Ailm – Finding your way home

The following ritual is a follow-up to the ritual from my previous post, finding strength within our tears. It can be useful when finishing a time of retreat, or before going back to work at the end of your holiday. Or, when you need to go and make a difficult announcement, like a sexual coming-out, or the ending of a relationship. Or, simply, when you have finally mustered the courage to do that one thing you really, really want to do but are so very afraid of at the same time. Now is your time, now is your moment. You can do it. For you are worth it.

2017-02-12 20.25.52If you are using this ritual together with the ritual of tears, be sure to leave sufficient time in between. If you felt a call to the mountaintop, probably that means that you need to spend some time up there, taking advantage of the high vantage point to get some new perspective on life. For instance, you may want to consider working with a different tree first, then come back to Ailm when you feel ready to reintegrate your newfound insights into your everyday life.

Part of the ritual is based on the observation how commercially grown pine tree forests tend to be green deserts, where almost nothing grows. This can serve as a powerful warning agains mono-culture, or the tendency we may sometimes have to impose our own ideas on other people. A society where everybody is forced to be exactly similar, and where diversity is discouraged, cannot possibly be a healthy one. Yet that is what so often happens, when those who are a bit different are forced to be quiet and hide their true colours in order to keep the peace and not upset the majority…

Ritual – returning home

  • visualize yourself standing on the mountaintop again.
  • Look out towards the view, and feel how the insight is growing within you that you cannot stay here, that it is time to return home. Take one last look at the vista below, drink in the view, and store it inside your memory, realizing that it will always be here to come back to.
  • Then, turn to Ailm, the pine tree that is growing next to the place where you stand. As you say your goodbyes, you notice a pine cone lying at your feet. As you pick it up, you hear the tree whispering:

These are the seeds of the rest of your life. Sow them wisely.

pine cone

  • Take a moment to ponder these words. Do you realize what they mean? Hug the tree to thank it, then start making your way down the mountain.
  • As you walk down, memories of the world below start flooding in. You may feel resentment, even fear. After all, you came up the mountain because you needed a time-out. Feel the pine-cone you hold in your hand, and remind yourself of what you have learned, about the world you live in, and about truly being the person you are. You are now heading down the mountain, seeking to find a life that will allow you to fully express that person, with all its beauty and imperfections.
  • Stop for a moment, and think about what such a world would look like. What would need to change? How much of that is within your control?
  • As you walk further down, you find yourself in a part of the forest that was commercially planted to harvest wood. It consists entirely of pine. Ailm is the tree we are working with at the moment, yet being here somehow feels completely and entirely wrong. See how you are standing in a kind of desert, where the trees above obstruct most of the light from reaching through to where you stand. As you look down, see how the forest floor is covered in a thick layer of pine needles, where nothing seems to grow.
  • Think back of the lush growth on the mountaintop, where despite the harsher conditions, plant life was abundant.
  • What lesson is there in this? Think back to your list of ‘things to change’. How many of the items of your list were about ‘if only other people were more like me, or had the same opinion about things like me’ ? Look around you, and realize that that is not the solution you are looking for.
  • Walk around the forest, but now pay attention to the individual trees, rather than the forest as a whole. As you take time to feel the spirit of an individual tree, you feel its spirit stir, and you recognize one of the people in your immediate environment. And you realize that they too, feel lost sometimes, and need to make a mountaintop journey like you just did. Touch the tree, and whisper ‘I love you as the person you are’. You see how it transforms, and takes on a different shape (maybe even a different type of tree, or a flower, or..) A shape that better reflects who that person is. Do you recognize them? Does it maybe teach you something about the person that you aren’t aware about?
  • Continue walking through the forest, touching trees, and transforming them. Allow each of them to represent a person, a place, an aspect of your life. Also include people or groups that you have a difficult relationship with. Does this help you to see your life in a different perspective?
  • As you are working, notice how the place becomes gradually more beautiful, more ‘alive’, and starts feeling more welcoming, more like home. Eventually, you pass by a spot where it feels like something is missing. You look at the forest floor, and see how there’s a hole there, waiting for a seed to be planted.
  • You remember the pine-cone you are still holding. As you open your hand, you see how it has transformed. It has become YOUR seed. And this is where it needs to be planted.
  • Carefully put the seed into the waiting hole, cover it with earth, and water it. Look around you to the forest, and to the sun shining above, and ask them for support to allow you to grow, to thrive in this place. Simply asking may be enough, but if you didn’t feel at home before, it might be a good idea to speak to the forest and try to explain them how and why that was. Just this once, allow them to look into your heart, and let them how you really feel about things. Listen to yourself as you are speaking. It might be that some of the things you say come as a surprise, even to yourself.
  • You sense how they are supportive of you, and it may be that some of them have a message to share.
  • When you are ready, see how all this love and warmth is allowing your seed to grow. pine-sapling
  • When the time feels right, step into it, feel yourself transform into the tree, become part of the forest, and enjoy the sunlight on your leaves.
  • You are home. Give thanks for the experience, and finish the ritual.

 

After you have finished, it may be a good idea to take out your journal and write down your experiences. Are there some ideas that have come up that you can implement in real life? What have you learned about the people in your life? And maybe, difficult and scary as that can be, you should have some of the conversations you had with the trees, with the persons who are part of your life?

