Feminism and Religion: Unblocking Abundance: A Ritual by Sara Frykenberg
Unblocking Abundance: A Ritual by Sara FrykenbergJune 4, 2013Rather than release the sadness, heartache and struggle we put into the bowl out into the world, we meditated …to transform what we could of this energy, re-membering the parts of ourselves that had helped to create these blocks and are responsible for transforming them. We took the transformed energy back into ourselves.As I have written about many times before, I believe that contemporary Western society operates within a largely abusive paradigm. I often think of oppression in terms of an abusive cycle. Theologians like Cater Heyward and Rita Nakashima Brock describe the impact of the theologies that generate such abusiveness, noting how we become smaller to ourselves and smaller to one another. We do not believe that we are enough, nor are the people or the planet around us ‘enough’ to fill the vacuous alienation that substitutes itself for real relational need in an abusive context. Judith Shaw wrote eloquently about the environmental impact of conflating need with greed in her Friday post, “Can We Honor Inanna and Her Gifts?”Shaw writes, “At first glance we appear to be abundant with things, energy, experiences. But in our mad desire for more and more and always more we neglect the balance of the very earth who provides us with all.” Many people, particularly in industrialized nations, have been taught to fill the need for a sense of abundance, connection and ‘enough-ness’ with more stuff: more things, more money, more food, more land, etc. And yet, ironically, this quest for ‘more’ can also prevent us from experiencing the very abundance we seek. We can create blocks to abundance by trying to fill the vacuum instead of our actual needs: and difficultly, abusive patterns and cycles can prevent us from seeing the difference between the two.A dear friend of mine and myself decided to create a ritual together to confront exactly this: those parts of ourselves, our pasts, our daily lives, actions, attitudes and beliefs, that create scarcity, or a sense of scarcity where there is none. During Beltane (which oddly enough we did not plan for), we came together to unblock abundance and celebrate our ability to create, change and renew.This is the ritual we created together:Working outside, she and I first gathered those items of spiritual and ritual significance we determined would make our altar. We placed our meditation stones, a beautiful necklace my friend had made with a figure of the goddess, candles, two small rose plants and the food we brought to share (honey, bread, milk and cheese) onto our altar space.We also hung a purple cloth for privacy.We then adorned one another’s third eyes with gold make up before sitting down on a brightly colored carpet I had moved outside to make the patio where we meditated more comfortable and beautiful. We “tuned in,” in the Kundalini style, with the Adi mantra: “Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo.” This means very roughly, “I bow to the primal teacher; I bow to the teacher within.”Sitting with a large bowl between us, we began to share with one another all of those things we felt blocked abundance in our lives, filling the bowl. This was a very powerful portion of the ritual, giving voice to some of our deepest fears and shame. With respect to my partner, I will not share here exactly what we said. But there were many times where we checked in with one another. For example, feeling pain or pressure in each other’s chakras, we painted one another’s necks with blue hearts (using more makeup), emphasizing the throat’s shine: we took care of one another. We spoke until we felt we had moved all we could of what burdened our hearts into this bowl.Using milk from a pitcher, we then took turns washing one another’s hair, letting the liquid pour into the bowl. We both felt like some kind of washing would be important in this ritual; and milk symbolized abundance to both of us. This was slightly yuckier than we counted on! But we both laughed about it, as we did at many times preparing and during our ritual—we are very conscious of the way we are playing and experimenting together. We are new to ritual, but sincerely desire to create sacred practices that feel comfortable to us; this involves some trial and error :)Rather than release the sadness, heartache and struggle we put into the bowl out into the world, we meditated and used a wand and staff we had created for ourselves the day before to transform what we could of this energy, re-membering the parts of ourselves that had helped to create these blocks and are responsible for transforming them. We took the transformed energy back into ourselves.Finally, we poured the washing liquid left in the bowl into the Earth, asking this powerful body to help us transform what we could not transform alone.My friend and I shared a meal together, talking and eating in the sweetness of the honey, the bounty of the bread and yumminess of the cheese. We completed our ritual, blessing one another and washing one another one last time with almond oil, singing the “Longtime Sunshine Song,” another Kundalini ritual. The oil was equally gross! We smelled like warm milk at the end of the afternoon and both took a swim together before my friend went home. But, we were happy, full of love and celebration with one another.The last step in our ritual was to plant our small roses in our respective gardens and to nurture them as they grow.A week or so after we performed this ritual, I purchased a new pair of glasses. For months preceding this acquisition, I had been putting my face directly in front of my computer, less than 5 inches away, for the sake of comfort. I am often tired when I read and write. My new glasses make everything distinctively bigger and just that much easier, or more restful, when I am working. When I sat down to write this post, I realized while increasing the ‘zoom in’ magnification of my word processing program, that I had forgotten to wear my glasses again. Ironically, I sat down to write a post about removing blocks to abundance, forgetting that I could easily see things as ‘bigger’ if I simply used the tools I already had—tools I am privileged to have.Abundance, to me, does not mean ‘more stuff.’ Abundance is also more than the subsistence that still cannot be accessed by many of those who are oppressed. Not all of us have the tools we need to create the abundance we hope for. Abundance can manifest as a freedom from lack and the fear of lack. It can be a sense of enough-ness, love, loveable-ness and peace. Abundance often means sharing; and definitely means that we continue to counter abuse.This ritual is one small step that a friend and I made to stop trying to fill the un-fillable hole created in abusive paradigms, and start meeting our actual needs. I would love to know what abundance means to you and how are you working to create it.Sara Frykenberg, Ph.D.: Graduate of the women studies in religion program at Claremont Graduate University, Sara’s research considers the way in which process feminist theo/alogies reveal a kind transitory violence present in the liminal space between abusive paradigms and new non-abusive creations: a counter-necessary violence. In addition to her feminist, theo/alogical and pedagogical pursuits, Sara is also an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy literature, and a level one Kundalini yoga teacher.
'May we live in peace without weeping. May our joy outline the lives we touch without ceasing. And may our love fill the world, angel wings tenderly beating.'