I pierce the earth. Newborn. Like a spear, I reach for the sky. I rejoice in existing. I dance with joy at my newfound identity.
Then, as years go by, insight grows. I myself have not chosen the form I have been given. I am ‘ash’ because my ancestors were. In very real ways, I am them. And so I start exploring my world in a different way. I am flow. I am breath. I am the spirit within, expressed through my being.
In the hunt, the hunter becomes one with his prey. Both transcend their individuality. The cycle of life becomes visible on the material plane through them. The hunted accepts that today is his time to die. Accepting this sacrifice in gratitude, the hunter realizes that one day, he will need to match this sacrifice himself.
For millennia, hunters have used my wood to create their spears. In doing so, they have accepted this sacred covenant: we are all part of the cycle of life. There is no ‘I’, there is only ‘we’, temporarily expressed by a body that takes on individual form.
Who are you? This is the question that every tree in the forest will ask you to answer. When you come to me, remember that the right answer must always include the word WE .
What ash asks of us is to become more fully aware of the miraculous fact that we are alive, and of the responsibility that comes with that, requiring us to work with that gift to the fullest of our ability.
Note that this does not mean a call to strive for material success, or that you have failed if you haven’t become an amazing artist or a leader in whatever field you work in. All it asks you is to become more aware of the fact that the web of life saw a need to produce you to live in this particular place and time. You, and not someone else. And that requires you to try and summon the courage to show your true face to the world, laying down any masks you like to hide behind.
That is how you pay back the sacrifice of those who died so you can live. That is how you sacrifice yourself to the hunter when it is your time. By striving to be authentically you.
Ritual: birth- choosing to exist
- Open the ritual in the usual way. Call on ash to guide you through the ritual.
- Close your eyes, and enter into meditation.
- As you open your inner eyes, visualize your soul as being contained within a seed, buried in the earth.
- Even though you are below ground, somehow you are able to observe everything that happens above ground, in the ‘real’ world. Moreover, you find that you are even able to participate in it, to some extent: you can conjure up a dream image of yourself, and in that ghostly form you can participate in the life above ground.
- You notice that most people don’t even realize that they are dealing with a projection rather than a real person. (And how sure are you about the person you are talking to?). However, you are also aware, even if maybe only on some subconscious level, that this situation is ultimately unsustainable. When stretched to endurance, the image will crumble. Also, as a ghost, you cannot fully take part in life, as you cannot eat any of the delicacies life has to offer. This type of life literally cannot sustain your soul long-term.
- Pause the meditation to reflect on this. Do you recognize yourself in this situation? Why do you do this? What would the real you be like?
- Make a decision: decide to leave the shadow self behind, and to become real. This is a big and scary journey, and you do not/should not start it without taking the time to properly prepare first. Right now, all you need to do is make a commitment to yourself. Take an oath, and call on Ash as witness and ally.
- Return to the meditation.
- You are still standing in the world as your ghost self. Walk away from the city, and enter the forest. Walk until you find yourself in a clearing with a big ash tree at the center.
- Kneel before it. (You may want to repeat this in front of a real tree.)
- Explain why you came, and how you came to this conviction. Then, speak the following words aloud, three times:
I choose to exist.
- Sit some time in silence to let the significance of this decision sink in. Then go and hug the tree. Feel how it envelops you in a protective embrace. Listen to any advice it may have.
- If you are in a real forest, pick up a token (listen to your intuition), and place it on your altar.
- Give thanks, and finish the ritual.
Now that the decision has been made, it is time to prepare. You will need to prepare both the seed (making sure you fully understand what real means), and the ground. Growing in fertile soil is so much easier, after all… At the very least, you aught to make sure that you do not need to make this journey alone.