Altared Consciousness - Follow the Sun

As we celebrate Summer, we share in the joy and inner radiance that have blossomed from Spring's careful tending, of Winter's nestling seeds.

“ …tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the sun…”
~Paul McCartney / John Lennon

As the northern hemisphere of our lovely earth “tips its hat” towards the sun, festivals around the world will celebrate the miraculous orb of hydrogen and helium that warms our spirit, as well as our skin.  For weeks, the Summer Solstice Workshop has been a hive of activity preparing for days of celebration and revelry. And although I look forward to a colorful weekend of music, dancing and community exuberance, my preparations for June 21st will focus on the inner radiance that I’ve been tending to since March.

Beware the Ides of March… I can’t remember when I began to associate that soothsayer’s warning with my own experience of the month.  Some years I would do so with humor; some years with trepidation.  Each year I would feel relief when the month was over.  So, on the third day of the third month of this twenty-third year, I decided that it was time to finally take inventory of my March memories.  And perhaps in doing so, I could realign my perspective and regard the month, as so many do, as a time to begin anew.

“Rituals are a way to keep taking our frayed and tattered memory and make it whole again.”
~Day Schildkret

It was simple math.  The number of celebrations that I could remember equaled the number of sorrows that had occurred in the Marches of my life.  True, one of the celebrations had become one of the sorrows.  And one of the sorrows had made one of my greatest celebrations possible.  It was clear that the intensity of my misfortunes had permeated my lived experience of March. With this new awareness, it was time to revisit my overall apprehension and invite a fresh outlook.

After purchasing the book “Hello, Goodbye” by Day Schildkret last fall, my intention was to celebrate each equinox and solstice with the rituals he so beautifully describes.  But with my new determination to tend to the wounds that clearly needed care, I found myself scanning the table of contents.  Two rituals caught my attention; one that would acknowledge a deep unresolved trauma; another to continue the mending of more recent heartbreak. I wondered if it was wise to add them to an already full calendar of personal and professional commitments. As Day has mentioned on more than one occasion, “Rituals can’t be thought, they have to be done.”  Was I ready to do this?  There was only one way to find out.

“Love can only heal what presents itself to be healed.  If our woundedness remains hidden, it cannot be healed.  The best in us cannot come out, unless the worst comes out as well.”
~John Welwood

For decades I had thought of my deepest March loss while lighting a candle on November 1st. When I celebrated Dia de Muertos in Mexico City last year, this simple gesture did not happen and it had bothered me.  “The Bundle Ritual” became an opportunity to revisit this lapse of remembrance and to grieve the loss more deeply, in a way that I had never allowed myself to do before. 

To my surprise, collecting the items for the bundle was an effortless, often joyful process. Salty drops anointed the beloved objects, as I arranged them with care on a small piece of linen that I had embroidered with a sunflower.  A dear friend once said, “When my hands are busy, my mind is free.”  As my hands gently bound my sweet bundle, preparing it for its next destination, my heart was finally free to feel and express the grief I had feared for so long; to embody forgiveness I had never truly experienced.

Five days later it was the spring equinox, and although my spirit had been restored by the Bundle Ritual, I was not ready to create another ritual so soon. I chose to welcome spring with simple housekeeping: giving my home altar a thorough cleaning, organizing drawers and repotting plants.  In the process, my thoughts would wander to the ritual I intended to create at the end of the month, wondering if I would be ready.

Overlooking the ocean, unsure if I was standing ‘in the right place’,  I told myself that it didn’t really matter, I was close enough.  Dark clouds hovered over the mountains, but where I stood it was a beautiful day and the sun was shining. To create “The Surrendering Ritual”, I began removing items from my bag, soon realizing that the water and the dessert had not been packed. Remembering that rituals don’t always unfold as planned, I decided to improvise.  Within minutes the dark clouds were above me and it began to rain.  I quickly packed up the few things I had remembered to bring; going home disappointed, frustrated, with muddy shoes.

In the days that followed, I wondered if I should return.  Was the time right for this?  Should I wait until next year?  Was the ritual even necessary?  What would happen if I just tossed everything into the trash bin?  What difference would it actually make?

At some point, I realized that those thoughts and feelings of futility were exactly the reason I needed to return.  In the meantime, I put the objects I had gathered into one of the altar drawers that I’d recently decluttered.  Re-reading the description of the ritual, I considered ways that I could invite a sense of humor, true forgiveness and an attitude of equanimity.  Perhaps I could figure out the ‘right place’ to stand, to kneel, to remember and release.  Another March had passed and I experienced relief; but not because the month was over.  I had found a way to accept what it had offered.

On a sunny afternoon in April I returned to the right place with my offering.  Along the path, I collected plant materials that made me smile; fresh and fragrant from the recent rains.   It was easy to scoop out a shallow bowl into the ground.   As the earth altar took shape, a goofy face looked back at me, a peace sign emerged, a flower bloomed… My ambivalence had transformed into humor and beauty.

On June 21st, the sun may be shining.  It could be a day of June Gloom.  It might even rain. Regardless of the weather, I will pause and observe the “Bearing Fruit Ritual”, acknowledging my successes and challenges; their contributions to my inner radiance; and how they allow me to surrender to a weekend of music, dancing and community exuberance.

“The ship is always off course. Anybody who sails knows that. 
Sailing is being off course and correcting.”
~Michael Meade

Image credit: Rebecca Zendejas

Meet the author

Photo credit: Simon Kiefer

Rebecca Zendejas has had a lifelong fascination with places of worship and the creation of sacred space within daily routines. Inspired by the celebrations of Samhain and Dias de los Muertos she created the Community Memorial Altar at Paradise Found last year; anyone and everyone were invited to write the name of a loved one and add it to the altar. As an artist and woodworker, Rebecca designs and creates one of a kind personal altars for the home and office.  She can be found on Instagram @zendohous or contacted by email:

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