Friday, November 25, 2011

Deconstructing the Feast

Yesterday was a big ritual, a personal taboo breaker, a healing. The day was a complete and total success. The food was good, the guests were lovely, the music was just right. You can plan forever but when the time comes, you never know if a dinner party is going to plotz or soar. Don't ask me to explain why - I have no idea. Believe me, I've thought about it a lot.

I planned and co-priestessed many a ritual during my years with Reclaiming. Some worked, others were total disasters, even with the same basic structure. Some of the rituals were huge, like the Spiral Dance with its 1500 participants. Some were smaller, around 300 or so, and others were very small - 20-30 people. What I'm saying is, I have ritual planning creds.

Yesterday we feasted, toasted, laughed, listened to music, traded stories. Afterwards everyone pitched in with good humor. We cleaned the kitchen in seconds flat, or so it seemed. Later I sent everyone home with a plate of leftovers, including enough for my own dinner tonight. The ritual went very well indeed. I keep saying "ritual" because it is - it really is. Google "feast days." Humans have been gathering for harvest feasts forever!

Thanksgiving, even in spite of its wild expansive energy, arises from a rather elegant ritual structure. The structure is practical as well as superstitious. In assembling the meal, I had to re-stock my larder with flours, oils, spices, sugars and other staples. What a great thing to do just before winter sets in! The fact that the feast must always yield leftovers is a sacred drama of abundance, a way of sending out to the universe a wish to remain well fed during the dark quarter of the year.

In all prayer we ask but also say thank you. I realized this morning that Black Friday is the second part of the prosperity ritual. We've taken it out to extremes, as we Americans do, but the idea - to go forth and make offerings - is exactly perfect in terms of ritual form. Gifts, i.e. love and generosity in physical form, are offerings to the divine, always. Gift shopping the day after a big feast is so right!

One of my guests cut her finger (small cut) while carving the turkey, hence she inadvertently made an offering to the spirit of the animal (in many cultures blood is shed as a sacrifice after a successful hunt). My goodness we are all shamans. You can't make this stuff up!

One of my great teachers used to say that we set a particular energy into motion whenever we gather with a shared intention. Once that energy is in motion, it's our job to dance in alignment with it, go with the flow.

In a few minutes I'm going to head out to walk off yesterday's feast, take pictures, and enjoy this sparkling clear, crisp day. My goal is to buy at least one Christmas gift, probably from one of the Smithsonian stores. In that way I will have completed the elegant, oversized ritual of prosperity we call Thanksgiving. So may it be!



ellen abbott said...

We had a great time here. Daughter and family came. Son called. Daughter and SIL left, g'kids stayed. They'll be here til Sunday morning. Yes, a very good day.

Reya Mellicker said...

It bodes well for the winter.

Pauline said...

So glad all went well! I like your spin on Black Friday. Though I won't be participating in that part of the ritual, I will be out of doors giving thanks for all things natural.

Reya Mellicker said...

I've been outside for hours. It is BEAUTIFUL in DC! Also bought 3 gifts at the National Gallery gift shop. The ritual is complete - so may it be!

Meri said...

Love this -- and shared it on FinallyMe. Aren't the gift shops at the Smithsonian intriguing? When I was a Beltway beauty, I loved gift getting there.

Joanna said...

Such a cool photograph! In Canada we don't have the buying frenzy of Black Friday but I like the idea of it being a Thanksgiving followup of gifting.

Val said...

i can only begin to imagine the good energy flowing at your table Reya; of course it went well. I wonder what Black Friday is - the meaning and event. off to google feast days x

Angela said...

Like Val, I can feel the good energy that was created at your table, reya. Reading about it, I even got shivers!
You are so right, one can`t make this up. Somehow we are all Shamans and follow rituals with delight. So let`s plunge into the Christmas planning now. Generosity is part of the plan.