The heART of Ritual

musings

Symbolism and the Alchemy of the Archetypes



It may not look like it, but on my hands I carry the remains of two guns. The blood red color is a blend of iron oxides derived from alchemically transmuted gun metals - 4140 chromoly steel from a Remington rifle and a Smith & Weston revolver. These firearms were dissolved in sulfuric acid to produce iron sulfate, green vitriol, that was then calcined into iron oxide. These are decommissioned weapons of violence, reduced to ashes. Their newfound silence speaks volumes. The iron oxide from these two weapons has been blended with red ochre from the land - blessing the ritual of transmutation and transformation, and holding space for healing to occur. Red ochre is an iron rich sacred earth pigment that was used ritually by the Celts. It was traditionally used to cleanse, protect, and purify the mind, body and spirit and to enhance connection with the non-human world, the wild land around us, and the feral landscapes within us where our wounded twin resides. To have one's body adorned with this sacred pigment was to be bestowed with the prayers and blessings of the ancestors. The red ochre here blesses the wound. It holds space for us to grieve and offers us support with forgiveness, grace, and moving beyond. This post is to share the creation myth of one color offering, one of many. No words I will ever write can encapsulate its depth, all I can do is share insights into ritual elements so that you can get to know the energies themselves which I will refer to through 'characters' and archetypes within the Celtic Wheel of the Year. All are equally poignant and are vital characters in the natural cycles of life, death and birthing the new. The character of this particular color represents the transition between two powerful archetypes in the Celtic Wheel of the Year and bridges the death of the old year and birth of the new. On one hand you have the Mórrígan - the Celtic shape shifting Goddess of War, associated with the battle crow. Other indigenous cultures experience her energy through their own native scavengers such as vulture etc. She relates with the Autumn/Water Element period leading up to Samhain, the festival that marks the death of the old year and the birthing of the new year. The Mórrígan aspect of this color character is represented by the gun metals, the weapons of war and violence. Through the symbolic death and transformation of these weapons, we energetically pass through the ritual portal of Samhain, and birth ourSelves into a new cycle, a new era, a new beginning where all is possible. This transition of dying, death and birthing anew is associated with the Cailleach (the Elder archetype) and with the Winter/Earth Element period after Samhain - the time of the ancestors - the place of deep peace, wisdom and stillness in which we can rest, heal, restore and reassess all. Being of the Earth Element, the Cailleach is represented in this color character by the red earth itself, the iron rich ochre. This iron rich sacred earth connects the life blood of the planet (its soil) with our own. Together, these characters and these elements represent a journey of deep healing, ritual and transformation during the feminine lunar dark half of the year - the Autumn and Winter. Now you know why I have been hand gathering ochres and creating wild color! Just as Belladonna whispered the energetic architecture for The heART of Ritual MOONCARDS, red ochre is guiding this one particular project; one that I have been mindfully and slowly weaving into BEing for three years now. This offering is so dear to me, it lands straight in the heart and takes my breath away, and will be both potent and poignant. What I *do* know is that I need to share insights into these characters so that those who do call this offering home have already been part of the journey of creation and are aware of its depths. This information is not something that will be written into some sort of gimicky marketing copy on an intro sheet, it will be shared here organically and meaningfully throughout the process so that we experience it together, realtime. Doing it this way means that those who call it home are really ready for this rite of passage - the initiatory experience has already begun with this post and will continue to develop through these creation myths. On a personal level, I've seen that my own initiation with its creation has been constant and woven into my life in various ways over the last few years while gathering ochres and diving deep into mythopoetic BEing. It feels big, very much like I am birthing mySelf fully into BEing. Interestingly, during our Summer Solstice/Fire Element drum birthing weekend in 2019 I felt the need to birth a raven drum. I only made the conscious connection between the Mórrígan archetype and raven that Autumn and realized that the drum is part of birthing this particular offering. Three years on, while in Ireland for the Elements of BEing retreat over Samhain, the ravens were again present and I knew the drum was near. So I am in many ways, creating ritual tools to birth a ritual tool which I find to be quite interesting in itself as it is symbolic of a seeding, a gestation period, and a birth, the drum being the doula to welcome it through - a symbolic representation of the Samhain portal (and psychopomp) - the end of the old cycle and beginning of the new one. There is certainly magic afoot and great adventures ahead! Funnily enough I always felt this offering related with Samhain and that it would be birthed into the Earth Element time of year, lets see how this all unfolds - if it births into the Earth Element this year, it will have been a pregnancy of trio solar returns/36 lunar cycles in the making (which of course I find hugely interesting too!). Nothing is by chance, I've come to overstand that through the years. How exciting it is to watch it unfurl though. Getting back to this picture - this powerful moment of taking in the magnitude of it all - I stood there for quite some time staring at the color of blood on my hands (from the earth), and catching the metallic smell of blood in my nose (from the iron). All sorts of scenes flashed before my eyes, I felt transfixed and spellbound, and was drawn to place this pigment over the palms of my hands and soles of my feet. I immediately felt nauseous. I stood there, stayed with it, and observed it. There was a huge shift. Things released that I didn't even know where there, just waiting for that moment. It felt alot bigger than 'just me', it felt that I was doing group work. When I consider this now as I write, it of course makes sense - earth is about community and the collective, the ancestors and our bloodlines. It is the medicine for our bones, the symbolic acknowledgment and ritual release of the skeletons in the shadows. I find it interesting how the camera on this dictaphone device skewed my fingerprints in the image too! Consider this for a moment... This is where I have been for three Samhains now, and where I feel will continue to be for this pregnancy and process. I'm really humbled by this Work and feel honored to be here now, and do this. Disarming hearts, forging peace.