For most of history, stories have been passed down from person to person, sharing tools, lessons, values, forewarnings and healing. I recently hosted a story and ceremony workshop, sponsored by Riverwise magazine. In the workshop, we created our own ritual and engaged in writing and sharing our personal stories.
Before we entered the ceremony space, each person was smudged with copal to help release trapped or deeply-stored energy that no longer served positively. Copal, the sap from a tree that grows in Mexico, is considered the “blood” of the tree. It purifies the energy in the environment and in an individual’s energetic field.
With energy cleared, we entered the room and sat in a circle to share ceremonial tea. As the burning copal and sage infused the air, we sat silently, giving ourselves a moment to leave behind the day’s prior thoughts and situations. This was our time to be still, to take a break from outside interruptions. As we passed around the tea, this became our moment to simply land, to release pressure from everything. We just sat and drank cleansing and calming tea to open a clear space to hear our own wisdom.
When everyone was ready, we thanked each other for that space and began our writing, prompted by the following suggestion and questions:
Envision a world where you are healed, where everyone is healing, where Mother Earth is healing. What would your days be like? How would your support community be organized? And what would they be talking about? How would they celebrate?
These are not easy questions. Not everyone was able to see what a healed world might look like or hear what their community would be saying. I chose these questions because, despite their difficulty, it’s important to dream. Even if it’s just a beginning thought, it’s still the beginning of what is possible. If we lose our ability dream, to see beyond what is right in front of us, we also lose the ability to create the future.
I believe that our todays and tomorrows are created through pauses and breaths that happen between actions. I believe in todays and tomorrows that wake us out of dreams. I believe in todays and tomorrows that are initiated on the dance floor, in prayers in each pulsing footstep. I believe in bits and pieces of words and images that come from desire and find their way to whole purpose. So I asked the group to let the words fall into the shapes, sizes, colors and dimensions that need to find their way into our world.
And when they did, we cried, we got angry, we lost expression, we laughed, and we could see things just a little more clearly, through each other. Nothing was concretely answered, and all of it was.
When we closed the circle with another passing of the tea, eating together, and taking time for small hugs, we knew that we had created something new together that might eventually lead us back to each other.
Adela Nieves Martinez is a Traditional Community Health and Healing Arts Practitioner, Mixed Media Maker and Mama. She is deeply committed to her Taino (indigenous peoples of the Caribbean) roots and restorative wellness practices. Adela is especially passionate about building community lead and based support structures for mental health, disability and resource sharing.