Falling and Rising Ritual
by Ing Venning
GOAL: To create the foundation for an astral temple
AUDIENCE: This ritual isn't practical for less than six without some adaptation, and it's recommended for ten or more. All full participants (i.e., everyone but the facilitators) are expected to have not already formally established an astral temple area. Although participants may wish to built their own individual spaces, this ritual also works well for building an astral space to be shared by a group; if this is the case, it's recommended that participating individuals have formed their own astral spaces first.
PREPARATION: Find an outdoor place that will comfortably hold each person with several feet to move around. Hold this ritual during the day when the ground is dry. Make sure you will not be disturbing natural wildlife and that you've asked permission of the place and its spirits. Learn the words (or, at the least, a general template) of the ritual - this will ensure the wind cannot ruffle your pages as you read, thus distracting those who are journeying in the otherworld. Let participants know that they should wear old clothing of no particular significance (it will probably get at least a little dirty). For reasons of health and safety, no one should participate who is allergic to native flora, who is pregnant, or who has any breathing problems. This ritual might also not be the best for persons who are claustrophobic and/or agoraphobic.
As participants arrive in the designated area, direct them to patches of ground where they can lie, and move freely, without disturbing other participants. Participants should lie in a roughly circular pattern or - given a larger number of participants - in several of these circles (each with a facilitator to guide it). Participants may lie on blankets or other artificial surfaces if they wish, but they are encouraged to recline on the ground. Before beginning, each participant should make certain that the ground in front of and to the left and right of her- or himself is clear of debris. Participants should be able to comfortably roll over these surfaces.
A feather or soft cloth (or several of them) may be used for this ritual, but the use of objects is purely optional. The West Caller may need a vessel of water if no natural source of water is close at hand.
SPEAKER: Please sit on the ground. Make sure the ground before you is clear of debris, as you'll be lying on it. Also the ground to your right. And to your left.
Take a deep, slow breath. As you breathe, feel your stomach expand and contract with the inhalation, the exhalation. Listen to this place, feel it. It has a rhythm. If you breathe deeply, slowly, without thinking of it, you will find it. Simply breathe and feel. Breathe and listen. [Continue in this manner until you feel each participant is relaxed and ready to trance].
There is only this moment - here, in this place. There is no past, no future. No other places and no worries. Just here, just now, as you breathe deeply. Slough off your self and simply be.
For the moment, be a plant. Feel your roots extending downward into the earth and the waters beneath it. You stretch slowly downward, reaching through the soil, the rock, the underground streams. And feel your branches unfolding upward, through the air and the sun that shines through it. Feel, too, the column of your trunk, linking the realms of earth and sky.
Breathe deeply and watch as a light materializes before you. A little white light that sometimes blinks other colors - a flash of green, a hint of blue - and then always back to white. It moves toward you and gently touches your energy body. It touches the energy near your hands, taking away labors that have caused you pain. It touches the energy near your feet, taking away the wear of lost efforts. It touches you near the throat and removes the sting of regretted words. Everywhere it goes, it cleanses. And every place it cleanses seems to slowly swell, slowly rise, slowly brighten until you are covered with white light from your heart out to your head, your fingers, your toes.*
EAST CALLER: Spirits of the winds that glide from this world to the other, harm none and be welcome. [Caller raises summoning hand into the air and kisses it as in greeting.] Hail and welcome. [Participants may repeat if they wish.]
SOUTH CALLER: Spirits of the fires that blaze from this world to the other, harm none and be welcome. [Caller raises summoning hand toward the sun and kisses it in greeting.] Hail and welcome. [Participants may repeat if they wish.]
WEST CALLER: Spirits of the rivers that flow from this world to the other, harm none and be welcome. [Caller runs summoning hand through water and kisses it in welcome.] Hail and welcome. [Participants may repeat if they wish.]
NORTH CALLER: Spirits of the flowers that bud in spring and die in autumn, thus moving from this world to the other, harm none and be welcome. [Caller places hand on the ground and kisses it in greeting.] Hail and welcome. [Participants may repeat if they wish.]
SPEAKER: Today, you are going to create a space for yourself in the otherworld - a safe, cleansing place from where you can begin your astral journeys. Please raise yourself to your knees, then lay forward against the ground. Once you are resting comfortably and breathing deeply, relax each of your muscles. You ease downward into the earth. For a few moments, you are intangible, traveling through solid rock. And then, as if you are brushing past a veil, you find yourself on the other side of the ground, looking around at a locale much like this one.
