Love and Connection Ritual

I wrote and led this ritual on February 15th, 2003 -- the day after Valentine's Day. The focus of this ritual is love, but not just in the cheesy Valentine's Day sense. It's about love of the self, love of the group, and love of each member of the group, whatever form that love takes. It was written with my 9-person circle in mind (one couldn't make it, which is why I'm octally focused), so I encourage you to modify it to fit your own group. Our circle has practiced together for about two-and-a-half years, so we know each other very well, and so the were able to give deep praise in the "wheel of love" exercise.

Everyone selected a direction/element combination, but part of the idea of this ritual is to find how every element is found in every direction, and every direction is reflected in all others (for if you walk far enough west, west becomes east). The eight elements I use are taken from the I Ching. The element/direction associations I decided as I was writing, based on my location (Boulder, CO). Everyone stayed "in character" as their element in the other-love exercise, and the items in parenthesis are the I Ching passages for which the two elements are constituent parts. (The first concept is the first element on bottom.) The holy moment can take these concepts into acount as catalysts or they can be ignored. They're included largely for reference.

I had planned to invoke goddesses of friendship, but found very few such deities, but a wealth of love goddesses. (Oshun is goddess of love, pleasure, beauty, and diplomacy, which is as close as I got.) If you know of a god or goddess of friendship, please let me know. Thanks to Liane who emailed me after discovering that "Eyasha is the Santharian goddess of friendship."

If people are able to memorize their portions of the eighth calls before the ritual, the flow will be much improved. If this is infeasable, try to arrange copies of the ritual so that people can read and pass string at the same time. (A few large copies on the floor or affixing ordinary paper to people's arms are two good solutions.)

The first stanza of the eighth calls is from The Enlightened Mind: An Anthology of Prose by Stephen Mitchell.

If you have comments or questions about this ritual, please let me know.

Eighth Calls

[Eight Calls Positions] Stand in an octagon, with each person at a point in a cardinal or half-way direction. Pass a string along with the flow of dialog, building a smaller octagon supported by a shimmering net of triangles. (See image to the right.)

Heaven: Imagine a vast net;
Lake: At each crossing point there is a jewel;
Water: Each jewel is perfectly clear and reflects all the other jewels in the net,
Thunder: The way two mirrors placed opposite each other will reflect an image ad infinitum.
Earth: The jewel in this metaphor stands for an individual being,
Mountain: Or an individual consciousness, or a cell, or an atom.
Fire: Every jewel is intimately connected with all other jewels in the universe,
Wind: And a change in one jewel means a change, however slight, in every other jewel.

Heaven: Great God Indra,
Lake: Join us this night.
Water: Cast your Net,
Thunder: Entangle us
Earth: In reflections
Mountain: Of our fellow beings.
Fire: Acquainces, friends, and lovers
Wind: Shimmering in perfection.

Heaven: We call also the Goddess
Lake: Her many names and guises
Water: That bring love.
Thunder: Fertility and lust, yes;
Earth: But also love of friends,
Mountain: Love of ourselves,
Fire: And love for each jewel.
Wind: We call some of your names:

Heaven: Inanna
Lake: Kurukulla
Water: Benten
Thunder: Astarte
Earth: Xochiquetzal
Mountain: Frigg
Fire: Aphrodite
Wind: Oshun

Heaven: We call also the power
Lake: And the spirits
Water: Whose homes are in each direction.
Thunder: We also summon the spirits
Earth: And the power
Mountain: Of the elements
Fire: Each face in one direction,
Wind: But we find you everywhere.
Heaven: In the North,
Lake: big skies of Heaven.
Water: The Father watches
Thunder: as the Creative makes colors dance.
Earth: We call upon you.
Mountain: Bring your power,
Fire: Bring your insight.
Wind: Join us now.
Heaven: Heaven, North: you are welcome.

Lake: In the SouthEast,
Water: small ponds and wide gulfs of Lake.
Thunder: The Young Sister watches
Earth: as the Joyous guides a boat.
Mountain: We call upon you.
Fire: Bring your power,
Wind: Bring your insight.
Heaven: Join us now.
Lake: Lake, SouthEast: you are welcome.

Water: In the West,
Thunder: springs, rivulets, and the refreshment of Water.
Earth: The Middle Brother watches
Mountain: as the Abysmal flows through the land's veins.
Fire: We call upon you.
Wind: Bring your power,
Heaven: Bring your insight.
Lake: Join us now.
Water: Lake, SouthEast: you are welcome.

