Medicine for the Soul

Listen to Marie-Ève read this post here:

I would’ve wanted a ceremony when I fell ill and could no longer sustain everything that I had, up-until-that-point, called my life. I would’ve appreciated a wise one pulling me aside and holding safe space while I grieved who I had been, the one who was now slipping away. 

I could’ve cast relics that represented her, under this watchful eye of wisdom, into a sacred fire while I sang, wailed, and mourned my prior self and the seeming injustice of life. And once the grief gave way to a wide-open space of peace and presence, I would’ve wanted an initiation ceremony into the cocoon-space of my imminent transformation. 

I wanted to hear a wise one say in incantation, while stroking my hair and gazing into the depths of my soul:

 “You are no longer who you were and you are not quite yet who you will be. You are welcome here into this healing space of pure potentiality. Everything you thought you were is your sacrifice, your entry fee. You are being initiated to a new way of being, and very few will be able to meet you here. It is in this space that you will meet your true self and that you will tend to the seeds of your life’s true purpose. Once your healing is complete, when the divine time arrives—and it will, you will be initiated back into belonging to the world as your transformed self.” 

I would’ve wanted a ceremony and to be lovingly held in a sacred structure and holy space of community, to receive prayers, to hear chants and rattles while being blessed by the smoke of sweet grass and sage. I would’ve wanted my terrifying and messy transformation acknowledged and honored, or at least to have sacred ground to hold all that moved through me, and on which my tears and prayers could fall as I summoned my ancestors and allies. 

I wanted to be reminded to breathe by someone who had been face-to-face with the dark. I wanted to be invited to dance the heaviness that was cast over me, or simply to sit in a sacred circle of souls to share how I felt I was loosing my faith in god. 

I longed to hear the sound of my peoples’ footsteps behind me when my feet felt heavy and to hear their cheers and songs of celebration as the fog of years of undergoing began to lift.

Where do we turn when our spirits feel broken? When we come right to the edge of what we think we can handle? When everything we built our life on comes crumbling down around us? When we’re unsure of who we are and why we’re here?
What does the whole human require to have successful initiations through illness and loss? To heal grief when separation and death knock on the door? In modern society, where does one find medicine for the soul? 

{This is an excerpt from a larger work on ceremonial space and sacred medicine that is part of my current Masters coursework in Counselling Psychology.}

2014 © Marie-Ève Bonneau 

Artwork by Tessa Mythos