by Selena Fox
In addition to the common ritual of making a wish and blowing out candles on a cake in the company of loved ones, there are other rituals that can be done privately at birthday times to aid self understanding and guide spiritual development. Doing a personal birthday ritual each year can also help in adjusting to aging. Here are some examples of birthday rituals to aid your spiritual journey.
Life Journey Altar
Create a Life Journey Altar as part of your birthday celebration. Begin assembling items for it several days before your birthday. Place on the altar some photos from various parts of your life, including infancy, childhood, youth, and adulthood. Include symbols of your spiritual orientation, past and present, as well as items representing achievements, travels, personal likes, and your ancestry. As your birth draws near, arrange the items you have gathered in a pleasing pattern. Place a candle on the altar to represent yourself as a whole person and soul. On your birthday, light the candle and do a meditation. Ask the Divine to guide you in this meditation. Connect with your Inner Self at the core of your being. Reflect on yourself as multifaceted as you look at each of the symbols on the altar. Reflect on yourself and your life as an artistic work in progress as you look at the altar as a whole. Then spend some time just being. Then call to mind and give thanks for blessings in your life. Ask for continuing guidance and support in your life's journey. Conclude with a thanksgiving to whatever form or forms of the Divine you called upon to aid your meditation. When you have finished with the meditation ritual, write about your experience of creating and working with the altar. Note any insights and guidance that came to you during the meditation.
Do this writing ritual on your birthday. Write a letter to yourself about yourself, and in it describe yourself and your life. Do this at one sitting. Let the words flow and write whatever comes to mind. Write for at least twenty minutes. Write long hand with a pen on paper or type into your computer. If you wish, reply to some of the following questions to stimulate your writing process: When and where were you born? Where did you grow up? Who was part of your family and what was family life like? What ethnicities and nationalities make up your ancestral heritage? Where did you go to school? What were some good childhood memories? What were some difficult ones? What kind of jobs have you worked? What are your hobbies? What are some of your favorites colors, creatures, plants, gemstones, places, music? What has your spiritual journey been like how you were raised and how you came to embrace your present form of spiritual orientation? What is important to you? What meaning have you made so far of life?
After you have written your autobiographical sketch, read it over, and if you are inclined to do so, add any additional thoughts and experiences that come to mind. Keep your autobiographical sketch in a place where you can readily access it. The following year on your birthday, write another autobiographical sketch without looking at the first one. When you are done, take the first one out and compare it with the one you just did. What parts are similar and what are different? How have your views of yourself and your life changed over time? Note your perspectives. This ritual can be repeated every year or at some other interval, such as every five or ten years. Although the purpose of this sketch writing ritual is focused on aiding you in your growth in personal identity and understanding, you may want to keep a copy of one of your versions with your will so that it can comfort loved ones after you have died and help them remember and understand your view of yourself and your life.
Life Guidance Divination
Do this meditation in a private and quiet place on your birthday. Sit in a chair at a small altar or table, or sit on the ground or floor with an altar cloth spread out before you. Use a Tarot deck or some other kind of divination cards. Have a journal and pen available for noting down the cards you select and the guidance that comes to you. Light incense and use it to consecrate the area, your cards, and yourself. Center yourself. Cast a circle of light around you. Connect with the Divine in your customary way, such as calling on the Goddess or God or Great Spirit. Take up the cards in your hands and ask the Divine to speak to you through them in this meditation. Spend a few moments in quiet attunement to the cards and the Divine.
When you are ready, begin shuffling the cards, face-down, as you repeat the phrase: "Guidance about my Past." Continue shuffling until you intuitively sense the card on top is the one for you to use for obtaining the guidance you seek. Hold the deck still for a few moments and then turn over the top card. Set down the deck and look at the card you turned over. Meditate on the imagery on the card and pay attention to guidance about your past that comes to you. Note down the guidance as well as the name of the card you received.
Repeat the card shuffling and selection process, with your present as the focus. Repeat: "Guidance about my Present" as you shuffle the cards. Turn the card for the present face-up and set it to the right of the past card. Meditate on the imagery on the present card and reflect on messages and impressions that come to you. Note this down as well as the name of the card.
Shuffle the cards again and use the future as a focus, repeating: "Guidance about my Future." Turn over the future card and set it face-up to the right of the present card. Pay attention to guidance that comes to you about your future.
In closing, give thanks to the Divine for the guidance you received. Return the cards you selected to your deck. Shuffle them in and then pass the entire deck through the incense smoke. Uncast the circle you set around you. Reflect on your experiences of the meditation as well as the guidance you received as you continue to celebrate your birthday.
Selena Fox is high priestess of Circle Sanctuary and founder of the Circle Craft tradition. She has been creating and guiding rituals and meditations for more than thirty years. More information about her speaking, teaching, counseling, and other work is in this issue and on-line at: www.selenafox.com