She meditated less often than she should. But when she did, she usually sat quietly with no props and little ceremony. She knew she needed no building and no ceremonial items to touch the sacred. But there were times when she longed for the beauty of ceremony. Today was such a day.
She placed her turquoise blanket on the floor and sat down with her medicine bundle in front of her. She unwrapped each item with care: a candle holder, a candle and matches; a pouch full of herbs – cedar, sage, lavendar and sweet grass; a large shell in which to burn the herbs; crystals and feathers; and a dissembled pipe with a bowl carved out of red stone and a long stem carved out of cedar. She arranged each piece with reverence on a small brightly coloured alter cloth.
With her intentional movements, she found her mind settling into a calm, quiet place. As each piece was placed on the alter, her spirits lifted. She remembered a teacher saying that rituals by-pass the adult mind, allowing spirit to speak directly to the inner child. With a smile on her face, she lit the candle and the herbs in the shell. With her hand, she cupped the smoke and pulled it over the alter and around her body, allowing it to cleanse and purify her aura and fill her senses with beauty.
She brought the bowl and stem of the pipe together “in keeping with the two sacred laws”. Using a pinch of tobacco, she spoke prayers aloud for each of the eight directions and the centre of the wheel. With each prayer, she opened her self to the teachings of each direction; to fire, spirit and creativity in the east; to water, emotions and the love of children in the south; to earth, body and sexuality in the west; and air, mind, and compassion in the north.
With each prayer, her mind sunk deeper into her body; her fears and grief floated to the surface of her mind and melted into tears. She touched the beliefs that continue to limit her and the judgements that she uses to separate her self from others. She sensed the energy field that connects everyone and every thing. And she felt whole; bathed in beauty.