Cleansing Ritual

Dear spirits of our hearts, gods and goddesses that guide our lives, we ask for your blessing on this our  cleansing ceremony. The sun and moon and stars above us, the earth and underworld beneath us, the directions before us, behind us, to our left and right and we are centered. With love, wisdom, and silent power, may the will of the ancient one be made manifest now and forever.

I have been in desperate need of ritual in my life. Since August there have been many things that I’ve struggled with. Thankfully my business isn’t one of them. Often I would receive nudges from the otherworld that I needed to make offerings, pray, walk but I would put it off until I finished work or find some excuse not to take the time to maintain my connection with the dear spirits. 

We went to a campground that I have used for several rituals. It surrounded by water and the creek splits and runs a wild in the grove. It’s a really wonderful place. The moon was covered by clouds and the night was very quiet. The campground was closed so we had to hike the supplies up a little ways.  There was a stone firpit and a small  grass clearing that tumbles to the creek in about 20 paces from the fire. I laid out white altar cloths in a semi circle around the creek facing edge of the fire. Each altar had a cast iron cup, a lantern, and offering bowl. Below each offering bowl was a symbol for each goddess. The morrigan was a black handled tanto, Danu was a green cauldron filled with spring water, and Brighid was a Crosóg ( fabric cross from Imbolc). A large blanket was laid at the waters edge with towels, slippers, and  a 2 foot silver basin for the ablutions.

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As I was preparing the ritual space I used the tanto on the Morrigan’s altar to cut the apples meant for her offering. I was speaking to D about the fact I was a little sad this particular blade had never drawn blood, as I felt that the Morrigan would have appreciate that. But the only knife I did own that had drawn blood was a small pocket knife. This tanto had been a gift from my Sensei and dear friend. I hoped it would be accepted by her. I was wiping off the blade and cut my thumb during this conversation and it proceeded to bleed for an hour. I exclaimed and cursed at this. I apologized and spoke, ” My apologies Mor Rigan. Here is your blood sacrifice. I shouldn’t have doubted that these offerings would be received.” I didn’t stop the bleeding. I let it drip over the white flesh of the apples and took time to express my gratitude that the Morrigan had arrived and was already guarding this sacred space. 

Each person is smudged (with sweetgrass from Rhea) and takes a bit of oil on their finger and anoints their forehead, throat and heart while saying: May all that hinders me be released, May all that binds me be released, May the Outdwellers of my heart Be released, That I may be made pure.

Open hands by their side take place in  half circle around the front of the altar. Repeat after K: I place my feet upon the ground, And open my heart to the earth. The sacred earth provides, Making all life possible. I call upon the Earth Mother – Holy Mother, hear me. Bless this rite of your child.

Each woman goes to her respective altar

We stand before the spirits on this night— We pray that those who have crossed before us hear our words and usher them to those who would aid us.

As each of these steps were taken I felt the air become warmer. It was a cold May night in the valley with a  fair drizzle but the forest seemed to be still around us. Protecting our work before it really even began. I felt like we were being watched in the best way, as if the veil between the worlds had parted momentarily and the dear spirits truly witnessed my rite. 

K stands in front of D: First I come to the Morrigan. Queen of battles, death, and valor. I have long been your child. My warrior heart cries. You are the gatekeeper this night my dark lady of the sword. I come to you battle weary with blood and apples to offer you my fidelity and honor. I come to you to open the doors of this rite through D. See your daughter Mor Rigan by this fire’s sacred flame and work thru her this night.

As I spoke these words of invoking to each of my cherished friends I held their hands in my own and looked into their eyes. Each woman transformed before me, like a door was opened in their mind and the goddess called came thru, seeing me and filling them. Their eyes took on a quality that I can’t really explain and have never experienced before. I saw my beloved friends’ familiar faces but I also undeniably saw these ancient deities there. (I have been part of countless rituals that have invoked spirits and gods and I’ve never experienced this before).

D: Hail the great Morrighan Raven Mother, Wise healer, Cunning warrior, Lady of magick,
Threefold Goddess of Power, Phantom Queen. I salute thee this night. Come oh Mighty warrior
Grant to thy priestesses strength Strength to confront truths Strength to confront pains
Come oh Great Warrior, I call upon your inspiration, I call upon your strength
I offer my heart and my body to be thy vessel Grant us your blessings this night, Aid our magic and hear my plea, As we will, so mote it be.

K stands in front of A: Second, I come to Danu, Mother All, Queen of the rivers of earth and transformation. I seek your wisdom of ages. You are the healer this night my blessed mother of life. I come to you tired of the world, with whiskey and soda bread to offer my heart and faith. I come to you to banish my sorrows in this right through A. See your daughter Danu by this fire’s sacred flame and work thru her this night.

A: I invoke Danu, the Flowing One, the ancient Mother of the Gods, the Lady of the Rivers, the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom, of birth and rebirth. Join us in this rite.
I am a vessel to be filled with your power so your work can be done.
Let your essence flow into me and through me breathe healing, breathe love, breathe life.
Hail to Danu!

K stands in front of Kt: Third, I come to Brighid of the fiery arrow, inspiration, and home. I have long sat at your feet and listened to your hammer-fall song and I seek your steadiness. You are the refiner this night my cherished smith. I come to you with milk and coins to offer my poet head and healing hands. I come to you to set the blessings I will receive and to temper my soul as a fine blade through Kt. See your daughter Brighid by this fire’s sacred flame and work thru her this night.

Kt: I invoke Brighid, Lady of the flame, the anvil, and the fiery forge. I ask for your aid in healing wounds of body, mind, and soul. I am your vessel this night. Lend me your gentle touch, your words of comfort and might. Queen of the Hearth, I call on you to bestow your gifts of renewal and let your healing fire live and work through me. So mote it be.

