Ceremony and Ritual

Written by Sherrie Locke on 1 T’zi (Dog), June 2014

 

A ritual is a series of actions in a religious or spiritual ceremony, but can also be any procedure that is followed on a regular basis. A ceremony is usually a ritual with spiritual or religious intent, and is devotional in nature.

Shaman Performing Ceremony

 

People perform many rituals on a daily basis, from your morning ritual to the things you do the same general way, every time whenever possible. For women, it may also be beauty and personal care. The examples are endless. These are rituals.

You can, on a daily basis, also add other rituals that benefit not only your physical body and environment, but which also open you up to expansion in other realms, help and assistance from ancestors, communication with your higher self and connection with all things. Special ceremonies have been performed for aeons to mark special events, dates, seasonal beginnings, births, deaths and myriad purposes in between.

For special events, you can choose to gather special foods, flowers or things related to what you are doing. They may be for healing, such as in a plant ceremony, or a rite of passage of some sort, which is lacking in most Western cultures. We from indigenous heritage find these rites of passage very useful. They let you know you current responsibilities in the tribe or family unit.

In Tewa culture, there is never a family slot unfilled. When a grandmother passes, one of the mothers (usually the eldest) becomes the grandmother and the eldest daughter then becomes the mother. So there is always someone to speak to regarding things you would ask Grandmother, Grandfather, Mother, Father, Aunt or Uncle. For instance an Aunt or Uncle would be consulted if the subject were an inappropriate question to ask a parent or grandparent.

This also puts the family in a mindful state, which produces the proper guidance for the one who seeks it. So in each family and tribal unit, there is a resource available to be tapped and utilized. My cousins and I used to laugh and say the tribe was in trouble when become the elders. Well, we have matured and have built on what we were taught as children, with the added wisdom of what we had to overcome in our generation. We are the extension of our family and tribe. Our life is also our resource. Now we are prepared. If this was practiced more in today’s society we wouldn’t be in the state we are currently in.

We do ceremony to remember. We do ritual to transform and strengthen ourselves.

Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin! ~SL 2014

Symbols or Weapons of the Four Directions

Written by Sherrie Locke on 1 Serpent, March 2014

The Four Directions and their Symbols and Weapons

Direction Time Color Tarot Suit Symbol or Weapon
East Sunrise Yellow Sword Feather or Dagger
South Noon Red Wands Wand or Fire
West Sunset Black or Blue Cups Chalice
North Midnight White Coins Coin, Pentacle or Shield

This is according to Western occult tradition. Some indigenous people, such as the Maya, may use other directional colors for their ceremonies. (The Maya use red for east and yellow for south.) Most are reversed north to south at the equator.

The four directional colors represent the four races:
Yellow of the East
Red of the South
Black of the West
White of the North

The four elements are:
Air
Fire
Water
Earth

Most traditions I work with are generally in this format due to my obsession with the “connecting thread.”

As in anything, traditions are also evolving, so colors and gender may vary in schools of thought and study both in older and more recent curriculum of esoteric study. I will say the Western initiatory path is pretty much standardized back to basic Kaballistic theory.

As you gather your weapons, they will likely be what you use from here on unless you decide to replace them with an upgrade.

Note: with feathers, we (the Elders) find that the feathers of a living bird are the most powerful kind, and many times are “gifted” by a spirit animal, It’s a totem thing, very strong.

Next a ritually sacrificed animal. Don’t freak, it’s done all the time in tribal cultures, in a sacred manner and all parts of the sacrifice are utilized, nothing is ever wasted.

Third, some feather whose history you do not know can be a symbol you can relate to.

In the USA, please be aware that possession of certain feathers carries a hefty fine and some are not allowed to be transported anywhere. So don’t do show and tell or hang it from you rearview mirror. We as first nations people actually have to have a permit to possess and carry certain sacred objects, go figure. One eagle feather incident could be a $50,000 fine and jail time if they wanted to push it, so be mindful.

Also, it is better to use a cup or knife whose history you know rather than picking up some antique that has been God knows where or used for what purpose. Be mindful!

As I have said before, some items, particularly ritual items, cannot be cleared, so I can read them, if I would choose to even touch them. If I am not in the same location with said item, I can easily check its vibe and likely its history, too. Yes, I do this work, but please don’t show up with questionable items and expect me to do whatever you ask. I may not, I might, it certainly will not be for free.

