In the middle of winter, there is a temptation to numb our senses while we wait for the flowers and bumblebees to come back in the spring. But each season holds an equal amount of wisdom that is just waiting to be unlocked by those who are truly awake.
Our ancestors had no choice but to listen. Their lives depended on it and their spirits thrived on the deep understandings that were inspired by the earth cycles around them.
Native shamans, granny healers and wise elders weave their own unique tapestries of the spirit world, but they all use the same thread and fabric. One strand that I hear frequently in various cultures goes something like this:
The outer world is a reflection of the universe within each of us. By closely witnessing your surroundings you can access infinitely valuable teachings about the soul’s journey.
There’s a personal lesson that I’ve been slowly beginning to internalize as the natural world outside sits cold and quiet. Something in that silence speaks to me about the shortest route to peace.
The teaching is this:
Many of us attempt to solve our struggles by giving them a ton of life energy, turning each one over and over in our hands like a Rubix cube. This method sometimes works, but often the exact opposite approach is required.
“Make like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.” – Rumi
Looking outside my window I see the naked branches of an entire forest of trees. Gazing at them, the question that subtly forms in the back of my mind is:
What thought constructs, habits or relationships am I holding onto that are no longer serving me?
These majestic maples, oaks and elms seem to have no problem letting go of everything each year. They are born with the knowledge that new leaves will always grow back once the time is right.
By letting the leaves drop, they create fertile ground below for other plants and creatures to grow and thrive within. Their annual dying process is actually a gift of life to themselves and the world around them.
This feels strikingly similar to the inner journey we embark upon in sacred ceremonies. In most native rites of passage there is a confrontation with our own mortality and a purification or removal of what is no longer necessary on our path forward.
Substitute the leaves with the thousands of stories we repeat to ourselves subconsciously each day…
Some leafy thoughts that come to mind are: I’d be totally happy if I could only have X or Y; I shouldn’t have to deal with Z at my age; they’re all going to think I’m a Q because I can’t V; I’m not worthy of love because I’m not D… you get the picture.
You know you have some of these “hangers on” clinging to you… Why is it so hard to let them drop?
Here’s a possibility: our ego strongly wants things to stay the way they are. It wants predictability, pattern, formula, and continued survival of our physical body. God bless its heart 🙂
But this ego-driven fear of change means that even the bad stuff stays…
If you’re looking to shed some leaves and would like a way to work with the ego and let them drop, below is a little fire ceremony that is easy to do and may help you on your path:
The Fire Ceremony:
When done with the right frame of mind, this practice can work wonders. When I was first shown the fire ceremony a few years ago I experienced an immediate inner shift once it was complete.
1) Take a few sheets of paper, the thinner the better, and cut them into ten strips. Using a pen or marker write down the ten limiting beliefs, memories, habits or fears that are holding you back. This exercise requires some soul searching, so give yourself some time. What are your emotional triggers? Why haven’t you taken that next step in your personal evolution? What is that bit of negative self-talk that comes up when you reach for the stars? Engage your shadow and write it down.
2) Once you have your emotional blocks captured in ink on paper, light a small fire. A fireplace is ideal, but a candle and a metal wastebasket will work just fine.
3) One by one, read the words on each piece of paper aloud, feeling the full intensity of what you wrote. You can see where this is going 🙂
4) After you read each note, hold it over the flame and say “It is time for us to part ways. Goodbye.” Exhale as each piece of paper ignites and disappears.
Many practices like this exist and have been used for centuries to unblock inner traffic jams and assist in the healing of spiritual and physical wounds. Sometimes simply letting go is the most powerful act we are capable of.
Trees have been here a lot longer than we humans have – by about 350 million years. Maybe that’s why our ancestors turned to them so frequently for their wisdom.
Director, The Sacred Science