Megan Sheldon, a seasoned End of Life Doula, Celebrant, and Cultural Mythologist, guides us through the profound significance of rituals and ceremonies in acknowledging life's transitions, especially during moments of loss and change. With her background and expertise, Megan shares insights into the transformative potential of these practices, offering tools and frameworks for creating personalized rituals. She emphasizes their role in processing emotions like anger and grief, discussing their historical absence in modern society and how they were once fundamental in ancient cultures. Megan's personal experiences, including recurrent pregnancy losses and the loss of a loved one, fueled her passion for empowering others through rituals, showcased by a poignant story of creating a meaningful ritual for her father's dying friend. This episode is a heartfelt exploration of how rituals serve as powerful tools for emotional healing and understanding in life's most challenging moments.
In this episode, Megan Sheldon, End of Life Doula, Celebrant, Cultural Mythologist and Founder of BE Ceremonial, an organization that supports people through grief and loss through bespoke rituals and ceremonies, takes us on a journey into the transformative potential of rituals and ceremonies. Megan, who has her Masters in Cultural Mythology, has helped thousands of individuals connect with their inner creative instincts to craft meaningful experiences by activating the power of ritual and ceremony to acknowledge life's moments, particularly amidst loss or change.
Throughout the episode, Megan answers thought-provoking questions that unravel the essence and importance of rituals and ceremonies, delving into the mechanics of their magic, empowering listeners to explore and incorporate rituals into their lives.
Megan shares her framework of creating ceremonies (her 1-5 ingredients), tools for building personalized rituals, examples of rituals resolving past traumas, to the societal absence of rituals surrounding significant life events like death and miscarriages. She delves into the lost connection to creativity, exploring how rituals and ceremonies were once integral to ancient cultures but have been largely excluded from modern Western society. Megan shares her perspective on rituals as a means to process emotions, addressing anger, grief, and other overlooked feelings, emphasizing their role in guiding us through life's emotional landscapes. She enlightens listeners on the mechanics of ritual magic and provides guidance for individuals seeking to incorporate rituals into their lives.
She opens up about how her own recurrent pregnancy losses and the loss of a close family member led her to turn to ceremony and ritual to make sense of and heal from those losses, and how that sparked a passion in her to empowering others to tap into the power of rituals as a means of authentically expressing and navigating complex feelings.
And she shares a deeply touching story about creating a ritual for her father's dying friend, a story that had me in tears.
Throughout the episode, Megan touches on various aspects, from the framework of creating ceremonies (her 1-5 ingredients), tools for building personalized rituals, examples of rituals resolving past traumas, to the societal absence of rituals surrounding significant life events like death and miscarriages. She delves into the lost connection to creativity, exploring how rituals and ceremonies were once integral to ancient cultures but have been largely excluded from modern Western society. Megan shares her perspective on rituals as a means to process emotions, addressing anger, grief, and other overlooked feelings, emphasizing their role in guiding us through life's emotional landscapes. She enlightens listeners on the mechanics of ritual magic and provides guidance for individuals seeking to incorporate rituals into their lives.
What we Talk About
-Understanding and practice of rituals and ceremonies.
-The mechanics of rituals and their potency in guiding individuals through difficult emotional landscapes
-Megan’s 1-5 ingredients and a list of tools she uses to empower individuals in building personalized and impactful rituals.
-How you can begin to invite ritual and ceremony into your life
-Societal pressure to pursue constant happiness, leading to the neglect of negative emotions and how rituals can help us learn to sit with the uncomfortable
-Examples of transformative rituals designed by Megan, that have supported people to resolve traumatic experiences from their past.
Last spring, I was invited to an informal intimate backyard gathering.
The host had invited a couple of friends and asked them to invite. Other women who were doing purpose driven work. .
A lot of us have school-aged kids and it can be difficult to make friends and grow your community at this stage in our lives. And the host wanted to. Expand her own community.
I was honored to attend and I was a little bit nervous because. sitting in a circle. With a group of people you don't know yet can be a little bit intimidating, but I was yearning. For these kinds of connections. And so I went. The host and I became fast friends. And today we're lucky enough to have her as a guest on creative genius. ,
Megan is the co-founder and CEO of be ceremonial as a mythologist storyteller and celebrant. Uh, her passion is bringing people together through storytelling.
She's also the co-founder of seeking ceremony. Where she's convened hundreds of workshops and retreats and ceremonies. That span the life cycle. Everything from fertility and birth pregnancy loss, lifestyle and relationships. End of life grief Megan has a deep understanding of the potency that ritual and ceremony can offer us.
As a celebrant and end of life doula, she has helped people create ceremonies around moments of grief and loss in their life. That most of us have been very uncomfortable dealing with up until now. We talk about the ceremony shaped hole in our society right now. The lack of rituals and ceremonies surrounding losses like death or miscarriages in our society. And she talks about where to start. If you're wanting to bring ritual and ceremony into your life . We talk about how. Through ceremony and ritual, we're able to heal old wounds and actually free trapped parts of ourselves. she shares with us examples of rituals that she's helped people create. Some of them resolving traumatic experiences that happened 30 years ago. She shares with us, her 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, which are the ingredients for the formula. For making powerful, meaningful rituals for yourself and for your community. .
think my favorite moment of this whole episode though, is when Megan tells the story. Of when her father came to her, asking her for help. And crafting a ceremony for his dying best friend. I was weeping when Megan told that story, it was so beautiful. .
What I loved about her right away was her. Serious, but joyful approach to ceremony and ritual. I've intuited for a really long time
at when we submerge and push down Our creative side. With it go a lot of things that we might not categorize as creative necessarily.
And ritual and ceremony are one of them.
When I think of the word ritual.
And ceremony. They seem very loaded with a lot of cultural ideas ritual to me. Almost has. Scary energy around it. Like it's going to be some sort of dangerous ritual. Sacrifice involving blood and brains and a cauldron. and the word ceremony feels very formal and official. a wedding ceremony. or a funeral ceremony. Neither one of those field particularly accessible. And yet. What's underneath both ritual and ceremony. Are something we all yearn for to mark the milestones of the important things in our life.
I look around at our culture and I see how we're yearning to create rituals and ceremonies. But for many of the same reasons that we don't feel creativity is accessible to us, we don't feel these things are accessible to us either. Or we feel that we've forgotten how to do it. Or that there's nobody around to show us how to do it. Or that we might get it wrong.
I mean, many of the same objections that we have about accessing our creativity seem to apply to accessing ritual and ceremony
It is in our bones. As Megan says, to be ritualistic, to have ceremonies. And in modern Western life, . It's almost as if we've forgotten. How to.
Mark important life events with rituals and ceremonies and. Megan will walk us through what she's learned about creating ceremonies and rituals, including giving us some ideas and. Pointing us in the right direction for creating our own rituals that are as unique as we are. This conversation that you're about to hear with Megan
is it potentially life-changing invitation to bring the element of ritual and ceremony into your life. In a meaningful way that can have incredible impact on the rest of your life. .
Before I introduce you to Macon. . Aye.
Want to invite you to sign yourself up for the next activating intuition and creativity workshop.
These happen every month in the lead up to the full moon.
The intention of these workshops is to spend time together in community with others.