For representation of earth I may use some dirt or a rock, but usually a coin of some kind.

Be creative, stick within your base of knowledge. If you start changing currents of natural flow, you had best be conscious of WHY. Stick to the basics of what you understand for now; you can get elaborate with banners of the four directions, symbols and items as you learn and grow more accustomed to working a medicine wheel or ceremony for invoking or evoking an energy. I have already posted a blog on the subject of evocation or invocation, and suggest you know the difference before you commence on this subject.

In the mean time… have fun, learn, refine, expand!

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin!
Blessed be!
It Is Done.

Holding Sacred Space

Written by Sherrie Locke on 10 Qanil, March 2014

The idea and concept of “holding space” has been around since life arose on this planet. From a lion’s pride, to a wolf pack to a mushroom patch, it’s a natural tendency in construct of creation.

We are here today to discuss the space you intentionally hold for yourself, for your loved ones and for any operation or manifestation with which you are currently working. So be mindful, don’t juggle too much and maintain what you are intending.

The point of a ritual is to zero in on what you want to do.

Do you want:
A clean high vibe space?
Protection from harm?
Connection to your ancestors?
A creative or healing space?

Are you opening and holding space for a new creative project or business endeavor?
For learning or saturation environment?
A channel to receive something?
Subcategories, such as knowledge, prosperity, healing?

It goes on and on and on.

How to Hold Space
As I have stated over and over, know your base of knowledge and understanding and work with that to its fullest everyday. If you do not apply it, how can you refine it?

Periodically check your works to see if they still apply. Have they ramped up or down? Do they need more attention or action, or are they toodling along? Are you happy with the results so far? Are there any results?

Adjust, adjust, adjust. Let go of the way you think it should manifest; that’s not your issue! Your job is to hold space, be intentional, be motivated to succeed and ready to act at any moment 24/7/365.

To do so you must be clear about your intentions. If your brain is in a jumble, you are not going to get anything done. The point of a ritual is to maintain focus and clear out blockage to the achievement of your goals. It’s a routine of diligence, of knowing yourself and your motivations.

If you are not clear on these personal factors, in understanding yourself and what makes you tick, what motivates you or awakens your passion, then you might want to hold off and do some personal work before you start attempting to effect change on a broader scale. As they say, clear out your own shit first before entering a lodge or proceeding with a magical working.

It is vital to understand that life is not happening to you, that you are creating it from the inside out.
So start at the starting point, which is “Know Thyself!” In Egyptian culture, the symbol of the scarab says it all, “Man Know Thyself!”

If you do not know yourself and why you are motivated to make certain choices, then you will repeat them over and over again, ad nauseum, until you are finally done with it. Keep it up. Your choice, pain is optional, and I would never deny someone as much pain as they would like to indulge in. I practice tomasic energy work in my bag of modalities, so I am not afraid of bringing the pain body to the surface for eradication.

OK, back to holding space. So you have figured out something you wish to effect change. You have cleaned the space. You have opened a space through intent and ceremony.

You have determined the general duration of the working. You have set certain components to work for you, things such as candles and Power Items.

The space is set, the work is in progress.

For longer term projects, just check in on them at least on an annual basis.

These things run like a software program, either constantly working or all at once with a big push to build energy and momentum.

If you wish to hold space for a loved one, such as in a prayer or healing energy, set a field (space) and picture you and the person together in that space. Call in the energies of the green healing ray, any helpful assistants such as helpful ancestors or other healing or plant energies, and invite them into the space you have created for that purpose. If healing someone who is far away, visualize the space surrounding the person wherever he or she may be.

So go forth, light a candle, do a magickal working to help yourself or someone else, Keep it Light, do it with LOVE, be clear on your intentions and don’t overlap too many things at once. Watch your works increase as you practice. And above all, get to know yourself better and get in touch with what motivates you.

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin
Blessed Be.

Closing Sacred Space

Written by Sherrie Locke on 6 K’at, March 2014

Every time a ritual or ceremony is performed, there is an intention set as to the duration of the operation. As in:

Is it a space clearing and protection ritual (short)?

A fire ceremony (two-three hours)?

A business (duration of original manifestation and/or duration of the business)?

In the case of a ceremony, the shaman and possibly certain “gatekeepers” have been holding space for everyone involved; the more who are conscious of this, the easier it is to hold space.

Some circles may become rather elaborate, with someone in charge of watching over and monitoring certain movements within the group and circle. As in many tribes, only the assistants would be allowed to speak directly to the shaman, since they have been trained in proper protocol and customs.

