A Ritual to Greet the Land

Summer Solstice Altar - Drum and BlossomIf it’s seemed a bit quieter than usual around here, it’s because for the past few weeks now I’ve been involved in the wonderful work of teaching my first online class! Keystones of the Sacred Land is in beta, and my guinea pigs have been plugging away at some pretty challenging exercises (and doing great, I might add!). We’ve been delving into an exploration of our local landscapes and preparing to meet the guardians and guides who will walk with us for the rest of this journey together.

We concluded this week’s work with a simple ritual to honor the land and to state our intention to seek our deepest soul, what wilderness guide Bill Plotkin calls our “truest place” in the world. In honor of the summer solstice (and the super moon), I wanted to share this simple little ritual with all of you. Enjoy!

A Ritual to Greet the Land

In this ritual, you will honor the sacred land in which you live and request aid from the four corners of the world in discovering your soul, your truest place.

Find a place outside where you can sit in quiet contemplation and not be disturbed. If possible, create a small altar on the ground in front of you: light a candle, and include a few simple symbols or objects of significance that reflect your relationship with the land and your desire to live mindfully and lovingly with the earth. If this is not possible, either because you are in a public place or for some other reason, simply sit or stand so that you can feel the ground beneath you. Face towards the east. Feel the support and energy of the land as you open yourself up to connection.

Repeat the following words, either aloud or silently to yourself, as you feel your body relaxing, releasing all tension and expectation:

Steady root. Gentle heart. Open mind.
Steady root. Gentle heart. Open mind.

When you are ready, state your intention in performing this ritual. As you say the following words, imagine the power of the forces you invoke surrounding you and protecting you, lending their energies to your purpose:

By the dawn before me,
By the dusk behind me,
By the bright noon on my right,
By the north star on my left,
By the sun above me,
By the moon below me,
By the good earth all around me,
I come to honor the land.
I come to seek my soul.

Address the four corners of the world, sensing as you do the vastness and diversity of the earth and all those who dwell here:

I seek my soul by the East Wind.
    By the cry of the hawk,
    By the light on high meadows,
    By the shaft of the arrow,
I call to the far horizon.

I seek my soul by the South Wind.
    By the breath of hart and hind,
    By the flank of fire,
    By the rattle and the drum,
I call to the far horizon.

I seek my soul by the West Wind.
    By the pull of deep oceans,
    By the light on the water,
    By the song of the bone flute,
I call to the far horizon.

I seek my soul by the North Wind.
    By the smooth silence of stone,
    By the womb of the she-bear,
    By the long dark coming,
I call to the far horizon.

Sit for a time in quiet meditation on the images and emotions these words evoke within you. Contemplate the wildness of the land and its mysteries. Acknowledge any uneasiness you feel in the presence of its untamed forces. Accept what joy or gratitude washes over you in the presence of its beauty. Know that your request to discover your truest place is being carried by the four winds in all directions, and trust that you will receive an answer. Feel yourself sitting in the center of the universe, aware that this universe is one of many, the unique vision that you bring to the world. Know that you are sitting in the center of your own self.

When you are ready, speak these words of praise and gratitude as you make the following gestures.

Reach forward and lay both hands on the ground at your feet. Say:

Here on this land,
    I have come home to my soul.

Lift your hands, palms upwards, high above you. Say:

Here beneath this sky,
    I have come home to my soul.

Spread your arms wide to encompass all that is around you. Say:

Here among these waters,
    I have come home to my soul.

Bring your hands together and place them over your heart in a sign of prayer. Say:

Here is my place.
Praise to this land.
Praise to its guardians.
Praise to its people,
    of which I am one.
Home of my soul, many blessings be with you.

Take whatever time you need to end your ritual and return to the ordinary, feeling yourself fully grounded in your own body, refreshed and ready to face the challenges of the day.

Alison Leigh Lilly
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.

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