In a sacred space where you're safe to access this tender part of yourself that wants so badly to unfurl, but that maybe doesn't always feel safe to in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Where all of your protective parts are busy, keeping you safe.
This is an hour where we sit together and through a channeled meditation that I offer.
I allow myself to be the voice of creativity. I let creativity speak through me to you. To help you uncover and activate it in yourself. the feedback I've been getting from participants. Who've taken part in this workshop is. Truly moving. I received a message earlier today from somebody.
Who. Was woken up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep and decided to go and watch the replay of the last workshop. And ended up. Uncovering something that had been holding her back for nearly 50 years. Even in the replay was able to access this feeling of safety and. Possibility to explore this And access what she feels is a new level of freedom.
When I read messages like that from people,
it's so powerful and moving for me. And it makes me want to just crawl into your computers and sign you up for all of the workshops, because I just, I know. How powerful and transformative these workshops can be. So if you haven't signed up yet for the next one, It's going to be happening on December 21st, that's a really busy time , for those who celebrate Christmas, that's very close to what can be a very stressful time. This is deeply nourishing gift.
You can give yourself that will carry you forward. . In ways that might. Transform your entire life. I cannot recommend this workshop enough. Everything you need to know to sign up for it is on Kate shepherd, creative.com. And just so you know, If you're signed up for the Patrion at the colorful community tier. You actually get access to these workshops on a monthly basis as part of your membership. .
This small act of signing up for this workshop and carving out this hour of time to give yourself. Could truly end up being. One of those moments you look back on as the moment that changed everything for you.
They're powerful. It's an honor for me to lead them and I really want to see you there.
Megan and her husband stumbled into ceremony after years of recurrent miscarriages and the death of a parent.
They didn't know how to grieve the mountain of seemingly invisible moments that surrounded the experiences that they were having. And our culture, we don't have prescribed. Rituals and ceremonies for many of these things that cause us so much pain. so they decided to craft their own rituals to acknowledge their grief in ways that felt meaningful to them. And they told their story through ceremony, and then they decided that they wanted to make these tools more accessible. To everybody.
They're passionate about helping people to reimagine the role of ritual and ceremony in their lives. They have an app and she teaches workshops and retreats. And actually Megan and I are co hosting a retreat. On bone island in British Columbia in January. It's a new year's retreat. I think by the time this episode goes to air, there might be one spot left. . There'll be information on how to sign up for that. In the show notes
megan is a beautiful human being. This is a beautiful and important conversation. And my prayer, my hope. Is that. You hear something in this conversation today? That. Is powerfully transformative for you and your life. As you're listening to this today, there may be somebody that pops up for you that is going through a difficult time, maybe a death of a loved one or a big life transition. a minute to send them a link to this episode There's probably something in it that they need to hear and that's why you thought of them
-2: I hope you enjoy my conversation with Megan Sheldon.
Track 1: Hello Megan.
Megan Sheldon: Hello
Track 1: happy you're here joining us.
Megan Sheldon: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Track 1: Thank you for coming. I know what you do, but, our listeners dunno what you do and I actually can't wait for them to hear what you do, meet a new group of humans, like say , at a backyard dinner party or something, how do you describe the work that you do in the world?
Megan Sheldon: Yeah. And these days it's at kindergarten pickup , ____++++ can figure out what it means to them personally.
Track 1: One of my questions for you, and I'll get back to it in a minute, is what is ritual? Like, how do we define ritual and ceremony? before we get into that, I just wanna sort of set the tone for our conversation. I, you've probably heard me say before, I feel like humanity's glitching because we've cut ourselves off from creativity, which I define as gut instinct, intuition, inspiration, desire.
if you look at a lot of the ancient cultures, creativity and ritual and ceremony were all things that were deeply embedded in All of them, maybe like most of them for sure, but in our, they seem to be part of our DNA, like they seem to be part of, you know, our operating systems, the, the tools that we need to navigate human existence, right?
We seem to need these things, but the current iteration of this western culture that we live in, we've all but stripped all of those things out. and so I'm always coming at it from like a perspective of we're disconnected from creativity. But when I started thinking about the conversation that you and I were gonna have , there's this feeling.
I can feel that this disconnection we have from creativity is not separate from the disconnection that we have from ritual and ceremony. And why have we done that? I can't put my finger on it, but I'm hoping that you and I
can kind of explore that feel around a little bit of that, into this conversation.
Before we do that though, this is maybe a good place for, for us to ask you what, what are ritual and ceremony and why, why are they important for us?
Megan Sheldon: Yeah. Well, just to jump back before we get into that, um, you know, you were talking about this, this idea of you humanity glitching right now. I went through recurrent pregnancy loss while losing, um, my father-in-Law to ALS. So it was a grief storm. It was a time of so much loss and anticipatory grief and ambiguous loss, this type of grief where you can't quite put a name on it.
And a friend of mine, shared with me that there's a ceremony shaped hole in our society right now.
Track 1: Hmm.
Megan Sheldon: As soon as she said that, that's, that's what I felt I was missing. you know, not only just around a miscarriage, but around reaching a due date. And what do you do on that day that you were supposed to have a baby and you don't, or when your father-in-law receives a terminal diagnosis, what do you do on that day?
You know, three years later when he dies? We have a little bit of guidance, but there's so many moments along the path that we are, we're lost. And for me, that ceremony shaped whole. , goes hand in hand with our, our disconnection from mythos. , you know, myth, religion is based in myth. so for me, I don't identify as religious, but I am, I am spiritual.
I am connected to something, you know, nature. there's no guidebook, there's no roadmap for how to create ritual and ceremony when you are so disconnected from your cultural roots, from any type of, body of knowledge. So you're, you really feel like you're on your own, for the most part, we do nothing because we don't know where to start. And that's what I hear with every single person that comes through my door or through our app, is where do I start? If I wanna think about ritual ceremony in a new way, if I wanna acknowledge these seemingly invisible moments that are happening every day, all around me.
Where do I start? And I think, you know, in talking about the definition of ritual and ceremony, one of our mandates, one of our kind of missions with be ceremonial is not to become what we have run away from. So we're not here to tell you what to do. We're not going to give you a script and say, follow this.
Here's the ritual, here's the ceremony. We're gonna give you inspiration, we're gonna give you ideas, a bit of guidance, but ultimately we want you to apply it to your own life through your own lens. Because a lot of us moved away from the prescriptive versions of ritual and ceremony because it wasn't necessarily applicable to our modern lifestyle, to what we're facing right now.
So when I think about a ritual, I think about it as simply an intentional symbolic action that hopes to create meaning. So if we break that down a little bit, it's an intentional, so it's intentional. You're not just doing it because it just is there. Right? You have our morning routines, our habits, the things that we fall into.
I often say that we fall into routine, but we step into ritual. So you are being intentional with your energy in some way. . The second part is symbolic. So you're, you're looking at symbolism, and this is where, for me, the creativity can really come into play.
There are so many different layers and levels of symbolism. There's . Personal symbolism, things that are meaningful to me that you would never know. You might come into my home and see this rock sitting on my table and not realize that this rock has three hearts on it. symbolic of each of my pregnancy losses.
