Pillar of Discernment Ritual
Advances in technology not only give us greater access to each other and information moulding our view of ourselves and the world, but it also opens us up to the desires and opinions of others. We become a currency for others to trade; we open ourselves to falshoods and perpetuate fear and inadequacy. And so the ability to discern, to judge well, in life is now more critical than ever before. The following ritual is a tangible way to help you come to terms with what really matters to you right now, what needs releasing and what needs attention to move forward. You may only do it a few times in life, or you might find it becomes a good habit to adopt more regularly…
You will need:
- A quiet space indoors where you can be undisturbed for 30-60 minutes
- A small- handheld bell to ‘clear’ or cleanse the space
- A vessel to contain a piece of burning paper and something to ignite the paper
- Representations of the five pillars’ elements; an object made of stone, an object of wood, an object of crystal, an object made of straw, and a feather; any type of feather so long as it is ethically sourced
- Pen and 4 sheets of paper
Once you have gathered together all you need, go to your chosen space and ‘clear’ it using the bell, ringing it in front of you, behind you and to either side of you. Then, you sit down comfortably on the floor with your pen and paper. Designate one sheet of paper to each of the first four pillar elements by writing ‘stone’, ‘wood’, ‘crystal’ and ‘straw’ across the top. Next, arrange the representations in a pillar (straight verticle line), in front of you, within easy reach, starting with ‘stone’ nearest to you, then above that ‘wood’, then above that, ‘glass’, then above that ‘straw’ and finally, furthest from you at the top, the feather.
Starting with stone
Focussing firstly on the representation of stone closet to you. Pick it up and hold it in your dominant hand. This is the foundation element; solid, cold, and weighty of substance. Stone holds wisdom and energy of old, your past experiences, as well as unreleased potential. It represents the principles or the standards in your life that are constant, upon which most of what you say and do in life is built. I want you to close your eyes and now think about what really matters to you. Allow whatever wants to come to the fore to do so. It could be raising your children, your health, your partner, happiness, making money or financial security, your work, the environment, saving the world or saving yourself. It may be even simpler, like cultivating patience, kindness, inner strength or having your say. Put ‘stone’ back down in the spot closest to you at the base of the pillar, take the sheet headed ‘stone’ and list these thoughts.
As you allow these thoughts to come about and write them down, notice how each makes you feel. Be aware of where you hold tension or uncertainty around the idea in your body, then perhaps it is not as fundamental to you as you believed. By ‘judging well’ each of the core principles held in stone, you will come to realise what matters to you, what defines you that you are not prepared to relinquish or change, and why. You can then start coming to terms with that and decide whether you let things rest there, work on them, or indeed release them up the pillar into the wood. You can do this by saying, ‘By the power of Ma’at in me, I release what no longer resides in stone to be free. I pass it up to the more pliable wood to find a home there or be resolved for my greater good.’ Put a line through that thought on the paper and write it again on the paper headed ‘wood’.
Working with wood
Next, focus on the ‘wood’ representation. Pick it up and hold it in your dominant hand. This is the construction element; sturdy, warm, of substance yet pliable. Wood operates with wisdom and energy of both your past experiences and what is new to you and looks to mould and manifest your potential and desires. It represents the principles or the standards in your life that are important, especially in the present moment, dealing with the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges to keep things evolving and progressing. So close your eyes and now think about the principles or standards you employ daily. It could be your routines, chores, the food you buy and consume, your home, the clothes your wear, how you project to the outside world and what you see for yourself, your hobbies or interests. Put ‘wood’ back down in its place in the pillar, take the sheet headed ‘wood’ and list these thoughts down.
Allow these thoughts to come and write them down; notice how each makes you feel. Where you hold tension or uncertainty around the idea, it is unclear how this works for you. By ‘judging well’ each of the core principles contained in wood, you will realise what works well, what needs to be explored, what you are not prepared to relinquish or change, and why. You can then start coming to terms with that and decide whether you let things rest there, make them part of your foundations, return them to ‘stone’, or gain greater clarity by releasing them up the pillar into ‘crystal’. You can do this by saying, ‘By the power of Ma’at within, I allow the process of discernment to begin. I pass it up to crystal’s scrutiny, to rest a while there, and its purpose becomes clear to me.’ Put a line through that thought on the paper and write it again on the paper headed ‘crystal’. Anything that has now established itself as a core principle gets a line drawn through it in ‘wood’ and is added to ‘stone’.
