How You Can Have A Life Ceremony About Anything

Not many people can say they made new friends during lockdown. But I managed it, thanks to a tribe of lighthearted women. That’s what we call ourselves. The Lighthearted Women. We laugh. We share wisdom. And we keep each other’s spirits up. We also do business with each other.

I even had the privilege of doing a vow renewal ceremony for the group’s founder, Anna Healy.

Another great thing about The Lighthearted Women is that we’re all able to be honest with each other. That’s why I blurted out one day that I missed doing ceremonies. And they said, ‘Why don’t you do a life ceremony for us?’ You could practically see the lightbulb glowing above my head as I said, ‘Yes, I’ll do a Ceremony of Transformation.’

A lot of the women work in the fields of coaching, health and wellness. And all of us are big believers in growth, change and positivity. We’ve all risen to the challenge of lockdown and used it as an opportunity to transform ourselves. So, I knew a Ceremony of Transformation would resonate with them – and with me.

Gathering for the Ceremony

On a Saturday night in October, we escaped the horrors of Saturday night television and gathered on Zoom for our virtual Ceremony of Transformation. I sat before them in my celebrant-druid costume, with my pointy storytelling hat and my red cape, holding a purple quill in my hand. ‘Ladies, hats off, shoes off, bets off,’ I said, ‘It’s time for the Lighthearted Women’s Ceremony of Transformation.’

Well, I did tell you we were very honest with each other!

A Ceremony Quest

For this ceremony, we went on a quest. You know the way everyone’s on a journey these days? Well, I reckon what they’re really talking about is a quest. A quest can be a journey, but it’s no ordinary journey. It’s a journey with a goal in mind. In fairytales, the quest is for treasure, for gold or some other valuable goods. Our quest was to find the value in ourselves and in the world around us. A powerful metaphor that fit our group perfectly.

For my quest, I took them on a virtual trip to the Ardmore Cliffs on the coast of Waterford. By that, I mean, I stuck a photograph of the cliffs up on the screen and asked them to imagine they were there. The cliff walk is the start of a longer pilgrimage walk taken by St Declan in the fifth century CE. Since a pilgrimage is a type of quest, this felt like the right place to start.

I chose two readings which matched the quest theme. One was the utterly joyous poem by Dr Seuss, The Places You’ll Go. It’s easy to see why this is such a favourite in ceremonies. It shows that the whole world is open to you, if you have the right spirit of adventure. The second reading was more contemplative. Just Another Walk by Kathy Forsythe is a pem inspired by the teaching of the Buddha. It encourages you to pay ttention to the world around you, and to remember that while you walk, you are not alone.

This is a quote from the Dr Seuss reading used in this life ceremony, and gives people an idea of what was read.

This is a quote from the Dr Seuss reading The Places You’ll Go, in white writing on a blue background. There’s a little white man running at the bottom of the photo. The writing says, ‘You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’ – Dr Seuss. Photo Credit: Yvonne Cahalane

The true joy of the ceremony came from the two rituals we did together. It didn’t matter that we weren’t in the same room – these rituals united us. First, we wrote wishes for ourselves on pieces of paper, then attached the paper to a piece of ribbon, and hung the ribbon for a place where we could always see our wish. On those grey, listless days, we can look at those wishes and remember why we’re doing what we do. And we can look to a brighter future.

Sand Ceremony Ritual

Our next ritual was a sand ceremony. We all held little pots of sand in our hands. On my signal, we all poured our sand into other decorative pots. All of us had started off with our own sand, but now our sand was all mixed together. You could no longer tell which sand was mine and which belonged to the other women. This mingling of sand showed that we were now one. Even virtually, we were all able to feel that sense of coming together, of lives that are now intertwined.

This picture shows how the sand ceremony worked and how people approached it in creative ways.

There’s sand in a small bottle, which is tied to a purple ribbon resting on a table. There’s also a piece of paper with a wish on it. This again is Yvonne Cahalane’s work. She found a beautiful way of tying the wishing and sand rituals together.

It sounds like there was a lot in this ceremony, but each part of it actually went really fast. This left room for another very important part of the ceremony – sharing the transformations we had made during these difficult pandemic months. Our transformations centred on confidence, abundance, and trust in our own abilities. This was a profound moment for us all. There was a sense of celebration, but also of awareness of the sacrifices we had made, and how we had dug deep to find our inner strength.

