RITUAL: A Necessary Marker for Death

There exists a human need for ritual. A need for a physical marker of the Rights of Passage in our lives. Regardless of spiritual beliefs, we all need to feel that our lives mean something, and we need to feel connected to the greater whole.   

Research has shown that ritual can help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as to increase a sense of well-being and confidence (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/), yet it doesn't take a scientist to recognize that partaking in ritual can help us to feel more grounded, more calm, and more centered.

Each right of passage brings with it, a particular psychology. Whether we are stepping into a new role, or saying goodbye to a loved one, there is a psychology that needs to be addressed. With Death, the psychology that needs to be addressed is often two fold:

1) We need something to help us cognitively accept that the person has in fact died, and

2) We need reassurance about our own lives and deaths, and those of our remaining loved ones

How does ritual help us to do this?

Rituals around death act as a representation of the cycle of life.

Consider the main components of funeral ceremonies the world over, most include: 

1.Preparation of the Dead - or preparing a representation of the dead (representative of birth)

2.Prayer, recognition and reflection on the life (representative of the living years)

3. The lowering to the ground (representative of death)

4. Marking the resting spot (Honoring the resting place, and making a place to return to to remember the dead)

In this way, performing a ritual or ceremony to honor a loved ones passing, is essentially a mini representation of this beings life cycle, and of the cycle that all life takes. Imagine that a funeral is like a play, a set of acts that represent the persons journey through this life. 

The funeral ceremonies serve to help us, the still living, to truly comprehend that our loved one is, in fact, dead. They have lived their complete life, as we have just witnessed again during the ceremony. It acts to repeat and cement in our minds the fact that this person is truly gone. It helps to bring us to acceptance.

Just as we learn best through experience (John Dewy, Experience and Education, 1938), the more we are able to physically participate in the ritual or ceremony, the more meaningful and impactful it becomes.

The physical movements and actions that compose the ritual, are what cements the experience in our bodies, in our bones. For instance, going through the act of selecting a flower, then mindfully placing it on your loved ones coffin, is a small ritual in itself, picking it up, and placing it there with reverence brings your body into the experience as a participant, and this is important to ground the experience of your loved ones passing for you in a healthy way.

- On the flip side, if we aren't able to ground our energy around the death of a loved one, we may have difficulty processing the death, for instance we may continually think we will see or hear from them, i.e. we may not fully come to acceptance of their passing-

Whether or not you are able to attend a public service for your loved one, there are countless other ways to hold your own ritual or ceremony, or to otherwise honor their life in a physical way. Some ideas:

Make a donation or organize a donation for the family

Send flowers

Light a candle for your loved one

Burn incense to honor them

Sit and pray for them, and express all that you feel

Go through old photos and memorabilia, and perhaps put up a framed photo that reminds you of them, in a special location in your home or office

Have a bonfire, and silently pay your respects as you reflect on their life, and your time spent with them

Ask your family to pray with you, or to listen as you share your memories, and express your feelings about your loss

Hold a dinner in their honor

Gather items and build an altar, medicine wheel, or other sacred space outdoors, to create a special, representative burial place

Or even better - create your own ritual! These are often the most meaningful rituals of all! Give yourself space, and allow your intuition to guide you! Perhaps use the four ceremonial components to guide you: gather the items to represent your loved one, say or do something to honor their life, place something on the ground, and mark the spot.

After we have performed or participated in a ritual or ceremony for our loved one, our cognitive acceptance begins to set in and rest. This is healthy and very important, that we are able to recognize, that in fact, yes, this one whom we have loved, has died. Now, when we feel shaken by their loss, we can recall the ceremony, and maybe even revisit the location it was held (hence the importance of marking the spot), an experience that often brings renewed peace.

From this place of acceptance, naturally, our thoughts do eventually turn to our own mortality, and that of our remaining loved ones.

How does ritual help us here?

Honoring your loved one in ritual helps you to feel better about their loss of life, because the life they lived has now been recognized fully, and honored justly. This, in turn, reassures you that your deep need - to feel that your life matters, and that you are part of the greater whole - will be honored at your own time of death, as well. For we trust that as we deeply honor others, we will be honored too.

This is not selfish, but a human reality. We need to know that our lives meant something. We need to know that our cycle too, will be honored. 

And your life does matter. And it will be honored. And it is ritual that will bring us to that place.

The cycle continues, and as it does, it honors that which came before

 

With Love and Blessings,

Nicole

Have You Ever Sold Your Soul To A (Hu)Man?

