Latest posts for tag ritual

Last night, we had the house warming for Manifest house, and had an opportunity to welcome the community we found to our space. We were nervous as party o’clock rolled around: what if no one showed up.

Our friends came through; with their time, their joy and their gifts they showed us the community we found was real. We had people from all over: neighbors, people who helped us manifest our house, coworkers, and people we’ve found in the leather community. Several things really brought it home how much we’ve been welcomed and how wonderful our community is:

  • People who came in spite of deep personal loss, there to support us because “we are their people”

  • People who spent significant time making things for us to show we were welcome

  • How when we asked people got out their tools and helped us make last-minute modifications

  • People who shared things important to them—the things they liked

  • People who carefully looked for things that they thought would be meaningful to us and shared what they found and what it meant

  • People appreciating what we did for the party

  • People taking the time to view our space and help us think about how we can use it for the community

  • People who connected with new people there, taking the time to appreciate what others had to share

  • And so much more

It was one of the best parties I’ve ever hosted. To everyone who came, thank you so much!

Using Manifest House

People last night confirmed our belief that Manifest House is a great space. It needs to be used; we need to welcome people to our space to fuck, to worship, to play, and of course for continued socialization and connection. I don’t entirely know how to make that happen, but it is important to us. The community was a part of helping us manifest this space; for that and other reasons, we want to use it together.

Some of it will be finding the right niche. There are a lot of good spaces in the community, and so some of the question will be finding what sort of things benefit from a private space and what we have to offer. Some of it is developing skills: we haven’t hosted play parties or rituals before. Some of it will be finding what works for people we know and what they need.

For now, the important thing is that we’re open to finding ways to use the space, and we are interested in ideas from people we know regardless of whether you made it to the party. If we could help you by holding space four your ritual or activity, reach out. If you’d like to be part of our ongoing ritual work, reach out and we can talk about it.

It’s likely our next party will be leather friendly, sex positive. Likely not much play would happen. In practice the only difference from this party might be that we and our guests could feel free to use more protocol and be a bit more themselves. That kind of permissive space has value even if the permissive nature of the space ends up not being needed at a particular event.

We manifested a house. A year ago we moved to Denver; the plan was to see what we thought after a year, and if we found friends and liked the area, buy. That's exactly what we did. And so this solstice we had our opening ritual at Manifest House.

The Ritual

We gave thanks for what we’d accomplished: manifesting the house, but also manifesting a community and friends that create a space in which it makes sense for us to put down roots.

We also dedicated our house as a magical home from which we can manifest ongoing love, joy, intimacy, abundance, and connection.

The magic was strong. We felt it settle on us as we welcomed Abundance back to her fountain on our altar. It only grew deeper as the ritual progressed. We celebrated ourselves, our divinity, gave thanks, and worked the magic of our intent going forward.

What does it Mean to Manifest

How is this more than buying a house? How is this more than hoping for good things in the future? Manifesting is an intentional magic, where you align your will with bringing what you are looking for into being. Like all intentional magic, things work on multiple levels. You still get to a point where you’re sitting around a closing table, signing all the paperwork in the world. There are other levels. I’ve found that for me, manifesting works best when I:

  • Know what I want. I have words to describe it, but I also feel what I want at a deep level.

  • I believe. I have confidence in what I’m looking for,, and I have confidence that it is achievable.

  • I am ready to succeed. I am prepared to give my yes.

  • I work to succeed. I actively work both to believe at an energetic level and at a practical level.

  • I’m open to alternatives that allow me to succeed. I am not so rigid in what I am looking for that I cannot adjust to better align with what the universe has to offer.

  • I give thanks when I succeed. I offer back to the universe for making things easy.

When this all comes together, there is an inevitability, or an energetic draw. It’s like the peaces of a puzzle falling together.

In Practice.

That is all a bit abstract. To make it a bit easier, let me explain how it looked for the house:

  • We knew what we wanted. We needed space for ritual, for kink, and for vanilla entertainment. I need a home office. My vassal needs her space. We needed a place that was big enough for the things we might manifest in our life: a place for our community to gather and a place for our tribe to grow . But we had flexibility in how we’d achieve these things. We didn't have a particular layout in mind; we just needed to be able to figure out how to fit that layout to what we were asking for.

