Umbilical Cord Rituals

Leave a comment

The task of leaving home psychologically takes a lifetime.  For some it begins before the age of 5 as we make early decisions about ourselves in the context of our life so far.  The family has a never ending effect on our sense of self and our revisions of our identity, needs and direction.  Human beings are like programmable instruments.  Our primary processing systems of sensing, intuition and feeling  and the data they take in affect our behavior all of our lives, allowing us to  react to what we have experienced unknowingly.  When we begin to use language and develop cognitive capabilities, we override the sensing, intuiting and feeling systems in an attempt to please others and maintain connection with those to whom we are attached, often leaving important parts of ourselves behind, and much of our potential hidden, even from ourselves.  The character armor of the false self begins pushing others parts of ourselves into the unconscious to be discovered later, if we are fortunate.  The archetypes of the persona become woven into the fabric of our being, to be unraveled later, again, only if we are fortunate.

As newborns, we are attached to our mothers by an umbilical cord.  It is intended to nourish us when we are unable to receive nourishment directly.  Sometimes parents, well-meaning but ignorant, interject ideas and rules into our memory which do not apply to us, but are rather projections of them.  The late, great James Hillman urged us to look at each child with the question “What have we here?”  This the first task of a successful parent, preparing us to survive without them.  In a world of symbols, rather than words, a smile from a parent, a reassuring embrace and soothing words mean everything to the child.  When I first went to an Adult Children of Alcoholics workshop decades ago, the participants were asked to make a circle and the facilitator went around the room, stood behind each participant, and made an affirmative statement while putting a hand on each person’s shoulder.  In disbelief I watched each person burst into tears, as if  the seed of an  unmet need had suddenly been planted in our hearts.

Two rituals emerged from this experience.  The first involved a letting go.  The second involved creating a form of what was lost in two forms.

The letting go ritual involved the use of symbolic umbilical cord.  In the past, this connection was easily seen with a telephone cord (no longer used) or an extension cord (still in use).  In this ritual, the name of the parent who was seen as a person who was connected in an inappropriate way to the adult child was written on the cord, alternating with that of the participant.  The cord then was cut into pieces and then burned collectively.  We all did this ritual together so we could move forward together.  One of the people correctly knew that her mother’s tongue was what connected her to her mother’s hurtful words, so she wrote on and cut up and burned a cow’s tongue.  We all got it and never forgot the power of a parent’s words.

My favorite umbilical cord ritual was given to me by my therapist while I was in graduate school.  After learning that the words of our parents remain in the cells of our body in the form of interjected words and feelings, he gave me a knob like the ones that were on radios before the digital age.  I was to speak out loud when I heard or felt these interjected messages the following:  “Which one of my parents is advising me today?”  Always, I knew which parent it was and I said out loud, while turning the knob, “I am turning you off”.  I then added “I am cancelling my reservation to where you are sending me”.  Later we found out through the development of Voice Dialogue Therapy that speaking to our internal thoughts out loud created an overriding download which allowed substantive change and healing.

Try either or both of these rituals with those whose guidance and unhelpful suggestions you still are influenced by.  A big clue is when you hear yourself say or think “I should”.  That is always a sign you didn’t think of it and it should be re-examined by your authentic Self.

Rituals for Changing Seasons

Leave a comment

Rituals for the changing of seasons were an integral part of societies from earlier times, a way to share and unite people in a common experience.  As light and temperature change, sense memories occur naturally and our tasks change with the moving of the earth in relationship to the Sun and Moon.  As Fall approaches and Summer ends, the long days give way to shorter days and longer nights.  This begins with the Equinox in late September when days and nights are equal in light distribution.  As temperatures begin to change, we feel and see the evidence of change everywhere.  The longest night which precedes the Winter Solstice has been celebrated in all cultures, and is ritualized in the performances of Revels.

With this shifting of the earth, sun and temperature, people have always gathered to plant and harvest and celebrate their bounty together.  It is a natural time to look forward with intention and backwards with understanding and release, just as the Janus figure in mythology did.  I suggest to my students that they claim their accomplishments and write them down so they can find symbols of their progress.  It is a natural time to release disappointment and regret, which can weigh us down like rocks.  When we look too far forward, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the forward movement of life and time.  Many people feel “Stuck”, or depressed.  When we look backward we have always made progress, often in spite of ourselves.  As Vince Lombardi said when asked how he won so many football games. “I knew the game was won by inches, not yards”.  It is a great ritual to use a yardstick and write your progress down on it so you can remember.  When children are young, their growth is measured this way, and perhaps we should not abandon this method for measuring our inner progress. Years ago I had a student who felt “stuck”.  We encouraged her to do the following ritual:  get several bags of soil and a big bucket, where we buried her in the dirt and added some water.  As we all applauded, she got “unstuck” and was able to store the sensation long enough to move forward.