And when I hold this rock, um, I can reconnect with grief I held 10 years ago. And it's palpable. This rock becomes a symbol for me. So it's a personal symbol, but there's also family symbols, there's community symbols, there's universal symbols. So I might go down to, you know, the beach and light a bonfire and, and release some things into that fire.
Um, words that I've written on paper. And that becomes that universal element of looking at fire as a purification. This idea of transforming something through that power of, of bonfire or lighting a candle. And that universal element of we can go anywhere in the world. And if you see somebody taking a moment and pausing and lighting a candle, you have a sense that they're, that they're moving through something, they're recognizing something.
So you've got an intentional symbolic action. The action for me is you are doing something even if you're not doing anything. So a beautiful example here in Canada is we have a two minutes of silence on remembrance day. So that idea of holding silence can be an action of not doing anything that becomes an action itself.
Uh, you might go down to the beach and take a rock and throw it in the water. That action of throwing it becomes part of the ritual. . And then the fourth part is the hope of creating meaning. And this is where I give people a lot of permission because I have tried rituals and they have failed. , my intention was kind of clear and my symbolism was there, the action was there, but it didn't quite do it.
It wasn't quite something that I necessarily wanna repeat again in my life. the hope of creating meaning is we, we can't go into something knowing what's gonna come out of it. All we can do is try to create the conditions, for us to move through that and experience whatever we're gonna experience, especially if we're holding a community kind of ritual.
Um, in the community is gonna experience something different. We can't prescribe what their meaning is gonna be. So if we think about rituals holding those four kind of elements of intention, symbolism, action and meaning, then we start to get somewhere, you know, for the, the Wikipedia definition is using words like rigid and repetition and religious.
So we're kind of moving away from that and moving into this fluid, uh, mentality of it. A ritual is what you need it to be,
and then if you take a string of rituals and pair them together in a way that tells a story, that's when you get a ceremony. . So ceremony often follows a rite of passage. this kind of traditional idea of, you know, we were talking about looking back in culture across time and a traditional rite of passage follows these different stages where you're separating from the past, you're letting go of something you're releasing, and then you find yourself in the midst of your ceremony where you're kind of in that liminal space.
You're neither here nor there. And you do something to acknowledge the present moment. You know, where are we in this very moment? How are we, how can we acknowledge through ritual, here and now? And then the third part of the rite of passage is how are we gonna incorporate what we've learned and carry this forward?
So this often takes the shape of a legacy or an intention that we're gonna set and manifest for the future. take this traditional rite of passage structure, we can then start to play with it and think, okay, if I'm gonna create a ceremony and I'm gonna string together these two or three or four different rituals, what's the story that I want the ceremony to tell?
What is it gonna take me through? How are we gonna what was, what is and what will be?
Track 1: we're missing that, we're missing that it is such a huge part of, , again, I'm going back to my question about how are these things, humanity's glitching, we, we, we know that like things are not, this is not the world that is possible for us or that we even all really want.
This feels to me intuitively, like, so I have so many little alarm, internal alarm bells going, this is such a big piece. This is such a big piece. If you were to walk through the forest every day, on your way to, let's say you had to walk through the forest on your way to school or on your way to work every day, and every day there was this like hole that had been kind of eroded from a root that got stuck there. And every day you tripped and you fell into this hole, and it really hurt.
And you kept falling into this hole every time. It might be useful for you to say, stop before you go on your walk that day and go, okay, why do I keep falling into that hole? Like, how does that keep happening? Oh, because I'm not paying attention when I, okay.
So I know that today when I walk that path, I'm gonna be looking and I'm not gonna fall into that hole. And I feel like we've fallen. We keep, we, we continue to fall into this hole of not having these things in our life, of not making space for this thing in our life. I wonder if, if you think it's useful to. Ask and, and explore a little bit just to create some awareness so that we don't keep doing it. How did we do this? How did we get to a point where we've, where we've shut down this, this really important thing, or where we, where we've created, uh, barriers to it for ourselves. We, we limit ourselves. We don't, we, we have not invited this aspect of humanity into our lives.
How did we do that?
Megan Sheldon: Yeah. And there's a lot of different things at play there. I mean, we, we look at our individualistic culture here in western society, and ritual and ceremony has a role in, in self-care. Um, ultimately for me and for for many ritualists. Ritual is about a community care. How do we come together to move through these times of change together on our own terms, but as that community, and we've really lost a lot of that, I think, you know, for especially those who have moved away from religion or have moved away from their cultural traditions physically or, you know, um, spiritually or mentally.
So when we go through something where, you know, where is that community gathering? And most people know ceremonies around birth, marriage, and death. That's kind of the, the three things that people are familiar with ceremony. And for the most part, most of those ceremonies are fairly prescribed, right? You, you're given the wedding script.
You're given the funeral script. This is what you follow. You might personalize it a little bit, but we've lost that ability to actually throw out the script and reinvent something that's purposeful in that moment and symbolic to the, you know, our unique experience. So there's that, that individualistic culture.
has harmed us from acknowledging these as a community. looking at the fast-paced modern world of just move forward, push things down, don't acknowledge them, don't get stuck. In generations before, you know, people could get, get swallowed up in a lot of things. And so the, the antidote for a lot of people was just to, you know, push it aside.
It's not, you know, it's not personal, it's business. Just push things down and, move forward, get over our grief. I think many of us were sold this story that grief follows these kind of neat and tidy five stages, and then you get to the end of it and you have closure or you, you know, you're over it.
we're given three days of bereavement leave. A lot of the, the problems that we face right now in life and the glitching, the ceremony shaped hole, a lot of it stems from our inability to talk about and focus on death and dying and grief. as I've stepped into this space of being an end of life doula and a funeral celebrant, and helping people acknowledge all of these invisible moments that surround the grieving process, you realize that.
A hundred, 150 years ago, we used to see death all the time. It was right in front of us. Right. Or the parlor room in the home was where somebody's body would be after they died. And we would spend time with their body. We would, acknowledge the grief on different levels, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
would come together as a community and we would have our own moments to grieve. when death got taken out of the home and medicalized and put into , the hospital setting, we, we lost touch with it. And so we weren't often with people when they died or if they were, we didn't want to be close to them.
We didn't want to touch them. We became really fearful of, of death. And in doing that, we lost a lot of the rituals that actually support us through our grief. things like bathing a body after somebody dies, you know, spending time with them. not as soon as somebody dies these days, you rush to the phone and you call like, get, you know, help me, what am I supposed to do?
And somebody comes and picks up the body and takes it away. Whereas those hours, those days following a death is some of the most sacred time for our mind to catch up with our body and realize this is how, this is part of the grieving process. So in taking these difficult experiences and trying to sanitize them, we've robbed ourselves of the things that we naturally knew how to do.
And we talked at the beginning that, you know, we're innately ritualistic. And I, I believe that ritual is in our bones. I'm not here to teach people how to be ritual beings. I'm here to help them. Remember, because we have this in us. It is not complicated. It does not need to cost a lot of money. It does not need a lot of special supplies.
There are things at our fingertips that we can draw on, acknowledge these moments of change, but most of us just are, we've been disconnected from that. So we don't, we don't know where to start.