Finishing the Ceremony

I finished the ceremony with a short verse I had written myself called The Lighthearted Women’s Blessing. I’ll keep those words within our lovely group, but I’m hoping it ended the ceremony on a high note. Afterwards, there was a lot of banter, about graveyards and crooked pictured. We finished the night knowing that our bonds were stronger than steel.

This ceremony got me thinking. Usually celebrants deliver baby naming, wedding and vow renewal ceremonies, and these are all wonderful occasions? But why should people have to wait for those milestones? Why shouldn’t everyone have a ceremony of some kind?

There’s lots to celebrate about you, and that’s why I’m launching a service called Ceremonies For You. It’s for people who want a ceremony that’s different from the usual ones, a ceremony that celebrates the life choices they’ve made.

If you’d like to find out more about how I can create a ceremony that celebrates you and your friends or to mark milestones that are important for you, send me a mail on info@celebrantderv.ie. I’d love to hear from you.

My Wonderful Week of Celebrancy

Marketing experts advise you that your blog posts should be SEO friendly. They should solve problems for people and educate people about the big world of celebrancy, and that’ll make it easy for Dr Google to find them. I’m happy to follow that advice most of the time, but sometimes I just need to let rip and share the joy of my job.

This is just such a week. I did have a sensible blog post planned, and I’ll bring that to you next week, but this week, I want to celebrate. It’s been a wonderful week in my life as an independent celebrant, the biggest week since I qualified. And it’s not over yet.

In these strange times, it’s hard to find the balance between carrying on with your business and being sensitive to the stress people are under. But I wanted to share my success with you, to show that even in these times, there is still cause for celebration. It’s okay to be happy. And it’s okay to dream of better times to come.

So, here’s a rundown of my big, wonderful celebrant week.

Monday – Flagging Celebrant Directory Blog

I put up a boast on social media about the fact that I’m to be a guest blogger on The Celebrant Directory on Friday. I thought I’d generate a bit of excitement about the blog post first, and I got lots of lovely comments on social media. It really made me feel l like an influencer!

Tuesday – Got Local Media Coverage

A lovely journalist called Dymphna Nugent (@the_english_teacher_ on Instagram) featured in an article in one of my local papers, the Waterford News and Star. She interviewed me for a column called Well Said, where local people reflect on life and what makes them tick. As someone who grew up in a large family, I welcome any chance to talk about myself without interruption! And I was delighted to have the chance to share my passion for all things celebrant.

Wednesday – Booked A Wedding

I confirmed a booking for a wedding! This has been bubbling for a little while. Through this fine website, I was contacted by a couple living in America who are already legally married. They’re planning a wedding in October in a rather lovely hotel called Barnabrow House in East Cork, near the groom’s home town. I’ll be sharing all the details with you as they evolve. We’re being optimistic that everything will happen as planned – we’re daring to dream.

This picture shows the wedding ceremony room at Barnabrow House. You can see red carpeting in the aisle and rows of wooden chairs. White lanterns containing candles are dotted along the aisle.
Photo Credit: Barnabrow House

Thursday – Virtual Vow Renewal

Amazing how all your ships come in at once. I made an arrangement to do a virtual vow renewal in early June. I’ll be at my home near the sea in Tramore, Co. Waterford, and this couple will be in a forest clearing in West Cork with their children, many miles away. But my ceremonial words will reach them through the magic of Zoom.

Friday – Guest Blog Post Day

Friday 1 May is the schedule date for my blog post on The Celebrant Directory. I’ll have access to zillions of eyeballs on this site, which is an international directory of celebrants. It also offers marketing tips and inspiration to celebrants. I’m hoping that my post, a shinier version of the post I wrote for this blog about legal wedding ceremonies in Ireland, will add to that vibe of inspiration. I’ll stick up a link to it on this blog tomorrow so you won’t miss it.

If you are missing a chance to celebrate big occasions with your family, I’d love to help you find ways around it. These special moments deserve to be marked, and planning a celebration will give you something to look forward to. You can email me on info@celebrantderv.ie or call 087 6959799.

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