K:And so we set this space this night with the sacred power of these women here. We call on these our mothers, through the sacred mouths of thousands, across time. We promise to be good stewards for the wisdom gained here this night. We seal this pact with a shared drink to bind us.

K pours whiskey on the fire and all drink from their cups. K stands in front of the goddesses, across the fire and makes her plea. 

Morrigan, Danu, and Brighid, I come to you this night to lay bare my soul sorrows.

My champion is broken. Mor Rigan of the battles, you know a warrior’s troubles. His soundless cry, his lonely stare makes me keen. Danu of the rivers, you know a son’s mind. His heart is broken. The pain I caused him makes me want to bury myself in the earth. Brighid of the flame, you know a man’s soul. His heart is heavy. The disappearance of his star, his love on that dark night makes me sing a song of eternal sadness.

I wandered this life for a year to find my sovereignty and myself. To be strong.  I found many truths. I found …(specifics removed because, frankly I am not willing to tell the world, what I am going thru)  The joy these truths bring me is incredible and I am grateful to know more of my song but I also found that some of these things caused my champion pain.

I come before you to cut the ties that no longer serve me. I wish to keep the treasures I have found that are mine. I wish to cut the ties of selfishness and fear. I come to be cleansed to start my path new with R by my side-that he may see my path cleared and be happy for it.  I wish to walk from these woods, this ritual a free woman, to converse with love, compassion and strength through this life.

I pleaded with the goddesses to witness, to listen, to guide and to guard. I was a daughter who truly needed a mothers’ healing this night. 

K removes her robe and dress and wades into the river. A pitcher is filled three times and poured over her three times by Danu.

First pour: For rebirth thru pain

Second pour: Pain of new breath

Third pour: breath of heart

After each K is pulled from the river and dried by all,  wrapped in a blanket and guided to the fire. Those channeling speak words of comfort or inspiration to her.

The shock of the mountain spring water was incredible. Throughout my childhood we were often found playing in glacial cold waters in the southern summers. I have often enjoyed the intensity of those creeks and rivers. Tonight was different and sacred. The power of the words said before each pour went deep straight to my bones and carried the cold and the magic of those words of cleansing. 

Fourth pour: To banish the heart of sorrow

Fifth pour: Sorrow of soul

Sixth pour: soul of healing

As soon as I was pulled from the river I started to cry those soul shaking sobs that have plagued me for months. I cried for all the loss in my life. Loss of family, time, deployments, friends, and land. Times where I felt like the last person on earth, wandering the deserts of dead world. Times where I felt as if I was screaming at the top of my lungs and yet no one heard me. I cried for all the times I had denied myself …anything. I cried for my heart that loved too fiercely. I cried because I felt like I had been burned by the flames that kept me warm and I could not bare the pain of that lesson any longer. I had to scream and let my tears cleanse my soul. I thought of my mothers before more and the tears they have shed for love, for pain, for life. I thought of the scream of a woman bringing new life into the world, and the person I was birthing into being by completing this ritual. This keening was of the same nature. A cry of incredible pain, but pain endured for something better than my current state. I saw the line of my female ancestors back across time gathered with the goddesses during this time. There was a long moment where I felt their hands reaching and soothing me right along with my friends. I was kissed and cradled in many arms during this recovery. 

My friends later told me they didn’t want to put me back in the river after this. They couldn’t put their friend back into waters that would produce that kind of response from me. A, who was channeling Danu said that it was the hardest thing she’s ever done, to continue to pour those icy waters over my naked body and put me back into that river. She also said Danu didn’t want to do it either because no mother wants to see their child in pain-even if it is necessary. 

I let the cries and tears pour from me. I had sunk to my knees and was sobbing into the fire. Eventually I was able to look up and The Morrigan’s gaze met mine and I heard her say in my mind, “You must go back once more, my daughter, because you are strong. Stronger than you know. This pain is temporary and you will complete your task. You will keep your promise.” 

Seventh pour: For healing of life

Eighth pour: life of strength

Ninth pour: strength of love

I  was wrapped again in my blanket and led to the fire. As my eyes turned to the fire, I saw only the bright red glow of the flames kissing the dark sky. The song of the creek ran over my ears and it was the sweetest sound I’ve heard in a long time….just like a mother calling ” I love you” after her child. I recovered and the flames felt so divine. I stood tall and let my blanket fall to my feet, being wrapped in the night air and crowned with stars. I lifted my eyes and watched the fire sparks rise and meld with the stars. My beautiful world, seen with new eyes. Washed and warmed I held my arms open and smiled at Arianrhod and her cloak of  stars. 

After K has recovered and dressed she stands with Brighid

Brighid: Welcome to the fire my dear daughter. You have come thru the waters of Danu and felt the healing flame of this sacred light tonight. Like a babe you are born again, washed and warmed in the arms of these goddesses.  You will bear the fires of transformation forever after this night. You now bear a mark of your work and the spirits here on your heart. Remember the lessons and the burdens that have been lightened this night. I see you whole my cherished one.

D: Blessed goddesses, witness your warrior daughter as she was bleeding and weary, she is anew. Guide her to healing through love, compassion, and strength. We thank thee, Morrigan, for blessing your daughter with your valor. Witness her sacrifice and guide her with your strength. We thank thee, Danu, for blessing your daughter through your healing waters and transforming her sorrows. Witness her sacrifice and heal her heart and family. We thank thee, Brighid, for blessing your daughter through your refining fire and bearing her soul anew. Witness her sacrifice and protect her home.

Beloved goddesses, thank you for your your guidance this night and aiding our magic. We release you from your circles and remember you in our hearts.

I’m still in awe that this happened at all. Besides my very first Samhain ritual, nothing has come close to being this powerful for me. I am grateful. 

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