You're Invited: Birthday Ceremony of Rejoining Creation
This Wednesday I’m turning 25. Yes, I have an April Fool’s birthday. I used to be sheepish about that fact of my life, but now that I know I have a trickster totem, I think being born on All Fool's Day is appropriate. I’ve been thinking for the past several years that, rather than just receiving gifts, it would be more appropriate if I celebrated my birthday by ceremonially “giving back” to nature in thanks for nurturing me. Now, with a pandemic upending every narrative we in the industrial world have told ourselves about our place in the universe, the need for a birthday ceremony of thanksgiving seems especially urgent. As I’ve thought more about an appropriate ceremony, though, I’ve imagined not just a show of thanksgiving, but also consciously marking a return to creation after a quarter century of divorce from nature.
Here’s my plan. I’m currently sheltering with my parents in my hometown in coastal Connecticut. Nearby, there’s a beach on Long Island Sound. At one end of the beach there’s a rock outcropping that’s covered in places by a thin layer of soil from which scrub oaks and red cedars grow. I’ve been drawn to this outcropping since I was very young, and for that reason I knew Red Cedar was my spirit tree even before I found out Coyote was my totem animal. This coming Wednesday, I’m going to drive (or bike) to the beach and its red cedar trees. I’m then going to walk to a particular red cedar and sit at its base where I’ll meditate/pray/form a dialogue with Brother Cedar. I’ll have a thermos of green tea with me, and when I’m done forging a dialogue, I’m going to stand up and splash some tea to the Four Directions at the tree’s base, starting with the west and then proceeding to the north, east, and south. This order of directions is important. In American Indian cosmology, each of the Four Directions corresponds to different aspects of human life. East is the direction of birth and discovering one’s spirit. South is the direction of relationships and social connectivity. West is the direction of responsibility and being a provider. North is the direction of old age and wisdom. I want to finish off by blessing and addressing the South because I feel like that is the direction I am turning to in this critical juncture in time (for both myself and the collective). After 25 years of discovering myself in the East, I am entering the stage in my life where connectivity and the society of all living things are waiting for my return. I will throw the remaining contents of my thermos to the south and say one final prayer. That will end the first half of my ceremony.
Next, I will collect a pocketful of cedar twigs/leaves from the tree under which I performed the first part of the ceremony. If I had loose-leaf tobacco, I’d burn that as an offering to Red Cedar. But I don’t have any tobacco, so my prayers and the green tea thrown to the Four Directions will have to suffice. With the pocketful of cedar foliage, I’m going to head to a separate area of the beach where there are public charcoal grills. I’ll also have with me the 20-pages-long printout of the narrative of my period of depression that I wrote for this forum. Since that narrative has wrapped up in it all of the the bitter fruits of two decades worth of alienation and loneliness, I’m going to burn the printout of papers. In effect, I’ll be burning all of the accumulated negativity and pain from the first epoch of my life. Next, in order to purify and refresh my spirit, I will burn the pocketful of cedar foliage I collected earlier. By burning foliage from my spirit tree, I will be closing the circle and coming home to Mother Earth and Father Sky.
I’ve learned from reading the works of Lewis Mehl-Madrona that ceremonies such as these work best when they are done in the presence of a cohesive community of soul allies. In person, I don’t have that cohesive community yet. Moreover, what with social distancing measures, I’d be posing a public health risk if I asked multiple people to gather with me. So, I’m inviting all of you here to be with me in spirit on April 1st as I conduct my ceremony. Even if you don’t remember to think of me on Wednesday or if you read this post after the 1st, that’s fine. Linear time is an illusion. You can be with me in spirit even if you only remember to think of my ceremony tomorrow, three weeks from now, or three years from now.
How does this sound?
@coyote This sounds beautiful, very powerful; cleansing, and empowering. I am with you in spirit. I wish you a happy birthday and a truly joyous year.
I'll do my best to remember timely...
I'd take the ashes of the paper and either scatter them in the Sound or bury them near the tree. You don't want the ashes just sort of existing free form in time and space. And if you decide to bury them, do so with another piece of paper on which you have written your intentions for your life going forward.
I will be there brother (Crow totem, red cedar my tree also) Celebrating your birthday/incarnation day with you as well as your ceremony of growth and thanksgiving and releasing past and embracing future.
I will smudge some cedar and send warmth and well wishes to you from the south. Count me present in spirit. ❤️
On another note, I know I am an oak person--I feel such overwhelming love and kinship for oak trees and my heart lifts up when I see them even before I know what they are. Don't get me wrong, I ardently love ALL the trees, but oak is somehow special for me, almost like I feel they have claimed me. I have no cultural reference or instruction or guidance for this understanding--it is all my own intuition. Coyote, if you or JourneyWithMe2 know any good sources of information about this, I'd love to learn more.
Are you of Celtic descent? Oak trees have strong symbolism for Celtic peoples. Symbolic meaning of oak tree life,strength,wisdom,nobility,family,loyalty,power,longevity,heritage Celts believed they spiritually accessed the ethereal planes (vision/soul thoughts) by "opening the oak door" Native American cultures believed the oak symbolizes strength of character and courage. I would say if you are especially drawn to oak trees...that is your spirit tree. I am especially drawn to red cedar for its healing properties and purification and spiritual protection properties. I do not know if I feel this way because of genetics of Celtic and Native American descent...or just from Higher Self guidance. I do know that in meditations for the relief of migraines I used to get I would walk up stone steps and go thru a wooden door with iron hinges and in to a brilliant blue-white light and come out free of pain and in recovery mode.You can read and research easily but more important I feel.. is your personal feelings of connection.
