September 2015…travelling in Italy, overwhelmed with the beauty and having some come-to-Jesus moments with my scoliosis. In the midst of our time, so far from home and community, I learn that Harbin Hot Springs—my deepest spirit home—is consumed in wildfire. So much heartache, so many gut-wrenching tears. This loss created a distinct hole in my heart.
I frequented this sacred place to fall into ritual stillness, ceremonially immerse in waters, commune with natural beauty. For six consecutive Junes, our community dance-retreated here. I was in the Wednesday night rotation holding dances here. This loss of place penetrated insidiously, deeply, affecting me and many others in ways that are challenging to communicate.
And now, all these years later, in the midst of construction, they re-opened the gates. For three days last week, I camped creek-side, absorbed all the change. Only one thing remained as it was: the healing waters, unaffected by fire. The loving re-build around the water is achingly familiar. I sat by the waterfall, banyan-like roots had survived and miraculously cascaded into the still water underneath. I stood on the deck, re-oriented to the compass, called in the directions. I travelled back and forth seven times in the hot-cold plunge, meditating on/connecting with each chakra. I sweated in the sauna, hiked to and from the meadow, drank coffee from the small café overlooking the valley. To drop back into the familiarity of ritual went a long way in mending my heart hole.
I felt the power of ceremony, the way it invigorates me, clears me, bears serenity and connects me with my deepest being. And it felt so obvious that in that depth the connection to all sentient beings is borne. We can bandy about the trite phrases that point toward “one-ness”, but the rituals of ceremony render it real. I was gifted with some sweet moments of Harbin-clarity, a sensation of crisp lucidity that seem so unique to this place, downloads from the universe that surprise me in their speed and conclusiveness. And a big chunk of it was about ceremony and the way Cultivating Destiny had already been evolving in this ritualized direction.
This promises to be a full day of ceremony dedicated to and in honor of our soul guide. The tenacious being who called us in, who knows why we are here and what we need to complete in this lifetime. A full day to remember why and what and communicate gratitude for this soul guide’s prodding, patience and protection. CEREMONY: eight ritual portals we will move through together in this day of dancing/art-making/journaling. I hope you can join us.
When I returned from Harbin, a library angel delivered this poem, Variation on a Theme by Rilke written by Denise Levertov:
A certain day became
a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me–a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.
This is precisely what we are calling in on Saturday: a being granting us honor and task, our whole self singing what we know…love, bella