When the shaman/leader of the group concludes the ceremony, usually he or she will say, “It is Done!,” “We are done,” Or “So be it!, it is done!” Then the general group is dismissed.

After that, the gatekeepers and/or shaman will “collapse” the space held and end the entire session, giving all back to the earth.

Personal Ceremonies
In the case of personal ritual ceremonies, just remember that you opened a sacred space, so you must close it and collapse it when done. Never leave ritual items lying around. Put everything away.
Ritual offerings may be left.

On the mundane side, yes, even when selling a car, a simple closing ritual can be done to clear your energy from the item, place or object, before it is transferred to the new owner. When I buy a car, I welcome it, smudge it, and remove all items of the previous owner.

Clear and smudge your vehicle at least once a month and ask that it and all passengers be safe and protected. You check the oil, tires and water don’t you? Just add a few things…check!

(In Guatemala, the “chicken bus” companies bring in shamans to bless their buses and drivers at least once a year. The ceremonies, naturally, are performed on E/Eb days, which mean Road.)

When you are ready to sell the car, thank it, clean all your stuff out of it, smudge it to remove attachment, and she’s ready to go to a new home.

Closing Space for a House and Personal Items
Collapse all fields only when you are moving out of a house. Do the same with jewelry or any personal items you are selling, in order to clear and close out your energy.

Note: Certain things cannot be cleared and can be read for eternity by someone like me, so think about that too.

Closing a space is therefore an ending, a closure, pure and simple: you opened the door, so close it behind you.

We are all good at starting things, let’s get just as good at ending them!

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin!

Candle Burning 101

Written by Sherrie Locke on 6 K’at/7 Kan, March 2014

The point of using candles is to focus your attention by looking into the flame.

If you can’t multitask and juggle more than one subject at a time, don’t overlap or use too many candles at once. Keep it simple at first.

Let us begin with a simple white candle….

Set up an area where you are to burn your candles. Make sure it’s in a safe spot. Also always put your candles on a candle runner or as I do, in a fireproof bowl or dish with sand or fine gravel (I prefer sand). Don’t use dirt since it may burn or smoke with organic compounds.

Choose your candles based on what you are doing and the duration or extent of the operation.

You can use anything from a tea light or a votive candle to any size taper candle. For us “professionals,” the three-, five- or seven-day glass-encased candles are our ritual candle of choice, there are even longer duration ones. You need to be a seasoned candle worker to have that many fires in your home or space, going 24/7 for the duration of the operation(s). Not for beginners!

The idea is to light the candle and let it burn for the duration allowing it to go out on it’s own. If it’s a “hot” one, you may use a candle snuffer, but never, ever, blow out a ritual candle and for sure you don’t want someone else to put it out. So watch what you are doing and be mindful.

There are many ways of monitoring candle rituals for the more advanced candle workers. Black and sooty usually means it’s clearing a lot of negativity.

Drips can be interpreted by the adept. If a candle burns especially weird, you may want to “piggyback it” with another ritual of the same sort until you get a clean result.

So choose your candles wisely. If you have a short period of time, or a short attention span, use a smaller candle. If you are doing a larger more elaborate operation, you may want larger tapers or glass-encased candles so you don’t have to light candle after candle without letting the light go out.

I do not use scented candles, choosing to add what I want to use myself. In order to be efficient and effective when using scents, you need to be familiar with planetary rulership and a few other things to optimize, otherwise you might just be working counterproductively.

In the case of an ancestor altar, you can use the favorite scent or color or anything else that connects you to that dead relative, all planetary rulership bets are off, it’s just an offering.

A safe bet for any operation is to use a white candle. White represents purity, is widely available and is also used in most religious ceremonies globally. In native indigenous ceremonies, the candles and colors become quite elaborate from the colors of the four directions to the subdirections, deities, nahuales and ancestors. As I said, keep it simple at first until you are more familiar with the usages. Better to stick with white all the way around rather than use something that is way off from the goal or intention.

I will present an article on traditional use of candles in ceremonies of the Maya, both Ki’che’ and the tradition I first learned, Yucatec, at a later time. I will mention at this juncture that candles used in traditional Maya fire ceremony are usually tossed into the fire in bundles rather than lit and burned individually.