In this ritual, Ailm reminds us that home is ultimately a place we co-create with the people around us. When we are feeling bad, it can be tempting to get stuck in an attitude of ‘but they don’t understand me’. Remember that they have feelings too. That, although you may have genuine reasons to feel different, or not welcome to show who you really are, that does not give you the automatic right to demand of the people around you that they let go of everything that has meaning to them and switch around to your version of the facts.

What you can, and should, demand, though, is the right to be fully appreciated as yourself. The right for the forest to thrive as the wonderful and diverse community that it is. Allowing you, and everyone around you, to grow up to be beautiful beings, together creating the forest community.

Ailm – Finding strength within our tears

Come closer, and listen to what Ailm has to teach us about life:

I am here. Winter and summer. Always present, always awake.

I do not strive to be the best, or the most magnificent. I strive to be me. I strive to find my own place in the sun.

Look for me near the mountaintop, and you will notice that I am not big. Life circumstances here are not always easy. But that is not what I seek. I seek the sun. I seek light. I seek room to breathe and be what I am. And that is enough for me.

Come close, and you will probably smell my tears. You will smell my efforts at staying alive. Take my sweat, take my tears. They are my pearls. They are a sign that I am alive. That I am here, that I am connected. So let me share my efforts with you, may my striving bring you healing.

pine-tears

When there is snow, and it is cold and wet, I do not fear it. For I know that I can survive. Look for me in the harshest of circumstances, in the darkest hard of winter, and you will find the promise of the coming spring. You will find greenery where all else has given up or has taken shelter.

Let me be your shelter. Let me show you where I find my sun. Pick up one of my tears, and hold it to the light. Do you see how it shines? It is a little flame born of my inner fire. The fire that rushes through my veins. Take it, and let it be my promise of strength, my promise that even in the darkest days, there is light to be found somewhere.

Ailm is a tree that weeps. Go into a pine or fir tree forest, and it will not be long before you spot a tree whose trunk is littered with shiny yellow tears, made of crystallized tree resin. These are the tears of the tree, but also its hidden treasure, for they can be used both as a basis for incense and for coughing syrup, helping us to honor the sacred and to bring us healing.

The following ritual is intended to help you acknowledge your own pain and fears. It is not intended as a depressing ritual, but rather as a form of liberation, helping us to discover who we truly are, to realize that we are beautiful, and to get closer to an honest appreciation of ourselves.

As always, it is highly recommended to spend some time in the forest among the pine/fir trees before engaging in any of these rituals. The ritual itself probably works best when performed in the forest, but it isn’t essential. If you are doing this indoors, try to harvest a bit of resin (remember to thank the tree!!), or something that allows you to smell the tree’s scent.

Ritual of tears – finding your mountaintop

  • Open ritual space in your own way.
  • If you are doing this in the forest, pick a tree to work with (try to find one that has wept tears of resin). Greet it, and introduce yourself to it. Who are you? Do not overthink this. Just allow words to come naturally (or, if they don’t, simply spend some time feeling present in your body). If it feels appropriate, touch or hug the tree. (When doing this indoors, do the same, but instead of working with a real tree, sing its name, call in its presence, and visualize how you are standing before a strong and solid mature pine tree.)
  • Sit down with your back leaning against the tree (real or in visualization). Close your eyes, relax, and enter into meditation.
  • When you open your inner eyes, you find yourself sitting in the same location. Before you, a pathway leads you out of the forest, towards a mountaintop.
  • As you walk the path, you pass by a number of encampments. Each of them represents a part of your life where you sometimes don’t feel entirely at home or at ease, or where you feel less able, or not entirely accepted by other people. Then walk away, allowing yourself to mourn about a kind of life that seemingly cannot be yours. Then remember that this does not represent who you are, but only speaks of who the world forces you to be. Leave it all behind, and walk on.

fir-path

  • As you walk onwards, the scenes change, and you now walk past a series of mirrors. In each of them, you see a part of yourself which you feel is an essential part of your identity. They are the bits that make you ‘you’. Take any of these away, and you wouldn’t be the same person anymore. (Note that these are not necessarily talents, or easy parts of your identity. Some will, but this can also include your sexual identity, or the fact that you secretly hate the taste of chocolate, or the fact that you are still mourning the death of your unborn child, or…) Taking some of these things away might make your life easier, but it would also diminish your unique, quirky you-ness.
  • Embrace each version of you that you encounter, and tell them that you love them.
  • Continue the walk. Soon, you arrive at the mountaintop. Sit down, bask in the sunlight, and enjoy the view. Then, allow yourself to weep. Let them be tears of joy about the wonderful, colorful person you have just discovered. Tears about all the times that you feel limited in expression yourself and showing your true colors, or speaking about your pain. Take as much time as you need, do not rush this.

fir-mountaintop

  • Then, after a while, start visualizing how your tears are flowing into the earth, nourishing and revitalizing it. Feel how you are growing roots, and these tears are what gives you strength. Then, look to into your hand, and see how some of your tears have crystallized into beautiful, shiny pearls: your gift to the world.
  • Now, end the meditation and turn your attention back to the tree. Exchange tears. Give yours as an offering to it, and accept some of the trees tears in return. If you want, you can eat them and feel the tree’s healing powers spread through your body.
  • Give the tree a final hug, then close the ritual.

You can do this before going on a holiday or retreat, or simply because you need a time-out. Of course, you cannot stay on the mountaintop together, but if you felt a call to the mountaintop, probably that means that you need to spend some time up there, taking advantage of the high vantage point to get some new perspective on life…

So, enjoy your stay, and breath some fresh air first. In a later blog post, we will suggest a ritual for reuniting with your everyday world.