The beauty of a House Blessing is it brings clarity of intention to what you want your home to be used for. "The home is where the heart is" so why not make a special ceremony to bring in positive energy and celebrate this unique time of establishing roots where you will lay down your head at night. Our home is where we spend most of our time. It is our personal haven to be who we want to be without any outside influence. We can pick and choose who we allow to enter it. The front door is the Threshold to your personal space. I had the honor to bless a home that a special couple had purchased. It was a yellow farm house that looked like something out of the Prairie days, but it actually was owned by a gentlemen who painstakingly build it from scratch. It was a replica of a old farmhouse, but it had all the modern amenities. Unfortunately this craftsman died shortly after he completed it. He was rather young so it made for this story to be somewhat somber. The home and the twenty acres sat empty for five years. No one wanted to purchase it, but I think since the previous owner had such a strong connection to the house and died so suddenly maybe he just couldn't let it go, and was waiting for the right owners to take it over. Well the right owners did come along and it was these people that contacted me to do their blessing. They had called several ministers, but no one wanted to do it. I jumped at the change to. I have owned many homes in my life and the moving in never felt complete until my husband and I did a ceremony. It always helped us transition and feel connected to the structure and the land. It's not the house that makes the home, its the energy inside it. In fact every time we moved out of our homes, I would be the last to go back in and clean it for the new owners. I would feel a bit nostalgic, but with all our belongs out, I felt the spirit of the house was gone. I was able to let it go, because the spirit was in our hearts and we took it to our next home.
I had very short notice to put something together because they were moving in the next day and they wanted to do the blessing before they moved in all their belongings. The elements that are important in blessing a home is to clear out any negative energy and bring in the positive and above all set intentions for the coming life entering. I was very pleased what I put together. It was warm, sacred, and empowering to the couple. I ended with blessing the threshold to the home and the land around it. The couple walked thru it holding hands. There was closure to this transition and the blessing created a opening for them to feel grounded as they honored the previous owner for waiting for them.
There are many ways of celebrating a holiday and as a Life Cycle Celebrant, I look for new ways to create ceremonies to add to the deeper meaning of that day or event. As I was preparing for Thanksgiving, I wanted to research why we celebrate this holiday. It's obvious in modern day culture, Thanksgiving is about creating gratitude for our life and generally it is spent with very close family and friends. All of this sentiment is wonderful and helps us take pause together as families and as a nation. As I started to research the holiday of Thanksgiving, I started to feel somber. I don't want to write this blog with the intentions to offend or say we shouldn't celebrate Thanksgiving, but as human beings, I do feel that it's important for us to approach history with honesty and sensitivity.
Historically Thanksgiving is full of embarrassing facts.The facts show that 10 to 30 million Natives were killed at the hands of European invasion and colonialism. Pilgrims were thankful and grateful that the Native population was decreasing. Many of us have been taught to believe the Pilgrims and Indians were friendly towards each other. Columbus and his people slaughtered Native American, gave them diseases and took their land. For anyone who is interested in reading an excellent book on what really happened at Thanksgiving, I recommend picking up a copy of 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O'Neill Grace. It's well researched. With all this information I have gathered on the history and development of this holiday, my husband and I are not focusing on the Pilgrims/Indians aspect of the holiday but instead on the abundance and blessing of the earth.
I will continue in my next blog about how we celebrated Thanksgiving this year, and how we celebrated with "The Whispering Giant" that brought more meaning and balance into our Thanksgiving celebration.
The hidden treasure that helped me celebrate this years Thanksgiving holiday is the "Whispering Giant", that is located a block from my house. This statue made out of Douglas Fir wood was carved by Peter Toth. Toth one of 11 children was born into poverty in the newly formed Republic of Hungary in December 1947. In 1956 when the Hungarian borders briefly were open, his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Akron, Ohio. As Toth grew up in this country, he developed a deep interest in Native American culture and history. He saw their story parallel to the violent repression he had experienced in Hungary. He is a self taught artist who traveled the US and stopping wherever local officials would allow or invite him to carve one of his "Whispering Giants" to commemorate the plight of the Native Americans. He accepted no money for his work. He considered the sculptures to be a gift to his adopted country. In 1982 he rolled into Rhode Island and was given permission to sculpt "Enishkeetompauog" who was the chief for the Narragansett tribe which covered all of Rhode Island at the time the Pilgrims arrived. He completed his tribute to the Indigenous people of North America, specifically Native Americans in May 1988. He has a sculpture in every state.