Track 1: the theme of this whole season of this podcast is learning to see, when you're learning how to draw, your brain will default to the version of things that are easiest, safest, whatever, you know, fits its kind of definition of what seems like the safest thing. Whatever priorities it has at the moment, that's what your brain is gonna show you and it will show you those things and it'll block everything else out.
it takes a discipline and practices to, to learn to see what is actually there. The same thing happens when we practice rituals and ceremonies. they help us. It seems to see things as they actually are to see that death is a part of life.
Because I think we're all, we've all kind of told ourselves somehow that death is this thing, but it may it, but not, not to me, like that's not. It's not gonna happen to me. You know, like on some weird level we we're, and we're always trying to stay really young and there's like this real aversion to death do you feel like in your experience, ritual and ceremony has a role in helping us to learn how to see things differently? Like can it, can they help us learn how to actually completely shift our perspectives?
Megan Sheldon: Well, it's interesting you were talking about, the artistic process, uh, and creativity. , if I think of the times that I'm creative in life and whatever medium that shows up through, I'm trying to express something I'm feeling right there. There's an emotion there. And when I think about ritual and ceremony, there are so many emotions in our life that deserve to be acknowledged and recognized. We have found ourselves living in the pursuit of happiness, right? There's this cultural belief that we should always be happy, that joy is the ultimate pinnacle of existence. And that's just not the case. We're, not meant to be happy the the time. in pursuing happiness at all costs, we don't know how to be with our anger. We don't know how to be with our grief, our sadness, our frustration, our shame, our guilt. All of these emotions that we've deemed negative. We we either minimize and push aside, or we allow them to fester and they become something else, something unrecognizable.
Ritual and ceremony allows us to see, the root of the emotions that we're holding. If we think about a grief ritual that brings us that moment to acknowledge what was, what is, what will be. we're going deeper. We're going into those layers of the emotions and saying, okay, what is it actually that's here?
And in our app, we've launched all these amazing rituals around anger. And it's phenomenal to me to have these conversations with people lately of being like, oh, like how do you express anger? Like that's been something that we've been trained, especially as women, to not feel, to not express, like anger is something that we just need to turn around and we can, we can be sad, that's okay, but anger is something that, you know, we're, we're, we're not invited to explore.
So what happens when we turn that over on its head and say, okay, like, what are some rituals that are gonna help me express the anger that I feel? Because there is a growing anger, whether it's around climate change, whether it's around what's happening in the world right now, whether it's, you know, what's happening in, in my day-to-day life.
So rather than taking that anger and suppressing it or transforming it into something a little bit more docile, how do we express through ritual, that anger and allow that power, that energy, that kind of life force to come through us. In that process. the creative action for me is, it's coming up with a ritual.
It's thinking about, okay, there's this anger here. What are we going to turn, you know, what can allow it to come out in different shapes and forms? And one day I might choose one ritual and another day, something totally different. And you might come in and say, okay, that one doesn't work for me, but here I'm gonna take this and I'm gonna add my own spin on it.
I'm gonna add my own personality. And then suddenly it allows you to see what you're really feeling. And only when we acknowledge what we're holding, what we're feeling, can we move through those emotions. wE can get stuck in our emotions and when we get stuck in them, that's when those re repetitive behaviors happen, We get kind of stuck in generational trauma. We get stuck in, the same conversations over and over and over because we haven't moved through it, right? Where it's like that light at the end of the tunnel. We have to move through the ugliness sometimes the difficulty, the challenges of that emotion.
And most times we kind of get close to things like anger and guilt and shame, and we think, Nope, not for me. this is too hard, too scary. I'm gonna back away from this tunnel and I'm just gonna stay on the other side. And so we don't get to get to the other side of the tunnel where we've actually processed and moved through and acknowledged what we needed to, to get to the other side of that emotion.
We had a guest on, I think she was in season one. She's a forensic psychologist and she does a lot of work around trauma and processing. And she talked about, those experiences when they're undigested and she talked about them as digested. She called them trauma balls and just, they sort of sit in your gut, like imagine if you just ate
Piece after piece of bread, and they just remained undigested in your gut. I mean, eventually things would stop working the way they were supposed to. You'd start to feel crappy and crappy. You're carrying around all this stuff that you don't have the facilities to carry around and processing, whether it's through ritual ceremony, whatever ways you choose to support yourself actually helps you to, and your psyche and your whole system process and then put away.
'cause when they're sitting in your gut, they, your whole system doesn't know where they live. But if it, if it's like, oh, I've processed that. I've felt that that goes here in my, in my internal system, it still lives with you. That that thing didn't, you know, that thing didn't go away. You're not, it's not about making those things or experiences go away or completely resolve them.
They're a part of you,
but they're a more resolved part of you and they get to live in a place in you where they're not. Running the show or they're not taking all your attention the way they would if they were a loaf of bread. That was just, you know, undigested in your gut trying to walk around with that.
Megan Sheldon: I had a woman reach out who had an abortion 30 years ago, and she had never told anybody about the experience, and she wanted to finally create a ceremony to acknowledge. it .
And so we worked together. , I talked with her and then I, I sent her a bunch of ritual ideas and I said, pick the ones that are, are meaningful to you and then expand on them. Allow them to become what you need them to be.
And she ended up sharing back her story with us a few weeks later. And for her, it was a life changing experience. she was finally able to acknowledge something that she has been holding onto that kind of trauma ball for 30 years. It's been inside of her with no way out, no way to feel validated or seen, no way to move through it.
Well, she ended up creating this beautiful labyrinth, in the forest near her home. And along the way she wrote herself notes that she'd wished she'd, heard from other people. So she thought about all the voices that were either inside her or in the people around her at the time. And she wrote down either what they did say and, and burned that, or she wrote down what she wished they would've done or said.
And she created her own healing circle through this experience. And I gave her a little bit of guidance. I gave her some ideas, some inspiration, but ultimately she created her own experience. She created what she needed and it transformed her life. This, you know, this one hour of one day, 30 years in the making.
Another beautiful example was I worked with a community of motherless daughters. So these were women who lost their mothers at young ages, and they were all about to turn at some point in the next year or two, the age that their mother was when their mother died. They knew this date to the second, their entire life, every ounce of their being and every fiber of themselves knew that this date was coming.
Nobody else knew. You know, they often shared with me that even their husbands, their, their, you know, friends, nobody knew that this day was coming up. And so what do you do on that day? What do you do on the day that you turned the same age that your mother was when she died? And then what do you do the next day when you now have turned one day older than she got to live?
Where's the guidebook? Where's the, you know, where's the acknowledgement there? And so we work together on, again, understanding the framework of ceremony, understanding the basis of ritual, giving them some ideas, pointing them in the right direction, and then allowing them each to choose their own rituals to create a ceremonial experience that that was intentional and symbolic and, and meaningful to them.
A group of people can all take the same three rituals and the ceremony story is going to be so different because we put ourselves into that experience and we reflect our own, our own lived experiences, our own values, our own beliefs. So yeah, it's been quite a, an amazing creative process to see how we can take these simple ingredients.
And I often say that the ceremony pot, ceremony is like a big cooking pot. And the rituals are the ingredients that we throw in. So I can give each of us the same ingredients, but we're gonna cook them in different orders in different ways, and they're gonna simmer for longer or shorter. And ultimately, we're all gonna make our own different and unique meal from that.
Track 1: What do you, I love that we're talking about ingredients. What are ingredients for rituals?