Another place we get overwhelmed is in our limited understanding of time.  There are two ways to measure time.  Linear time is called Chronos time, after the planet Saturn (Chronos).  It is finite and always creates pressure for us.  One of my great teachers John Rankin did a talk about the definition of “deadlines” as he literally deconstructed this term.  Timelines are better than deadlines any day.  The version of time which mirrors a timeline in called Kairos time, which is creative timelessness.  Many of us have heard the statement: “ the readiness is all”, and the truth of this statement is seen in how easily change occurs when we are truly ready.  The infinite and unlimited Kairos time opens our options instead of closing them, so be gentle with yourself as you approach the changing seasons, as time has no real meaning in the spiritual world.

My favorite time ritual occurred at one of my groups over 20 years ago.  Not surprisingly men love to give women watches, as Saturn was a male god.  One of my students got all the watches men had given her and took her car and drove back and forth over them and we threw them away and she came alive, as we all did.  Being in a group brings us into resonance in a form of natural magic called participation mystique.   As you approach the changing of seasons, please make a list of all you have accomplished in the preceding time period.  Give yourself a gold star and move on with confidence.  It is a good idea to write down all your disappointments and burn the list.  One year a student was particularly overburdened with loss and self-recrimination so she made a list of these feelings and events and got a rock to write on for each of the feelings and events.  I suggested she get a backpack and carry it around for a week and then throw each rock in a bayou.  There was a big smile of relief as she released the pain she had been carrying.  I wish you much joy and success as you begin your rituals for the changing of seasons.  You can also plant a seed of desire in a blooming plant and see the plant bloom and your desires flower.

Money Rituals

Leave a comment

Money rituals have played an important part in every ritual class I have ever facilitated or attended.  Money, as a concrete form of collective energy, is exchanged for everything we value:  food, housing, basic needs, luxuries, freedom and security, just to name a few.  The fear of not having enough money, or losing what he have, is shared by all of us.  I read every book I could find on the symbolic meaning of money, including “Money Madness” and the classic “When Money is the Drug” by Donna Boundy, and have spent four decades trying to release unhealthy and unhelpful ideas about money in meaningful ways through rituals.

There is no shortage of play money in large denominations which can be purchased just about everywhere.  There is even a Million Dollar Bill which many of us use in creating money rituals of abundance.  Some of my students reproduce actual money on copy machines and cut it up to make chains to break and burn, as well as putting it in containers and on trees so they can believe money does “grow on trees”.  I once used a small live tree and put representations of what I wanted my money to provide for me and watched it grow as my income grew.  My favorite purchase was inspired by Suze Orman after I saw her in person at a money seminar.  She often talks about the path to wealth so I ordered a sheet of real money from the US Mint.  I began to walk on it and found it made me laugh, which was better than worrying.  I kept it at the office and my business grew.  Today I bring it out at each seasonal ritual so everyone in the group can use it as well.

As a psychotherapist, I hear many excuses for not moving forward into a better life.  They all share the theme of not enough money and waiting to enjoy life when there is more money.  As a divorced mother of 3 with no child support and huge debt, including losing my house to the IRS, I used to practice this bad habit as well.  My great friend and chiropractor Dr. Otis Thomas used to tell me not to use words that didn’t serve me, so in the spirit of optimism, which is the antidote to fear and worry, I made a list of what I would do if I had all the money I needed.  I encourage you to do the same.  No matter what your list contains, you can act as if and move toward receiving the items on your list, if only symbolically.  We know the power of vision boards and treasure maps from all the recent movies like “What the Bleep” and “The Secret”.  I learned about this method in the 1970’s and found it always worked well to bring progress into our lives.  Whatever we imagine and appreciate, appreciates.  The attitude of gratitude is essential to our prosperity and optimism.  No matter what has happened, we need to look forward and follow the stories of those who have overcome their own adversities.  When you interview people who have overcome their challenges and ask them how they accomplished this, they always answer the same way “I had no choice”.  Evidently the secret strategy of success is removing choice.  When we make an intention to succeed, life follows our intention.

