Alchemical Post-Election Circle

A group of us planned a ritual focused on healing and achieving catharsis after the US presidential election. When we scheduled the ritual, we did not know who would win the election. As things transpired, the ritual ended up being more important for us than we could have imagined.

The gods were with us. As I began, speaking of the difficulty we've had choosing our leadership, a bald eagle flew above us.

Love and Community.

There's been one common thread among those I talked to. We're responding to our hurt by reaching out with love, offering and accepting support. This article is typical of the stories of people finding strength in community. My Facebook timeline holds my story of community found.

Our ritual was no exception. We joined in love and compassion for each other and for our country. We released the negative within us, found balance, and looked to the future.

In an alchemical fire circle, multiple different magics (or ways of interacting with the ritual if you will) combine and are stirred together around a fire. We worked with words, art, and the vision quest of the swet lodge.

We brought together people who had never been in circle before with experienced people from a variety of traditions.

Holding Space

My job was to bring movement and dance to the fire. The movement helps bring the energy through the fire, allowing energy from all for elements to build. It's critical for creating a coherent overall ritual instead of disconnected chunks of work.

I was nervous: we had a small circle. There was one drummer, and at several points, I was the only dancer. I started without a real feel for the space and the drummer. In addition, since there was a sweat lodge, I needed rapport with the fire tender as she brought the grandfathers (heated stones) into the lodge.

Somewhere in the years I've been doing this, I learned how to do it well. Soon, I found the space, and a connection with the drummer and fire. At first, the connection with the fire tender and grandfathers was tentative: I danced in place holding back while they worked. However, as the ritual progressed, even that connection grew strong.

If you Take my Power, I Reshape it

The first round of the ritual was releasing our negative energy. my movement work helped to open things up, to give us the freedom in which to let things go.

Still, I hoped to find space to release a few words of my own. That was not to be. The person in charge of words decided that before we shouted, we would write down our words and shoot them. I can neither write nor shoot.

"Hmmph. I guess I won't be releasing anything," I half thought to myself. I knew I was being rediculous even as the words ran through my mind. I knew that all I had to do was point out that the ritual couldn't work for me. Doubtless the first offer would be for someone else to write and shoot. That wouldn't work: words are power and to be safe in that space, in this time, I need access to my own power without the acquiescence or help of anyone else. Still, solutions were easy and obvious.

I took a different approach. I could see that this ritual format worked well for others in the circle. I needed a way that the release could work for me and yet my work could support and enhance rather than change their work. The entire experience of my reaction to the situation could be a symbol and I could release that symbol.

Yes! It would be all too easy to take my first reaction and run somewhere dark with it. Someone else's desire to use paper and guns did not account for me. It would be easy to feel that they did not account for me. It would be easy to feel that I did not matter.

Sometimes, we are hated; sometimes we are explicitly targeted. Other times, though, we are ignored, or we are cared for, but people don't know how to meet our needs and theirs.

I rejected--I released--the idea that these things are all the same. They all hurt, but when we choose to connect, the difference matters between targeting, not being noticed, and different unreconciled needs. There is healing to be found in understanding that difference.

In that transformation, I reaffirmed my value. This time, I changed so that my needs were in harmony with everyone else's. This time, I gave rather than asking.

It was powerful.

Right of Passage

For me, this was another right of passage. I was working with one of my mentors. Years ago, she would have been in the forefront, and I would have been working on my part. This time, I was the master of ceremonies. At first, I felt like I was taking her place.

But it fell into place, and I got to give her the opportunity to step back and focus on her work more and the overall community less.