Dancing in the Shadows by Laura Bryannan

Chapter 7


In order to create the sense of sacred space, it is useful to do some sort of ritual at the beginning of each meeting to consciously set aside the mundane world and create the time and energy for healing. Here's an example of such a ritual (this ritual also asks for protection of the space and the people within it):

Opening Ritual

Creating an Altar

Groups with a solid spiritual bent may decide to bring items to each session with which to create an altar. An altar can provide a place of focus in meditation. It can also be an acknowledgement of the inherent spirituality of the healing process and the greater power that guides ourselves and the universe. An altar can be viewed as a gateway for Spirit to enter the room. At the least, it is a tangible representation of the great archetypal energies present in our world.

The basic altar has items representing each of the four elements: earth, water, fire and air. Most often, altars contain crystals, dirt or salt to represent earth, or physical energy; a chalice with water or wine to represent water, or emotional energy; a burning candle to represent fire, or creative energy; and incense or feathers to represent air, or mental energy. Each element is placed on the altar in its proper direction: earth, north; water, west; fire, south; air, east.

Women may decide to bring items that represent the elements they are most in touch with (for example, students work with the mental energies of air; an artist is probably in touch with the inspirational energies of water and the creative energies of fire). It can also be useful to bring items that represent energy one needs more of (for example, are you a spiritual woman who can't get it together to pay her bills? You need earth energy to ground you in the world). Other personal or meaningful items can round out the display, such as baby pictures, totems, favorite ritual belongings, etc.

If you decide to do this, you'll find that your altar will change every session. It could even be part of your group's process every week to have each woman explain what she brought and why it was meaningful for her to bring to that session.

CAVEAT: Whether or not to create an altar is something each group should decide together. Some women were victimized by priests, ministers or nuns and have a serious problem with anything that smacks of "church." Although an altar such as I've described belongs more in the metaphysical or Quabbalic tradition than Christian, please honor the possibility that someone in your group may be very uncomfortable with this and discuss before deciding whether to do it or not.

Ending the Session

After your group's work together is done for that session you should do something to officially end the meeting before socializing. If you began the session with a ritual, you should end it by "breaking the circle," returning everyone to the mundane world. Here's an example of such an ending:

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Last Updated: 1 feb 99
Laura Bryannan