If you are feeling limited by lack of money, please try all of the suggestions mentioned above:

Make a vision board with pictures of yourself enjoying whatever turns you on.  You can make your own pictures of your future by cutting out pictures from magazines that represent your desires and intentions and put yourself in the picture, literally.  It will warm your heart and since money is an energy magnet, more will attach to you.  I even made a huge money magnet after seeing one in a toy store and gluing play money to it, which also made me laugh.  Many of my students have burned money so they feel like they have money to burn.  Like comedian Jim Carrey, they have filled out deposit slips with amounts of money they feel they can attract and earn and carried it with them in their billfolds.  Success has followed all of these efforts.

The truth about money is that it is a form of energy which we share and exchange for what we value.  It is not a way of keeping score or exercising power over others.  If you want a particular car, go drive it and take a picture of yourself in that car and show it to others.  If you want your dream house, collect data about what you want and watch energy bring it to you in ways you never imagined.  Release your money fear and replace it with optimism and energy.  If will feel so much better that you will be better.  Enjoy money play in the Monopoly game of life.

I love making money trees and even found a plastic one at a big box store which was designed to be used as a party decoration.  Better to celebrate every day and put money on it where you can see it all the time.  If you have all the money you need you will ______________________.  Fill in the blank and move toward it, even if you have to barter, pretend or speak about what you will do in the future to those who will support you.  If you are chained by your money fears make a chain of money and wrap it around you and tear it off and burn it.  You will feel a release that you can remember when doubt reappears.

The most interesting fact I found when I was researching the use of money is that it was coined to commemorate the harvest and was shared with those who participated.  For this reason, I recommend that all rituals have a meal thereafter with each person bringing a food item to share with the group.  It is a way of recreating the original money ritual.  At holiday times we have golden money to eat and when I realized I was tired of getting half a loaf in life, I brought a loaf of bread to pass around so we could all feel and see what it was like to get a full loaf in all we do.

Authentic self of our soul child

Leave a comment

After the process of examining your name and the meaning thereof, it is a wonderful idea to find a picture of yourself that makes you smile and frame it and put it in a location where you will see it daily.  Remembering yourself in that form, and making that connection with that possibly forgotten part of yourself, has an enlivening affect.  Since life allows us to grow from child to adolescent to adult, all of these ego states are part of our Self.  I keep my picture on my writing desk, framed in a mirrored frame so I can see both versions of myself at once.  The happy little girl I once was, I still am.  When I am unreasonable, as we all are, I can ask her what she needs and with very little effort I can provide it for her now.  We all have unmet needs and when life gives us a challenge that resembles an old memory, we get hooked into the emotional state of “past time” instead of the present.  This is a form of active reparenting of oneself in the present.  This is a natural way of healing an old wound from the inside out.

A word about hooks, the unseen forces that bring our shadow self into manifestation with the intention of sabotaging our best efforts.  We need a bit of knowledge of what triggers our child or adolescent egos but more than that, we need to know where in our body our alarm points are.  For example, when we get upset or out of balance do we feel it in the head, neck and shoulders, stomach or the skin?  Each system, according to Louise Hay and others, is representative of a life expression system, as well as a physical system.  I heard the oncologist Carl Simonton say that the body is a biofeedback system.  When it is not functioning properly, we should ask what does this allow us to do or not do?  Once we have the answer, we should thank the body for the condition, and make a plan to consciously do or not do what the body is asking.  This questioning is a form of health ritual, just as exercise, vitamins and good food are.  Back to the hook:  All outdoor stores have fishing sections which have an unbelievable selection of hooks in many shapes and sizes.  When you find out where your body feels the tension, where the alarm goes off, take a trip to the fishing section and let yourself be hooked by a hook.  Surprisingly to me when I completed this assignment, the name of my hook was Eagle Talon, and it was frightening looking, which explained why it had been difficult for me to quit reacting to my shadow self.  After writing down all the triggers which hooked me on fortune cookie size paper and attaching them to the hook, I took a hammer to it and it was no longer usable.  I then burned it and it became more unusable.  The feeling of satisfaction is still with me on a cellular level 20 years later.  Try it and be released.

To find out more about Nan, please click here to go to her website