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The Ceremony Way to Emotional Healing

A magical doorway opened at a cemetery last week, the place where the family had buried my mother nearly 40 years ago.

The opening was a weaving of intuition, the elements, animal guides and ceremonial ways enriched by the pulsing rhythm of the ancient drum.

I had awakened in the morning with deep sadness and confusion inside. So, I took to the pen to write about my feelings, only to uncover the voice of a 12-year-old girl inside who wished that she could die too. Somehow, she knew her mother was beginning her descent that would lead her to be buried in that grave yard behind Mt. Carmel Church a few short years later.

After meeting that 12-year-old girl, feeling her grief and her tears, a voice inside directed me to return to the cemetery for a ceremony with myself. I had no idea exactly what it all meant, but after years of traversing in the realms of prayerful ritual I had no doubt there was good reason for this.

That morning, I was sidetracked along the way by my adult self, who had “things to do.” Funny, nothing in the adult world worked that morning; technology kept crashing when I tried to use my computer; my focus was off.

Finally, I got the message. Go to the cemetery now. When I decided to go, a black vulture circled overhead. These soaring creatures – linked to rebirth and purification – had already established themselves as important messengers for me on this extended trip back to my East Coast homelands a few weeks prior.

I took the vulture sighting as a confirmation that I was on the right track. I was on my way to the graveyard, drum in hand, sage and a pouch of tobacco for clearing energy and blessing the prayer space I would enter at my mother’s tomb stone.

It was blustery and cold. I could barely keep the lighter burning long enough to light the sage stick in my freezing hands. Remembering the Shamanic ways that have been a deep part of my journey these many years, I drummed, burned sage, and called forth the spirits of the four directions to empower my prayer.

I was now ready to lay down the pain of my mother’s untimely death and any unconscious decisions I’d made about it all. I drummed, I prayed, I cried – tears for my mother and the teenager who had in some ways made mom’s broken heart her own.

I felt the power of the ancestors, most strongly when I asked for support from the direction of the north – the spirit of my deceased father, most especially had my back. I felt held and connected as I offered a handful of tobacco atop my mother’s grave with a prayer to lay down anything I was still holding onto. I shared a prayer I learned from the Hawaiian tradition: I love you. Please forgive me. I thank you. I’m sorry.

With the tobacco offering came a huge wave of peace that washed over me. The wind stopped, the church bells began to ring and the warm sun shone on my face, letting me know my prayers had indeed been delivered.

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