What food is to our body, ritual is to our soul. A ritual keeps us connected to our spirit, our soul and our purpose. Sobonfu Some
You hear it everywhere: Autumn is a time of transition. Your body begins to crave warm, nourishing food (…and people. Hello, cuffing season), and cozy nights in start sounding real good. Mentally and spiritually, you transition, too. Colder months allow you to take that much-needed quiet time to develop that ever-elusive quality of discernment between what nurtures us and what we must surrender.
If you allow it to be, Fall and Winter can be a time of tremendous growth. Like an incubating seed curled within soil, you can prepare yourself to receive the kind of expansion that shines with your highest potential during these months. Without warm weather calling with all those pesky, scantily-clad distractions, this time offer a deep opportunity to connect with your own sacredness, deepen your practice, or work through that–ahem–lingering vulnerability complex.
Or to drink lots of bourbon and freebase pumpkin pie spice. Maybe all of the above.
Get Smudged. Often.
Smudging–cleansing yourself, others, and your space with smoke, is a ritual with roots in almost every indigenous spiritual practice. Everyone from ancient medicine men to modern day Catholic priests use smoke as a spiritual cleanser. Here are a few of my favorite plants to smudge with:
White Sage: You’ve probably heard of smudging with sage, it’s a popular herb used for cleansing a space and general healing. Grab some dried white sage, either in bundles or loose that you can burn in a little heat-proof bowl. I like it. It does the job.
But the smell reminds me of hamburgers.
Palo Santo: I don’t remember the first time I fell in love, but I do remember the first time I smelled palo santo. This holy wood is related to other biggie sacred energy cleansers like frankincense, myrrh and copal. The smoke actually keeps bugs away, and is incredibly cleansing and healing. It’s common to see this used by shamans in South and Central America, where Palo Santo naturally grows. It’s earthy, a bit minty-citrusy and sweet. The smoke feels more grounding than sage but still has some levity. It’s used for purification and strengthening.
Copal: This scent was forever imprinted in my mind during sweat lodges in Costa Rica. A chunk of this fragrant resin was rubbed on each heated rock as it entered the lodge, emitting an intoxicatingly sweet, earthy, spicy, citrusy smoke that filled the lodge. I break out copal when I want to call in some good spirits for ceremony or ritual. I feel like it purifies you for the interaction. Because it’s made from the sap of the tree, it’s burned as an offering that spirits find especially delightful.
Don’t limit yourself to these: find what smells and feels good to you. If you’re not sure if a plant is safe to burn, just do some research. Some other popular smudgers: cedar, sweetgrass, thyme, rosemary, mullein, the list goes on and on. Experiment!
Dream journal. Freewrite. Do your Morning Pages. Get what is in, out. I commit to a certain number of pages a day, so even when I seem to be writing the same thing over and over again, I know that I have x number of pages to fill, so may as well just keep going.
While filling pages on your laptop may seem infinitely easier, there is a certain magic in writing by hand. First, like any ritual, your tools are important. I have a small collection of black Bic Atlantis pens, and a basic college-ruled composition notebook that I use for journaling. Then, the action of pulling thoughts from the ether of your mind and making them physical is the very definition of manifestation. It takes longer to write these things out, and you can’t just stab at your backspace button every time something you jot down doesn’t “measure up.”
Eventually, sometimes, you’ll hit a sweet spot, where words are flowing that you didn’t even know you had in you. You’re answering your own questions. Insights, revelations, ideas and inspiration come to you. See? Magic.
Another thing I love about journaling is that I have a running log of my life. If I’m curious about some full moon intentions I wrote out 6 months ago, I just go and find that journal from 6 months ago. I’ll peruse through my filled composition notebooks and remember heartache and happiness, and how every stupid little thing I worried about never came to fruition, but instead was easily forgotten. And how everything is just fine.
Divine your heart out.
Divination a fascinating way to decipher what’s going on in your subconscious and/or get some guidance from helping spirits. Some popular tools include:
- Tea leaves/Coffee Grounds
I’m getting hard into oracle and tarot cards. Maybe you see a gorgeous deck or pretty pendulum calling to you. Head to the library for a few books about your tool of choice and read up.
But really, the world is your divination tool. I’ve used my Spotify on shuffle as a divination tool–no joke. To divine is simply to seek answers and guidance through mystical ritual or process. That means surrendering your ego for one hot second to Source, and asking for a little help. I learned this little trick during a journeying workshop:
Rock Scrying 101
What you’ll need:
Optional: Candle and some incense
- Take it inside, light a candle and your incense, and get centered and present by taking a few deep breaths.
- Ask for guidance from your helping spirits and ancestors. Then think of an issue you’d like some guidance on, and formulate an open-ended question about it. Instead of “Should I move to Fiji?” switch it around to “What should I know about moving to Fiji?”
- Gaze at the surface of the rock, and without touching it, find 4 objects on that you see in the patterns of the rock. They don’t have to make sense, and don’t think too much about it. Just the first 4 things you see.
- Flip the rock and do it again. Jot down the first 4 things you see.
- Place the rock aside and look at your list. What does each symbol mean to you? What are the emotional impressions you get from each symbol? Write these down.
- Formulate an answer to your question from these symbols you’ve deciphered. Voila!
You can do this with anything: clouds in the sky, the bark of a tree, songs over the radio. The Divine is giving you guidance all the time. She is delighted when you put down your latte to listen.
Smudging, journaling, and playing with divination tools all have one thing in common: they get you quiet, they get you reverent, they allow access to the holiness within. Fall just happens to be the perfect time to develop these skills with practice.
What ritual are you loving these days? How are you getting more quiet during this fall-time?