Thunder: In the NorthEast,
Earth: across the plains the rumble of Thunder.
Mountain: The Elder Brother watches
Fire: as the Arousing shakes the foundations.
Wind: We call upon you.
Heaven: Bring your power,
Lake: Bring your insight.
Water: Join us now.
Thunder: Thunder, NorthEast: you are welcome.

Earth: In the South,
Mountain: deserts and rainforests of Earth.
Fire: The Mother watches
Wind: as the Receptive sustains and brings forth beautiful life.
Heaven: We call upon you.
Lake: Bring your power,
Water: Bring your insight.
Thunder: Join us now.
Earth: Earth, South: you are welcome.

Mountain: In the NorthWest,
Fire: towering majesty of Mountain.
Wind:The Young Brother watches
Heaven: as Keeping Still causes change with quietude.
Lake: We call upon you.
Water: Bring your power,
Thunder: Bring your insight.
Earth: Join us now.
Mountain: Mountain, NorthWest: you are welcome.

Fire: In the East,
Wind: the sun rises, spreading the gift of Fire.
Heaven: The Middle Sister watches
Lake: as the Clinging energizes and vitalizes life.
Water: We call upon you.
Thunder: Bring your power,
Earth: Bring your insight.
Mountain: Join us now.
Fire: Fire, East: you are welcome.

Wind: In the SouthWest,
Heaven: whispers of an ancient people are still heard on the Wind.
Lake: The Elder Sister watches
Water: as the Gentile makes great things happen with small vibrations.
Thunder: We call upon you.
Earth: Bring your power,
Mountain: Bring your insight.
Fire: Join us now.
Wind: Wind, SouthWest: you are welcome.

We call upon you.
Bring your power,
Bring your insight.
Join us now.
You are welcome.
The circle is cast.
May those within stay within,
And those without stay without.
So mote it be.

Love of Another

Spend 3 minutes with each other person having a "holy moment." Sit or stand together, look at each other, and experience how deeply wonderful the other person is, and how wonderful the time is that you spend together, and the environment in which this happens. Someone should signal (such as by humming) when it's time to finish your holy moment and switch to the next person. The pairing sequence is as follows:

  1. Heaven/Earth (Standstill/Peace),
    Thunder/Wind (Duration/Increase),
    Water/Fire (After Completion/ Before Completion),
    Mountain/Lake (Decrease/ Influence)
  2. Heaven/Wind (Coming to Meet/Taming Power of the Small),
    Thunder/ Fire (Abundance/ Breaking Through),
    Water/Lake (Limitation/ Oppression),
    Mountain/Earth (Splitting Apart/Modesty)
  3. Heaven/Fire (Fellowship with Men/Posession in Great Measure),
    Thunder/Lake (Marrying Maiden/Following),
    Water/Earth (Holding Together/Army),
    Mountain/Wind (Work on What has Been Spoiled/Development)
  4. Heaven/Lake (Treading/Breakthrough),
    Thunder/Earth (Enthusiasm/Return),
    Water/Wind (Well/Dispersion),
    Mountain/Fire (Grace/Wanderer)
  5. Heaven/Thunder (Innocence/Power of Great),
    Water/Mountain (Obstruction/Youthful Folly),
    Earth/Wind (Pushing Upward/Contemplation),
    Fire/Lake (Opposition/Revolution)
  6. Heaven/Water (Conflict/Waiting),
    Thunder/Mountain (Preponderance of the Small/Corners of the Mouth),
    Earth/Fire (Darkening of the Light/Progress),
    Wind/Lake (Inner Truth/Preponderance of the Great)
  7. Heaven/Mountain (Retreat/Taming Power of the Great),
    Thunder/Water (Deliverance/Difficulty at the Beginning),
    Earth/Lake (Approach/Gathering Together),
    Wind/Fire (Family/Cauldron)

Love of the Group

Each person will take a turn as the "hub" in a "wheel of love." The hub stands in the center and faces each person in the circle in turn. The person in the circle tells the hub what they appreciate, love, or respect in him or her. Depending how well people know each other, this could be as deep or surface as desired -- "I love how you support me whenever I have a breakdown" is valid, as is "I like the way your eyes sparkle." The hub is not allowed to protest compliments.

Love of the Self

Place a mirror in the center of the circle, and have everyone look at themselves in it for a few minutes. (They can look longer, if they like.) Everyone will then write or draw several of their positive qualities.

Cakes and Wine

You may not feed yourself. Freeform blessing. We had Belgian beer and chocolate-covered cherries (which are easy to feed to other people).

Eighths Dismissal

Freeform, string passing from the speaker to whomever they desire.