Yes, I am mostly of Celtic ancestry. I was adopted and found my original family a few years ago, then did some deep genealogy to find those roots. I have a wee bit of German, but am at least 25% Irish and mostly English. But I agree with you that the personal knowing is valid in itself--I just like to research and learn.
Red cedar is amazing and powerful medicine--a generous gift to us.
Dear Coyote, you're only turning 25. My heart swells. Your writings and wisdom sound like double that age. I look forward to celebrating with you on April 1 by smudging sage, which I already have right beside me waiting to go. My husband's birthday is the next day too. I can't wait to celebrate you both! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ 🥂 ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Blessings to you as you celebrate this milestone birthday this week! I will be thinking of you and with you in spirit. So interesting to read about yours and others connections to trees. I have been drawn to trees so much in the last decade or more. I love them! I say hi to them and try to touch them on our daily walks around our neighborhood. Not sure I have a specific species, but I am fascinated by them all.
@coyote Dear Coyote, April 1 is a special day for me too. It marks the first time since I looked homeward that I am able to fly direct out of Mexico to Toronto; most of the cancelled flights over the past 10 days required layovers. A direct flight of course is simplest and best. As I take wing on April 1 with my husband and cat, I shall be looking out for you in the skies as you soar without limits in celebration of your birthday!
@coyote. Wow! Only 25 and so wise.
I love your birthday celebration plan! It is also my birthday . I am turning 57. Throughout my entire life I have had mixed feelings about being the fool. Your celebration plan encourages me to embrace it. I also feel connected because I grew up in CT and spent every summer at the beach where we woke up looking at Charles Island. As a child I wondered what people were doing on the other side of the water - which drew me to study abroad and travel. Sadly the cottage was badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy and has not been repaired .
I will join you on our birthday. I now live close to Lake Erie which often looks like Long Island sound. I will walk over to the lake in honor of our shared birthday and love for Long Island sound.
sending you much love and light.
I love this. Really beautiful. So hopeful, empowering and healing.
A few decades back, my therapy group (sans therapist) participated in a healing ceremony with me. I was stuck in a time that I had long outgrown, and invited these trusted soul friends to accompany me on my journey. I wrote a letter to myself and collected various items from my past that I had been afraid to relinquish. As we were assembled together in the woods, I read the letter aloud, and then burned it. We buried the ashes and the items that were painful reminders from my early past. We ended our ceremony in prayers of thanksgiving, then shared a wonderful meal together in one of our favorite restaurants. It was a liberating and joyful experience.
Thank you for your kind invitation, my friend. I will be there with you united in prayer, under my enormous oak tree.
@coyote that sounds so beautiful and positive. I will be with you in spirit and ask for everything you need to be provided to you. Happy, blessed, peace-filled birthday to you. 🙏🏼❤️
Ah, this is quite wonderful, Coyote. I’m very happy that you are marking your birthday in such a ceremonial way and I am happy to join you there in spirit on April 1st. You are a blessing to our group, a visionary with a big heart. Namaste, my friend.
Thank you everyone for the support. This morning I pulled a tarot card from my Thoth deck for guidance over the next few days. I got the Ace of Swords: a period of great insight and clarity where achievement of goals becomes easier; a good time to act; new ideas and inspiration. So I guess I'm on the right track.
I like your suggestion of burying the ashes at the base of the tree with written intentions for my life going forward. When I'm done tossing tea to the Four Directions, I'm also going to bury a sachet of tea at the base of the tree. So the ashes will fertilize the alchemy of offerings I'm gifting Red Cedar.
Have you heard of the nonfiction book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben? It's on my list of books to read, and it sounds like it might be up your alley as well.
Absolutely in all ways. Rituals and ceremonies have been an active part of my life and i get great sense of beauty, history, community, and connection with spirit.
I love every single thing you have thought of and included. It's thoughtfully and with a great deal of forethought all brought together.
I am honored to attend and share lots of love and healing energies from all directions through space and time. I shall do a small one in return as my gift to you.
Have a magical, mystical and meaningful birthday Coyote and may you be fully blessed and protected and feel all the love we all will be sending you!
@coyote Happy Birthday! I'll be smudging cedar and wishing you continued healing, growth, learning and community connection. Sending love and gratitude for the insight you share with us.
@coyote and @kksali, Happy birthday, fellow travelers! I am so thankful that you are here with us in this incredible community. May it be a healing, magical and light-filled day. I will be celebrating with you under my majestic oak tree.
@pikake, wishing you a safe and peaceful flight to Toronto. I am holding you in the light.
Happy birthday! I will be sure to visit some trees today and send you good thoughts.
I do have The Hidden Life of Trees. I only read through part of it - will dig it out today! A good reminder so thank you.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! ❤️ 🥂 😘 🤩
Wishing you the best health and happiness and success in your journey forever. I just sprayed my sage and lavender spray in the air and let in the sunshine by opening the back door. Sending you heartfelt best wishes & love and light! 😇
@pikake Wishing you safe & healthy travels home