  • We had our logistics in order. We knew what we could afford. we knew where we would find money, and understood how the buying process could work.

  • We put in our energy and will. Once we started, we made sure to reward and respond positively to anything that was moving forward. So, for example when the lender quickly turned around and got the pre-qualification letter to us, we made sure we were on top of the next phase. By the time we had an introduction to a realtor, we were already looking at places and scheduled for open houses.

  • We were ready to decide. Within 30 minutes of finding Manifest House, we knew it could work for us. After running a quick exercise to make sure we were not overlooking negatives, we had made our decision.

And so we went from actually deciding to get serious about buying to closing in one month.

There was fear along the way. This was a big decision both in terms of the money, but also a commitment to Denver and to a particular direction in our lives. Yet it was also the least stressful decisions about where to live in my adult life. Buying a house was far less stressful than renting an apartment a year ago, and even the move went relatively well.

The Momentum Builds

Everything is connected. A space that is good for community does no good without a community to use it. So as we manifested our house, we have also continued to put energy into what we started last year. In the middle of going from agreement to closing, we went to Colorado Leather Fest. It was my first leather event. There was a moment; we had just walked out of a presentation. “We could do that,” my vassal said. I had been thinking the same thing. We could teach; we could help people do the hard work of building relationship and connecting together. We have an important story to tell. Our path is different enough that we have an unusual perspective but similar enough that others can learn from our experience. We’ve found a community that both of us feel comfortable being part of. We both want to contribute, and we are causing that to happen.

The Next Morning

After our solstice ritual, there was a crow sitting on our out-door love seat, cawing into our bedroom window. The crow is a symbol of the Morrigan, who I turn to for this kind of manifesting. What a blessing.

It was September of 2019 when I last danced around a ritual fire. This Beltane I returned. I almost didn't. That would have been a huge mistake.

I was doubting my place in the community—doubting whether that community was part of my life now that I’ve moved to Colorado. Back in 2016, I still worked to bridge gaps and connect with people, even those who disagreed with me significantly. These days, my focus is on my local community. The broader world is too filled with fear and hate; it is not a safe space. I was struggling trying to figure out if Beltane was too distant from that local community. Was it worth the investment of energy and vulnerability. I struggled the last couple of times I danced around a ritual fire. I wanted to find a way I could grow and contribute more effectively. I was a thinker in a community of people who work with their hands. I was someone whose ordeals run toward the mind and spirit in a community of people who turn to the physical. I’d been reassured that I belonged. And yet again and again that weekend in 2019, as I offered to contribute in ways that played to my strengths, I was told “No, we don’t need that. We’ve got it all covered.”

If that had been true it still would have stung. But as far as I could tell, my contributions would have improved our rituals. So I struggled, trying to find a voice, trying to find ways to give back, and most of all trying to find ways to grow with the tribe I had found. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to face that struggle again from across the country.

The Long Road

Thursday’s ritual focused on telling our story over the two years we were apart. It was a real gut punch. I know I’ve struggled. What shocked me was how universal the struggles were. Yes, each of us faced different obstacles. But we were all alone, disconnected, and fighting in our own ways. The forms of connection we grew to depend on to support us often failed. Some of us found connection during the pandemic, but that connection was tight and close rather than the kind of community we were used to. It seems like in many cases building even that connection was a struggle.

As the event progressed, it became clear we had gotten used to being isolated, and this harmed us. Several people expressed relief and joy that I had chosen to attend. They told me I was an important part of the community and it meant a lot I was there. They said they were worried I would not come. “Why didn’t you reach out and ask if I was coming?” I asked.

One person told me that felt invasive. They weren’t sure that it would be okay to reach out into my life outside of festival.

If they only had! That sort of contact would have helped me step past my fears about whether I belonged. It would have created an opportunity for me to explore ways of improving how I interact with the fire tribe and how to grow in that environment.

I could have reached out too. I had doubts. Why didn’t I reach out and ask what was going on and whether I could help? Why didn’t I choose the path of vulnerability and openness, share my concerns, and ask for help?

The Pandemic Poisons Us

I think the answer to both questions is in the long road we’ve traveled. The pandemic has poisoned us. We are used to being isolated. We are used to hurting in a world that is harder to understand. Frightened, afraid, in our own little bubbles, reaching out for the very things that would nourish our souls is too much.

