Resources for Rituals
The optional rituals for each session
are offered as a way of "being in the circle" that incorporates
heart, mind and spirit, and that may help build community
among the members of the study circle. The descriptions provided are intended as starting points rather than exacting prescriptions.
For Session 1: What is Y2K and why should we care? -- "PLANTING SEEDS OF HOPE"
Planting seeds is an ancient act of hope. It affirms the mystery of life and renewal, the hopefor a plentiful harvest, faith in the soil, air, water, sun, and the seed itself. Seed planting as the group begins exploring Y2K represents not only a very practical activity, but also symbolizes hope in the human spirit in an uncertain time.
The circle organizer or facilitator (or ritual leader, if identified in advance) will need to: 1) Ask group members, in advance, to bring to the session a flower pot or recycled plastic container and some soil or compost. 2) Provide a few extras in case people forget. 3) Obtain some vegetable seeds. 4) Prepare a pitcher or watering pot full of water. 5) Invite a group member to lead the ritual (if not previously arranged).
Doing the Ritual
Have group members place their containers full of soil on the meeting table (if suitable) or on the floor in the center of a circle. Distribute 2-3 seeds to each person. As everyone holds the seeds in their hands, sacred space may be invoked in a way that is appropriate for the group:
Each person may then silently bless the
seeds being held, and plant them in the pots. Invite each to say
a few words about what inner qualities or resources (perhaps related
to the challenge of Y2K) he or she wishes to cultivate and grow
in the coming season. Invite brief expressions of gratitude for
Mother Earth and for the gifts of water and sunlight. Then, each
person waters the seeds, and speaks of where the seedlings will
be transplanted, or to whom they may be given. Allow a few minutes
for people to talk about any feelings associated with the ritual.
End with a blessing or prayer if appropriate.
For Session 2: Ecological and Social Implications -- "RIPPLES IN A POND"
Much of the conversation in this session has been about the mind-boggling complexity and interconnectedness of both cause and effect in the year 2000 problem. This ritual symbolizes the "ripple effects" of seemingly simple choices and actions ñ and their often unknown consequences, both "good" and "bad."
The leader for this ritual will need to: 1) Provide as wide a bowl of water (as practical, given the meeting space); 2) Ask each person to bring a small stone or pebble from their home. (Have a few extras on hand in case people forget to bring theirs).
Doing the Ritual
Invite each person to go inside and find
one word to describe how they are feeling in their belly, how
they are feeling in their heart, and how they are feeling in their
head. As you ask the questions, demonstrate yourself and hold
your stone to each of these places as you speak out loud one
or two words to express the feelings. For example: Hold the
stone to your belly and say "scared," to your heart
and say "hopeful" and to your head and say "overwhelmed".
(The words do not need to describe an emotion or even be adjectives.
You could say " red", "ocean" and "swimming.")
After each person has completed their sharing, gently, one after
the other, drop the pebbles or stones into the bowl and notice
how the ripples interact. After a moment of silence, the ritual
is ended. The stones may be returned to each person or poured
out with the water on some special place on the land.
For Session 3: Spiritual/Psychological Issues -- "GOD'S EYE"
The simple activity of making a God's Eye can be both reflective and symbolic, providing an opportunity to speak about where people find their spiritual support how they create health and balance in their lives ñ especially in times of uncertainty or anxiety or fear. Note: this ritual could be done as the opening for this session, so that as a person is sharing, he or she can wind their thoughts about the discussion questions into the God's Eye.
The ritual leader will need to arrange for the following materials: two sticks for each person, approximately as long as a corn cob and no bigger around than a five year old's thumb. Yarn of a variety of colors (preferably used).
Doing the Ritual
Share these tips for making a God's eye: Cross the sticks together at the center and tie them in place. tie the string around one of the sticks at the center. Always go in the same direction. If you start in a sun-wise manner, continue that way by wrapping the yarn all the way around the next stick in that direction; then go one full twist around the next stick you come to. As you come around to where you started from, layer the yarn so the God's eye grows from the center, outward.
After the ceremony, give the God's eye
to the five year-olds whose thumbs you used to measure the width
of your sticks, or use them as talking sticks in future sessions!
For Session 4: Sustainability-friendly Technology -- CANDLE LIGHTING
Everyone is by now probably thinking about laying in a store of candles, or has already done so. Fire is one of the earliest of human technologies, and our lives literally depend on the fire and light of the Sun. This very simple ritual provides an opportunity to reflect on what each of us will bring into the new Millennium.
The leader for this ritual will need to ask each person bring a taper or votive candle from home. (Have a few extras in case people forgot theirs). If you have been using a large candle for all your meetings, be sure to use one at this meeting as well. If you haven't been using one, you'll want one for this circle of sharing.
Doing the Ritual
At the appropriate time, ask each person
to close their eyes and reflect on a gift or skill or quality
about themselves that they feel will be useful in moving into
the new Millennium. When everyone has thought of something, ask
them to open their eyes and look up so you know they are ready.
One by one, invite each person share what they have to offer and
light their candle as they do so. Notice how each person's contribution
brings more light into the circle. When everyone has spoken, have
each person silently identify a hope and blow out the candles.
For Session 5: Organizing for Sustainable Community -- GIFT SHARING
The "give-away" is a tradition in a number of indigenous cultures, and a growing practice among people who are seeking to live more simply. This ritual is an occasion of offering a gift to another member of the group as an extension of all that we have and all that we have to give.
The leader for this ritual will need to ask participants in advance to bring one or gifts. These might be "things" which may be of use or interest to another person or acts of service that another would appreciate or find helpful. (It could be an expression of whatever people shared about themselves at the previous session.) "Hand-me-downs" are preferred; an act of service should be described in writing on a piece of paper.
Doing the Ritual
Taking turns, invite each person to place his/her gift in the circle, describing what it means or how it feels to share the gift. After the gifts have been placed in the circle, ask people to reflect on which of the gifts they could genuinely use or would really enjoy, suggesting that they identify a second or third choice. Again taking turns, each person receives a gift from the circle, appreciating the gift-giver. (Passing is o.k.; left-over gifts may be donated.) Close with brief words around the circle about what it was like to give and receive in this way.
Llyn Peabody is currently the Program Manager of the Portland Sustainable Lifestyle Program, a non-profit organization in partnership with the city to form EcoTeams. EcoTeams are groups of 5-6 neighbors who meet together and, using a workbook and with the support of a trained, volunteer coach, take simple actions that make a measurable difference in their use of the Earth's resources. She is also co-founder, with Michael Dowd of the Portland/Metro Citizens Y2K task Force; empowering citizens to take a positive, community-building approach to the challenges of Y2K. She is a ritual designer and facilitator. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Cathy Holt is dedicating 1999 as a Year to Live, a "give-back" year to help create a more sustainable culture. She is a volunteer with the Northern California Earth Institute. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.