“How would you like to do a sacred ceremony to free you from whatever you choose not to carry with you, anymore?” my Medicine Woman friend asked me earnestly. “In tribal custom,” she continued, “when the time comes for you to become a Wise Elder it’s necessary to become whole again for the good of the tribe.”
As I was still coming to grips with the middle aged woman who stared back at me from my mirror, I found the word elder pretty intense. But the chance to ditch the burdens of the past seemed very seductive. This was a ceremony, she told me, meant to free me of the energy bonds that kept me from being whole for the homestretch.
I trundled off to a campground in the woods, not in the least knowing what to expect. I found myself seated around a mighty ceremonial bonfire with a small group of women, both Indian and Anglos, who like me, had fasted all day. We meditated and chanted ourselves into a semi-trance state, after which the Medicine Woman called upon our individual spirits to show us where we were attached energetically to those who’d ever shared our love, or our bodies.
The Ties that Bind
No sooner had the instruction floated into my consciousness, than wild visions blinked in like kamikaze lightning bugs: mother, lovers, husbands, children, all attached umbilically to unexpected places. Heart, head, throat, loins, solar plexus… each drawing pulsating energy, like that Sumerian Mother Goddess with the thousand breasts each suckling someone, somewhere.
I saw them all, summoned in the illuminating firelight… the ones who’d shared my physical self through all the years of me. My mother first, the one who gave me life, then became my bane, and finally, in death, my liberator – she radiated tendrils strong as anguish, to my head and heart and will. It had taken so many years to win myself back from her relentless understanding that never understood, and to forgive her great gifts to me that were so painful to receive. Yet, here I was face to face with the energetic bonds that connected us, tensile beyond even death’s ability to server.
My husbands and lovers surfaced one by one… the pleasure givers and pleasure takers, connected to my loins and other less apparent parts: ears to hear, throats full of strangled words that had never found release, heart and will and lungs breathless with lust or loss… still sucking at my soul. Still drawing energy from the everywhere of me, long years after I’d willed myself back from their embrace. I struggled, in my vision, to break free, shocked to find how hard that was to do. When they finally let me go, a rigorous freedom whooshed through me like a clean wind from a violent sea.
My children next. Complex bonds to head and heart and loins and throat and will. My children who were not what I’d expected… not the clean white blotters I’d dreamed of, but fully formed humans beyond my understanding, never mind, control. I strove to thank them from the heart, and mean it, for the excruciating gifts, as well as the joyous ones, they’d brought to the shared experience of life.
To Cut or To Keep
We were instructed that we could cut or keep any ties we wished, but that we should remember each tie represented a sharing of energy, so we should be most judicious in our choices.
After we had dealt with those who’d shared our bodies, we were also told we could toss absolutely anything or anyone from our past into the ceremonial fire… to rid ourselves of any energies, memories, connections we no longer wished to carry with us, into the rest of our lives. In the case of unwanted people from the past, we would have the chance to tell them exactly why we were detaching from them – a most exhilarating prospect. We were instructed to cut the cords with whatever giant cutting-tool we favored: sword, scissors, knife, etc., and then to grasp the unwanted energies and physically toss them into the blaze. This was a chance to clear out any mistakes of the past, any pain we’d caused ourselves or others, any judgment or negative belief we’d carried toward ourselves or others. We asked that all negative judgments, mistakes, pain, be undone, pardoned, healed and forgiven.
I watched as all these women grabbed things only they could see, plucking unseen ghosts from their energy fields, tossing them wildly, gleefully, and with rising excitement, into the ceremonial bonfire. They were laughing, crying, giggling, shouting as they did so, with the sheer exuberance of freedom. The scene was way beyond fabulous.
I myself tossed out every negative emotion I could find within me – fear, anger, remorse, sorrow, resentment – you name it, I tossed it. Afterward, I felt reborn and so filled with newfound energy, I danced with the others around the fire until dawn, feeling cleansed, renewed, freer and more whole, than I had felt in years.
© Cathy Cash Spellman/The Wild Harp & Co. Inc 2011