I feel like my favorite ingredient for ritual is fire. Like, I feel fire is a really powerful ingredient for ritual.
What are some of the other ingredients for rituals or, or what are some of the most powerful ones that you see and use in your work?
Megan Sheldon: Yeah. So the way that we built be ceremonial was with these ingredients in mind. And when I work with individuals or families or communities, I come back to it and I, I call it the one, two, three, four, five. And it's just, it's for me to remember, it's for them to remember. Um, there's so much permission to deviate and go off of this, but I, I love these kind of simple reminders.
We talk about the fact that, you know, where's the guidebook? Where's the roadmap? Well, this is a bit of a, a roadmap. So the first thing is really distilling your, your ritual or your ceremony down to one intention. If you try to make your ritual or your ceremony do too many things, it may not do any of them well.
that's not to say you can't have multiple intentions, but if you can get really clear on why are you doing this ritual, what you know, what is the purpose of it, what is the hope of it? And if you can distill that down to one word or one sentence, it can really guide the rest of the experience. So oftentimes I'll work with families and they think they want a certain kind of ceremony, and when we get clear on their intention, we realize this, this ceremony that you're planning is not what you want or need at all.
The best example is a lot of times people think they need a celebration of life after a loved one has died. And ultimately when we get clear on their intention, it's probably something closer to they need time to heal. They need time for quiet, for reflection. So a celebration of life is not always that, that same conducive environment to healing and reflection.
So instead, we might create a healing ceremony, you know, a few months before a celebration of life, and give the family an opportunity to come together in a more quiet, reflective space and do something that is a little bit more private, a little bit more personal, a little bit more tender before they move into a more public arena where they're now having to be with their grief and support the grief of others as well.
getting clear on that intention is paramount. number two is the idea of holding polarities. And I talked about it earlier a little bit, how we have this pursuit of happiness and joy and gratitude where, you know, we're in this gratitude filled world. Just be grateful. But what that can often do is this, this idea of toxic positivity. holding polarities is thinking about two things that this ceremony is holding that seem in tension with each other. They seem like polar opposites. And then finding space for both to exist. And a beautiful example of that is my husband and I decided to get married and his, his father had just received his terminal diagnosis.
the family was coming in from Sweden and my family here. We decided to have a very small family oriented, wedding ceremony on the beach in the middle of to Feno storm season. And I wanted to carve out space for grief. And I had so many people say to me, it's a wedding.
Why would you want grief to have any room at this wedding? Like, no, no, no. Focus on happiness. You're the bride. You, you know, you shouldn't be sad. Luckily and listened to that intuitive nature within myself. Like, no, like there is a grief here. There is an elephant in the room, and if we don't acknowledge it, it's going to feel inauthentic. So within our wedding ceremony, we created a grief ritual to acknowledge the grief that we were all feeling, that this would be the only time our two families were together intact. So we held space for those polarities. Number three is this idea of a rite of passage, the past, the present, the future.
What was, what is, what will be thinking about moving through a ceremony in these kind of different chapters or different stages. So you think about a ritual that helps you release the past. You think about a ritual that helps you be present in the now, and then you think about a ritual that helps you set intentions for what will be or, or carry a legacy forward. The fourth one is what you were talking about a little bit. It's the four elements. Um, different cultures around the world who identify different elements. You know, there's some cultures have five elements, some have metal and wood but for me, I take the fire, water, earth, and wind and air, as my four elements.
And then ether is the space between. So sometimes there's that fifth element of, of things that connect us, but thinking about the role of water, the role of fire, the role of earth. The role of air, how can you integrate one or all of those? And my go-to elements are fire and water always. so when I'm struggling a little and feeling a little off balance, I think maybe I need more air, maybe I need more earth.
Maybe that will help kind recalibrate me during this time. So I will intentionally go into the forest and do a breathing ritual to help ground me. Or I'll sing, I'll do something that allows that air ritual to be acknowledged.
Track 1: Hmm.
Megan Sheldon: And then five is the senses. So. Thinking about your taste, your smell, your sight, your hearing, your touch.
Thinking about the different ways that we experience this life and how can you bring in a ritual that through the power of scent might transport you back to a place that you've once visited or through something that you hear, maybe you play a favorite song. And that audio experience transports you and reconnects you to that moment.
thinking about the five senses in a, in a creative way of, you know, what is it that I'm trying to, again, coming back to that clear intention, and then how can I draw on my sensory experience to help bring out that intention?
Track 1: Thank you so much for that. It's so helpful to have a formula, cause I think we intuit those things. We know we what we, I wanna burn something, but like, when it's in, when, when it's in that context of everything you just shared, I just feel like now you can go and pick and choose from those.
It's almost like you have a toolbox, right?
Megan Sheldon: Well, it's like learning to draw, right? You can be creative, but you need the tools the paper and the pen and maybe some skills that you've developed from different people, some tutorials, some, some lessons, and we're, we're learning from each other.
I have a master's in cultural mythology. So years ago I was studying all of these things under the context of myth and story and how cultures move through these times of change. And I was so fascinated by it. this idea of. of myth and logic, mythos and logos, our whole world is built on these two pillars.
mythos is the, the world of creativity and, and make believe and wonder and awe and magic and all of these beautiful things that we can, you know, we can't pinpoint. They're not tangible. And then logos is the logic. It's the idea of, okay, here's the things that I can prove. Here's the, here's the research here's the structure.
Here's that kind of more masculine sense of, , the guide, the framework. And ultimately we need both. We, we look at the way that the healthiest societies thrive, they have a very strong connection with both mythos and logos. They have both pillars, you know, up in their society and, and in their beliefs in their day-to-day life. our Western society, we have fallen into this place of logos where we have to prove things. , and the creativity and the myth, and , the storytelling, all of that is, is a nice afterthought, right? It's, it's a soft skill. And so we are lopsided, we are in a lopsided society where, we have lost touch with all the beautiful wonder that comes from holding up that world of mythos, that world of magic.
And so for me, ritual and ceremony, yes, there's a logic to it. Yes. There are scientific research journals that show the power of ritual in our mental health. And, and you know, the, the dopamine release when we go into cold water and all of, you know, there is the science that's there, and then there's the magic and the wonder and the unexplainable parts of all of this, which, you know, especially working at end of life, I meet people all the time who they believe in something, but they don't know what it is and they often feel embarrassed.
They're like, oh, like, I know what I know. I can't prove that that's not what it's about. It's not about proving things. We have to kind of hold these two pillars up for ourselves so that we can find our own balance.
Track 1: So how can we start to address that? I think that what you just said is a really important point. I recently lost my dear stepmother at the end of August. She passed away. my dad, who's a very sort of logical scientific, you know, like, he used to tell us that we, we weren't allowed to get carsick because it's not scientifically proven that you could be carsick.
It's just all in your head. He really had these beliefs. And so we've been, trying to support him and his loss of, his wife for the last 25 years. And. I feel I've been really feeling her with me. They, she wanted me to have her, her diamond engagement ring, which was her prized possession.
And I've been wearing it on my hand. I haven't taken it off since, since I came back from her celebration of life. And I took a picture of it the other day. I was at soccer watching my son and I, I took a picture of it to send to my dad because I felt her with me watching my son play this game. I felt her like not, oh, I felt her.