For me the really scary thing is how natural the isolation had become. I didn’t realize I was poisoning myself. It scares me how close I came to losing a community that has been part of my life since 2011. It would have been all too easy to walk away. Facing the vulnerability of coming even though I had fear and doubts was an act of will and stubbornness.

Lifting the Veil of Isolation

It was liberating to let go of that isolation and to be in community. I began to see how I contributed, and how the community’s care lifted and supported me. It felt like coming out of a shell after a long winter.

We all experienced a shared trauma. I pray that as we begin to heal from the last two years, we find some way to reject that isolation and use the experience to motivate ourselves to come closer together. I know that for myself I value connection more than ever.

Against the backdrop of a Colorado thunder storm, we celebrated how our dynamic has strengthened. In the beginning, we picked out several different collars, each one of them focused on a different aspect of love and surrender:

  • Her gift of herself to me; the gift that shows that I am worthy of a goddess’s surrender.

  • A collar to focus on the primal mess that is our mammal, animal selves

  • The couple’s collar we wore at the wedding

  • A collar to remind her that she’s still mine even when we’re struggling and trying to figure stuff out

For most of our relationship we’ve changed collars fairly regularly. But for much of this year, we’ve been wearing only one of the collars. And when we tried to change it, we felt off. The energy was wrong and tensions grew. Part of it was doubtless that there was friction the last time I placed that collar around her neck. Increasingly though, the energy changed and flowed too rapidly for any single aspect of our dynamic. I’d find that just after placing the sexy collar around her neck, we would find ourselves facing a week where our strength of our bond together was our focus. And like as not, just as I acknowledged that and shifted to the couple’s collar, we’d reach a place where we were ready to celebrate the strength of my physical claim. The collars had never been an absolute focus; we acknowledge the overlap from the beginning. However, as our dynamic grew, these different focuses became even harder to separate.

Yet my vassal still likes lots of collars. Changing collars can be a way to focus and remind ourselves about how precious what we have is. We didn’t want to lose that.

So we had a collar weaving. we wove the energy of all the collars together in a ritual before the gods. We let go of thee negative energy and the aspects that no longer served us and dedicated all the collars in service of love and surrender.

The gods were present and the magic strong. We’ve grown so much over the past five years. We are blessed.

So, why is this significant? Sure, it’s great to have sex in ritual setting with the blessing of the gods. But why is this worth blogging about; why is this an important ritual along a path of surrender?

The short answer is that it’s big and significant because we choose for it to be. Ritual lends power to things. By finding aspects of our path and our love where we can lend that power, we lend power to the whole. Our path is big and live changing because we’ve found places along the way that we decide are big. Those specific places might only matter to us, but making a practice of choosing moments to focus on is a key part of spiritual openness.

Like all rituals, the preparation is at least as much of the magic as the ritual itself. I can capture the intent and a little flavor of the ritual in a blog post. But to actually bring that about, we planned for days. What and how did we want to remove negative energy from the collars? What were we letting go of? What protocol do I use for collaring my vassal? What is the intent behind that?

When we ritualize that introspection, we work magic on ourselves. We influence how we will remember things. What aspects will be emphasized going forward? For example, I asked my vassal to review the collaring protocol. She spends a few minutes reading and says, “Yes, that’s good.” She’s saying that I’ve captured the important parts of the intent we’ve shared. That’s the magic we’re going to focus on going forward, and when we look back, that’s what this transition will mean to us. And she’s given her willful consent to that spell, lending it her strength.

The details matter because they are the language we interact with the world and bring about love. The process matters too, because that’s how the details get turned into magic.

Feeling like you belong—like there’s a place for you and you can hold your head high—that is the best. It looks like we’re finding that here in Colorado. Last night was the second part of our house warming ritual. We invited the spirits that we work with to join us as we give thanks for the community we have found and our ever-growing love.

This ritual complimented an earlier house warming ritual where we blessed our space and set intent. In that ritual, our space was minimal. We had given up the air mattress, although I do not think we had yet slept on the newly arrived sofa bed. Our altar was minimal; most of our possessions were weeks away on a truck. Even so, we called out across the mountains, blessing our space as a place of love and a place where we would belong.

