My beautiful vessel has arrived in its home and after a little cleansing and welcoming ritual using sage I have settled it into my altar.
Here she is…empty and inviting…
For my big 60th birthday I used my bowl first as a center for an altar I created with the cards my dear friends gave to me. I lite a candle inside it and it glowed with the most beautiful radiance.
I took it with me to a special birthday dinner that I had with my dear women friends at Canlis restaurant and put it in the center of our beautiful table!
I used my beautiful Patras Vessel as the center ritual object of a powerful Solstice gathering that I did with dear friends on December 21st. We filled a large vessel with coarse sea salt and then nestled the vessel filled with water in the center. We built the altar around the vessel with objects we had brought with us or found in nature on a walk we took beforehand. The first phase of the ritual was to sit in the gathering dark as dusk was just tipping over into night. We each sank into our own personal meditation on all that the year before had brought to us out of the dark, honoring this phase of the great turning around the sun.
Following our deep time in silence we lit a candle that was floating in the Patras vessel and then wrote on small pieces of paper what we were ready to release from this year. One by one we burned the piece of paper and let the remains fall into the water in the Vessel, ringing a Singing Bowl to mark the letting go.
Later in the evening we moved the altar over to the dinner table. I emptied the water out of the vessel with the burnt fragments of our release phase and and lit a candle inside it. It now became a symbol of how as we turn toward the light we do so out of honoring the dark – from emptiness the vessel has a chance to fill up anew.
As we made our way through the nourishing dinner we each spoke to the visions and intentions we had for the new year ahead. To symbolize this we lit candles and planted them in the salt surrounding the Patras Vessel. The altar became a glowing testament to the fire of our desires.
Turn toward the light
On January 3rd I used my Patra Vessel one last time in a release ritual. A year ago my husband David passed away and in the evening around the same time that he died I stood on the shore of Vashon Island with some dear friends and released his ashes into the ocean. The Patra Vessel was the center of an altar that I made on the beach. This beautiful vessel has been the center of so many important events since I received it from Lynda in September. I am deeply grateful for its presence in my life and all that it has been able to hold.
release at sunset
The morning after the ritual of release I passed the vessel onto two dear friends – Dianne Grob and Richard Chadek. Through out this whole difficult year of loss they have been an important vessel of friendship for me – individually and as a couple. I honored them individually and the ‘we space’ between them.
In a beautiful and simple ritual on the morning of January 4th I transferred the stewardship of my Patras vessel to them. It is time for it to move now onto the next phase of its journey… I read this poem as I gave it to them:
Excerpt from ‘For The Artist at the Start of the Day’
By John O’Donohue
May morning be astir with the harvest of night;
Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question,
Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse
That cut right through the surface to a source.
May this be a morning of innocent beginning,
When the gift within you slips clear
Of the sticky web of the personal
With its hurt and its hauntings,
And fixed fortress corners,
A morning when you become a pure vessel
For what wants to ascend from silence.
As Suzanne passed the Patras vessel onto us, Richard and I spoke of how the vessel of our marriage had held her in this last year and how in that holding, the vessel of our marriage had not been tended in the multiple ways a marriage needs to be tended. We see this presence of this vessel as an invitation or a “call” to, once again, focus on creating a strong vessel to hold the two of us. Last Sunday evening, after a difficult emotional day planning the memorial service for Richard’s sister, we brought the vessel into our bed. During the previous week, we had each been writing intentions for the vessel and that night, we read the intentions aloud: We intend that the vessel transmute what is toxic so it may nourish us; we intend that the vessel be a reminder to be guardians of each other’s solitude; we intend that the vessel source the nectar to nourish our hearts until we can be that Source; we intend that this vessel help us surrender into loving more fiercely; we intend that this vessel carry all the names of love and the essence of these names – Eros, Philia, Ludus, Pragma, Philautia, Agape. After reading the intentions, we placed the vessel on an altar we had prepared that held two white candles, a photograph of us and a bed of rosemary (for remembrance), red berries (for beauty) and strips of red bark from our paperbark maple trees. We lit the candles and slept deeply and peacefully for the first time in days.
