Sunday night my hubby and I went to a wonderful winter solstice performance, and we had a really good time. It was a shamanic drumming, storytelling and ritualized blessing of the Dark Mother and the Reindeer Goddess. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was put on by a man that I am interested in learning from, and this was a good way to check him out a little bit. It was a very powerful performance; the first half dedicated to the Dark Mother, the Bone Mother, the great feminine who is responsible for the decay and consumption of all things, and the slow, dark formation of new life that is hidden in the dark womb. The second half dedicated to the aspect of the feminine as she is light, the Reindeer Goddess, the bringer of the sun, the giver of life. As we began the first ritual with the Bone Mother, he and his initiates created sacred space with drumming and singing/moaning, the audience drummed along as well, and he went around in the likeness of a darkly covered figure and shook bones around those that wanted to release old patterns or problems that no longer serve them, offering them to the Bone Mother to take, destroy, and knit into something new. He was very respectful in that he let people know exactly what was going to happen, that it was okay to leave if they felt uncomfortable with ritual space, or if they had to pee or whatever. He also stipulated that one need not believe in anything in order to receive the blessing, nor did they have to do anything, and mentioned that the ritual would take a long time and that some people get really jittery with it. He is a very down to earth, funny guy, and this was totally my kind of vibe for a ritual. Both sacred and reverent, but also funny and irreverent. Balanced.
The second half featured all the participants dressed in white, holding candles and all of his female reindeer initiates (or whatever you want to call them) all held reindeer antlers. They gathered around the main, massive drum in the center of the ritual space, which had been dressed with the pelt of a gorgeous, white reindeer. Then Jaime called to the Reindeer through songs taught to him by a Sami teacher of his, and he used rattles to bless each of the women. The women, as I understand it, are his students, and some of them participated in a recent workshop of his called Reindeer Training, and I was going to sign up for it in November, but I decided against it because of how much stress I was experiencing, not just with school, but because more health issues cropped up for me while I was trying to finish the semester. Then all the women went around the room and blessed everyone who wanted it through rattling and chanting, calling forth the power of the Reindeer Goddess, as Jaime donned the reindeer pelt and mask, bringing her in through the shaman’s way. All the while the drums beat, beat, beat.
My personal experience with this blessing was quite wonderful. As I sat waiting for the Bone Mother to bring her clattering bones and blessing of removal, I allowed my eyes to close and through the drumming I was led into a dark shelter, where the Bone Mother knitted her bones in little, domed hut. I thought of all of my fears of letting things go, habits that no longer serve me, illness that hangs onto me because I allow it to hang onto me through stress, memories that haunt me, shame that dogs me, guilt that I allow to poison my pure thoughts. Holding onto these thoughts, I sat in trance while I waited a long time for Jaime to come. Meanwhile, hubby seemed a bit nervous, and he leaned over to ask me if he was supposed to say anything when Jaime came over to him. I told him no, just think whatever you want to let go of, and then I told him, “If you are really uncomfortable with this, it is okay to get up and step out. This is a ritual.” I wanted him to know it was ok, because he does not really follow the path that I am on. But while he was nervous, he seemed intrigued and ok with with it, which I was glad for because I think he hangs onto a lot of similar things that impede his growth and renewal. He has anxiety, deep sorrows, and repetitive thoughts that are destructive to him. I think no matter our belief system, we can all benefit from spoken and symbolic blessing. And he is my life partner, so I was happy that he stayed next to me through something that is important to me. He then seemed to become very relaxed and let the drumming lead him into a sacred space of calm. Soon the clattering of bones approached us, and I asked the Bone Mother to take these things that I am ready to release, take them despite my fears of what that might mean, take them and cleanse them and make them into something beneficial to the world. Then Jaime stood behind me, and I could feel the bones dancing in my hair as he sang the spell-song. He placed one thingy of bones across my chest, and the other I could feel him press into the base of my neck, into the ancestral place that I use frequently as a gateway for ancestor work, the place in Yggdrasill that is affiliated with Jötenheim, giant energy, primal force, the reptilian brain and the pituitary gland. He held it there for a long while, then seemed to fling something behind him and made strange noises as if he were hacking something out of himself, or out of me, and he stomped on “it” and sang some more. Then he moved to my love, and clattered the bones around him. My hubby seemed “lighter” afterwards, and he discussed some revelations he had during the intermission. I was glad for this. He needs healing, we all do. We just need to invite it into our selves.
The Reindeer blessing was beautiful. Right away as I felt myself go into the trance of the drums, and I could see a vast, white pathway of snow. I could see dark marks in the snow as if a sled or animal had left them. I could see the sliver of a sun rising on the horizon, and the dark, bare trees contrasted against the bright snow. I could see a reindeer approach, yet she was elusive, and as it seems to be with me, I could see the light aspect of this divinity less clearly than the landscape itself, or the clarity I have in the darker realms. The brightness of the light aspect is almost so bright that I can barely see it, and this is how I experience Freyja and Frigg. I see their realm very clearly, but they are so bright as to occlude my ability to really see them. Nonetheless, I felt it and saw it, and it was a kind of solemn hope, a beautiful stillness of solitude. She approached and was present, silently striding among the trees, watching me. Then one of the reindeer priestesses came upon me, and with incredible strength that I could sense within her, she rattled and sang the blessing onto me, from head to toes. I was back in the room, letting the image go and returning to my usual realm. We reveled with drumming and watching the rest of the ceremony unfold before us.
It was a wonderful evening 🙂