It’s been a week for sacred circles.
Last weekend, I married two friends in a lovely, simple, quiet ceremony by the lake. They’ve somehow found a fit after a lot of mis-fits, and it brought my heart joy to be a tiny part of assisting their union.
Later that night, I did intuitive readings for an equally lovely group of friends who invited me into their circle for the evening and allowed me to take part in their wonderful warm, loving energy (and one totally awesome cheese and charcuterie grazing table.)
At the beginning of the week, I apprenticed for my mentor who is a Shaman. She was invited to teach in a university class on Native Religion and Shamanism, and since she believes that such things are best experienced, not taught, she had the class participate in a ceremonial circle. A lot of tobacco was offered; a lot of sweetgrass was burned.
Tomorrow, to round the week out, I am leading a full moon circle for a woman’s group. I have something fairly magical planned and am greatly looking forward to the evening. It’s really not my circle to lead- the leader is apprenticing with me, and will be called to take the reigns after I leave. But for now, I have been taught that if you want to receive more medicine, then you must share your medicine.
So I share my medicine.
The beautiful thing about a circle is that there is no beginning and no end, and anything that falls within that circle is completely contained. Circles are magic shapes in their own way; holding space for whatever enters, keeping safe whatever is shared. Spirals of wisdom that help people go deeper within and divine their truths of heart.
Back in the spring, I traveled to a very special circle. I went to a place called Turtle Lodge, far away in Manitoba, Canada. Traditional tribal ceremonies are practiced there, and I am headed to one of them.
I am going for a variety of reasons. To participate in a full moon ceremony at the lodge, to take my own personal vision quest and find spiritual growth, to go be in solitude in a natural place and let the waters and the trees and the rocks and the seas take some of my grief from me.
I have discovered that any good spiritual journey will always start in humility, with Life requiring you to travel far outside your comfort zone, go beyond the lines of yourself, and be open to something bigger, so you can be filled with things beyond yourself. And in many ways, it is a highly uncomfortable weekend.
When I get to Canada, after flying all night, I drive 90 minutes outside of the city to a very remote and very rural area to get to the small hotel I booked. Turns out it is more of a long cabin in the thick woods, there is no wi-fi or internet outside of the main lodge, and not a single other soul is staying there.
Welcome to the Bates Motel, I think- can I tell you how much I wanted to hop on a plane and return to the safe confines of Anchorage at this point?
The following morning I wake up, partially relieved I have made it through the night without some psychopath from a B grade horror movie trying to do me in, or worse yet, a Shining experience, and am greeted by about a dozen spiders camping out on my ceiling.
You know you are alone and lonely when you choose to communicate with an arachnid, but since I have been taught that spiders are the spirit guides of writers, I pretend (trick and deceive myself) into thinking they are there for friendly reasons. I cautiously speak out loud in the room and tell them as long as they stay up there, and I stay where I am, no harm will fall to any of us.
That night, I almost don’t make it to the actual ceremony- I am so scared and so intimidated and so uncertain of what I am going to walk into alone, I consider not going. But I have brought a book of poetry I wrote, and as I read my own words, I know I can’t let down the brave woman who wrote about such tender things so fearlessly, and I force myself to leave Bates Central and get in the car and travel to the lodge with a mix of fear, anticipation and trepidation.
Turns out, some of that trepidation is legit. I’m dressed all wrong; I thought it would be hot in the lodge, and it is the opposite, so I shiver most of the night. I don’t know a soul in a group that clearly has long term connections and ties, and I sit alone and quietly for over two hours while everybody else talks to one another.
Time is different here, and though I was told things started at 6:00 p.m., we don’t get going until almost 8:30pm. I am alone in a room of people, sitting quietly reading my book, not knowing what to expect. I am participating in a religion I know little about, in a ritual I know nothing about with people I don’t know, in a place that I know nothing about- except they have a lot of spiders.
But it turns out, none of that matters, because I’m not really here for these people. I am here, because I felt called to this particular circle, called to this particular place, called to take a leap of faith- with nobody other than myself- so I can experience something more.
And I do.
Some of it is beautiful. Some of it is really hard and lonely. Some of it is mystical. Some of it is like being in a waking dream. And some of it is the total reality of staying in an isolated part of rural Canada where almost everything is closed, because it is off season, and I am simply trying to find an open restaurant with free wi-fi.
They say you get what you need at a particular point in time when you open yourself up to spirit. I did- in more ways than one.
That weekend, I wasn’t given the gift of my grief being taken from me, but I was given the gift of immense space to grieve and spend my days in the woods or by the water listening to the loons and watching the first signs of spring unfold.
I was also gifted a rattle that weekend; given to me by a young woman from a local tribe who approached me at the end of the ceremony and told me she was told in her heart to give it to me. Handle worn, lovingly patched, indents where it’s been held; this rattle has seen many ceremonies. I am honored and undone; it is a sacred gift, and though she has no way of knowing this, the crescent moon and the star on the rattle match the tattoo I have on my wrist.
I receive other gifts that weekend. More than I can write about here. Gifts of visions and dreams and conversations with the beyond. The gift of knowing I showed up to my calling when I found the courage to walk through that lodge on the night of the ceremony. The gift of initiation into the power of a circle, and the gifts that come with the full moon and the living water of life.
That was 8 months ago, and since that time, magic has begun to happen. And the story behind that is also more than I will write about here. At least for tonight.
But I now know the gift of circles.
That where two or more are gathered in the name of love, Life will always meet us there, in ways we can relate to, wherever we are at. And that particular circle was my rite of passage, among several others, that gave me the permission and authority to begin to run circles for women- in many different forms, for many different reasons.
All of them having to do with bringing more Love into people’s lives.
I have magic planned for tomorrow night. I won’t write about it, because what falls within a circle is considered sacred and is meant to be kept in that circle. But I can tell you that I think everybody will leave the room a little lighter. And that we’re all a little better off when we share our stories.
And I can tell you that Love will be in that space- and wherever Love is, Magic is always sure to follow.