Author: Murphy, Suzanne Zahrt
Date published: July 1, 2012
Journal code: FMPC
Finding Meaning in Personal Ceremony; a Book for its Time. Moore, Marijo. A Book of Ceremonies and Spiritual Energies Thereof. Candler, NC: rENEGADE pLANETS PUBLISHING, 2012. $25.
In a land that cherishes "big," we could be fooled to think that the slenderness of this book, written by a woman who is Cherokee, Dutch, and Irish, about personal spiritual ceremonies, is of minor significance.
In fact, it is quite significant. Marijo has identified a need, and, with much concern and wisdom and energy, she has brought forth this little book with the blessing of the late Vine Deloria and others who have followed her work.
She tells us why we need ceremony:
Ceremony is a necessary act to obtain or regain balance with the Spiritual Energies of the universe. The purpose of ceremony is to integrate: to merge one with all of humankind as well as the realm of the ancestors, to blend one with all of creation. "
Marijo Moore's work has always had a spiritual source. Her first books, centered upon nature, gave us small yet powerful inspiration found from her visits to the desert, her kinship with Crows, her relationship to trees. In these books, her Native American ancestry and knowledge of the circle of life reminds us to accept all creatures, and that we are only a part of the totality of life.
Our relationship to our spirituality is an always present theme in all of her work, including: Red Woman with Backward Eyes - a book of short stories; The Diamond Doorknob, in which a woman discovers her need to develop and love herself before she can accept the love of others; and A Book of Spiritual Wisdom -for All Days, in which she offers, week by week, thoughts on how to stay strong in the midst of life's challenges.
Lest anyone think that the ceremonies in this book are revelations of tribal secrets, we assure you that they are not; each tribal nation has its own sacred rites which are not for sale or for publication, and she reveres and respects those boundaries. Still, in addition to being a Cherokee writer and publisher, Marijo is also a gifted medium, sensitive to the fact that our secular, eclectic approach to life often leaves us with no practical way to connect our natures to Spirit. For those who have eschewed formal religion, or those who have not, she offers a defining statement about how she perceives this term for something larger than ourselves: Spirit is used synonymously with God, Universe, Christ, Creator, The Great Mysterious, and All There Is (4).
Unlike some spiritual "gurus" who want people to follow them, and who want the power and adulation which such leadership sometimes brings, Marijo remains humble. "I do not claim to be an authority on ceremony. I ama vessel. These are ceremonies devised through intuition and guidance. They are not simple and require utmost belief in Spirit.... "
She urges us to be patient, to pay attention, and cautions us: "Do not take ceremony lightly, do not make a game of ceremony, and do not use ceremony as a crutch for not taking responsibility. "
So let's take a look at her gift.
Preparation and right attitude
Each ceremony should be first prepared by a proper approach. "Do not carry out more than one ceremony pertaining to a card per moon (per month). "
Always offer tobacco with ceremony. She is not talking about smoking it, but offering it in a ceremonial way (as many native cultures use it) by praying over it, finding a way to put a pinch of tobacco there for the universe to see our gift to it. Always cleanse a ceremonial area and yourself of any negative energy before performing ceremony.
Smudging with sage or cedar, or burning a white candle are some ways to achieve this obligatory preliminary.
Each card is a visual representation of the particular energy which is being called to assist.
Cards are: Spirit of Fire (letting go and endings); Spirit of Water (seeking guidance and new beginnings); Spirit of Animals (creativity and countenance); Spirit of Nature (four seasons); Spirit of the Ancestors (gratitude and family cycles).
Explanations and list of what is needed:
With each ceremony Marijo has meticulously provided a list of what is needed to perform the ceremony respectully and correctly. She explains how the ceremony works for each of the cards.
Throughout each of the ceremonial instructions, she always reminds us that these are personal ceremonies which require goodness of intention, and patience in the performing. We are encouraged to remain dedicated to our prayer and to the process as it unfolds in our lives.
These ceremonies are not to be confused with magic or witchcraft. They are not to be used to cause our will to affect another's. Nor are they magic shortcuts meant to solely give us what we want. Gratitude and maintaining a proper perspective and an ongoing relationship to the process of unfolding are meant to keep us mindful that we are part of a whole in which we are asking for understanding.
"Remember, a ceremony sets energy in motion and the performer may be required to change on one level or another before an outcome can occur (4). "
In short, humility and the approach of striving for knowledge are the ingrethents we need to participate in these ceremonies which have been lovingly laid down by Marijo. This is a book which will be used and revered by those who cherish and respect ceremonial practice.
Says Marijo: "True happiness comes when one no longer desires or needs but trusts one's total life to Spirit."
Suzanne Zahrt Murphy is an artist, writer and nurse educator. She is of Cherokee, German, Swedish and Scottish descent.