My husband and I have always felt a deep connection to this structure since we moved here several years ago. As we walk by it almost everyday on our way to the beach, we thank the Native Americans for this land that we live on now. So in gratitude this Thanksgiving, we laid flowers at this monument, said our prayers; and as many Native Americans cultures had celebrations that honored the end of the harvest, we found a way to incorporate that into our celebration this year and will continue this new tradition every Thanksgiving to honor their history. So like with many of my ceremonies that I develop, I have found a way to incorporate the old with the new. It's a way I can spend the day with my family, but still remain faithful to our own sense of value.
My focus for my last few blogs has been about the importance of celebrating Rites of Passage. Most of my work has been developing wedding ceremonies, but I also as of late, have been getting requests for Baby Blessings. This trend is caring over into other non-religious ceremonies, such as Baby Blessings. Since most of my couples are not affiliated with a house of worship, they not only need a officiant to marry them, then now need an officiant to bless their baby. I had the opportunity this year to develop and perform a couples wedding as well as their 10 month old daughter's Baby Blessing-all in the same ceremony. At our initial consultation they brought along their daughter who at the time was 7 months old. I knew they didn't belong to a house of worship so I had a feeling they didn't have any formal welcome for her. I suggested since their entire family and friends would be at the wedding, why not include as a unity ritual their daughters arrival and the joining of the three of them.
The idea was perfect for them, and the duo of a marriage ceremony and baby blessing was beautiful. It probably is one of my favorite ceremonies I worked on this year. A marriage and baby blessing are two monumental rites of passage. They symbolize re-birth, vows, and joining of lives, so it made sense to wrap these two together. The first half of the ceremony was all about the couple, the love for each other, their promises and vows to each other, the recognition of their family and friends presence and the importance of those relationships. The second half I included a water anointing blessing for their daughter. This also included vows from the couple to their child. Their unity ritual was the coming together of these three people as a united family. What better way to start a marriage with all the people surrounding you with their love and support and the child of your dreams. After I pronounced them husband and wife, I looked at them take their walk down the aisle, holding their beautiful daughter. It was a moment I will never forget-and I have a feeling they won't either.
Rites of Passage change people. Any transformation is a metamorphosis, a moment after which one is never again the same. The normal Life-cycle follows a relatively uniform path. Birth through death and everything in between. Each cycle can be exhilarating, liberating and also confusing and tragic. For example a divorce can be liberating and sad at the same time. When we marry we make vows that we want to uphold-thats why we marry to commit ourselves fully to another person. When that vow is broken it will usually end in a divorce. Everyone is there for your marriage but no one is there for the divorce. Healing is a key element in order to move forward and find solace in that hurt. I feel if we don't give space for the healing, it will haunt us, it will carry over into the next phase of our life-cycle. An example of a divorce ceremony could be gathering several key people in your life that you fully trust-who understand the pain you feel or it could also be by yourself. The intention for the ceremony is key here. First think about what you need to move forward in your life. Is there anything you need to let go of to move on and what do you need to bring into your life to heal and move on. Create a small fire, either inside or outside. Choose a special day that has meaning to you. It could be your birthday, or the day of a new moon or full moon, could be the date you were married. Perhaps make a circle with the people you are with, hold hands call in all the angels and saints or your higher power to hold the space. Go into a meditation of quietude and feel what you need to feel. You could write your feelings on a card and then throw it in the fire. Let the old feelings burn away, creating space to let something good, and positive in. Maybe you need to cry or shout or dance or rejoice. If you have invited friends, let them partake by expressing their support to you, their love for you and their blessings. Maybe a gift can be given to them or from them. Remember to close the circle, hold hands again, go into a quietude and again feel what you need to feel to heal!