Most of us have in one way or another, at some time in our lives. It's allowing another person's will to change your direction, and you do so for no reason other than to appease this person or to 'keep the peace' as it were. Giving into peer pressure. Being week-willed. Not speaking your truth. Not walking your talk. Allowing others to make your decisions for you. Examples of this are: the boyfriend who is unkind to his girlfriend, in order to try to look cool in front of his friends. It's the young woman who sleeps with her boyfriend because he wants her to, regardless of the fact that she'd rather not. It's the same young woman who goes through with an abortion, against her own will and her own wishes, because he thinks it's what's best for him right now. It's the person who dates someone for selfish reasons, knowing in their heart that this person could have a negative impact on their children and should be avoided. It's the person who joins in on gossip or ridicule. It's going against your own guidance. It's being passive-aggressive; not speaking up for yourself, and then feeling victimized for not being recognized. It's keeping quiet, and or standing by, while injustices are inflicted on others. It's allowing the group mentality to rule your will. Going along with others. Not speaking up. Not doing what you know to be right for you.

When we don't stand up for ourselves, we essentially hand our will over to another person (or people). We think that doing so gives us something in return. Perhaps a temporary sense of peace, or a lack of drama, that we haven't 'rocked the boat' so to speak. This is a transaction, an energetic exchange, and I have been there, and I can attest, that it is essentially, selling a part of your soul. And just like selling your engagement ring to the pawn shop, it's gonna cost you more to get it back then the price you sold it for.

It is going to take a lot of effort, and continued practice of walking in your truth to earn those bits of yourself back. To regain your integrity. To prove You to yourself and to everyone else. So, don't do it in the first place, and teach your children to stand up for what's morally right, too. Don't allow another man to make any choice for you. You are responsible for You in all times, and in all ways. Don't allow others to sway you from what you know to be right for you. I don't care if this is your husband telling you what to name your brand, your wife telling you she doesn't likes your hobby and wants you to quit, or letting your boss know that you are offended by their racial slurs. Speak your truth on it.

Stay in your beautiful, radiant light, and shine. Be a beacon. Be an inspiration to others to do so too. And if you fall, if you exchange a piece of yourself for perceived comfort, you'd better pull yourself by your bootstraps and try harder. Are you gonna keep slippin' back, or are you gonna stand on your own two feet? At the end of the day it's just you, baby. It's just you and what you stand for. Only you know what that is. You gotta stand up and show us what that is.

With Love and Compassion,

Nicole

Oracle Card Reading for September 22, 2016

Happy Autumnal (or Spring, respectively) Equinox, Friends!!

Whew! Is it just me, or was that summer season a doozy? The energy of the quickening season hit me hard, and left me with my head spinning. I am grateful to welcome in the fall, and hopefully a little 'slow' along with it. This feels like the prime time to pull back a bit, slow the pace, and take in with all senses the graceful changes happening around and within you now. Do take pause and reflect on your personal growing season, and on the fruits that you are preparing to harvest now. A wonderful way to honor one season's exit, and another's entrance, is to spend time reflecting on that was given to you, and all that you accomplished in the passing season. Welcoming in the new, full of gratitude for what you already have is a good way to ensure that life's cornucopia continues to pour its abundance upon you.

Today's cards are pulled from two of my all time favorite decks: Jamie Sams' Sacred Path Cards, and Jamie Sams and David Carson's Medicine Cards. I love using these two decks in conjunction, and usually do.  As I prayed over the cards and asked Spirit for the optimal message for the group, these two came forward. What fitting guidance as we step into a season of being... To respect and have patience with both our own path, and the paths of others. Naturally, this provides fertile soil for where sharing, learning, and growing can happen.

Each life form has something unique to share with world that others can gain from. If we can honor another's path, we open ourselves up for a learning opportunity. What does this unique individual have to teach you? Surely there is a something. To truly honor one beings path, is to honor all paths. When we honor our own path and gifts, we are honoring what Spirit gave us to share with the children of the earth. In doing so, we automatically, deeply, and fully experience reverence for all paths. It isn't that any one is better or more important than others, but rather, that all beings have something unique to share, show, and teach us. The key is true respect. Which starts from your truly recognizing and honoring your own path and gifts as valuable and needed.

Part of this honoring is about respecting your sacred space. Spirit indicates time and time again in my personal life, and with my work, that everyone needs a sacred space of some kind to go to. This could be in your office, or bedroom, or in your garden outside. Perhaps you are able to dedicate an entire room to sacred space, or maybe your entire living space is as such. In any account, it is important for your sense of centering to have a sacred space where you can go to connect to the Divine. It could be in your recliner. I don't care where your space is, as long as it works for you ;) Often times a sacred space may include special stones, amulets, or artwork that reminds us to connect to Spirit. It may be very simple, inviting you to sit in silence, or it may be a place where you feel inspired. In any event, it is important to have a space of your own, where you can go and be in private, where you can usually be uninterrupted, and afforded the time to connect with yourself and with Spirit. 

