Throughout human history, our own bodies have become the rituals themselves. I think of sacrificial deaths on behalf of the people. I think of scarification and tattooing and as special clothing (shamans, monks and nuns, for examples) as tribal rites of identification and bonding. I think of self-immolation, of fasting, of long and sometimes perilous pilgrimages, and of other extremes intended to bring us to the edge of the spirit world as protest, as personal growth, as example to the nations ,and as healing journeys on behalf of the people.
And I think of my friend Teresa. She has just made one of the traditional acts: she has cut her hair off.
The pun in this season of Samhain is poignant: she has cast off the beauty of her age and gone down to the root. Like the trees who have cast off their growth, to give their own bodies rest, to hunker down into their own roots, to wait for the Spring….so Teresa has made of her own body the ritual of entering the deep dark from which new growth will arrive.
And so she waits. This woman, my spirit sister, 70 years old. How daring and glorious. In a few days, the return of the sun at Winter Solstice will bring forth the new glory of her head. And by Spring, when the trees bud and the earth prepares for ripening and harvest to feed the people, Teresa will have called up her deep desires for creating art, from the roots of her soul, which she is already doing–reaching down into the fecund darkness of life and calling up new abundance in her life.