The Book of Ceremony: Shamanic Wisdom for Invoking the Sacred in Everyday Life - Sandra Ingerman MA 2018
Blessing and Healing Ceremonies for People
Life as a Ceremony
When we engage in personal healing work, we feel more whole, present in our lives, and filled with a greater sense of who we are.
Healing and blessing work helps us create a world that reflects our inner landscape. We want to live in houses filled with positive energy, create strong and healthy relationships, connect in profound ways to the cycles of nature, honor our land or the city we live in, and work on creating the life we wish to live, as well as supporting a good dream for the planet.
Blessing ceremonies can be used to:
•Call in your life’s dream or work
•Restore the soul (life force and loving energies) to your house, your land, an office, or your community
•Help you transition to a new home, job, part of the world, project, or a new phase of life
•Support a new garden or a community garden
•Ask for a positive outcome for someone having surgery, going to war, or facing a life change
•Call in protection when driving, flying, presenting at a business meeting, or doing anything in a collective energetic space that feels toxic
•Honor birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays
•Honor the new moon, full moon, equinox, and solstice
•Express your gratitude and honor for the land where you live, the nature beings where you live, the elements, and your life
•Bring healing spiritual light to help loved ones, clients, and all of life
•Bless anything or anyone else you want to add to this list
It’s very powerful to combine the releasing ceremonies I describe in part 3 with ceremonies for healing and blessing. In such cases, you would finish the releasing and then clear the space by burning sacred herbs or by singing and dancing. State an invocation that now that old wounds, blocking, and self-sabotaging beliefs have been released, you will continue to manifest your wishes and desires for yourself, the web of life, and the Earth.
In some circumstances you might want to reverse these ceremonies to first call in your blessing and then perform a ceremony releasing blocking beliefs preventing you from receiving your desired outcome. For example, you might need to release feeling unworthy to manifest the blessing you requested.
There are no rules about what order to follow when you perform a releasing ceremony and blessing ceremony. Follow your own inner flow.
ENVISIONING A GOOD LIFE
While performing your releasing ceremonies, envision what you want to manifest in your life. It is good to do these processes together—letting go and also focusing on what you have to look forward to in receiving the goodness of life.
In the practice of shamanism, life is seen as a dream. What you daydream about while going to work, taking walks, eating, and so on, also reflects and helps create the life you are now living and how you are contributing to the events we’re witnessing on the planet.
If throughout the day you daydream about how you hate your life, your job, political issues, and so on, you end up feeding the seeds you are planting in your inner garden. Your daydreams will germinate and grow into strong plants. You need to decide on how you truly want to design the garden of your inner landscape.
A powerful shamanic teaching is that if you want to change your life, you have to change your daydreams. Yes, so many of us are afraid of failure. But remember, performing ceremonies is not about creating an “immediate win.” We perform ceremonies to plant seeds in our inner world that through time, cultivation, and nurturing grow plants of great beauty whose qualities infuse our lives and the world.
When you’re embarking on any adventure, such as starting a relationship, moving to a new home or city, finding meaningful work, or even returning to school to learn new skills, begin with a strong, positive vision. Focus on what you look forward to in the present and future.
Another metaphor that shamans like to use is that our daydreams weave into the tapestry of life we are creating. A classic shamanic teaching is that our destiny is to be dreamers and to focus on a good dream for all of life.
Before performing a ceremony to bring in the best that life has to offer, there is some preparation work to do to engage your imagination. In this way, your spirit continues to commune with the divine and creative forces of the universe.
Many people underestimate “imagination” as it relates to shamanism. They think it means we are just making up artificial experiences. But we make up everything that occurs in our outer world. Without imagination, we would not engage the senses needed to journey or perform guided meditations. Everything we experience in our inner and outer world is what we are imagining. Imagination creates our reality.
Reflect on what you want to manifest in your life—whether this is for your own health and joy, for your loved ones, for your community, or for the Earth.
