Rituals For Restoring Balance

Rituals For Restoring Balance January 6, 2017

My post last month with the story of the Oak King and Holly King in the age of global warming certainly touched a nerve!  I am so glad that so many people found it helpful and moving.  It’s part of something I’ve been thinking about and working on for a number of years – the ways we as humans have thrown our weight behind the forces of warmth and light in a way that is destroying us along with the planet.  There is a desperate need to restore the balance.

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I believe that along with the more practical, hands-on work of mitigating climate change and repairing the damages we’ve done, another part of the work of restoring balance comes in the stories we tell and the rituals we perform.  If every story we tell of light and darkness celebrates the light and fears or shuns the darkness, that is not balanced.  If every story we tell of warmth and cold celebrates the warmth and speaks of driving away the cold, that is not balanced.  In an age where heat and light have become so ubiquitous as to be dangerous, we need new stories, like that one.

We also need new rituals, rituals that honor darkness and especially cold.  Rituals that have as their explicit intention the return of winter to the world.  Rituals like this can help us align our deepest selves to the task of restoring the balance, and they can give us energy and encouragement to do the work we need to do in the physical world.  Of course, if you believe in the efficacy of ritual to directly affect the world around us, then it becomes even more important to have rituals that are aligned with this purpose.  

When I first started thinking about ritual design to address global climate change, one of the first rituals that came to mind is a common practice in Imbolc rituals: the melting of snow with fire, to symbolize and call forth the coming warmth of spring.  In a world where warmth has become dangerously unbalanced, I thought, this ritual needs to be changed.  So, I wrote a new version.  I shared it in a piece on this blog several years ago, but I still think this might be the most powerful piece of ritual magic I’ve ever come up with, so I’d like to share it again.  Here it is:

Restoring Balance Ritual

Officiant says: For many years, participants in rituals at this time of the year have used a fire in the circle to melt snow, that the snow might quickly depart and spring come swiftly.  Today, we are reversing the working.  We will light a fire and use snow to quench it, that the excess heat of our world might be quenched and balance restored.

[Light a fire in the center of the circle.  If you are inside, this should be in a vessel such as a cauldron.  If you are outside, you can light a bigger fire in a fire pit, as long as you have enough snow or water to extinguish it.  The fire needs to be big enough to last through this part of the ritual.  If you are worried about it, you can wait and light it later, just before the extinguishing ritual.]

Officiant says: As we quench this fire with this snow, we commit to working to quench the heat that is threatening the climate of our planet.  We commit to restoring balance.  

In this work, we ask for the help of the God as Jack Frost.  Guardian of ice and snow, help us to restore the ices and snows of our world.  Give us your strength and your protection in this work.  In this work, we ask for the help of the Goddess Bridget in her aspect as healer.  Bridget, help us to heal our fragile planet.  Give us your love, your wisdom, and your strength in this work.  

As we pass the vessel of snow around the circle, you are invited to add your energy to this work, by holding the vessel and sending your intentions into it.  

[As the snow is passed, lead the participants in an appropriate chant to help raise power.

Vessel is passed to all participants.  When all have had a chance to add their energy, place the snow onto the fire until the fire is extinguished. If you have passed only some of the snow, be sure to start with the vessel that was passed.]  

When the fire is out, the officiant says: Let balance be restored!  So mote it be!

All respond: So mote it be!

Image courtesy of Pixabay, CCO License.

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  • Bran thBlessed

    Thank you, Erica, for that great ritual to restore balance to our globally warming planet. Oddly, we run our air conditioners all summer long, especially in large public and office buildings, contributing all the more to global warming in doing that. How inconsiderate of our planet to allow temperatures lower than 65 and higher than 75! What can we do but freeze our summers and burn our winters away? I think we must have been created to amuse the gods with our insanity.

    I added this simple passage to my wiccan rede:
    ‘The Sun is but a mortal Light
    Surrounded by immortal Night.”

    The qualities of fire are mortal, both heat and light last but for a while as the flame consumes its host and is vanquished. Life is just like the flame, bound to the laws of mortality that rule the physical universe.

    In the short term, though we can make our world dangerously hotter, melting polar ice to increase global water levels along with destabilizing the climate. That can happen. Our planet can become Venus’s nastier sister, a toxic greenhouse furnace intolerable to life..

    In the long term it will certainly happen as the solar surface expands outward, eventually heating our atmosphere to uninhabitable levels, eradicating all life and melting surface rock. Then the sun’s outre surface will blow out into the immense void around us, leaving only a small white dwarf too dim to heat our charred remnant of a world, and it will freeze…assuming it has not been totally burnt away during the sun’s red giant phase. All this is four to five billion years ahead of us.

    But in the end, all the stars will die out, and all the tiny embers of those stars will also die out, and no more stars will form. In the end, darkness will be restored and the numbing chill of absolute zero will return to the universe. (Actually, there are a few cosmologies that predict that this will not be the final end of things.)

    In the greater scheme of things, nature maintains an unsteady balance. When we pray for spring in the north, the Aussies are yearning for the first crisp taste of autumn. In the winter, our mother earth sleeps beneath a white blanket of snow, and dreams her dreams of ages long forgotten and ages longer yet a-coming. But she sleeps only one hemisphere at a time, and sings joyous song dressed in lavish greenery in the hemispere that awakens.

    Nature maintains balance in all her ways. It is only us humans who set our world a-kilter with our obsessive lunacies. Let us do our rituals to restore balance to our unstable minds.

  • Sheila Smith

    Humans originated and still flourish in the tropics where winter never comes. Since cold kills http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/well/beware-winter-is-coming.html, is there an ugly Malthusian subtext to the climate movement? Since when has prayer affected the weather? Sometimes it rains the day of the church picnic.