A few weeks later, we had much to be greatful for. Part of that is Denver: People are friendly and open. People offer advice more freely than in New England. Part of it is the energy of the place.

We’ve found a community here and that’s a big part of what we have to be thankful for. The kink community here is unashamed. It’s not explicitly spiritual, although for many in the community spirituality is important. Even those who do not walk an explicitly spiritual path seem to understand what I’m trying to do. And above all, it is a community focused on improving our skills at connection and intimacy. Kink here is a bunch of people getting together to be better at knowing themselves and knowing their partners. That is close enough to my sacred lover work that I have found a community of practice.

In all my years I never found this in Massachusetts. I found individuals. I found events in neighboring states. But here, I can be proud of who I am, I can be open about who I am, and I have a community that understands me.

I didn’t realize how much this lack of acceptance was holding me back until I found somewhere to be accepted. A spiritual weight I didn't even know I was stumbling under had been lifted.

Some of the gratitude is internal. The pandemic gave us a reason to challenge all our assumptions. Being in Massachusetts wasn’t giving us enough to be worth it as our friends moved further away from the city and we continued to struggle to find a community that understood us. All our physical connections had been muted by the pandemic. That allowed us to see that slowly over time, we'd stumbled into a place where we were holding onto things because they used to serve us. We had an opportunity to break with that and actually build something based around our needs and desires. As with any change, there are people and parts of Massachusetts we deeply miss. Even so, We are greatful that we took that challenge and have turned it into something positive.

And so we gathered to celebrate this gratitude and offer it as a gift to the gods. As the ritual started, I felt a desire to put on the crown. It is the lord’s time of year, and I felt his energy strongly. Yes, gratitude was foremost, but the desire to claim our success as something I would defend was also strong. I was nervous about combining the magic of the crown with gratitude. For me gratitude is expressed in words, and the crown takes away words and replaces them with feelings. It worked though. I found enough words. Then the rest of that primal magic came crashing into our celebration in the best of summer lust. Such a simple ritual, but such welcome power.

Tonight we released the blessing of our home and let go of the temple we made there. We gave thanks for all the magic we found in this space and to the gods that accompanied us here. We called to those things we wish to take forward. It's a sad moment. So much good has happened here. Rena and I have grown closer and we've used that to touch the world and those around us.

And yet the journey is happy and excitement is building for the next phase. We've been focused on finding where we need to be, and I've been silent for months. Hawaii was great; it gave us what we needed, but Hawaii will not be our home. This Sunday we fly to Denver and take occupancy of the new place. All signs point to us being able to find community and connection in Denver. Thanks to all who gave us advice. We look forward to seeing anyone who is actually in the Denver area, and we'll be back to visit Massachusetts from time to time.

We're going on an adventure to figure out where we need to be and to find our tribe and family. The first stage is to go to Hawaii. I was doing ritual work that I thought was focused on whether I should bring my Venus idol with me. Of course she will be there in Spirit. The question was whether she should make the trip.

The ritual had other ideas. My plan was a celebratory dance/playlist divination ritual. By playlist divination, I mean I put together some set of music—hopefully long enough ago that I don't remember what I have—and play it on shuffle. Sometimes i ask specific questions before a song transition, sometimes I just let it all flow. The celebration of course was to give gratitude and thanks.

The dance ended up being fast paced and ecstatic. In the early part of the ritual, I stumbled into the altar. Every male symbol on the altar fell over; the candle was extinguished. Shortly there after, Rabbit's Song began to play.

Oh, right, Hermes! Oops, yeah, I guess that's a question that needs more consideration than Venus. As part of establishing Lovers Grove I started work with Hermes in his role as messenger. Chuck was the one who had the connection to Hermes. I was hoping to learn through Chuck how to establish my own connection. Before I gained comfort with that connection, Chuck and I parted ways.

Connecting with Hermes was a stretch. Looking back, part of it is that I had stories of Hermes but not any modern practice. It's unsurprising that I wouldn't connect with an ancient Greek view of theft and crime. Besides, let's face it Zeus is a thug and an ass; and I'm nervous approaching his right-hand enforcer when I don't have much connection with Zeus himself. Everyone thinks Hermes is a a natural fit. I mean messenger—you know, Internet and all that. Perhaps, although it seemed to me like if the Internet was going to have a goddess, she’d be new, not Mercury in his pumped up kicks.

