Updated: Mar 27
I wanted to change the title of this post because I was positive that no one would read it with its current header. Those of you who found this post, and then had the nerve to actually click on the link to read it, are to be congratulated for your courage and willingness to engage in a healing process that cultivates deep fulfillment - the type of fulfillment that we want, but are unwilling to do the work in order to achieve. THANK YOU so much for proving to me that you exist. Having ugly is not our problem because everyone has ugly. It is our unwillingness to own and heal our ugly that keeps us, as well as our families, community and society, from thriving.
I promote and practice what I call "Mental Massage" during the month of July to actively engage in Mental Health Awareness Month for Black ☥ Indigenous ☥ Immigrant People. However, Mental Massage is always different for me on July 4th because I cannot ignore our country's history and legacy.
Having celebrated Juneteenth National Independence Day on June 19th, during the previous month, I realized that I needed to create a ritual to help me get through the 4th of July. My ritual consists of restorative meditations and practices to help me to heal myself and my ancestral line.
My ritual generally begins with the lighting of red candles (representing perseverance and the healing of the root chakra) which I place on my ancestral altar, and the burning of sage for cleansing. My ancestral altar has evolved over the years and includes healing rituals that I learned from Indigenous People and healing practices from around the world. An ancestral altar is personal and is best created based on what resonates with a particular person/culture, but since many people ask me about how to get started, I will include a few suggestions for creating your own ancestral altar. You may want to include:
☥ Pictures of transitioned and benevolent family members with whom you had a close
connection or who inspired you in some way
☥ Pictures or statues of representations of your Spiritual Guides
☥ If residing in the U.S.A., a picture of an Indigenous Person with whom you had a close
connection to keep their memory alive and to pay homage to the original inhabitants of
the land we now call America (you can include an owl, raven or other bird feather
preferably and respectfully purchased on Indigenous Pueblos/land if you do not know any
☥ White candles, white flowers and a vessel of clean water that is changed bi-weekly
☥ Cleansing incense to burn such as white sage, palo santo and frankincense tears
☥ Healing crystals, at least one sound bowl and small chimes such as Tibetan cymbals
☥ A simple ritual in which you honor your ancestors and call out their names
Keep in mind that simply sitting in silence and sending love to our ancestors, whether we know them or not, is a powerful, grounding and healing practice. Many of us may not know who our ancestors are, but they know who we are. We can let silence be the bridge that connects us to our unknown ancestors.
I begin my Qigong morning routine and then have a green smoothie and healthy breakfast. I read and listen to Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer's testimony which is both powerful and painful. I send her love and gratitude. Next, I read the Declaration of Independence which justified demanding freedom from the British while at the same time enslaving my ancestors and violently referring to our Beloved Indigenous Brothers and Sisters as "merciless Indian Savages."
I accept the truth about the foundation upon which our country was founded which is the pathway for healing. I then read and listen to Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" This part of the ritual was inspired by a presentation I experienced during my Vanguard Social Determinants of Health Fellowship with BMe Community (an organization focused on narrative change). It helps me to connect in with our history and culture and remember the sacrifices my ancestors made so that I could sit in comfort and write this post. I send love and gratitude to Frederick Douglass and to all of our freedom promoting heroes and sheroes.
I highly recommend sharing these suggestions (which ends with the Sky Meditation) with everyone, particularly our White Allies who are asking what they can do to cultivate healing and change. This ritual helps to destroy willful ignorance which must end before change can begin. We cannot skip steps in the healing process. We also cannot change systems and processes until