Present Tense

On ceremony

Last night, there was a drum circle at my house.  A gifted friend suggested that it was needed for me and for our land. Since she is usually right about these matters, I was all in.

We gathered around a substantial fire with our drums and no real plan other than to drum into a nice, meditative state.  For ourselves, for the land, for the ancestors.

Drumming is healing; it’s a primal and sacred beat and if you really allow it to take you over, it’s like feeling the heartbeat of God/The Divine/Source/Gaia.  It is ceremony.  It is what we are meant to do.

Another gifted and wise friend of mine recently said “Life is ceremony.” Meaning that we have to pay attention to the small rituals of our daily walk on earth.  Why do we do certain things; why do we NOT do certain things?  Are we treating our time here with the necessary gratitude and honor that is our birthright?

There is a lot written about mindfulness anymore.  It’s a tired buzzword that has mostly lost its meaning.  We equate it with doing things slowly and gently or piously and that’s not always the point.

The mindfulness of ceremony is realizing that everything we do emits energy.  Everything we do has an effect on everything.  We don’t live in a vacuum or a bubble.  We affect and are affected by every other human and non-human, not only on this planet, but in the entire cosmic plane, both past and future.

So, if you ponder and absorb that concept, you see that pop culture mindfulness isn’t enough.  It’s good, don’t get me wrong.  But, we need to gather and meld our minds and energies.

Decades ago, most folks attended church in the US.  Okay, here’s the obligatory eye roll from some of you who reject and mock organized religion.  I get it.  I haven’t regularly attended church since I was 6.  What I’m saying is that the weekly (or more) visits to a church service were a time to gather in ceremony.  And even if you squirmed or fidgeted or counted the seconds until the service was over, it had an effect.

We need these gatherings.  We need ceremony.  We need a time to lose ourselves in spirit and the energy of that spirit or consciousness that animates us.  A time to allow our analytical, western minds to shut the hell up.  A time to go inward and quiet the fears, monkey mind, anxiety, cravings and grasping that comes with modern life.

About a week ago, my family gathered to bury the ashes of our parents.  They had requested a very simple graveside gathering.  In my mom’s words, “no preaching”.  And so we did exactly that.

We gathered; kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and a few other friends and relatives.  My brother spoke, I read a short eulogy, my uncle said a short prayer and then we talked.  Anyone who wanted to share a fond memory of my parents spoke.  We laughed a lot and that felt good.  We were able to honor our parents’ lives in an informal, loving way, just the way they envisioned.  Ceremony.  A gathering of love and closure.  It was cleansing and necessary.

To me, ceremony is about healing; it’s a way to nurture ourselves and all of humanity.  Heck, all of everything.  So, if we begin to live our lives as ceremony, it would force us to look at what we do.  Is this activity/thought/belief nurturing or is it harmful or an escape?  Does this make me feel good and full and nurtured or is it merely a habitual way of masking my pain or unworthiness or fear?

Get a drum, grab a rattle.  Hell, grab a couple of sticks and walk around your yard banging them together.  Go inside, find that trance-like state of feeling safe and connected to all that is.  Gather some friends and sit around a fire.  Try to catch yourself within your daily habits and routine and see if you can make it into something sacred and nourishing.  Let’s all look for meaning in our actions; then let the toxic stuff go.

That is ceremony.

July 23, 2017 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , ,


  1. The primal beat is intoxicating and morning hangover is a new sense of WOW. Dig this article.

    Comment by thesacredbeanblog | July 23, 2017 | Reply

  2. Jane,
    I’m always thrilled to see Present Tense in my email box, I wish there were more of them.
    Do you believe AA meetings are a form a ceremony?

    Comment by Lori | July 23, 2017 | Reply

    • Lori
      Thank you for the kind words. I’ve never attended an AA meeting, but from what I know about them, that is absolutely ceremony. You gather in support, with a goal; there is ritual and support and nourishment.
      Great question! Thanks.
      What do you think?

      Comment by janelondon | July 23, 2017 | Reply

  3. Jane, Like Lori, I’m always happy to see a Present Tense in my inbox. I’ve always hated ceremonies. As you say, I’ve connected them to organized religion, Your thoughts have once again given me a new perspective. Thanks!

    Comment by Mark | July 24, 2017 | Reply

    • Mark
      Thanks for the comment. Maybe it’s time for a blog about the collective rejection of “organized religion”. I’ve used that phrase myself and even though I do not belong to a church, nor do I identify as Christian, I am now much more careful not to indict an entire religion for the actions of some,whether they are Christian or Muslim or whatever.
      Having said that, there is a common belief in our culture, that one can only perform or take part in ritual or ceremony via religion. That’s the belief that I’m challenging. The Pledge of Allegiance is ceremony, as is the national anthem before a sporting event. Maybe preparing our morning coffee is ceremony. Certainly, cooking a holiday meal with friends and family is. Starting a fire in a fire pit or fireplace. Making our bed could be! It’s all in our intention. Nourishment, release, healing, satisfaction.
      It’s about being conscious, I guess. Be well and I will try to write more often.
      Thanks again.

      Comment by janelondon | July 24, 2017 | Reply

  4. Lovely, Jane!

    Comment by Gwen | July 24, 2017 | Reply

  5. Jane, my wife and I listened to you for maybe eight years on Mix. I announced your recent blog arrival and its title and we were floored. (In a great way). Not that you weren’t a radio ‘personality’ rather than just Jane – but we did listen to you chat a couple hours every morning, and no matter what, you tend to get a sense of someone over time. Anyway, to us you were a little different back then. We loved practical, tough-love Jane, but we love the person who writes blogs about drum circles too – a lot. Maybe that was always part of your life, but it wasn’t our first impression. Even as you got closer to the end of your tenure on the show – just seemed like you were moving in a new direction. Your journey home and through spirituality is awe-some and inspirational. Love it. Thanks for writing.

    PS – also, I did call in and win ‘best thing you ate this weekend’ once with our killer hatch-chili, palisade peach, goat brie panini. They are still epic seasonal delights.I believe you voted for me, so thanks for that as well. 😉

    Comment by Amy Drayer | July 25, 2017 | Reply

    • Amy
      Thanks for the note. You have perfectly intuited and described my evolution:) And I love the fact that it has happened so publicly. I think that is part of my journey and my gift to the world. To be able to openly and honestly share how we all evolve over time and that it’s okay.
      I suppose that a part of me was always yearning for a drum circle, but it just took me awhile to recognize it:) My blog has really been a complete documentation of my own, personal (yet public) spiritual exploration and to a certain extent, my awakening. Still not quite a butterfly, but i’ve left my cocoon and my wings are drying, preparing for flight.
      Part of that process was leaving my radio career. I had outgrown it and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It was just time to go.
      I really appreciate your acknowledgement of my ‘development’:) And the Palisade peach, goat-cheese panini sounds epic. I may have to try that, come peach season here in northern Michigan.
      Take care. I’m heading back to Colorado for winters starting this December. Can’t wait to ski, ski, ski.

      Comment by janelondon | July 25, 2017 | Reply

  6. So glad u r blogging again. That was beautiful.

    I sweat lodge in the Denver area and Sun dance on the reservation RoseBud in South Dakota (there’s a holocaust no one ever talks about there and at Pine Ridge).

    Anyway drumming and singing takes me immediately to higher places…and I can bring back that magnanimous state to the real world when I come back. Smile. Thank you for stating all that so eloquently and please keep blogging away! Suzann

    Comment by Suzann Thomas | July 27, 2017 | Reply

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