“She’s turning her life into something sacred: Each breath a new birth. Each moment, a new chance. She bows her head, gathers her dreams from a pure, deep stream and stretches her arms toward the sky.”
Notes: Several years ago I wrote and priestessed a special ritual for a friend who lost one of her ovaries. Last week in the Creative Spirit Circle, the topic of rituals for women who have had hysterectomies and other surgeries impacting their reproductive organs arose. I decided to share the ritual I originally wrote for my friend, with a few modifications to make it more widely usable. Many people do not feel a specific need to ritualize ovarian, uterine, or other surgical experiences and this ritual is in no means meant to suggest that you must feel a sense of grief or loss if you have an a hysterectomy. It is meant to offer a gift to those people who do wish to ceremonially honor their bodies and say farewell to organs that they may have needed to release from their lives for any reason. This ritual is designed for use by a group of friends, but may be modified for use by a solitary individual as well.
Today, we gather together to recognize what you’ve been through, what you’ve lost and what you’ve gained. You’ve embarked on a heroine’s journey with your body. You descended into your deepest places and your darkest corners, you laid down your body, you gave up parts of yourself, you faced your dragons. While you may have had fears and struggles and challenges, you have acted with great courage and deep love. You have done what had to be done. You emerged with scars AND with strength. Now, you stand at a new threshold. You stand at the gateway of your Life, your fullness and your wholeness. You have traveled, been challenged, and triumphed. Today, we celebrate you. We’re so glad you’re here!
Share personal story as you wish (if in a group, the honoree would share the story of what happened, the surgery, feelings, etc. If alone, you might want to tell the story aloud as if someone is listening).
After story, the group gathers in circle around the woman and say together…
We have heard your story
We have seen your struggle
We honor your strength
We know your capacity
We celebrate your courage
We trust your power
Optional addition: group lays hands on honoree and says in unison
We accept that you have fears
You are not your fears
You are now cleansed and renewed
Go forth with courage at your side.
(based on writing by Jennifer Louden)
Group joins hands forming a “bridge” or birth canal for the honoree to pass between and she walks through, they say:
Celebrate the heroine, honor the heroine
Wise woman, strong woman
Woman of spirit
Woman of power
Woman of peace
All hail, all honor
(Barbara Walker, Women’s Rituals)
Honoree steps over the “threshold,” releasing the ovarian/uterine/surgical wound and steps forward with confidence, love, power, and strength.
Modifications for individual ceremony: you may wish to include a sacred bath and/or a body blessing as the middle of your ritual. You may wish to buy roses and create a threshold of rose petals to cross.
Read aloud SHE poem (this is a poem for multiple voices based on a custom hysterectomy sculpture I created several years ago. Go around the circle each reading a line OR, have the circle facilitator read the bolded lines and the other women in the circle in turn respond with each subsequent line)
She who is open to possibilities.
She who has taken her own journey
carved her own path
learned her own lessons
and carries her own wisdom.
She who carries the story of a woman’s life written on her body.
She who has spun cells into life
She who has traveled
She who is…
SHE… [all say together]
(by Molly Remer, Earthprayer)
If you’d like to explore more of the messy, beautiful real-life work of practical priestessing with me, I invite you to join me in our upcoming in-depth Practical Priestessing course.