Once you have the intention of your life’s dream, start to imagine yourself already living the life you wish for. Focus on each sensory detail. Move away from a two-dimensional process of watching your desired life as if it were a movie. Make your dream three-dimensional and fully step into the life you desire and the world you wish to live in. Imagine it so completely that you bring your dream to life.
For example, when desiring healthy relationships with friends, imagine their smiling and loving faces, their features, and their clothes. Are these new friends, or are you deepening your current relationships? Imagine your conversations. Touch one of your friend’s hands in a supportive and loving way. Notice your surroundings. Are you in a restaurant together? What does the restaurant look like? How is it decorated? Imagine yourself eating together. What are you eating, and what does the food taste like? What is the weather like outside?
Smell the fragrances of the air. Imagine yourself laughing or crying during touching times. After you leave the restaurant and continue visiting with your friends, imagine walking through a charming landscape. Feel the texture of the earth, the gentle wind, and the objects in your environment.
Continue engaging your senses to bring yourself fully into the life situation you are dreaming about. We are dreaming all the time when we use our imagination.
Expand your dreaming work to include engaging in loving and healthy scenes with your family, feeling hopeful, and living in a pristine environment and world that embraces love, peace, honor, and respect for all of life.
Step fully into the dream you are imagining as if it has already been created and you are living the life you wish. Live that life fully in your imagination. See out of your eyes as you live your new life. Listen to the sounds. Feel your surroundings and the joy of your desired and healthy life. Engage fully by experiencing yourself eating and drinking, by touching your environment with your hands, and by smelling the fragrances as you move around in your newly manifested world.
Here’s an example of another way to work with daydreaming before performing a blessing ceremony. When I feel I have fallen out of the flow of life, I imagine myself paddling a canoe down a spectacular river, flowing gracefully as the river twists and turns, going over turbulent waters, and then paddling through the smooth waters that come. First, I feel the flow of life in my body before designing a blessing ceremony to ask that my life return to a natural flow.
Once you have established a dreaming practice on a regular basis, there are a wealth of ceremonies you can use for asking for your wishes and your dreams to be blessed.
FIRE CEREMONIES FOR BLESSING YOUR GREATEST DREAMS
In my trainings, when we work together to manifest our dreams, we perform a fire ceremony to ask that our wishes be blessed and supported. We often begin by doing the work I described earlier for releasing old wounds into a fire before we begin asking for blessings.
While crafting a talisman, effigy, or power object, stay focused on imagining your desire.
In building the fire, let it know how it can work in partnership with you or your group. In other ceremonies, we have invoked fire’s power to transmute and transform. Here, we are asking the smoke to take your prayers up to the universe. It is important to build the fire with the intention you are asking for. Ask the fire to take your prayers and wishes up to the forces of the universe to make them manifest. In this way, your creative energy synchronizes with the divine creative forces.
When deciding to combine both a releasing and blessing fire ceremony, let the fire know that you will be doing both. Know that the spirit of the fire is listening and working with you. Each ceremony will deepen your relationship with the ally of fire.
Now I’ll share an adaptation of this fire ceremony for blessing our dreams. When we tap into the principle of oneness, we realize that we all have a collective dream. Whatever I am dreaming for is part of your dream too.
In this version, first the fire keepers place a blanket in a clearing where the group will gather around the fire. Each person is spiritually cleansed and greeted into the circle. Everyone places their talismans on the blanket. After the invocation and the drumming, rattling, and chanting begins, each person picks up someone else’s talisman to place in the fire.
It is amazing to watch the power and joy as a person asks for the blessing of someone else’s dream to come to pass. I love how the circle’s energy becomes so supportive as everyone shares their full attention and energy as they watch their dream go into the fire.
We end by dancing and praying for the children of all species who cannot express for themselves their dream for a life filled with love, a good place to live, enough food and water, and to be honored and respected. I thank the spirits and close the ceremony.