Even so, I’ve continued to do messenger work. I’ve written around 380,000 words of fiction around exploring love, sexuality, in connection outside of the context of our fucked up world. I’ve continued to live my life as an example and to connect with people one-on-one. I continue to hear the shouting and yearn with all my heart for another way.

And I could use help in all that. Some of my fiction is really good, but I need help getting it out there. I know that I alone—even R and I together—aren’t going to be the messenger I hope to be. There are aspects of marketing, timing, and finding audiences that I’m just not good at. And perhaps that means I won’t be that kind of messenger. I know I don’t want to live my life at the social media pace. If that’s what it takes to reach people, then I won’t be the one doing it.

Gods can help. They can give us the courage to believe in ourselves. They can make connections between people. And they can help us explore who we want to be.

As I danced, I apologized for not thinking of Hermes and celebrated what work I’ve done as a Sacred Messenger of the Grove. I celebrated the people I’ve connected with, and the fiction I’ve written. I received an acceptance from Hermes I don’t think I’ve gotten before. “I’m still here. We can work together; you don’t need anyone else to reach out to me.”

Then I thought about how there are things I still do every day that are tributes to Hermes. Whether it’s the importance of motion, the easy traveling food I always have, I do have a Hermes practice ready. I was just afraid to call it that and actually honor him in the practice.

The past few days since that ritual, I’ve been working on calling out to him explicitly. It feels good. I’ve already started to brainstorm ways I could reach out and move forward on messenger projects that have been blocked.

More than that, I need his advice on this adventure. I need to figure out what the role of messenger is in my life. That is part of figuring out where we need to be, just like my Venus work as lover.

The theme for this year's Yule ritual was Return of the Sun. And why not: we're going to Hawaii.

Normally, Yule is a time of reflection for me. It tends to be the time of year when I reflect on the price of the rebirth to come. I don't actually do sacrifice work at Yule, but I do tend to think back and honor the sacrifices that make new life possible. This year, there is too much darkness already. So we jumped right to the promise of the returning sun and how we'll bring that rebirth forth within ourselves.

We are starting on a journey to find our tribe and our family. The two of us are closer than ever: facing the challenges of the pandemic deepened our dynamic and our gratitude practice. But sometimes with the isolation of the pandemic, it's felt like it's just been the two of us trying to stand strong against the world. Reflecting on this, we confirmed what has been a growing suspicion: we don't have enough of a tribe here in Massachusetts to meet our needs. It's getting worse as people move away from the city. Our inability to drive makes it challenging to keep up with people in New Hampshire or Rhode Island. We two have something really wonderful going on. But if we could find a bit larger we to belong to, it could be more stable, stronger, and we think bring us to even greater levels of happiness and love.

At Yule this year, we focused on setting intent for this journey. We aren't being shy about what we want. Ideally, we'd find someone else (or a couple) to join our family. Someone who could drive and fill in some of the other gaps in our life would turn something that is great into something even bigger. I don't think we're unicorn hunting, at least not in a bad way. We have the experience with polyamory to navigate another relationship. We have the time and energy to make it work. And we have the experience changing and growing to adapt our lives to someone else. we have a lot to offer: experience in the art of happiness, art of love, and in manifesting what we seek. We're not afraid to reach out and accept the gifts the universe offers. We are constantly growing and teaching, and can offer that. Somewhere out there, there's someone for which this could be a great deal. We aren't going to find them (and they aren't going to find us) unless we try. And so we set intent and asked our gods and goddesses to help us.

Beyond our family, we seek tribe. We'd like to find a community to belong to. Probably a relatively kinky, love and sex positive community. We haven't managed to find that in Massachusetts. There is kink and sex positivity in surrounding states, and it appears to be emerging a bit here. I haven't found the kind of connection between that and spirituality I've found elsewhere. Also, this keeps pushing further away from the city, and our lack of driving impacts things.

We've been drawn to Boulder Colorado, and that may be where we end up.

