Adventures in OZ – Part 2
CEREMONY AT UTOPIA
So came down from the mountains, stopped by in Penrith at Mysterys Bookshop where I presented a workshop. Room was packed with a great group of people and we all had fun. Then on to Sydney where I stayed for a couple days. Did a series of individual sessions at Adyar Bookstore’s new facility, then walked around the city in the evening. I love this city! It feels so clean and so safe. People there are quite friendly as well. Only thing is that everybody there has an accent.
Next day hopped on a plane to Maroochydore, a city on what’s called the Sunshine Coast. From the name you can get an idea of the climate. There I was to meet up with my mate Jeremy and participate in the second annual Utopia Conference to which I’d been invited as a presenter—great name for a conference, isn’t it? Quite a few presenters with a diversity of what you’d call new age talents. Crystals were abundant throughout and woven into the other decorations. Sound healers, massage therapists, Reiki masters—quite a variety of folks all making for a unique blend of the mystical and the shamanic. I did my “Healing Your Fragmented Soul” workshop to a very receptive audience. Even played one of my original songs, which I’ve been doing more frequently at workshops.
Jeremy did his thing, played the didgeridoo during his presentation, telling stories about his discovery that his father was aboriginal even though he and his mother are white-skinned. Jeremy, now 30, reconnected with his father’s people, the Kuku Yalangi (GU-ku-YAL-an-gee), when he was 16 years old, went through a two year initiation with his grandfather into the ways of his father’s family, which he now calls his family. Now he is wisdom keeper and is responsible for carrying on the stories, songs, and ceremonies of his people and sharing it with the larger global community.
Jeremy and I facilitated the closing ceremony for the gathering. Both of us agree that we collaborate well together in bringing forth ceremony and have had the good fortune to do so many times. The process is magical and serves the purpose. Since it was New Moon the evening of the ceremony we thought it proper to ask the group to each keep in mind their intentions for the coming weeks and months.
We set a crystal bowl filled with water in the center of the room. All of us gathered in a large circle in the room, then four of the participants converged around the bowl and set prayers into the water to prepare it for receiving the intentions later in the ceremony. We then directed the people to breathe deeper and slower, and with each exhale to stomp their foot on the floor with the idea of releasing anything that needed to be released. Doing so also energized and grounded everyone.
Jeremy had prepared by painting his body with white ochre to represent spirit. Once the grounding exercise was complete, he went around the circle and anointed everyone with a dab of white ochre on the forehead. I could feel the power of Spirit filling the room and knew that each one of us was holding the space for Spirit to enter.
Once this was done I taught the group a chant modeled after one I’d learned years ago. It’s hard to translate onto the written word, but it’s one where everyone chants repeatedly the name of the Hindu deity “Rama” in a melodic and entrancing melody. There are also two distinct sections of melody such that you can create a two or three part round. Jeremy and I had done this once before in a ceremony in a workshop in Australia. Earlier we had discussed this and he suggested that since we were in the land of the indigenous peoples of Australia we use the term “Jitta”—the name for the Supreme Being in Kuku Yalanji language.
I divided the group up into two sets of about 40 people each. We began the chant with one group singing the first melody to start and as this group moved on to the second melody, the second group started on the first, creating a sing song effect while Jeremy moved about playing the didgeridoo, which blended exquisitely with the power of the group’s chanting. The rhythm and music that was created induced a pleasant trance state, one of grounded euphoria. Although I didn’t think there could be more power in the room than there had already been, I could feel the room breathe with Spirit.
People were swaying and dancing. We moved together as one in a chorus of song and movement, all the while here’s this man in traditional garb, white ochre decorating his body, playing a long wooden tube. It was magic. Earth magic.
The chanting became softer and softer and without any direction from us, diminished to a natural pause. At this point people were invited to breathe into the holy water at the center of the circle that which they are choosing to release. They were instructed to move to the bowl when so prompted, take a moment, gather their intention, think the thought “I now choose to release _______,” and breathe whatever their choice was into the bowl of water.
At first people were a bit shy, but then came forward increasingly until every one had taken the opportunity to let go of whatever they had chosen. Once everyone was finished, the producers, Susan and Simone, carried the water to the lawn. We circled up again, offered prayers and blessing, and they gave the water to Mother Earth, and she received it graciously and gratefully.
We said a closing invocation, then broke the circle. The ceremony was complete. Jeremy and I and Jeremy’s friend Artie (now a friend of mine) had to leave as we were about to head north to Cairns, rent a car, and head to the bush. More precisely we were to eventually land at Mossman Gorge, the community of the Kuku Yalanji, and from there proceed on our adventure into the bush.