We Are Nature: A Ritual for Inner Healing by Justine Holubets
After suffering from pollution in my small, overcrowded city and spending most of my time in a seventeen-meter room with my parents, with the huge gray wall of a factory as my window view, it was no wonder I was anticipating my next journey. The chance to go to Italy was a gift from Destiny. I was intoxicated by the crystal-clean air; the vast spaces of forest of the villa; an intricate labyrinth of wood paths; an ardent Italian Sun; the incredible mix of woods, grass, and flower aromas; and the omnipresent harmony of humans and nature. I was a guest of an international exchange program and enjoyed living at the most beautiful accommodation: a medieval palace with its spacious rooms, wide passages, and numerous frescoes with idyllic pictures of seventeenth-century life.
Villa Buri is an old and romantic edifice lost in the woods and hills of Northern Italy. It possesses an incredible charm that fascinates the imagination and awakens forgotten magic of medieval times. The two-story building, in a simple and elegant classical style with arched windows and spired turrets, was buried in the verdure of a splendid, magnificent park. Nowadays, the villa’s rooms and outhouses host plenty of people. Along the approaching lane, instead of idle beauties in luxurious dresses, you will see mothers in jeans on bikes, bringing their kids to the school that now is located here. Instead of Vivaldi’s violin music coming through the windows, there are modern pop tracks, which resound from a small restaurant. Instead of hoof sounds, you hear the gravel crunch under car wheels and boot steps. Managers, teachers, builders, cooks, and cleaners hurry to perform their everyday duties; for them, the villa is their job. For three long months, I became one of those people who trampled down the gravel of the park’s paths; as a volunteer at an ecological project, I was involved in many gardening and simple construction jobs. However, for me the villa was a place of initiation and worship, where the breath of nature could free my spirit and harmonize my heartbeat with her rhythms.
Hearing the Voices of Nature
Everyone who deals with earth or building work can try to establish their own healing techniques, which can be spoken aloud or in one’s head. I elaborated my own. While sweeping wet and dry leaves away from the alleys, I was sweeping away all doubts, troubles, and lack of self-confidence, which blocked up my freedom. While burning the heaps of dry wood, I was burning illusions and nightmares, prejudices and obsolete aims. While releasing trees from tenacious ivy, I was getting rid of fears that paralyzed my free will. I pressed the cutting pliers so hard that corns appeared on my palms, and I wondered how such thin and tender ivy could withstand so many efforts to eliminate it. When pushing away big stones from park paths, I was surprised to find their similarity with human pride and vanity. Heavy and monolithic, they block our smooth walking along the path of life, and to get rid of obstacles we have either to bend and clear our way or go on constantly stumbling until it would be impossible to walk.
I understood that I am like the tree, river, park—I am them, I am nature. My body can be bound and captured by diseases, weight, and pimples, just like trees are covered by thin yet tenacious ivy threads. My heart is lapping with emotions, just as the river carries its waters from unknown source to unknown mouth. My mind is perfect soil for seeds of wisdom or nonsense, just like same earth gives life to flowers or weed.
While gathering the harvest, I remember how a strange thought struck my mind: what is a sweet and so long-awaited reward for people is death for nature. The fruit is cut and taken away from the place it was born and nurtured for so long. It dies in order to give life; it shares its accumulated light and sun and its own juices for no reward. It’s an example of the sacred deed of giving, which has been always before our eyes since the beginning of the world. Isn’t it our mission to give and sacrifice our victories, achievements, and labor to someone who is taking care of us—to life, a god, or nature?
I once heard Sufi wisdom that prescribes “to kill yourself first” in order to gain any knowledge. It didn’t sound ridiculous but rather struck me as an all-reflective truth that can be felt with the heart. How would a new fruit appear if the previous one doesn’t make way for it? How would my dreams come true if I didn’t give them space to appear? Nature always recreates herself, never stops cleaning and transforming, thus supplying the eternal process of creation and recreation with the necessary intermediate phase—death. In her ordered and interwoven processes of birth, life, and death is her eternal youth; in enveloping the smallest creature into such a global process is her majesty. That’s why we are as small as the leaf on the tree and as big as the ages-old oak. Merging with her, turning into her, and submitting to her laws, we join the eternal harmony of creation. What was new for me was feeling the practical value of all these known truths. I felt them as something that can be applied to my mind, body, and soul.
