A Ritual

East is the direction of Sunrise, the Spring, the Origin, the new child. It is the Lordly direction. Its colour is Purple. South is the direction (in the Northern hemisphere) of the sun at noon, the heat, oppressive or invigorating, of Summer. Its colour is shining white. West is the direction of sunset, the place of the Elder, of Autumn and fruitfulness, of letting go, of acceptance and loss. Its colour is green. North is the direction of silence, ice, clarity, mystery, ancestors, timelessness and eternity. Its colour is Black.

East is the place of birth and family. South is the place of entering adulthood and community. West is the place of the Elder, achieving individuality. North is the place of the Spirits. The Wheel is many cycles, of the whole life, of the calendar year, of movement and growth within a life, of a vanishing distraction while meditating.

This is not the usual type of course at Woodbrooke, the Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham. Someone on the Archbishop’s Council on Education, staying here for one night, objected to our display of figures, saying they were like “voodoo dolls”, and we had to clear them away from the Cadbury Room where we worshipped together. We had to use electric candles, shaped and glazed to look like wax, bulbs made to imitate flickering flames, because of the smoke detectors.

Caitlin Matthews’ ritual, with two supporters, one representing my own Strength, one my Ancestors, is simple. We start in the place we are now on the wheel of life. We then move as appropriate. I had the idea, beforehand, of moving from North to East, moving from a place of contemplation to a place of new life and new activity. That would be reassuring for me.

However, Pat, whom I had met on the Being an Overseer course in 2006, recognised me, and as we went for morning coffee asked how my experience of being an Overseer had been. I could have said something non-specific and non-committal, and asked her of hers; instead I told her, how I had felt led by the Spirit and done my best and the conflict that had unfolded from 2006 to this month, and I wept. Oh, and there is that, and that experience of work, and stuff arising from childhood, and hurt still from my transsexuality, and, oh, I am emotionally labile at the moment.

I think the emotional lability, which probably comes from the hormones, is a good thing in this sort of situation, and a good thing for me. I have been at times not in touch with my emotions, and that is certainly not the case now. I want to be open to how I am moved.

The coffee break being over, Angela asked if I wanted to participate. Yes, actually. So, with Pat and Anne, I stood North of my circle, ready to begin. Instead of stepping forward, into the East, I knelt in the North, and placed my forehead on the floor, not happy, but content.

I have been divided. While I might have claimed to be suspicious of myself telling myself that I was germinating, that this is the necessary stillness for the healing work, that the growth may come and I am making the necessary internal changes for it, the fact remains that I have done nothing to find paid work since November. Telling myself to buck up and get on with it is not now working. After that ritual, I feel a lot happier. I feel absolved- I have reasons why I am here, and I think I am gaining self-knowledge, and whatever may come of it I can feel happy here now. In the stillness. Pat’s question seems a synchronicity for me.

Oddly enough, when Gilly asked that evening where in an ideal world I would be in a year’s time, it was working and earning, and engaged in training in some healing practice. Previously I have not been able to answer such a question- er, dunno, more or less where I am now…

Allison Grayhurst articulated my worry:

never sure…
 if my sedentary position
is really a bird in my hand
or a dream I cannot force.

I cannot be sure, but I feel sure enough.

Hafiz/ Ladinsky:

Just sit there right now.
Don’t do anything.
Just rest.

For your separation from God
is the hardest work in this world.

7 thoughts on “A Ritual

  1. This was poetic and serene, and the four directions immediately made me think of “Black Elk Speaks,” the story of the Sioux holy man, one of my favorite books. Have you read it? Keep on writing and healing.


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