JAKE’S CEREMONY TO HELP HIS COMMUNITY
Jake’s hometown suffered devastating tornadoes, and many residents were in despair after losing their homes as well as suffering emotionally, physically, and financially. It felt like the collective of the community had lost its soul. Recalling a fire ceremony we’d done, Jake spoke to me about wanting to bring this ceremony back home to bless his community.
Jake was nervous because he knew his community would not embrace shamanic practice. I shared with him how I had led this same ceremony in the pilot research study for people who had suffered a heart attack. I had welcomed everyone into the circle with sweet-sounding bells and handed out various shamanic instruments. Jake adapted this practice by making rattles using glass bottles with popcorn kernels inside.
Since creating talismans or effigies seemed like too much of a stretch, Jake provided pens and paper, and each person wrote their wishes on a piece of paper. Volunteers built the fire. The children in the community decorated the space. The community supported each person as they placed their papers into the fire to be blessed. The children laughed for the first time in weeks as they got their turn to feed the fire with their wishes. The group sang inspirational songs before and after the ceremony.
Sometime later, Jake sent me a thank-you note. Not everyone in the community chose to show up for the ceremony, but most did. They had a beautiful evening gathering to dream together and reestablish a state of hope. The light in people’s eyes returned.
They ended the ceremony talking about how they could be a greater support to each other in rebuilding their homes and community. Jake said that the deep and binding healing that occurred in his community was beyond his wildest dream.
ADAPTATIONS OF BLESSING CEREMONIES
The Prayer Tree ceremony can easily be used for blessing and healing. A group, family, community, or workplace can create a Prayer Tree together, either with a physical tree or as a virtual ceremony. Over time, people can continue to tie their prayer ribbons or yarn on the branches of the tree. Some people tie on prayer ribbons asking to be relieved of a pain or trauma, while some tie on wishes that they would like to see manifest. Tie on ribbons or yarn containing prayers for someone having surgery, going through a treatment for an illness, going off to war, or facing a life change. You can also ask for protection when traveling, presenting your ideas at a business meeting, or doing anything that might take you into an energetically toxic space.
Water ceremonies are also powerful for blessing and healing. Set a bowl of warm water on your altar and write your wishes on dissolving paper. Light a candle, play music, state your invocation, and place the paper in the water, continuing your prayers as it dissolves. Ceremonially release the water filled with loving energies into the earth, a body of water, or even into the wind. You can do this alone, in a group, or as a virtual ceremony.
I encourage you to create your own unique ceremonies and improvise on what I have shared in this book. I have found designs and structures for my ceremonies that feel good to me to perform personally and to lead in my groups. I find that every time I repeat a ceremony, it is like walking the same path again, where my footsteps create a deepening in my path. When repeating ceremonies, make sure they don’t become habitual, where you feel there is no longer life to them. The energy and passion you put into your ceremonial work makes a difference in the power of the ceremony and the results.
STUART AND ANNE’S CEREMONY FOR CRISIS
Stuart and Anne, brilliant shamanic teachers, lived in an area devastated by fire. Everyone in the community had experienced some degree of loss, from losing a friend, losing a home, or being evacuated, to living without water or power, being displaced to a shelter, endless smoke, and the National Guard on the streets. People throughout the city were suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Stuart and Anne invited community members to take part in a blessing ceremony to ask for healing for the community and to bless people who needed to rebuild their lives. Adults and children of all ages were welcome at the ceremony. People of different races, sexual orientations, and gender identities showed up to help support each other.
They set up a table with food offerings of fruit, favorite treats, and crystal hearts. Everyone was given a chance to talk and share their feelings—not just with each other, but also to the spirit of Fire. People shared their sadness and fears and also what they were grateful for. After a devastating event, we often realize how much we still have to be grateful for in life.
Drumming, rattling, and singing all went on for quite a long time. Everyone was asked to imagine themselves sending good wishes into the food and crystals on the table. Each person was invited to eat the offerings energized with blessings and to take a crystal heart filled with blessing energy that they could hold and keep.