Circular Earth Mandala
Earth Rituals and Outside Altars
We all have our daily rituals and routines – but one of my favourite things to do is to set up an outside altar on a walk or when I have some time outside in the garden.
I think it appeals to my artist’s side and hopefully it can inspire you to do this in your own way, as of course- there are no rules!.
Over the last few years, as a textile artist, I was fortunate enough to be asked to go to Canada to participate in a textiles exhibition on a beautiful piece of land which included a waterfall, woodland and a stream. There were also sightings of bears, hummingbirds and dragonflies.
Altars for the Heart
Heart Altars with Plant Seeds. By Owen Tuff 2013.
My artist partner Owen Tuff, started making these little outdoor altars and I realised that I’d also been doing a similar thing without realising it since my early childhood.
Between the years of 3 and 18, I grew up in North Wales and Dorset. I had a beautiful piece of land to rom around in, this is where I discovered the beauty of ripe, juicy elderberries and how to build a dry stone wall.
At the moment, I’m staying in Suffolk, Walberswick and I thought it would be a nice thing to show you some easy ways of creating an outside altar on the beach. I also made some simple boats with the students and we let these go to the sea, with their intentions for the future.
Three Simple Steps:
- Open sacred space
- Collect your materials for honouring and showing your gratitude.
- Place in a constellation that’s happy and satisfying to you.
Materials can connect to each of the elements: earth, fire, air and water. Use these elements or weather around you to inform your practice. Look at what you’re being told by the wind and the sky. Notice what birds or animals come to visit. Listen to the whispers of the ancestors in the wind while you work.
Here , I simply drew a labyrinth in the sand. But you could create mermaids out of natural materials or balance stones upon each other.
Mama Cocha the ocean and Pachamama are incredibly soothing and grounding beings to be with.
One of the nicest things to do is to have a fire ceremony outside and share some of the Munay Ki rites as a group with an outside altar to honour the ancestors. I hope this has inspired you in some way. If you have any further questions please get in touch.
May you fly with beauty
For all our relations
My Favourite Parts of Summer Solstice
I love watching the sun rise and I’ve also been taking in the beautiful sunsets over the past weeks. The skies at this time of year are worth drinking in and making the most of. This is the point where the sun starts it’s journey back towards the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice. So, as well as an outer manifestation of light – we are also celebrating the return of an inner reflection or journey.
An Impromptu Ceremony
Solstice Mandala by Emma Tuzzio
One evening, I invited a friend to create a flower solstice mandala in our garden. We showed gratitude for all the light available to us (unseen and seen). This is symbolised by father sun Inti Titi and our longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. We shared a fire ceremony together, letting go of whatever it is that’s holding us back from stepping up and fully shining our lights into the world or participating in networks of light.
Weaving the Solstice into My Every Day Life.
With my students on the actual day of the Solstice, we spent some time creating flower garlands from willow and tissue paper. I shared with them an old creation myth, an old Mayan story about how the sun and moon were born. We sang a solstice song together and went outside in the blistering heat to a place in the shade. I had prepared a felt rope spiral in the grass for us all to walk into the centre, like a labyrinth.
First, we walked into the centre with a rose each to celebrate the birth of the sun and it’s long beautiful rays of light to the west as the sun sets. Secondly, I had some baby bird feathers. Each student took a feather to symbolise the story about the moon and walked with a feather into the centre. The students used rattles and musical instruments to help each other focus and walk along the spiralling path.
Our solstice celebration was surprisingly moving and it felt like such a positive way for us all to celebrate the longest day of the year. We honoured our talents and skills by speaking them out loud to our group. The students helped each other to say what they needed to say by listening carefully to each other.
We also honoured the Christian Martyr St John, who’s Birthday is celebrated on 24th June. This is signified with a huge fire on that day that burns all through the night. The students sleep in their sleeping bags around the fire on that evening.
The Holy Well Spring, Eastbourne
I feel it’s important to weave these earth festivals into our lives in a way that’s manageable and inspiring. I visited a holy well near Eastbourne with my Earthkeeper friend, Carolyn. This is a sacred spring just coming out of the chalk cliff towards the Beach Head end of the cliff next to Eastbourne. It was a beautiful hot and sunny day and there were many people around on the beach, so we didn’t do much except silently honour the spring and Mama Cocha the ocean. Then, we sat at the top of the cliff eating ice-cream !.
Whatever you do on the solstice, may your talents and skills shine brightly for us all.
‘This Place’, a song lyric by Jehanne Mehta
Written in 2009. This is currently in the Earth Pathways Diary.
This place is ancient, a place where the roads meet.
Showing lines in the landscape that were laid down by stars.
The wisdom of the earth has been holding in secret.
Begins to be known again as the years pass.
This place is ancient, a place where the trees grew;
The groves of great yew trees and later of oak,
Where creation was honoured by the old ones, the wise ones
And this place still remembers the words that they spoke.
This place is ancient: great stones mark the sunrise,
The moonrise and star-rise, the cycles of time,
Where the land holds the key to the wide cosmic dance
And we learn where we came from and how to return.
But this place here is new, it is under construction- far stronger than stone is the love that we share.
This place is inward. It points to the future. This place is a temple because we meet here.
For all our relations.
Beltain gathering in the garden.