Like I felt her. She was there and I hesitated. It was a real experience for me, but I hesitated to even tell him that. 'cause I know he doesn't believe it. But I told him anyway and he was like, you know, crying and like, I know, I feel like we had just had this conversation a few weeks ago about how he doesn't believe in any of that stuff and she's just gone and she's gonna turn into some other animal now and her cells will, you know, very scientific, I guess my question is how do we begin to. dip our toe into that world of the magic, that world of the unknown with each other, because , I don't know where we go, but I know that we don't just disappear. Like I, I can feel her presence with me. How do I create language around that that doesn't make me feel like I'm being silly?
Or how do we shift that? Do you know what I'm asking? Like
I'm having a hard time asking the question, I guess maybe, but Yeah.
Megan Sheldon: I think, and then another version of that question that I get asked all the time is, how do I introduce rituals to my family member or to my friend, or to my client who is resistant?
And my answer is, until you have a strong connection and relationship with ritual and ceremony yourself, it's almost impossible.
To convince somebody to do it for themselves because we all learn by example. , my father, who, you know from Edmonton, small town. and I have his, his permission to share this You know, of a certain generation, , not, very logos oriented, there's, in, in his mind there's not much point in talking about what happens when you die because it's just, it's nothing. Right? There's a, a very clear version from him six or seven years ago, , he was given a terminal diagnosis. He has survived it.
I think in that experience of, of facing your own death, you know, he was given a few months to live and then he had this radical surgery and, and survived. it's shifted something in him. recently his best friend was dying and he called me up and he was on his way to a lunch with all of his tennis friends.
They've been playing tennis together for the last 40 years, the same group of men. And he said, you know, I'm, I'm going to this lunch. and I know it's just gonna be, you know, it's, it's the, the man who's dying, it's his birthday lunch, and I know that everybody's gonna do everything they can to avoid talking about the fact that he's dying.
He ended up dying three weeks later. So everybody knew this was the last birthday, this was likely the last time they all gathered as a community of men. And my dad was so worried that nobody was gonna do anything, that it was just gonna be a regular lunch where we just pushed down those feelings.
So he called me up and he said, I wanna do something, but I don't know what to do. Where do I start? And I said, okay, dad. Well, what is it that you think is needed? And I listened. I gave a couple of prompts and a couple of thoughts and questions, and ultimately he came up with his own ritual and he went and he found in his old locker, this old tennis racket from the 1950s, and he brought it with him to the lunch.
And in front of this group of men in their late seventies and early eighties, he proclaimed that this was Brian's tennis racket and we were all gonna pass it around. And we were gonna share something of meaning that Brian has brought to our lives, something that he's done, something that made us laugh, a funny memory or, that he has taught them.
And so, one by one, this group of 12 men passed this old tennis racket around and they shared what he's meant to them. And I told my dad later, A lot of this movement is often around a living funeral, a living wake. This is what these men were doing. They were letting Brian hear before he died, how much of an impact he made on each of them, and the tennis racket.
It, it was the symbol, right? The symbolism was not only meaningful to my dad because he had been given this from somebody that he loved and respected, but all these men now connected with this tennis racket, right? It held something meaningful for each of them. The intention was to elevate this lunch, not just to a regular lunch, but something meaningful because it was the last, it was the last of these lunches that would look like this.
The action was moving it around from person to person without a lot of prescription. He didn't tell them what they had to say. He actually even said, you don't have to say anything. You can just hold it for a few minutes if you want. And then the meaning came, and like my dad could never have predicted how meaningful that was to everybody involved, but most importantly to Brian, who later shared with him that he felt like that was the missing thing that he had needed before he died.
This was the thing that he, he didn't know how to create for himself and my dad in a fairly simple way. Right. It didn't take a lot of planning. It wasn't something that he, you know, ran through a script in his head, but that ritual became this beautiful bond. As we think about the creativity, the, the ideas that we can kind of unlock within ourselves, it doesn't have to be big and complicated.
It can just be that, that meaningful action.
There is something about objects, there's an elegance to, and um, the gift that they give us, the physical object, the tennis racket gave them all permission for it not to be just them. It was like they were now a part of something. 'cause if you're, if you just have to go around in a circle and share what you're feeling, like you don't know, is it just me?
Am I out here on my own? Am I, but that created a, a way that connected them all. It was a thread that ran through them all. And it was almost like a safety
net for them. Like that they were all almost held by that object.
Megan Sheldon: It takes courage to go first, right? It takes vulnerability to go first, and my dad stepped into that vulnerability. This was not something that was easy for him. He called me ahead of time because he was nervous. He didn't wanna do it wrong. That ultimately in our conversation, he realized he actually had what it took, and he, he stepped into that vulnerability, and by leading and showing them and leading by example and showing them what was possible, they then their guard was down.
Okay, well, Don just did that and shared, and, and cried a little. Didn't mean that they, you know, some, some men told, you know, raunchy hilarious stories and had everybody in stitches. That was wonderful too. It wasn't about having to cry and express a single emotion. Again, it was holding space for whatever emotion showed up that day.
I just love the simplicity of that. And I think if we can all start to acknowledge and recognize these moments that seem fleeting, these invisible moments that pass us by every day. If we can think about, okay, you my friendship just ended with somebody, what am I gonna do to acknowledge that end of a friendship?
Or, somebody that I know just lost their job. How can I help them through this time of change and not just say, don't worry, I'll get a new job. 'cause that's suppressing the process, the experience that they're going through. How can we look to ritual as a way to help them acknowledge all of these times of change that we face and not just those kind of big moments where we have that script in front of us.
Track 1: Mm-Hmm. because they all feed each other. Like you have to have the littler ones. They're almost practice.
I mean, I imagine creating those rituals for yourself in the little everyday things gets that muscle going so that when the bigger life events happen, you have this skill to draw from that can support you to create that for yourself and for the people in your community.
Megan Sheldon: Yeah, and that's, we've just launched our daily rituals for self-care in our app. And that's the mentality of it. It's like we gotta start flexing these muscles. We need to have a relationship with ritual on , an ongoing basis so that when something big or hard happens, yes, it will still be hard.
Yes, it will still, you know, bring up all these emotions, but we will have things around us. We will look around and be like, I've got this, I've got this. I can move through this. I can go through that tunnel and get to the other side of this emotion. I can look at somebody who's struggling and I can offer them some tools and say, okay, like we're, you're in, you're in the midst of it right now.
You feel stuck and here are some ways that we can move through this together.
Track 1: think this is a good time for you to tell us a little bit about the app and how it works and how somebody listening to this, who's going, okay, I feel the ceremony shaped hole in my life and I'm ready and I'm lost. I don't know how to, I'm not particularly spiritual or religious or, but that, but I still feel this, you know, but I don't know where to start.
How can your app help them?
Megan Sheldon: Yeah. So, and there's a few kind of ways in, there's the idea of daily rituals. So maybe you're looking at, you wanna just start slow and gentle and think about a morning ritual or a bedtime ritual, or looking at rituals to express your grief or anger, joy, you know? And so you can pick and choose from a bunch of rituals and we invite you to make them your own.
So you kind of go through the app experience and you, choose a ritual. It's kind of like choosing a Spotify playlist. You choose your playlist, you go through it, and then you get to pick and choose the rituals that you connect with, and then we guide you through it. And you can follow our language, but we really invite you to then think about how you can make it your own.
