How to create a ritual for a personal milestone
Someone very close to me had a significant passage a couple of days ago. She sent me a text saying, "Happy Menopause." She officially, after several false starts, hit the 'one-year without a period' marker. For those of you who have passed this milestone or are in perimenopause you know how significant it is when that day finally arrives. I felt that reaching menopause was both an ending and a beginning. I remember cleaning out my supply of pads and tampons and gifting them to a friend. It was a good feeling to not have to worry about needing them again. I would no longer have my monthly moon time. But on a deeper level, I felt like something was beginning. I was moving into a new phase of life. I felt stronger than ever before. I was finally ready to live out of my own truth. Because I am writing about women and rituals right now I've been thinking about how we honour or celebrate these moments in our lives. For most of us, it might seem too personal to tweet or post on Facebook or Instagram. (Although #menopause has been used on Instagram almost 200,000 times as I write this post.) If we have close friends and family around, we might share it with them. Most of our don't have a way in our communities to formally honour this rite of passage. So, I'm going to suggest a few things that would work for menopause or any other personal marker you have experienced in your life that you would like to recognize in a more intentional way. Milestones could include: menopause, divorce, retirement, illness or any other event that is defining for you. 1. Pick a date for your ritual. I like the idea of tying it into the moon cycles. I think new moons are a good time to begin and full moons are a good time to honour endings. How does this feel to you? Are you recognizing the ending or the beginning of something? It could be both so choose whatever works for you. 2. Invite a few friends to witness the event with you. I think it is great to have someone who has gone ahead of you in whatever passage you are honouring. You don't need a crowd. 3. Pick a location. I am a big fan of incorporating nature into my rituals. I don't think you can ever go wrong with a campfire. If the weather prohibits being outdoors or that really isn't your thing, choose a place where you can have some privacy and that feels special to you. 4. Verbally recognize the intention of the gathering. If you are not comfortable or don't know what to say - you'll have to wait for my book! Seriously, it doesn't have to a big speech. It could be something as simple as, "Thank you for joining with me tonight to recognize and celebrate this transition in my life." You could then invite others to talk about their experience. I've yet to gather with two or more women where we can't find words! 5. Incorporate a spiritual practice if you are comfortable with the idea. I love the Celtic practice of blessings. John O'Donohue's book, To Bless the Space Between Us is helpful. I'm sure you will find something meaningful in his book. You can light a candle. A smudging ceremony would be appropriate. Or have an older woman offer a prayer or blessing for you. And don't forget the power of dancing! Let go and have fun. 6. Food and drink - You might want to have a toast, a glass of wine, enjoy some good chocolate or anything else. Breaking bread together is a big part of doing life together and rituals often incorporate both food and drink.
I've been researching the role of ritual in a woman's life. I've been grateful for friends who are exploring this conversation with me. We are in a time where more and more of us are moving away from patriarchal ways of being and embracing the feminine in our spiritual journey. We are part of a sisterhood and joining together to celebrate life together is what comes naturally to us. I know the idea of initiating a ritual may be difficult. It may seem self-centered or a little too woo-woo. Here's a suggestion - forward this email to a friend. Tell them you are curious about rituals and ask them what they think. Start a conversation. You can put on your big girl pants and ask a friend to help you create a ritual together. Or you can reach out to me and I'll work with you to create a meaningful ritual in your life. Let's not let anymore of these milestones pass unrecognized. If you do experiment with rituals and you post about it please tag me or use the hash tag #sacredrituals