General Guidance on Colors

This will help you get started. First off, let’s go with green. A green candle would most likely be for HEALING, not money. I must say something about this now. We are not just working candle magick in the good ole US where money is green. As a matter of fact, most national currencies globally are NOT green. So drop that correlation. Green is the color of the healing ray, the heart chakra, with both planetary and angelic rulership, so let’s stick with green for Healing.

Money is Power

Red is the color of raw energy and power, and thus money. Quote from a teacher: “Red is raw power, and energy = money. Also note that it’s very difficult to sleep in a house with a red candle ritual going on in the space, so you might choose short duration red candles for your first operations.

A gold or yellow candle may enhance intellect or even higher mind or thought process. It also activates the solar plexus, the center of the will. And it also helps with digestion.

An orange candle may help with concentration and creative stimulation in relation to a project or art form. It is directly related to the second chakra. Keep it in the higher realms.

Most people may want to stay away from blue candles, particularly dark blue ones as they are for deep emotional processing and could enhance depression if one has buried emotional issues that are not yet ready to be addressed and released. The lighter blue and turquoise can stimulate the throat chakra to enhance clear expression, so these can be helpful for public speakers and those learning to express themselves more fully and clearly.

Purple helps meditation.

Black is useful for releasing negative energies, for certain protection or grounding rituals or for a directional color.

You may have a favorite color. Please use what you like! Try beeswax candles if you can find them.  Don’t worry if you only have something basic.

Light is light; the candle flame is the catalyst for your prayers and intentions.

I hope this article assists you in getting a proper start in Candle Magick 101 and candle devotional offerings. Remember have fun, pay attention and keep it light! Always remember…

Everything you do comes back to you several times over.

Blessed Be!
Sherrie Locke, A∴A∴

Space Clearing 101

Written by Sherrie Locke, 4 Toj, February 2014

I tend to forget that most people were not raised the way I was, so there are many things I take for granted as just simple general knowledge. It was after a number of years that I discovered that even though these things are in plain sight, very few people ever take the time or energy to really look at their environment and, most especially, at the state of their own character.

Let us begin with just a few simple things to do and some very simple techniques to do them.

Entry and Exit Points
In a home or business there are entry and exit points, there are windows, there are cabinets, drawers, rooms for special things, a kitchen, a bed room and a bathroom. Thinking in terms of the four directions (Air, Fire, Water and Earth), a room, items and things in your home represent each of these and is ruled by these energies.

The kitchen and bedroom are ruled by Venus. The bath is ruled by the moon (Yemaya) and so on. I will write a future post on planetary rulership.

The manner in which this knowledge is implemented is something that I personally am a stickler about.

Do you think about what you are doing? I mean really. Go in your bathroom, what does it look like? Is it clean? Do you realize the plumbing system in your home is an entry and exit point? So, do you really ever clean the energy around the drains? The faucets? And the toilet?
Some of the most meticulous of energy workers will do all the other cleansings (with sage, sea salt, and the like), and yet they never consider these other entry/exit points. So I am gonna give you a hint, a way of fixing it and hopefully spark you to be more mindful about everything you do and the environment you are in.

The Drain Stops Here
Drains collect energy. There are water spirits, and just like any other realm, some are really sweet and some are foul. So once a week or once a month after you have done a space clearing (see my article on general smudging guidelines) you might want to pay attention to the drains and to the other entry/exit points in your home or the environment you are working in. Especially if there has been negative energy or illness in the space.

A simple inexpensive way of clearing out not only dirt and grime but also unwanted energies. I use ammonia, the cheap stuff you buy at the grocery store. So every once in a while, pour some down all drains and also in the toilet and flush it. The ammonia drives away negative energies.
And another thing I always laugh about is the age-old statement, “You left the toilet lid up again.” Well, ladies, let me tell you, a man leaving the seat up is nothing compared to the fact that you leave the lid up exposing the toilet bowl, like a vessel of water awaiting programming, and then broadcasting out into your home (I am not kidding kids).

So here’s the deal. A bowl of water collects energy. The toilet is an entry and exit point into your home. So why do you want to leave it open unless you are using it?
Consider this, and you might start being more mindful about everything you do. And for you germ-o-phobes, it’s like this: you have your sink where you brush your teeth, you have a toilet in the same room, you go in and use the toilet, flush it with the lid up, and the water molecules not only go down the drain but also swirl up into the room and environment, spreading a thin invisible mist in the entire room, oh including your toothbrush and toiletries and your freshly cleaned body. Think about it, really.