Following the memorial service for Richard’s sister, we have had a series of “cracks” in the container of our marriage. Last night, on the new moon, we decided to ritualize our intention to move towards “mending.” During the day, we had each thought of and written down a vow we were inspired to make to the other. After some tears were shed and apologies given and received for the hurt that has been between us this week, we held our Patra vessel and each made our vow to the other. Richard’s vow was long so afterwards, we folded the paper tightly and wrapped it in pink yarn. Afterwards, we lay in bed looking at the vessel, at its many “cracks” and talked about how the making of a vessel is the perfect metaphor for the making of a marriage – over time, the fire both cracks the vessel and makes it stronger, more able to endure the heat, more able to (w)hold together under intense pressure. We slept with the vessel on the nightstand next to our bed. This morning, I placed a pink rose inside it and placed it back on its altar in the center of our home.
Valentine’s Day on Bainbridge Island. Marriage is a vessel that is forever in the process of being created, re-created and fired.
The vessel, waiting quietly, wondering who’s hands will receive it next. Transition…..
…in the quiet of that waiting, we heard, soft yet clear, that this vessel had only a short distance to travel. This afternoon I moved the intentions, poems, blessings and renewed vows that had gathered themselves to and around the beauty of this vessel to another altar; I lit the candles and passed our vessel to Dianne. May it gather yet more clarity, wholeness and beauty around you…
In waiting for a clear impulse about where the vessel wanted to travel next, it became clear that it was meant to come to me. Recently having set the intention to heal the personal and collective pain about sexuality that my body carries, the vessel has come into my hands – now – to hold both me and whatever process arises as I move towards fulfillment of this intention. Yesterday, as I anticipated receiving the vessel from Richard, I created an altar to the feminine, using a soft fabric of pink/orange silk and placing on it a nest, a shell, heart-shaped rocks, seed pods, the wing of a flicker and a dried rose – all gifts I’ve received from our beloved earth. The vessel is now in its new home, surrounded by candles and life in its many forms.
May this be a morning of innocent beginning, when the gift within me slips clear of the sticky web of the personal with its hurt and its hauntings, and fixed fortress corners, a morning when I become a pure vessel for what wants to ascend from silence.
Yesterday at 10:11am, the moon opened to fullness. At that exact time, I placed the Patra vessel outside, surrounded by moon-round stones. I left it outside all day and all night, collecting the illuminated offering of the moon and the water that was gathering from the gentle rain. Visiting it before going to bed, I stood naked on the deck, allowing the soft drops of rain to touch my skin, feeling the wind on my face, thinking about the vessel gathering to it all the elementals of moonlight, rain and wind. This morning when I brought it inside, I drank from the vessel – the rain tasted like the green earth. “May all that is eternal in me, welcome the wonder of this day; the field of brightness it creates; offering time for each thing to arise and illuminate like the moon.”
(Sometimes, it is hard to discern which is greater the shadow or the light)
You who let yourself feel: enter the breathing that is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks as it divides and rejoins behind you.
Blessed ones, whole ones, you where the heart begins;
You are the bow that shoots the arrows and you are the target.
Fear not the pain, let its weight fall back into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.
The trees you planted in childhood have grown too heavy.
You cannot bring them along.
Give yourself to the air, to what you cannot hold.
And then there is the promise of blossoming and ful-fillment…..
Yesterday, I spent my last morning with the Patra vessel by taking her into Lake Washington with me. The lake, like the vessel, has held and contained me through the risings and fallings of the tides of my life. Then, last evening, I turned the vessel over to my dear friend, Antonia Greene. It feels that the vessel has come full circle, now, as it will hold Antonia’s preparation and marriage to Rob. This is the poem I read as I offered the vessel to her. May Antonia’s journey these next four months be blessed…..
Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox kits come out of their den to play in the tall grass
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple unfolds its green leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps into the roots of thirsty plants
Today when starlight bends to restore all that is tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this vessel bless you.
As you move towards marriage to your beloved, let it contain all of you
spoken, silent and surprised
Sleeping and waking, let it shelter what you are growing.
This vessel has survived the flame,
Let its strength hold you.
Let its emptiness and its fullness be with you in all the days ahead.
(taken from Jane Kirschfield)
This Patra vessel has been witness to many meaningful stories and I was privileged to be present this weekend to one in person at the wedding ceremony of Rob and Antonia. It was a beautiful experience in all ways. And to my surprise, the ceremony concluded with the Patra vessel, water being ritually poured from two small glass pitchers into the bowl, then being offered from the groom’s hands to his beloved to drink, and then from her back to him. I was so moved by this simple and deeply symbolic act. I hope we’ll have some of their photos to post soon, but here is a snapshot of the altar with Patra #69 and the beautiful wedding garden behind it.
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