[As the Speaker says the previous sentence, facilitators should guide the participants to roll to the right and onto their backs. As they do so, they may choose to brush each participant's face with a feather or soft cloth to simulate crossing the veil.]
Feel yourself rise upward and float over this new landscape. There is a path nearby. You follow it, floatingly, breathing deeply as you move. It's almost as if you remain stationary while the landscape sidles past you. Soon enough, you've reached another place. This is your favorite type of landscape, one where you always seem to find yourself in dreams and daydreams. Stop and take a good look. Access this place with all your senses - the known ones and the unknown. The seen and unseen. The heard and unheard. The felt and unfelt. The tasted, the smelled, and their inverses. What does it look like here? Sound like? Smell like?
Begin by making a cleansing place. What makes your energy feel purest? Being caressed by the passing wind? Walking through a door of fire set into a wall of night and stars? Moving through a river, lake, or waterfall - or maybe washing at a well? Or perhaps just lying in the grass under a tree? Make a place here where you can do anything that makes you feel happy and calm. Feel free to borrow from landscapes and features that aren't usually found together - the normal laws of physics don't apply here.
Once you have a cleansing place, look around at it. Take in - as you create - the details. No one can come here - or even know that this place exists - unless they truly love you. To get back here, you need no map or compass. You just need to remember how this place feels, looks, tastes, and so on. Your otherworldly senses are the key. When you come to the astral - and, sometimes, when you dream - you may yourself starting here, in the place of peace and cleansing that you have made. The more you visit and enjoy this place, the more your guides will expect to find you here. The ones closest to you may even want to linger here sometimes if it's ok with you. This place was built by you, and it will tend to follow your energy and your guidelines for manifestation. From here, you can build other locations - people sometimes even find locales from their previous lives, places they built in other incarnations that can be merged into their new temple-estate. If you find other locations, you can change them to reflect the current astral temple or leave them as they are. You can even get rid of them if you feel they no longer have anything to teach you.
Once you've noted some of the details of this space and established a connection, look downward. Into the ground. It almost seems the ground is opaque and translucent all at once - and that someone is resting just below the soil, facing upward, but with no features you can clearly discern. You find yourself sinking downward, relaxing into the earth.
[Facilitators roll participants to the left, so that they're facing downward.]
You pass, once more, through the earth. And through the veil between the worlds. For a moment, you are approaching your body from several angles, but this temporary vertigo quickly ceases. You find yourself lying very nearly where you began - with the earth at your back and the sky above you.
[As the last two sentences are spoken, facilitators roll participants to the left once more, this time so that they face upward. They may, again, brush participants' faces with a feather or cloth.]
Your spirit has returned from wandering. Slowly, awareness of your body returns, first to your heart and mind, then outward toward your extremities.
NORTH CALLER: Spirits of the flowers that die in the autumn to be reborn in spring, thus moving from the otherworld into this one, harm none as you take your leave. [Caller places banishing hand on the ground and kisses it in parting.] Hail and farewell. [Participants may repeat if they wish.]
WEST CALLER: Spirits of the rivers that flow from the otherworld into this one, harm none as you take your leave. [Caller runs banishing hand through water and kisses it in parting.] Hail and farewell. [Participants may repeat if they wish.]
SOUTH CALLER: Spirits of the fires that blaze from the otherworld into this one, harm none as you take your leave. [Caller raises banishing hand toward the sun and kisses it in parting.] Hail and farewell. [Participants may repeat if they wish.]
EAST CALLER: Spirits of the winds that glide from the otherworld into this one, harm none and be welcome. [Caller raises banishing hand into the air and kisses it as in parting.] Hail and farewell. [Participants may repeat if they wish.]**
SPEAKER: The circle closes but never breaks. Welcome back, travelers. Pat or brush or kiss the earth to ground yourself in this world again as your limbs settle lightly about you. Thank this place and its guides. They are truly wondrous beyond description - as are each of you. Blessed be!
* Proper cleansing, while important to every ritual, is especially important in the current context. Please feel free to add other cleansing exercises if needed; a chakra cleansing may even be in order.
** The implication in the closing calls is that these same flowers, rivers, fires, and winds are those which departed for the otherworld in the first place. Therefore, the callers are dismissing the same entities that they evoked in the opening calls. If facilitators feel uncomfortable with these descriptions, they may wish to include deity names at each quarter, name the guardians of the watchtowers, or make the calls more specific in some other manner.