The Ritual of Becoming Me by Kael Klassen

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Kael is a Shaman; a Medicine Woman, and the Crone's apprentice. She is an explorer of Spirit, a Healer and a conscious Creator. She is a Guide for others as they too fumble their way home to their true Self. She is here to make a difference and to seek love and to offer kindness. To connect, heal, empower and inspire. To awaken hearts. To unfalteringly strive for truth. To live in alignment with the wisdom of my her sacred heart. 

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I have been struggling with how to even begin this post to all of you.

For one main reason really: Ritual is so completely woven into the fabric of my life and who I am that I honestly don’t know where to begin. It’s like trying to share with you how I breathe!

So, after more thought than I would have expected, I have finally landed at beginning at, well, the beginning; or at least at a piece of the beginning.

I was born into a large and long line of Mennonites. The Mennonite religion/ethnicity, while completely passive and lovely on so many levels, is also entirely conservative and based on a fairly strong patriarchal model.

So here’s me; this little wild spirit of a child. A feral thing who thought herself one with the animals but was born with ancestral guilt for showing her skin. A sacred feminine force who was shown from an early age all of the ways that she should feel shame for the brazen passion with which she moved through life. A mystic, a spiritual explorer, a seeker and a healer born into the confines of so much pre-determined and inherited dogma.

I have spent, so far, more of my life fighting against what I was told to be or what I thought I should be, then I have simply being who I truly am.

I have spent, so far, most of my life with a sense of despondent defeat and crushing conformity.

I have spent, so far, most of my life longing for a home that I’ve never been to. A home I know exists, yet can’t actually locate.

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But!

{here’s where we turn the corner}

In recent years I have been deep in the process of discovering who I actually am. 

What delights me.

What feels true to me.

What I am here to do in this life time.

What moves me.

What I need to receive.

What I need to release.

Who I am at the level of my heart, spirit and soul.

Sounds dreamy right?

It is.

But, total honesty, it has not been an easy path to walk and I have had to burn the facade of “me” to the ground several times to arrive here. I have had to crawl, thrash, struggle, and sink into the muck of my own existence. I have had to do huge work to mine my subconscious for the ways that my unconscious belief systems, trauma and patterns were shaping the lens through which I perceived my waking reality.

And? I imagine that, as I continue the work of mining my own depths, I will have to burn the facade of “me” to the ground several more times. 

Enter the sacred act/art/framework of ritual.

Ritual for me started out simply as prayer. Not the prayers I had been taught in Sunday school. Not the prayers my family had always said, in German, before meals. No “gentle Jesus” or “Heavenly Father”. 

No. 

My ritual of prayer was something primal. It was words, yes, but even more than that it was a total body experience. It was feelings and fears and aches and hurts and hopes welling up from my depths and letting themselves be known through the physicality of my body. It was potent and powerful connection to something bigger than my human self. It was, and I didn’t recognize this at the time, communing with and inviting in a holiness that was purely feminine as opposed to the masculine notion of God I had been told about my entire life.

And that was it.

I started with the ritual of prayer.

Every night, as I lay in bed before I fell asleep, I would pray; with my words and with whatever sensations were rising and filtering through my body. I would feel my boundaries dissolve, my loneliness dissipate, and feel the complete sense of peace that comes with truly connecting to Source.

Now here’s the funny thing about spiritual explorers; at one point or another almost all of us slip, on some scale, into spiritual bypassing. I was no different.

While my initiation to ritual was so honest and so pure, it rather quickly became a practice of spiritual bypassing; of using my spiritual practice to avoid processing the deep grief and rage stored within my being, my unresolved wounds and trauma, and my fundamental emotional, psychological, and, oddly enough, spiritual needs.

One day prayer wasn’t enough and suddenly my rituals had to be tied to something; a full moon or a new moon or the Solstice. They had to have fresh out of the package candles and crystals that looked just right. They had to have certain spirits or guides for one and certain spirits and guides for another. They basically had to look like a Free People advertisement and were measured not on the meaning and connection they provided me, my heart, my spirit and my soul, but on how Instagram worthy they were.

You can see how this is a problem, yes?

My ritual became not about connection or meaning or spirit, but about aesthetic and the proverbial pat the back, the public gratification, for engaging in ritual; never mind the fact that they were hollow and meaningless, masking deeper turmoil, they looked so pretty.

Lucky for me, I have two small children. And the effort it was taking to try to maintain these strict, dogmatic {oh the irony!}, bull shit rituals just wasn’t feasible when my two little boys needed me so much.

And so I quit ritual. 

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Again, lucky for me, my life had plans for me and ritual. Because very shortly after I renounced ritual, I began my mentorship as a Shaman. 

{For those of you who may not know, a Shaman is an energetic healer, one who sees in the dark, a wounded healer.}

And Shamanism? It is laden with ritual.

These new rituals I was learning though were rooted in nature, prayer and my guides. These new rituals were bringing me full circle to where I had started with ritual in the form of prayer and being present in my own body and experience. These were rituals that connected asking with deep listening and the esoteric with the very physical. These were rituals that not only made space for the muck of my trauma, pain, grief and rage, but actually encouraged it; guiding me to the rich fecundity held in the bellies of those experiences and emotions. These new rituals were helping me trace my ancestral line and find my way closer to that home I have been yearning for my whole life.

Which brings us here, now.

I do still practice my new moon ritual. And I do still use a candle that smells like the forest, a giant chunk of quartz, and smoke from the stub of a well-loved braid of sweet grass. But I use these things because they hold meaning; because there is meaning and richness in their beauty and scents that add to my engagement with ritual. Beyond those few items, my new moon ritual is just me dropping deep into my heart to unearth my current truth and then that truth, those prayers, written out on the rumpled pages of an old notebook and tucked into a tiny silver sugar pot.

The rest of my ritual practice is happening all of the time. In fact, I feel confident saying that my ritual practice is now my life practice. It is in the way that I create small altars of beauty, love and connection throughout my home. It is in the way that I whisper a heartfelt “thank you” every time I go outside. It is in the way that I ask permission from the land. It is in the way that I prepare my children’s lunches for their day away from me at school. It is in the way that I listen closely to my body. It is in the way that I surrender, get out of the way, before I write. It is in my drumming. It is in the way that I inhale the spring’s smells of life and growth with such complete gratitude after a long winter ends. It is once again in my crystals and candles and herbs that I burn.

It is in everything.

I think that that is what I would most like you to take from this: that ritual has the potential to be in everything. From the most mundane human acts to the most profound spiritual encounters {because, spoiler alert, this entire existence is a profound spiritual encounter…some just look shinier than others}. Because the power of ritual is, at the very core, simply the meaning that you assign something. 

I invite you to try it out, to create a ritual for yourself. Maybe your ritual is in making and drinking your first cup of coffee in the morning. Or maybe it is sitting in stillness to listen to your inner quiet. Maybe it is your evening run. Maybe it is whispering “thank you, I love you” into your sleeping child’s ear. Maybe it is a candlelit soak in a bath filled with flower petals and no interruptions. Maybe it is in creating space, time and love to process and honour your grief, rage or wounds. Maybe it is an altar of candles and crystals and white spaces.

It doesn’t matter what it is, what shape it takes, or what container it manifests through. What matters is that as you engage and invite ritual into your life, you remember this simple fact: it is not the act that makes a ritual powerful, it is the meaning that you assign, the way that you engage, that imbues your ritual with a sacredness that will nourish your heart, spirit and soul.

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