughts for the coming moon.