The Desert. Is it dead or alive? Traditionally the desert and I haven’t been friends. I prefer lush greenery, flowing rivers and the moist breath of mama ocean. But last night, I attended one of my best friend’s weddings. The wedding altar overlooked the vast and spacious landscape of Joshua Tree just as day blossomed into night in beautiful shades of pink and orange.
The brides spoke of the desert’s magic. About how the things that survive here, can’t merely survive, they must specifically have the ability to thrive here. They must absorb the dry heat and make elegant use of the few drops of water they get. They must withstand the sudden sharp winds and create harmony amongst the serpents and spiders.
But most of all, it seems to me, that the desert must hold the space of vastness. With rambling hills and flatlands, rock and sand, there aren’t many places that help humans feel safe and contained like the bosom of a forest does. The desert is the divine feminine in the form of Bhuvaneshwari, goddess of absolute spaciousness of nature, consciousness and love. She shows us how to expand in all directions without getting lost or losing our groundedness. She’s Earth speaking to us to be here now, and to also to be as expansive as the sky, as alluring as an endless horizon of possibility.
As the brides made their promises to self, one another, and our beloved community, the magic of their bond vibrated through the sacred sands–the ancient sands that remind us to walk softly but firmly on the earth, to appreciate our gravitational bond, and the co-creation we birth with each foot step.
Every rite of passage is a ritual–a time when we make space for what is sacred to us and share it with others. Location is very important to ritual. We must contemplate which flavor of Mama Earth will most amplify our divine promises, our human magic. In which terrain do you come most alive?
In so many ways, I feel that rites of passage in modern times have become less attended to. Instead of collaborating with nature and community as so many of our ancestors did, it has become more about finding the perfect resort with all the amenities, about the rules of religious “shoulds” combined with mass media’s vision of materialistic joy.
Many of our rites of passage go unrecognized. When I got my first moon, I got a box of tampons and a bottle of perfume, and from what I gather that is a fairly kind initiation. Many of my friends had zero acknowledgment of this sacred transition, or even worse a shaming from their elders. Taking this to an extreme, we have violent rites of passage in some cultures, when genital mutilation marks the change.
It’s not surprising that the rites of passage that are more closely tied with our sexuality get the worst treatment. First menstruation is rarely properly celebrated, and for many, the first time they make love is shrouded in secrecy and shame. Weddings have become rigid with unwritten rules of etiquette and financial hardship, stressed out brides and professional wedding planners. I long for the time, when tribe would unite, each with a role to play to bring honor to these important moments in our lives.
With that said, the wedding I just attended was the most beautiful one I’ve ever witnessed. (It had a wonderful wedding planner, two somewhat stressed out brides, and a lot of community participation. So a middle path is possible.) My sister and I constructed the altar of meaningful objects and I led a grounding meditation at the beginning of the ceremony to allow everyone to come into collective presence and love.
Weddings aren’t a spectator sport. If you are a crier, you know this. You become one with the bride or groom you most identify with and feel what they are feeling. As they try not to cry, you can let it flow for them. But even grander than that, is how much your undivided focus and loving support is needed to seal the deal on all sacred contracts.
Think about all the major transitions in your life. Do you feel like they were honored and acknowledge with love and community support? If not, how would you rewrite them? Looking into the future, imagine…how do you want to celebrate coming into partnership, birthing, becoming a parent, graduating in wisdom, and most importantly, how do you desire to die? What type of funeral would best represent your life? Can you imaging how taking ownership of these precious moments of your life and celebrating them with intentionality and love could impact your life?
If you are intrigued by this and need some creative support, I’d be happy to help. Rituals and rites of passage speak to me deeply and I feel impassioned about returning them to their former glory.