What are the ingredients you can add to make it personal? So that's the daily rituals, those kind of singular events that happen. of the rituals in our app take five minutes or less. They don't require a lot of planning or a lot of, ingredients. We really wanna give people the tools to kind of build ritual into their day-to-day life.
And then we have the life ceremony. So these span, you know, from birth to death, all of these moments in between. So we've got, ceremony surrounding fertility and pregnancy loss, know, ending breastfeeding, all the moments that show up at the beginning of life around birth. And then we've got moments surrounding, into a new home or moving out of a home, going through a divorce, going through marriage, like going through, seasonal shifts.
So thinking about the solstice and the moon and how we can tap into the natural environment. And then a big part of the app is focused on end of life. That's usually where people come to us is through an experience of grief or loss. That's the ceremony shaped hole has been there all along, but they feel it the most when they're grieving and when the people around them don't know what to do and likely do nothing.
Or they're given a template script and they, Nope, that's not for me. That's not what I need or want. Can create a ceremony if you've received a terminal diagnosis, if you're looking at medical aid and dying, if you're creating a living funeral or a celebration of life, or scattering some of these ashes.
If you're looking for a place to start and you just want some inspiration, you wanna be guided through this process. Again, coming back to that 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, all of the rituals in the app, and there's hundreds of them, they're neutral, kind of a neutral palette. you can be religious, you can be spiritual, you can have strong cultural traditions and still use our app.
And if you have none of that and you're kind of guided by that logic mentality, um, you, you can take the rituals and, and, and fit them into your life. So you move through and you pick and choose the ritual that are meaningful to you. And you, you build your own ceremony and then the app guides you through that ceremony when you're ready.
You can do it on your own, you can do it as a group of people. we try to, again, give people lots of options to make it their own and, and not, not be prescriptive, we're trying to open that door for people and say, here's a place to start. you can also gift it to somebody that you know, so you can create a ceremony.
, if a friend of yours has had a miscarriage or a friend of yours is going through a divorce and you wanna send them something to show your support, you can purchase it on their behalf and then send it to them and then invite them to go through it on their own.
Track 1: It's so beautiful. How do people find that? Do they just go to the app store?
Megan Sheldon: Yeah, so our, our website is be ceremonial.com. you can create a web-based, of the platform of the app. So you can go to app.be ceremonial.com, or you can download the app in any of the app stores and have it on your phone. to set up account and you can access some of the material in there, and then you can become a member, unlock everything.
And our members also have access to workshops and courses. We do monthly gatherings, seasonal gatherings. We meet online and we're all becoming ceremonial together, really building a community of people who are wanting to step into this space and learn from each other, share our stories, and transform the way that our society is moving through these times of change and, and be that, be that beacon of flight and that beacon of hope for other people who might feel lost
Track 1: I love that so much. I wanted to ask you earlier, I never found the right moment, but I wanted to ask you if there's a particular ceremony. Or ritual even that you experienced or witnessed, whether you led it or were a part of it that, uh, has really, really stayed with you, that has maybe been like among the most powerful
Megan Sheldon: Yeah, so at the beginning of the pandemic, I, I was turning 40 my thirties were full of a lot of loss and a lot of grief. Um, lot of joy, a lot of gratitude, both sides of the coin. And I found myself in Tino, , 10 years after we'd gotten married and I was there and I wanted to acknowledge and release some of the things that I, I experienced in my thirties.
So I created my own little ceremony and then I wanted to be present in the moment. And I found my way in the cold ocean in the Pacific in the beginning of march and dunked down three times and then came out and set some intentions for what I wanted my forties to hold. And that experience kind of unlocked something in me, around my aliveness.
And so I came home to Vancouver and I started hosting weekly ceremony swims in the ocean. And what it's done, I think is it's, it's a community care experience. so we're, we're taking care of ourselves, but we're also taking care of each other. And every week, whoever wants is welcome to join us at the beach and we
We spend time walking along the ocean, the beach, choosing an object that's reflective of something that we're grieving. And then we come together and we share what we're grieving that day. And it might be something big, something hard. It might be something small that we didn't even realize was there.
we share that object, we share that grief, and then we release it into the ocean in a way that feels right to us. And we go into the ocean and we have the cold water experience, which activates that aliveness, that magic, that feeling of connection. There is nowhere to be, but in the here and now when you're in cold water, in the middle of winter in the Pacific Ocean.
That is the truth. And then we, we come back in and we warm up and we share what we're gonna carry with us for the rest of the day or the rest of the week, something we learned or experienced or noticed. And we share that not only to remind ourselves, but also to kind of, um, piggyback off each other and say, oh yeah, that I know this, that too.
Isn't that amazing? How, how the ocean made us feel that way or. So if I think back to, I mean, we've now had. Oh gosh, I can't even think about, you know, over a hundred of these ceremonies, if not more. A couple hundred. And if I think about the times when I've seen somebody who's shown up for the very first time to one of these ceremonies and they're not quite sure what we're doing, they're kind of like you with your great burn.
You know, my friends are, you know, friends of friends or people that have just heard about us. They show up and they're kind of looking at us a little suspicious, like, what is, what's happening here? And then they realize, and they spend time walking along the beach, and then you see them pick up the heaviest rock they can find.
Or they're dragging this giant log with them and they plop it down in the middle of the circle and they say, I'm gonna go first. And they share what they're grieving. And we've had people share that . They lost a child, um, that they lost a spouse, um, they lost a dog or a pet. We've had people share grief that they've been holding for 30 or 40 years.
We've had people minimize their grief and then realize, no, like I am grieving that today. It might be small, it might be insignificant to a lot of people, but to me it's important today. And we all hold space for that. We're not there to fix or solve their grief. We're just listening. So if I think back to some of the most meaningful moments, it's when that happens.
It's when a group of strangers comes together and holds space for each other through ritual, through ceremony. And , we're activating that community care. We're, we're not making each other feel like we have to go at this alone.
Track 1: I think that's one of the, I mean you, you mentioned it at, sort of, at the top of the show, how one of the things that led us to get to this place was this individual we're, we're simultaneously feel like we have to do it alone, we have to do it alone, but the way everybody else is doing it, right. Like, I have to get married the way everybody else is doing it, but I have to do it alone. I have to deal with my mother's death the way that everybody, I have to do the funeral. I have to do the, but the way, but I have to do it alone.
Like we're, and community and building community around these rituals and ceremonies. Is it it, you may not have those particular people with you when you do your big life ceremony, but you now know how to do it in community. And that's a really important skill that we're not really taught. We're not really taught how to be in this culture, in community.
Well, we don't really
we don't really
know how to do that very well. And so I feel like the work you're doing is, and as somebody who's participated in some of those swims with you, the work you're doing is really profoundly important and needed. And I just, from my own heart to your heart, thank you. I just wanna thank you for, for being like, I was so excited when I met you.
'cause I just felt like, oh, there's this like soul twin of like, you know, we're, we come at it from such different ways,
but I really appreciate the work that you're doing in the world and I think you're an amazing human being.