The Song of the Storm
After examining my own connection with nature, this revelation inspired a desire to harness nature’s power for my own inner change. My main goals were to release profound phobias and stress, to get rid of some depressing fear or dependence, to purify my mind from losing strategies, and to clarify my life path and set up the goals. Another sub-aim was to lose weight and make the process fast and effective. The ritual didn’t take away my weight overnight, but it definitely helped take my laziness away and enabled me to alter my food and daily routine forever.
The night of Halloween and Samhain was approaching, the mysterious, frightening, and dark night. I felt that it was tremendously important for me to perform special actions at this November feast in order to complete my spiritual initiation. Villa Buri was buzzing with a busy modern life till sunset, but when all the people left and the gates were closed, it seemed that spirits of the past returned—the villa was surrounded by soaring, bodiless dancing sylphs and dryads. The last beams of autumn sun tangled in the thick leafage of the trees soon disappeared, and light lost its power. The darkness seemed thicker due to heavy rain clouds, which covered the sky. The wind was howling throughout the dark woodland, and it seemed the spirits began their ominous songs. Sharp lightning sparks were cutting the dark, and the branches waved and creaked like an old pirate ship deck. The showering rain dampened other sounds, but I felt voices all around me: the song of the storm, the ancient song of water, fire, and leaves.
Earth Transformation Ritual
Perform this ritual when you feel the need for transformation and profound inner change. It is essential to feel an affinity with the weather and surroundings. Rain, clouds, wind, or any other revelations of nature may help you tune in to the turbulent yet powerful spirit of the ritual. Thunderstorms, as a combination of fire and water, passion and healing, are perfect weather. As for time, it is better to plan it during the waning Moon, in the second half of the lunar month. The lunar rhythms help you tune in to the rhythms of nature, and the tone of releasing is perfect to free yourself. The best days are two days before and two days after the New Moon. They are called “the days of Hecate,” the goddess of crossroads and the netherworld who traditionally hunts with her dogs and brings not only fear but release, freedom, and wisdom. In fact, these darkest days of the month may be called “the small Halloween,” an analogue to this night of the Great Hunt. During dark periods, we become more sensitive and intuitive and can see clearly our own subconscious.
You will need:
Candles to represent fire. Try dark blue or violet for transformation, netherworld, and spirit.
Aroma to represent air. I recommend wormwood or celandine to purify the space around you.
Stones for earth, or a bowl of water to attract healing spirit and enhance energies’ conductivity.
An image of your deity to center your request. Strict and even harsh gods work especially well. The tarot offers a wide range of images that help mobilize your spiritual power and determination, for these are very needed! Try Justice, the Hermit, Temperance, or the High Priestess; they call for the refusal of temporal pleasure for the sake of a higher aim.
Establish your deity image and burn a candle. If it is unscented, add aroma to your ritual with incense. Pray and talk to your deity, expressing all any frustration, pain, doubts, fears, disappointments, and disillusions. But remember: true magic doesn’t demand a lot of things. The main components are concentration and imagination.
Be free through love, feel unity with nature.
’Cause we are one, and it doesn’t matter
Where you go, through rain or sun,
Inside you always follow nature, ’cause we are one.
Enjoy complete solitude and take off the mask of contentment and happiness, releasing all tension. I recommend using a tarot deck too to perform some spreads afterward, seeking clarification on your path ahead.
The next step, performing a symbolic action, will be different for each person. Timing does not matter. Whatever you may feel is right to do, do it—this ritual is about reclaiming your agency and transforming yourself. Your symbolic action should reflect or model the solving of your problem. In my case, it was cooking pancakes that night and destroying them as the representation of my weight and fears. I took them to my secret place at the river, and there, wreaking my anger and frustration, tore them to small pieces.
With symbolic things and a symbolic action, you have to put emotions into the process and feel the victorious joy in the end.
Feel your ritual and observe your reality afterward: see, smell, and feel, and I am sure you will feel changes.
When I woke the next morning, I felt tired and my body was aching. That day and afterward it was easier to restrain from overeating and apply myself to work out. The ritual returned my inner power, which in turn altered my practical reality in a very interesting way. First of all, I could easily lose weight and, with time, gain a nice and healthy body. Unexpectedly, I got an invitation for a project in Morocco, and difficulties with the embassy were solved easily and quickly. In critical situations, I felt strong support and practical help from both friends and strangers.
Nature and my Samhain ritual taught me a lesson: things come at their time, and it’s beyond the human power to control their arrival and descent. We cannot keep people, possessions, and events. We can just meet them, live with them, and gratefully let go when the time comes.