A Beltain Ceremony
For me, all of life is bursting with fertility and the power of it’s own potential at this time of year. I was very much guided to connect with our hearts at this time and our own feminine/masculine archetypes within us. We had a beautiful ceremony at my friend Sharifin’s house. First, we opened scared space. Then we shared poems and sayings connected with blossom and spring. We made garlands for our heads with blossom and willow.
Male and Female Archetypes
Imagine that you have a King and a Queen archetype in your heart space, what would they say to you?. What would they say to each other?. This is a good time to re-evaluate your relationship with yourself, your friends and family. Sacred water from a local well was available for people to bless themselves where needed.
We went outside into the garden, where luckily the weather was kind to us. A spiral had been laid with felted rope in the grass and little tealights to light the way. In the centre of the spiral was a young maple tree, with it’s variegated leaves just emerging. We took it in turns to drum and rattle each person into the centre of the spiral and out again. Some people walked slowly, some danced and ran!. Each person took his or her own journey. Some had a question for the journey, some held an intention for themselves.
Then, the sun was setting and a sacred fire was lit at the bottom of the garden using the Q’ero tradition. We released what was no longer serving us and welcomed in a light quality in it’s place for the fertility of our future plans and projects. Once we had all worked with the fire and connected with the fire being in the centre, everyone voiced a need to jump over the fire!. The energy was high and bursting with potential at this point. after a time, we all came back together in a circle around the fire holding hands.
At this point, we made a heart meditation and sent healing energy wherever it was needed in the world.
After closing sacred space when the embers had died down, we shared a wonderful array of food together. This kind of event keeps me going for a long time and is a wonderful way of planning the next six weeks for the heart, head and hands.
The earth festivals are a gentle rhythm connected to nature and it’s seasons. They are an organising principle for us humans to set our intentions and let go of what no longer serves us. Why don’t you have a go at creating one yourselves?. I recommend Glennie Kindred’s books wholeheartedly.
May you flow with beauty,
For all our relations.
Welcome to the blossoming time of year!
Blossom is irresistable!
The bluebells and wild garlic are so wonderful at this time of year. This time around Easter helps me to feel re-born into a new way of life. My medicine walks help me to search for new sacred space in the world, reminding me that I carry my serenity with me wherever I walk.
Joseph Campbell says ‘Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy’. In her book ‘Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy’, Sarah encourages us to engage in simple springtime rituals of rejuvenation.
We can also seek sacred space in the lower, middle and upper worlds through journeying or visualisation. At the Spring Equinox, we planted our ‘seeds’ for our dreams this year and now it’s time to patiently wait. Part of this process is to hold the healed vision and the highest potential of that seed in our hearts.
At the last full moon ceremony I held, we journeyed into the heart of blossom. This is the essence of blossom , which emanates our own beautiful authenticity. Here is the journey for you to try, it was first offered to me by my friend and sound healer Carolyn Richards for the Earth Calendar day Beltain. I’ve changed it a little bit, as that’s what shaman do, they weave their own medicine into their work to make it their own.
Preparation for your Shamanic Journey
First of all, turn off your devices!
Open Sacred Space
Click a Prayer for Creating Sacred Space for the words.
Sit somewhere you won’t be disturbed for at least twenty minutes. If you have a drum or rattle please feel free to use them, otherwise you can use a singing bowl or a download of a shamanic journey. There are lots of them available, I like the ones by Sandra Ingerman.
You could also try just imagining with your mind’s eye, without any tools at all.
The Journey into Blossom
Picture a meadow full of wild flowers in your mind’s eye.
Imagine yourself on the edge of a meadow, it’s a beautiful sunny day and the birds are out in force.
Look down and notice if you’re wearing shoes, finding the path that will take you to the woodlands in the distance. Use all your senses to see, touch, hear and feel the beautiful nature all around you. The lovely long stalks of the grasses and the smell of the earth.
Eventually, you reach the edge of the meadow and you can wash your hands and face in a clear running stream at the woodland edge . Step into the woods and find your own special spot. This could be a grove of trees or a woodland glade filled with bluebells. See if you can find somewhere with blossom and sunshine.
Take yourself there for a moment to relax, sit and observe the beauty of this place. How does it make you feel?. There is a beautiful tree ripe with blossom in the centre of your space and you watch the bees as they work. One bumble bee makes it’s way into each flower and collecting the pollen. It’s working so hard to make honey.
Honour this bee by sending it your highest heart energies. Imagine that you yourself are shrinking as small as a bee.You are so small that you can also visit the beautiful smelling blossom. What does this blossom smell, feel or look like, as you move closer and closer to it’s centre?.
Possible Questions for your Journey
See if the blossom has anything to say to you. You can ask questions to this blossom, which represents the highest potential of your flowering:
- What’s my next step?
- How can I experience more joy in my life?
- How can I live from my heart?
Listen for the answers that may come to you visually, editorially or kinaesthetically. How does it feel to bee?.
Then, slowly come back to your normal body size and bring yourself out of this sacred space, knowing that you can always come back here when you need to.
This is similar to the ancient art of shapeshifting, I hope I’ve inspired you to try it.
The Shamanic Way of the Bee by Simon Buxton is a good book to read about the sacred life of bees.
The Druid Plant Oracle by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, is a beautifully illustrated set of cards that helped me to connect deeply with different native plants from our lands.
May you flow with beauty.