Megan Sheldon: Uh, my fa one of my favorite quotes is, many hands Make for light work. And I feel that this is heavy work. I have people say it all the time, oh, I could never do what you do. You know, you're, you're with people who are, you know, grieving or dying, or somebody who's just died. Like, how can you, you know, you've got little kids.
How can you do that? And again, it's like, well, this is happening. And either we step toward it and we walk through the fire and we find ways through it, or we suppress it and push it down. And the alternative for me is just not, not an option. , we have to step into this space. There's a beautiful quote by Glennon Doyle that talks about the fact that we keep making circles, and we need to instead make horseshoes.
And so I think about where are all the circles in my life that feel closed off? And if I think about these weekly ceremonies, I've had people say, oh, that sounds amazing. I wish I could join. And I think, okay, let's just open up the circle and say, of course come.
And there is a place, obviously for, for closed community and, and for that safety and, and for that brave space to take shape and form. , but my invitation for everybody is to think about where can you open up a little bit and, you know, see somebody who is moving through something. Maybe it's grief, maybe it's anger, maybe, you know, and how can you step toward that and offer them something that you might be able to hold space for, you know, offer to go for a ritual, walk in the forest or a swim in the sea, or do something that allows them, and allows you in turn to recognize what you're feeling and holding and move through those emotions so they don't get stuck in us and turn into those trauma balls.
Because that's, that's happening far too much. And I, I see it at every twist and turn In my work, people have unresolved trauma. And when, when somebody dies, um, and we are all going to die. When that happens, those trauma balls get reactivated and it's, it's quite destructive for a lot of people.
Track 1: ABsolutely. There's two things that I do at the end of every episode. Well, one I do at the beginning of every episode before I even get in the call with you, I, I say a little prayer , I ask Spirit to speak through me so that it's not just Kate and the rational mind speaking and that it's this magical thing asking what needs to be asked so that what needs to be answered can be answered so that what needs to be heard can be heard.
I pull a card from my angel card deck.
Well, I went to pull one and five of them flew out of the bowl at me, they all fell on the floor. was cleaning them up. And, I was like, no, actually I feel like I'm supposed to read all of these to Megan and to the listeners, so I'll read them to you in the order that I pick them up.
Love, acceptance, flexibility, exploration, and surrender.
Megan Sheldon: We need all of them. They're all
Track 1: Right? In the context of the conversation that
we just had, , how do I open my heart up? How do I horseshoe open
my heart up to allow more ritual, more creativity, and even ceremonies. And people
in feelings. How do I open myself up so that I can, , not only live the life I was meant to live, but operate in reality as more of myself as, as, as the truest version of myself.
And in communion with the truest version of reality. Like, really see what's happening, really be okay with it and in love with it and, and allow it. And I just like, I feel like those, those things, uh, everything that you said and those things are like, That's
it. That's our formula.
Megan Sheldon: the flexibility is so important. I think that's the thing that most people are scared about. They think, and, , we didn't get into it today, but, , I do a lot of work on, on avoiding cultural appropriation and, you know, there is a place and a time for, for rigid ritual that is, you know, embedded in culture and passed down across time.
Of course there is a place for that. And there's also a place for us to create new rituals that, that serve us today. And being mindful of the cultures, around us is a really important part of that. And But
Track 1: last question that I always ask, and I'm gonna tweak it a little bit for this conversation, but it'll essentially be the same as the billboard question.
I ask it at the end of every episode and usually I say, you If you had a giant billboard that somehow was gonna reach all of the people who, and I usually say yearn to be more creative, yearn to have access to this soft, quiet, radiant, mysterious voice inside of themselves.
And maybe I won't change it from that, but who, who also would like to have more ritual and ceremony in their lives, maybe even more community of this nature in their life. But for a lot of the reasons that we've talked about, and even some of the ones that we didn't 'cause some, some of the stuff that we didn't talk about was the stigma around, like, I feel like there's actually a little bit of a stigma around ritual.
And even the word ritual
conjures up, you know, we didn't get there. But because of the, you know, for, for all the various reasons that somebody might self-select out of creativity, ritual ceremony community, if you could put something on this billboard that would address those objections in their heart and concerns that they had and would allow them. The possibility that these things were available to , what would you say? Like what would you put on that billboard?
Megan Sheldon: I think I would say something along the lines of, you already have ritual and ceremony in your life, like step into it deeper every time I meet with somebody, they all realize, oh, I, I do have ritual in my life. Oh, I, I didn't realize that's what it was.
Track 1: right.
Megan Sheldon: already there. now go further. Now go deeper. that's where the creative process can really be unlocked and can unfold. As I think about the way that I create ritual today, and it's such a creative experience, , whether it's for myself, whether, you know, I hosted a ritual for a community of pregnancy, lost people last weekend, 800 people we created at a Nature Mandela.
We, we chose all these different objects and we created art together to acknowledge our, our grief. It is a creative process, so the, the reminder that we already have what it takes, I think is important for people to hear.
Track 1: That's so beautiful. You're so beautiful. I love you,
Megan Sheldon: it's a long billboard.
Track 1: coming. It's okay. Usually people have like, it's like we, we, I should describe it this way, but usually people end up saying so much that we just say, you know, when you're driving down the highway and there's like 40 billboards. And they're just like down the side of the
It can be like that. You don't, there's no limit to your billboard,
Megan Sheldon: Yeah.
Track 1: I love it. Thank you for coming
Megan Sheldon: Thank you for having me. It
Track 1: Oh, and oh, one more. One more thing I will ask you is where if people, so we've talked about where to find the app, but where else can people go to read more about your work?
Megan Sheldon: Yeah. So on b ceremonial.com I'm on Instagram and Facebook. Um, our, our B ceremonial, um, account is there. I'm also under seeking ceremony. A lot of the personal work that I do as a ceremonialist and end of life doula and celebrant, um, comes under seeking ceremony.
Track 1: Okay. I'll put all that in the show notes so you don't have to pull over and write it down. If you're listening to this right now, you can just check out the show notes.
Megan Sheldon: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Kate.
ATR2100x-USB Microphone-3: Okay. Were you crying when Megan told that story of her father? , . I was just picturing this older gentlemen coming to his daughter saying help me. I don't know how to create a ceremony for this. I want to create something here, but I don't know how, and I loved how patient and gentle she was in guiding him. , he already knew what to do, and I love how she guided him. To find that.
I just imagine all these old men sitting in a circle, sharing this tennis racket and. Being able to do the thing that was in their bones, which was love their friend and send them off in a beautiful way. Oh, my God. I'm going to start crying again.
I encourage you to check out the be ceremonial app. And Megan's work. And if you're lucky enough to grab the last spot on bone island in January for the new year. I can't wait to see you there.
And if you're not able to come up. . Please join me in my monthly workshop, activating intuition and creativity.
Watching people. Make time for and begin to activate.
A two way conversation with this deeply intelligent, unconditionally loving aspect of themselves. Is the most fulfilling thing I've ever seen or done or been a part of in my life. It's an honor to lead these workshops. And I hope to see you there. Everything you need to know is on Kate shepherd. Separate creative.com.
So I want to close. With this question for you.
How might your life. Transform. what might you be able to resolve or let go of from your past? to navigate with more ease in your present? If you were to invite in. The element of ritual.
And if you want support with that, please reach out to Megan directly. I know she would love to help you.