But the first step is healing enough for us to connect with our desires and what the universe will manifest. The pandemic has taken its toll, and we aren't ready for that. Yule is a time of rebirth---a time when we can rekindle the spark of life within ourselves. What better to do that after the cold, dark times of 2020, than starting 2021 in the literal sun of Hawaii. So, as is proper, magic spirals around reality, and we embark on a spiritual and literal adventure. First Hawaii, then the rest of our lives.

This year the power is at Samhain; the sabbat falls on a full moon. So it is a time of magic both in this world and the next; a time when the veil between is weak at a time when magic is strong in this world. Perhaps at a time when the wisdom of those who went before (and shall come again) can guide us in working real change.

It is certainly time to celebrate and honor the lives of those we have lost: the countless lives taken by the pandemic; those who have lost their lives in the struggle for racial justice and the surrounding violence; and all the others who have left us.. I will particularly miss Ruth Bader Ginsburg both because of the political tragedy that her death has become, but more because of the strength of her life. She fought to live in the best of all possible worlds, realizing I think more than most we find that world when we hold both our hopes and what we can actually achieve at the same time. We are the sum of what has come before; all these lives touch the magic of our world. But this year,her touch will be the symbol small enough for my mortal mind to grasp how one person's life can ripple across the world. We all touch and change the world, but it helps me at least to have a particular focus to remind myself that change happens.

More than ever we stand in the crossroads. For many of us it is symbolized by the crossroads of the election. But it is more than that. We stand between the reactionary and the radical. We stand between fear and hope. And oh, goddess, we stand apart. We shout, we doubt, our screams of anguish so loud that there is no room for love and connection. Often when I stand at the crossroads, I look at the choices before me and reject them all. Often, it's the middle path, somewhere in between, somewhere not obvious on first inspection that is the road I choose. If this crossroads is like that, it is less obvious than usual. All the obvious middle roads are horrible.

In planning a ritual, I find myself at a bit of a personal crossroads (or confluence) at least. I'm between the two psychopomps I work with. The Morrigan is my goddess of magic in much the same way some people I know work with Hecate. She has shown me power (and its risks) from a very early age. The two times I have worked with death in a a major way, she stood beside me or sat on my shoulder. And then there is Hermes, the messenger. I have never dealt with him as a psychopomp. But I serve him in the hopes of finding a way to end the shouting, to give love and reason a chance to shine forth. Old man, that's got to be a hard job these days. Let's see what we can find tonight to make it a little easier.

And so tonight, I call to ancestors strong and wise. Join me in Samhain rite, your wisdom sought, deep and bright. Help guide this world with magic's might. And in the place between here and there, our thanks to give for those still dear.

I finished out the season at Crossroads as I often do.

Friday ritual was dedicated to work at the crossroads: work in the liminal spaces between, work with the travelers and messengers, and work with their gods. It's been a long time since I have focused on my Hermes work and long past time to offer thanks. Three and a half years ago, I made commitments to Hermes and Venus to teach and practice love, to stand as an example to others, and to work to stop the shouting and start listening. Often during that time, I have called to Venus. But of late, the messenger work has been strong and it was time to acknowledge that.

As I sat in the ritual run-through, I realized that I have not honored Hermes’s role in that communications work. My Debian work is all about stepping past the shouting and listening to each other. Two things stood in my way when I tried to honor Hermes.

First, Chuck brought Hermes to our work. He had a deeper connection with the gods’ messenger. The chasm opened between Chuck and me before I could develop my own relationship with Hermes.

Second, I have been downplaying the spiritual aspects of my Debian work. I have been worried that members of the project might be uncomfortable that I see trying to help our community as a form of worship and magic. I told a few people, but I have not focused on it.

My Debian work is spiritual. Debian has been a community close to my hart for approaching twenty years. I’ve been part of Debian longer than I’ve been dedicated to Venus. I saw my home tearing itself apart. I offered to sacrifice my time to come in and work magic to see if I could help Debian stop the shouting and gain more genuine connection. When talking to the project, I wouldn’t use the l-word, (and would not dream of saying magic) because it would be misunderstood. But in my heart, I know that I’m teaching a kind of love; the love of tribe and home. I’m offering to teach how to disagree and grow in a world with the dynamic tension that allows a loving community to thrive.