Your sacred space isn't only a place outside of you, but it is within you, as well. Respecting your Sacred Space also means respecting your body, time, and energy, and insisting that others respect it, as well. If someone shows you disrespect and it cannot be resolved, then you don't allow that person in your sacred space again. If people are dumping on you or wasting time, just say no. Don't answer the phone. Or, be direct, if you wish. In all cases, you can stand up for and exhibit self-respect without tearing another person down. Asserting your sacred space and boundaries, will ultimately help to model for others how to do the same.

Respecting your physical sacred space may mean having boundaries in place, so that no one can just barge in and access your space any time. It also means keeping it clean and tidy, freshening it up, and ensuring that the integrity of the space is maintained.

Likewise, respecting the sacred space of others is important, and can be done with a little thoughtfulness. Removing your shoes upon entering someone's house, being mindful of where you walk, what you touch, where you lay your things, and asking before you touch an object that may be sacred, or upon entering a sacred space, or a room with a closed door. When in another's space, it is always best to follow their lead, rather then to presume to enter as though you own the place.

The sister card to Sacred Space, is Ant, who teaches us much about patience. What a beautifully fitting card of support.

It takes time to create a sacred space (that's half the fun!), so have patience with yourself and with the Universe. Bit by bit, step by step, the ant completes incredible feats of workmanship, and you can too, one step at a time. Start small and build from there. Perhaps the first step in creating a sacred space within might be to consider boundaries within your personal relationships, to ensure that they are in order, and to consider if any changes need to be made. When creating a physical Sacred Space, you may want to first conceive of where it could be located, second clean out the space, next add one sacred item at a time. No need to rush. A space filled with nothing but your pure intent is sacred in itself, so no need to keep up with the Jones's on this one. Baby steps --> and remember not to step on anyone else's toes in your process! ;)

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Sacred Space
Respect
The Application: The Sacred Space card insists on respect for the possessions, ideas, homes, and persons of others. This also applies to demanding it for the Self. Mark your territory. Respect yourself so that others will see that reflection in themselves and in how they deal with you. Be willing to say no.
Sacred Space means that you consider your body, feelings, and possessions sacred and will not allow others to abuse them. Only invite those who have earned the right into your Sacred Space. You are the one who sets up how other people treat you through how you treat yourself.
In all cases the respect you show yourself and other lifeforms determines hoe you relate to the Planetary Family. If you allow others to be destructive in your Sacred Space, on some level you don't have the guts to be disliked. It is not important to be liked by others, but it is important to be able to live with yourself. Happiness begins within.
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Ant
Patience
Ant can carry a leaf over hundreds of miles just to get it back to the anthill. Ants in Africa will strip a forest bare when food is scarce, if it takes them a year. Ant's medicine is the strategy of patience. Ant is a builder like Beaver, is aggressive like Badger, has stamina like Elk, scrutiny like Mouse, and give-away like Turkey.
Every Ant in an anthill is part of the Ant "group mind," as all the Ants work for the Queen Ant and the hive. Self-sacrifice is a part of Ant medicine. Greater than Ant's other medicines, however, is patience.
Ant people are active, community-minded folks who see the greater future needs of their town. Ant people are planners, like Squirrel, and are content to see their dreams being built a little at a time. In today's society that is a rare quality.
In the desert, one type of Ant will burrow a conical hole with its apex at the bottom. The Ant will cover itself and patiently wait for some unsuspecting insect to fall in. As the sand crumbles, the prey eventually falls to the bottom, only to find Ant's open jaws.
Patience does have its rewards!
And people have a knowing about the sweet victory at the end of the line. There is never a concern about "going without" if they are late for the opening of a sale. If what they want is sold out, they are sure that something equal or better is available.
If you have Ant medicine, you eat slowly and deliberately and are content in knowing that "what is yours will come to you." This knowing is good medicine. It shows a trust in the Universe to provide.
If Ant meandered into your spread today, it is time to show a little trust and patience in some life situation. You may have forgotten that you will always receive that which you need, at the time you need it most. If it is not on the horizon or just around the next anthill, you may need to use some strategy. How can you put to use your power of creation until "it" arrives -- whatever "it" means to you at this time?
Ant is working for the good of the whole. Are you? If you are, be assured that he whole wants the same goodness for you, and that it will be provided.

