A few posts ago I shared my perception that ceremonies are a collective healing response to the existential experiences of being human. This clarity crystallized when I participated earlier this year in Women’s Business (Ceremonies) with Aboriginal Elder Women in the Central Desert. Previous experiences with indigenous ceremonies elsewhere, helped shape the foundations for this understanding.
Ceremonies in general are a way to step out of the ordinary goings-on of daily life to enter a sacred space for personal and collective healing through praying, singing, dancing, silence and the laying on of hands. Ceremonial practices generate movement toward wholeness and wellness by removing the blockages and heavy energy that we accumulate as part of living daily life. These blockages and layers of heavy energy prevent us from feeling and recognizing one’s belonging to this world, that we are an integral part of the great weave of life,and that the living energy travels among, through and between us.
My experience in the Central Desert reflected and confirmed other experiences I have had with indigenous people: in Africa with the Kalahari Bushman, with the Andean indigenous People of Peru, and with Native American ceremonies in the US. While there are great differences between these indigenous traditions and while their ceremonies follow specific cultural protocols and practices, what participating in these ceremonies has taught me is how to connect to the healing power that is based in the natural environment around us, the sky above and the earth below. From an indigenous perspective the living energy universe includes every aspect of nature: animals, rocks, trees, rivers, oceans, mountains, rain and sun, stars and other celestial formations, everything that has come before us, and everything that lies ahead. Indigenous ceremonies, essentially, have a way of transcending time and space so that we feel we have entered timeless time and are connected to all of life. Ceremonies also tend to work with a particular healing energy that may be present at a particular sacred site or energy that is held and transmitted by a particular entity, such as gods or spirits that are culturally significant to a particular tradition.