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The undeniable power of small rituals.
This past week, I had one of those strange days that come with shamanic work.
I wasn’t necessarily sick or sad or burned out in any real way, but I felt an overwhelming need to sit (or lay down) in silence. When this happens, there’s typically the sense of being slightly disconnected from waking reality, a bit like the brain fuzz that warns of a coming migraine. It’s hard to describe beyond being in a state of slightly altered consciousness.
I used to fight the vibe on these days, assuming that I was just being lazy when things needed to get done. But, over the years and with an active spiritual practice, I’ve come to realize that these strange sensations bring big spiritual downloads: insights from past lives, messages from guides about the future, and even some intense energetic detoxes. And I’ve also learned that if I wanted to receive these insights, I needed to enter a passive, receiving state.
So, I reluctantly looked at my calendar to see what I could clear out or move in order to create the requisite space for these messages from spirit. I was surprised to see an impossibly open day, with no meetings or calls or tasks of any kind. Now, if you know me at all, you know I never have a “free day” in my calendar— certainly not one that would, seemingly, pop up out of “nowhere”.
So, I laid down in bed, waiting to receive whatever spirit was apparently adamant in sharing with me.
Within minutes of just accepting my “condition”, the spiritual messages started flooding into my third eye. It wasn’t the most linear grouping of spiritual insights, but one series of vignettes in particular really stuck out to me: pulling wishbones with my late grandmother.
If you’re not familiar with wishbones, they are the oddly-shaped forked bone between the neck and breast of a chicken (or turkey). There is a very old tradition of saving these bones after a meal, drying them for later use in a wish-making ritual: two people tug at either end of the bone as they make a wish. The wisher who breaks the bone and has the larger piece is thought to have their wish granted.
My grandmother would save a small stack of wishbones for my visits to her house, treating me to several rounds of making wishes and tugging on the bones after we ate dinner. As I was laying in bed watching the replay of all of these tug-of-wars over the small bones, I remembered all of the little details: how my grandmother would study each wishbone, trying to give me the “lucky” side so I would be the lucky party to get the wish. If, on the odd occasion, she happened to get the wish, she would immediately say out loud that she was giving her wish to me.
Revisiting these immersive memories through the eyes of an adult— nearly 35 years after they occurred— was an incredible experience.
I considered the possible “why” behind these wishbone rituals:
Did my want to give me a regular reminder to have hope? To build a muscle memory around what it feels like to wish? To have a reason to look forward to the future and not become cynical or depressed? Did she also love the wishbone ritual, perhaps remembering it from her own, very rough childhood? Or did she just do it intuitively, perhaps tapping into something strange and divinatory and synchronistic in small five year old me?
I also wondered what it was I had wished for as I tugged on the small, delicate bones opposite my grandmother. Have any of these wishes already come true? Are some of them about to manifest, perhaps underpinning the “why” behind why I was being shown these scenes after 35 years of dormancy?
Whatever the reason, the results are undeniable. Small gestures of kindness— particularly those that hinge on ritual, intention and energy— absolutely echo and ripple through time, supporting us in seen and unseen ways for decades.
I personally think these messages came to me because a wish I made as a young child is manifesting in my reality. I’ve been pulling the Nine of Moons card from our TOTEM Tarot Deck a lot, indicating that this just might be a time of very specific wish-fulfillment. I’ve recently had a visit from a new Spirit Guide/ Totem Animal, White Buffalo, which indicates a time of receiving gifts from spirit. I also don’t think it’s an accident this was revealed to me just before Thanksgiving, a wishbone-intensive holiday if ever there was one.
My recommendation this Thanksgiving? Take a moment for a sort-of mystical ritual. Take a tug on the old wishbone. Read your tea leaves after dinner. Maybe pull a card for a friend or family member.
There’s something immediately cynicism-busting about making a wish. It communicates to spirit that you have faith in the mechanics of the world, and that you have hope for what the future holds.
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