So ladies, stop complaining about men not putting the seat down and close the lid on the toilet when you are not using it! Jeez people. Just be mindful about what you are spreading and doing especially in your own home, if you expect to really do a good energetic job that will hold space. It may sound like a simple thing but it can make a world of difference in your home.

Sacred Altars

By Sherrie Locke, written on 12 K’at, February 2014

A sacred altar is the central location or point of focus for meditation, contemplation and/or ritual related to ancestor reverence, meditation or ceremony.

An altar, or “mesa,” can be anything from a lovely cloth that you carry with your sacred objects and ritual offerings, to a very elaborate set up either inside or outside one’s home.

An altar is also called a mesa.

I will use the example of a typical “ancestor altar” for our first point of reference. Ancestor altars are usually placed within the home, in a location where you will be able to “sit with” that altar. Your family, home and traffic in certain areas of the home should all be considered when choosing the location of the altar. Will you have privacy? Will you need privacy for what you plan to use the altar for, or is it a family shrine? Will others use the altar?

Where to Place Your Altar
These are considerations for location. Don’t worry! If at first you don’t know where you will want to maintain it in the long run, you have the option of setting up the space and, after the conclusion of the ritual (or a certain period of time), you can take it all down and recreate it every time you wish to use it.

First and foremost, always cleanse yourself (see my blog on Sacred Smudging), and then cleanse the room and the space you will be using. Of course, be sure to physically clean the space. Would you have your extended clan over to the house with mountains of dust bunnies all over the altar? I think not.

Creating an Ancestor Altar
I learned to do my first ancestor altar from a respected elder, who explained the following things are required:
1. An altar cloth or something like that (in the old days they preferred frayed edges on the fabric, because the connection is better).
2. Pictures, symbols or items that represent things for you, for the day (such as in Mayan astrology) or for the ancestor(s).
3. A candle.
4. A vessel for water or liquid offerings.

Other options are a crystal grid, an item of personal power, or items that belonged to an ancestor.
The idea is to have a point of focus, such as a picture, a symbol or item that represents what you are doing,

Water is a natural conductor, so it is always good to put clean fresh water on the altar, possibly also some flowers.

Ceremonial Candles

The candle is to be lit and used during ritual or ceremony. In most traditions the candles should never be “blown” out, they should ideally be allowed to burn out on their own (be sure you put any candles in a fireproof “candle runner,” or what I use, a small bowl with some sand, which holds the candle firmly, whether you use glass-encased candles or tall taper candles).

You may also want to buy a nice candle snuffer to keep on the altar for this purpose. Some people prefer to use tea lights, since they have a limited duration and can be monitored more closely. Put them on a dish or something.

When choosing candles for an altar, consider what you are using it for and how long you will be able to watch it. Choose the size and color candle(s) that are appropriate for the operation. I will do a blog on ritual uses of candles and the colors and their uses in a future post.

Set your intention, look at everything and see that you like it and that the energies you are working with will be pleased with the offering(s). Light the candle. State your prayers, gratitude and give offerings (I find this is best done “out loud”) just as if you are talking to the person or energy directly.

You may choose to pour a libation, the favorite drink of an ancestor, (I will post a future blog on the subject of “offerings), or choose a bottle of liquor, a perfume, or an item that remains unopened as a part of the permanent altar space. Make it very special when you offer it the first time.
When I have permanent ancestor altars, I like to use a “covering cloth,” so when I am not using the altar it is protected from prying eyes and also in case someone might like to touch something on it, which I personally prefer not to happen.

My suggestion is to keep your altar simple at first so you learn to work with it and then build it up from there. Have fun with it, think of what an ancestor or the ruling nahual of the day might be like and what would be appropriate.

Outdoor Altars
For an outdoor altar, you might gather rocks or build a small shrine that you can use regularly for a myriad of purposes.

Or build a fire pit, which is customary here in the land of the Maya, where our central rituals are all fire ceremonies.

How Often to Use Your Altar
The indoor altar in my house is usually rocking with candles and offerings of the day, most every day. You may use your altar whenever and however often you like, just keep up a steady rhythm or schedule.
If you are only to use it on, say a birthday, just use a portable altar or mesa setup. If you plan on using it more often, then stick to a regular schedule. Don’t let it get dusty, and never use it for a table!

Now go forth and create sacred space and a beautiful altar for your ceremonies of love and gratitude.