And yes, the work is magic. At one level, I am using communication tools like consensus building and NVC to build connection and understanding. I am also acting with my intent, using my will to manifest change in the community. Each time we find a tool that works, we move things closer to a culture of compassion. We are building our own rituals that can hold us together with a new level of connection.

It is working. I’ve seen others pick up some of the patterns of communication I have used. I’ve seen them succeed. Before I left for Crossroads, I received multiple compliments on a difficult message I sent. People said that I managed to present things so they felt connected to them rather than building conflict.

And so I offer thanks to Hermes. I offered my dance Friday night, and what a dance it was. And I offer him thanks in words here and now.


Saturday we did some of the most difficult messenger work I have seen done in a ritual context. Each of us took a ribbon dedicated to harm in the world. Racism, sexism, sexual abuse, body shaming, slut shaming, and disability were all represented. The ribbon represented the harmful act as well as the impact that might result. We were invited to read these ribbons in our own voice. We were invited to connect both with the one acting and the one acted on.

I stood there mocking someone for crying, for expressing themselves. “Stop being such a pussy,” I said. How could I do this? That is not me! As I flipped over the ribbon, I realized that is no idle question. That’s the key question to empathy. That empathy is the first step to a connection deep enough to request change.

On the other side of that ribbon, I was the person denied their expression. I was denied one of the things most precious to me: denied my feelings and my internal voice. But the text on the ribbon allowed me to take a stand demanding that everyone be given voice to their feelings, without diminishing themselves.

Standing and witnessing was not easy. As the ribbons came to the focus, we might face harm we brought about or harm that was all too close to our personal experience. But we were together as tribe, supporting ourselves. And after the last ribbon was read, we began to place the ribbons and what they symbolized into the fire.

It was not just a ritual of release. As the ribbons burned, we were challenged to act to change the world. Right then, we were asked to find what we would do to bring the world closer to the one we would live in. If we do not want to always be tied down by these ribbons—if we do not want to be the ones tying others down—we are the only ones who can act for change.

Under the surface of the ritual there was much more. This was a ritual about taking responsibility for our role in bringing harm into the world. But it was a ritual about being whole in a world where we will cause harm. So, it was a ritual about stepping past judgment, stepping past write/wrong, good/bad. We will all cause harm. Sometimes intentionally. If we face that from a place of judgment, the guilt and shame can get in the way of happiness and positive change. Instead, this ritual was about acting with intent, heart open, and awareness of our impacts on others.

This too is related to my Debian work. One of the things ripping through the Debian community is the challenge to embrace awareness of those around us enough to foster respect and diversity. Earlier this year I was talking about pronouns and how asking people about their pronouns was just a form of treating people as they would want to be treated. I gave another example talking about myself and pointing out that some blind people might not enjoy their blindness being used as the way to identify them. Perhaps I don’t want to be described as “the blind guy over there.” I don’t mind as it turns out, but figuring that out is a way that you can respect me rather than objectifying me. “That’s unreasonable to expect people to do,” was the answer I got.

This ritual was about understanding why that answer amplifies harm in the world. Fighting that battle is yet more Hermes work standing ahead in Debian.

Not all Easy

The ritual work was very good. Yet I am still struggling to fit into the ritual team. I’m not a maker of physical objects. I do less physical ordeal work than most of the people around that fire. My talents lie elsewhere. It is hard to find a voice, hard to find ways that the things I could bring can be integrated.

  • I was talking to one of my mentors from the earliest times in my spirituality. I wanted to give gratitude and talk about how I was finding ways to do good work based around bringing compassion to the world in Debian. Without even understanding the context, without even asking how things were going, he told me how to do my job. I appreciate his advice, but I was hurt that there was no room for my existing success to be heard. Why does he know better than I do how to approach a community I’ve lived in for 20 years?

  • One of the primary points of the Saturday ritual was almost lost. There was no discussion of our responsibility for change. It almost turned into a simple release ritual rather than a transformational experience. One of the ritual team felt called to discuss an article about change and our role in creating it as the ribbons burned. I’m really good at that kind of integration work. Yet the way we write rituals, there is no room for me to be involved and help. I guess at one level, why complain? It’s working. Yet I know based on contributions I have made elsewhere that I can help.