After I decided that I would like to host a monthly ritual salon at my apartment, I sent out emails to friends I thought might be interested. Some of them were already part of a movie group; others were new; they didn't all know each other. It was November, 2013, the month for Thanksgiving here in the United States. So I created a simple gratitude ritual. But how to start?
Barbara Biziou talks of the importance of having a clear beginning and end to your rituals. Since we are a large group with quite the spectrum of experiences, I felt it was important for creating sacred space and bringing us into alignment with each other that we open with something specifically aimed at that. We began by Calling in the Directions and Elements: East/Air, South/Fire, West/Water, North/Earth. "Calling in the Directions" means acknowledging, welcoming, and thanking in prayer the energies associated with each direction/element and asking them to join in the proceedings to offer support and guidance. This practice is the perfect opening for our group. It helps reconnect us with our ancestors as it is a tradition found throughout the world in all cultural lineages, offering the sense that we are participating in life rather than life happening to us. It brings us back into connection with Mother Earth, grounding us is a very real way, awakening our consciousness to our intimate connection with this miracle we live on. And it brings us to a state of reverence and gratitude which are always a great place to start any kind of ritual or ceremony.
These articles/blogs offer some wonderful information and perspectives about "Calling the Directions and Elements":
Calling the Directions & The Medicine Wheel by Stacey Couch
Calling the Directions: Thoughts on Shamanic Psycho-spiritual Ritual Orienteering by Steve Serr
Here's the text I am using in our Ritual Salon which is from the Sibylline Order:
Hear me Guardians of the East, the element of Air.
We call to you tonight with open heart and clear voice to offer thanks...
For the wind that brings inspiration and plays with our thoughts...
For the ability of communication that offers us with the power of understanding...
For the new dawn that greets us and offers a place to begin anew.
For the moments of poetry, song, and story that blossom within.
We thank you for the breath that gives us life.
Guardians of the South, the Element of Fire…
We offer our thanks for bringing us the long days of summer so that we may enjoy evening sunsets over the river…
For inspiring us to explore new expressions of our creativity while still embracing the arts we love…
For lighting the passions within, so that we may connect more deeply with the world around us…
For delivering us the strength and courage we need to open ourselves to all that life brings…
We thank you for the spark that burns within us all.
Guardians of West – Element of Water
We call you today to thank you for the gifts you give to our lives
Because water is always surrounding us
From our mother's womb to the waves of the ocean
From a sprinkle of rain to an intense waterfall
The blood in our veins and the tears in our eyes
You give us emotions, love, dreams, imagination
You cleanse us and heal us
Thank you for being here with us today and always
We honor and we thank thee
Guardians of the North, Powers of Earth,
We thank you for your gifts and blessings in our lives,
The food that nourishes us,
The homes we live in.
We give thanks for our bodies and their abilities to sustain us,
To feel pleasure,
And to dance upon the Sacred Ground.
We honor and thank thee,
Powers of Earth!
At that first gathering in November, calling in the directions and elements was the biggest "stretch" for most of my friends; they had not heard of doing this and it seemed like one of those "woo woo" kinds of New Age practices to them. Knowing this might be a challenge, I added something to make the calling in more tangible. After each direction/element we would partake of the element. So after East/Air was called we collectively took a breath. After South/Fire, I lit a candle. West/Water, we each took a sip of water. And after North/Earth, we each ate a bite of apple. My friends said that the addition of these concrete ritual steps really brought the idea of calling in the directions/elements home to them.
Now we have something familiar to begin with each time we meet.