With love and blessings,

Nicole

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Respect in the Workplace - Tell Me What it Means to Me

I work an average of 80 hours per week. That's time that I'm logged in, "on call" on the psychic hotline that I am private contractor for. That is outside of my personal business clients, outreach, volunteer work, and everything that comes with being a single mother of two young children living alone in the mountains.

And I know that I am not alone in my struggle to thrive. Millions of Americans, and Billions world wide struggle, and work their tails off, constantly, as much as they are physically able, just to eat! Just to hopefully survive. More and more, it isn't enough. More and more, I realize that to really get ahead, I need to work 20hrs a day. 20. Hours. Per. Day. And, in fact, I know that I am very lucky. Being a caucasian female, I have privileges afforded me that others don't receive, simply because of my appearance. And although I really have had to work hard, strive, and struggle to get to where I am now, I feel blessed that I am able to work from home, doing what I love, what I feel called to do, and what helps others, too, all at my own pace and schedule that I set for myself, even if it means that I do still have to work my butt off all day every day. I am grateful that I've been able to kick off my own business, and look forward to a day when I have more time to put toward expanding that work.

The work that I do with Spirit, I take with the utmost seriousness. Delivering messages from Spirit requires an incredible amount of focus and concerted effort both on my end, and on Spirit's. I honor this work, and am honored to do this work, and I do expect a similar level of respect for this work among my clients.

Last night, on the hotline, I received a call from a woman who began our conversation with the following statement:

Caller: "...She told me you were really good, the best, so you better not disappoint me!"

Me:  "Uhhh? My work is to relay messages from Spirit, and that is what I do. I'm not here to impress people."

Caller:  "Oh yeah, I know, I was just calling for some insight into...."

Although I was very upset to be treated like a circus animal, or a performer at the public's disposal, I proceeded to deliver some very helpful information to the woman, and she ended the call expressing her gratitude to me for the reading. Maybe I should have just hung up on her. Maybe I shouldn't have taken that treatment and ended the call. However, ultimately, I chose some assertive words, and to hold my chin up as I continued to speak to this woman.

Yet, I hung up the phone feeling disgusted and even a bit disgusting. I felt like I was whoring myself out, spiritually. Here I am working my ass off, for pennies on the dollar of what the hotline makes, up at midnight to soothe your anxieties, and this is how I am regarded?! Like a paid spiritual prostitute here to serve you. Um, excuse me? Didn't you just call me, seeking my help? Without common decency and respect? I am not here to serve anyone who does not appreciate the gift.

Of course, this got me instantly thinking of what actual prostitutes go through, and I sobbed half the night. I'm sure you all know how sex trafficing as an industry is booming all over the word. Women, and people are literally forced to give of themselves, to give some other, whatever they want, just in order to hopefully survive. For prisoners, prostitutes, slaves, indentured servants, they often have no choice, and get nothing but abuse and suffering in return.

This grossly disrespectful way that human beings so oftentimes treat each other is the greatest travesty the world has ever known.

We are all in the same boat.

We are all striving to survive and thrive.

Understanding leads to Compassion leads to Respect.

People are struggling to survive everywhere. A little decency goes a long way in recognizing this and in lifiting up our brothers and sisters. Taking a moment to recognize that these other people around us are struggling too, that they may be working extremely hard to better their lives for themselves, their children, and for humanity as a whole. Compassion and Understanding breed Respect. Let's try to remember to honor the work each other does, great or small, regardless of what it is. That person you come in contact with on the street, or working at the carwash is struggling and striving to do better. They deserve to receive respect for the work that they provide.

Spirit shows me that when we truly choose to see people in this understanding way, that the energy that we emit, does in fact lift them up. Offering respect raises people higher. And when one of us is lifted, we all are. 

To lift up the world, lift your neighbor.

What I am taking away from last nights experience, is to slow down and look at each person I come in contact with, and to honor them, their path, their work here on earth, because it is important. It's important if for nothing other than it is helping them to be more aligned on their rightful path, and when one person is aligned, that energy supports alignment in others too, and when we all align with our hearts on your rightful paths, well, just imagine what we could do!

Thank you for taking the time to read this rant of mine, and thank you for the important work that you do.

With Love and Gratitude,

Nicole

Naked Moon: Baring It All Before The Universe

All that you are not, all that was placed on you or given you, the lies that fear told you were true, these false garments, you have removed from your body and placed them at the feet of This Goddess, This Grandmother who sees through all illusion to the heart of you. She has been waiting for you to remove these clothes and to stand in your glory, which is your birthright.

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