While participating in a ritual is often a transformational experience, I’m finding that even helping out at a ritual can be nourishing. Last night Glenn led a group of five people through a mineral ritual at Sky Lake Lodge in Rosendale, NY.
The mineral element is about power, memory, knowledge, and story. Dagara villagers perform a mineral ritual when someone is feeling weak, self-doubtful, or discouraged, not trusting their own abilities.
I must confess, I had doubts about the ritual. Is it New-Agey and hokey to stand on a rock surrounded by candles, looking over a ridge into darkness, spreading out one’s arms, and contemplating one’s strengths?
But each time I guided a person onto the boulder and then stood there behind her, I felt a sense of rightness. It’s rare that I can be still for more than a moment and not be wondering what I should be doing next. I felt solidly present and aligned with their intentions—whatever they might be—as each one delved into herself. The calmness was a huge relief after these last two weeks of flood and mud and worry.
After confronting the spaciousness beyond the “cliff”–we didn’t have access to an actual cliff, which would’ve been ideal—the person turned to face the rest of the group, and they shouted out her virtues. Healer, mother, sensitive, loving, passionate, adventurous, etc. The recipient of this praise-shower stood there on the rock, listening, and I could feel her delight, mixed, I think, with a faint embarrassment, for most of them started giggling. How often are we told that we are worthy?
Glenn says that in an African village, everyone has known each other their whole lives, so they know just what to shout. In our case, most of the participants had met only a few weeks before, so they emailed each other lists of their best qualities, and everyone had to memorize. There are certainly challenges to doing indigenous work in the West, but Glenn and Malidoma work around them.
Later Beth confided in the group that when she had cancer, even though she was terrified, she was also the most grounded she’s ever been in her life–and therefore the most powerful. She knew just what she needed all the time, and things became very clear. Just before her double mastectomy, she knew, intuitively and definitively, that the cancer was gone. She had the surgery, and the doctors were astounded to find no cancer cells.
Grounded is exactly how I felt, in the woods at night, imbibing the thoughts of rocks.