Becoming An Apprentice to Our Sacred Earth

Ritual is a Basic Human Response to a World of Uncertainty and Intensity 

When we do a ritual around something, it’s a way of saying ‘this is really important’. It’s a process that helps us integrate deep emotional experiences, such as loss. If someone dies, we feel a need to mark their passage, to share grief and comfort with others who have known them. 

I started the Sacred Earth Apprenticeship program, together with Demetra Markis, out of a realization that more and more people were feeling a call to do ritual and bring ceremony into their lives, without necessarily having a religious or ancestral tradition that it was linked to.


Building outdoor altars and making new friends at the 2017 Sacred Earth Apprenticeship


Ritual also helps us integrate changes in our own lives, such as the passage from childhood into puberty, and to share the deep, transformative joy when good fortune comes into our lives. It reminds us to be grateful, to give back something, if only appreciation. Small, daily rituals, such as blessing our food before we eat, integrate gratitude into our lives so it becomes a habitual state.

Some of us come from religious or spiritual traditions where rituals are handed down for generations. But ritual is also something that we can create to meet our emotional and spiritual needs of this time. In the Reclaiming tradition of earth-based spirituality, in which I work, ritual is seen as an opportunity for creativity. It is participatory, active, multi-voiced, and often ecstatic.

Rituals as an Art Form

Ritual, like its cousins theater and story-telling, involves art: skillful and reflective creativity. Ritual involves the arts—singing, chanting, dancing, language and imagery, and the wonderful thing about ritual is that you don’t need fantastic talent at any of them to create moving and powerful rituals. But you do need an understanding of how energy flows, how to orchestrate, and how to move people emotionally.

When I and other young feminists back in the ‘70s began searching for forms of spirituality that could help empower us and undermine patriarchy, we didn’t have a lot of models. We had our own religious traditions—which often came with a lot of patriarchal baggage. We had the example of indigenous cultures, but for most of us they were not our ancestral traditions and adopting them raised issues of cultural appropriation.

We had our own instincts and training in related fields, from the arts to psychology. And we had trial and error, feedback, and reflection. Often we’d create a ritual one day and critique it afterwards. We still do!

Weaving Together the Sacred and the Practical

Over the decades, we learned some things. For me, the Sacred Earth Apprenticeship is a chance to share those learnings, to weave the skills of ritual-creation together with some of the practical healing skills of herbalism and my dear friend Demetra Markis’ knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and ground it with actual work with plants and the earth. 

Harvesting Rosemary at the 2017 Sacred Earth Apprenticeship


For those who are beginning a journey into a lifetime of spiritual creativity, it’s a great start. For those who have been on the path for a long time, it’s a chance to deepen, to play, and to replenish the well of inspiration.

Storytelling as a Ritual Tool

Folk tales, fairy tales and ballads can be doorways into the mysteries, and often preserve ancient knowledge and teachings encoded in forms that kept them safe from church censorship. Entering deeply into a story is one way to find those hidden truths. 

In this year’s apprenticeship, we’ll be working with the story of Tam Lin, a tale of Faery, and exploring the realms of the Borderlands between the worlds. What is the land behind the land—and what does it mean for us in a time when this land, this earth, is so threatened? Can we find sources of inspiration and regeneration that can help us heal ourselves, our communities and our earth? 

The apprenticeship begins with a five-day intensive, followed by six months of online mentorship and monthly assignments to deepen skills. Afterwards, you will have an opportunity to join us for part 2 in the fall: Tam Lin—Deepening the Magic, which will  be an advanced intensive in magic and herbalism.

If you feel called to deepen your understanding of ritual, of healing, of the art of ritual creation and the mysteries, I hope you’ll join us for this magical journey. 

1 comment to Becoming An Apprentice to Our Sacred Earth

  • I am searching for people who have realized that the old stories can help us find the missing questions and that can then lead to vast changes in collective concepts about being and acting human. However the competitive monetization of everything, using numbers and swords has been so long in play that people take it for granted. In searching for answers an understanding dawned and that changed everything for me. However this idea seems to shake us from the comfort of so many beliefs and stories that people tend to resort to “kill the messenger” tactics.
    But i presevere 🙂
    thank you

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