Ritualwell

Tradition & Innovation

With the Earth: A Mourning Ritual

Hands holding soil.
Background

This verse, chant, and poem is a healing offering for community. It can be medicine for growing into an embrace of the Mystery of Life and walking through beginnings and endings, both enormous and small.

Context

Two of my dear friends from my congregation, a husband and wife, were in Hawaii. They were playing in the ocean when a wave took them under. They were carried ashore and taken to the hospital, where later, the husband died. 

I needed to find a way through, not around, my own and my surviving friend’s and congregation’s grief. I wanted to seek out a text as a healing medicine, one that could help restore my a sense of connection and belonging, while honoring the pain of my friend’s death and the truth of the Mystery of Life/Death. After much searching, I discovered Psalm 85:12. Although the rest of the psalm is not focused on nature or our relationship with it, the verse jumped out: Truth will spring forth from the earth. Here I feel both tenderness and power. An astonishing, sudden, swift movementto spring forth, not a flowing or unfolding rhythm; an energy that is abundant, gathered from the earth, moving forward, outward, proclaiming the truth of the Eternal Life Force. This medicine led me to compose a simple chant and write a poem for my dear friends. I was humbled to be asked by his wife to read it at the unveiling at his grave. May his memory always be for a blessing.


Ritual

Bring and distribute seeds for participants. They can be gathered locally or chosen from a bead or garden store. You may wish to share my story (below) of the seeds I chose and/or about the ones that you have chosen to use.

Setting the intention/reflection

As you cradle your seed, hold curiosity and wonder as you inquire:

What truth needs to spring forth in your life?

How can the earth/the Eternal Life Source support you in this?

Since I could not find any local, dry seeds to gather, I went to a bead store and was drawn to a strand of seeds, not knowing their significance. Later, I discovered that this seed was from the Rudraksha tree, and had an uncanny connection to my offering and seemed to be further affirmation of my intention for the ritual.

In the ancient Vedic scripture, Shiva, also known as Rudra, is the G!d of the eternal cycle of creation and destruction. Rudra went into a deep meditation for the wellbeing of all living beings. Upon awakening, teardrops fell from his eyes on the earth and took the form of a seed which later became a large broad-leafed evergreen, the Rudraksha tree.

This is akin to the words from Psalm 126:15: hazorim bedimah berinah yiktzoru. 

Those who sow in tears will reap in joyous song.

In Hinduism, the seeds are used as prayer beads and they often symbolize a link between heaven and earth. 

Read/chant the following verse (listen to the audio above)

אֱמֶת מֵאֶ֣רֶץ תִּצְמָ֑ח
Emet mei eretz titzmakh

Truth springs forth from the earth

Recite the following poem

With the Earth

With the earth 
our hearts are turning 
turning
through the darkness
toward the fine shaft of light
even as the winds within whip our strength
a faint scent of spring 
so slightly lifts our gaze
stretching into the late summer sky
streaked with longing
soon enflamed with autumn fire
burning
to bare essence
our hearts
still
turning 
             turning
as tiny birds nibbling   
upside down
nourished and sustained
by hidden seeds

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