Calling in crystal
Next, pick it up and hold the crystal representation in your dominant hand. This is the transformation element; engaging, enlightening, of substance yet delicate. Crystal is the conduit of energy; it can amplify, contain or reduce the attention you invest in your actions. It represents the principles or the standards in your life that are perhaps a little unclear, they may have been inherited or imposed on you, and you need to ask yourself now whether they are authentic to you. So close your eyes and now think about them, where they came from, why you hold on to them, or how you can incorporate them into your way of thinking and living. These ideas may be around your spiritual beliefs, political persuasion, outlook on childrearing, or what you eat and why. Remember to look at what you have written on the crystal paper carried over from ‘stone’ or ‘wood’. Put ‘crystal’ back down in its place in the pillar, take the sheet headed ‘crystal’ and list your thoughts.
As you allow these thoughts to come about and write them down, notice how each makes you feel. Where do you hold tension or uncertainty around the idea? Perhaps it is now clear why this isn’t working for you. By ‘judging well’ each of the core principles held in crystal, you will understand what needs to be explored and what you are not prepared to relinquish or change and why. You can then start coming to terms with that and decide whether you need to keep looking into it here, or make it part of your more pliable ideas and return it to wood or judge it to be no longer of service to you and release up the pillar into ‘straw’. You can do this by saying, ‘By the power of Ma’at in me, unveil what is shrouded, let the truth be set free. I send to wood what helps to serve my foundation and release to straw what no longer serves as motivation.’ Put a line through the thought on the ‘crystal’ paper and write it again on the paper headed ‘straw’. Anything that is now more clearly of value to you gets a line drawn through it in on the ‘crystal’ paper and is added to the ‘wood paper’.
Turn to your representation of ‘straw’. Pick it up and hold it carefully in your dominant hand. This is the element of release; fragile, easily manipulated, and volatile. Straw is the liberator of energy; it sets it free and releases it in its purest, most neutral form back to its source. Straw will make room for new ideas and values to be allowed to come in, and it will help highlight other ideas that can be solidified as core principles. It represents the principles or the standards in your life that no longer serve you and now need to be transformed and released. So close your eyes and now think about the principles, desires, and plans that no longer serve you or are not authentic. You may already have one or two written on the straw paper. It could involve people, jobs, religion, politics, or others’ behaviour toward you. Put ‘straw’ back down in its place in the pillar, take the sheet headed ‘straw’ and list these thoughts down.
As you allow these thoughts to come about and write them down, notice how each makes you feel. Where you hold tension or uncertainty around the idea, then perhaps it is unclear where you are ready to let go. By ‘judging well’ each of the ideas held in straw, you will know what must be released or what perhaps still resonates with you a little. You can do this by saying, ‘By the power of Ma’at in me, release what no longer serves, what I must set free. I send to crystal what still what may still be of worth and release all that remains to the sky and the earth.’ Put a line through those things you need to look at further on the ‘straw’ paper and write it again on the paper headed ‘crystal’. And take a good look at what remains on the straw paper. You will release these thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and principles for the greater good, permanently.
Finishing with feather
Finally, we come to the ‘feather’ representation. This is your feather of Ma’at, the tool for casting the released principles’ energy out to be put to better use elsewhere, in another time and another place. Take your vessel for burning paper and then take the sheet of paper headed ‘straw’. Either scrunch up or tear up the sheet so you can safely burn it, place it in the vessel and ignite it with care. Allow the paper to burn up safely, then take your feather and wave it carefully over the burnt remains and say, ‘By the power of Ma’at in me, release what no longer serves, set it free. I send to the source, via the ether all around, energy purified when it is found. May it serve a greater purpose honest and plain and allow what I need now to expand and remain.’ Put the feather back in its place and tidy up your space, being sure to clean out your vessel for burning. You can keep the remaining three sheets with your principles on your focal point or somewhere safe that you can return to as and when necessary. Should you wish to do this ritual again, you will have a record of your ‘principles’ from this first ritual to work with or serve as a reminder.
This ritual serves not only to examine your own principles but also to the actions and motivations of what drives you in a very tangible and organised manner. The ritual itself is an exercise in practising some of Ma’at’s fundamental principles like ‘truth’, ‘harmony’, ‘order’ and ‘propriety’. Soon you will be more aware of how the things you say and do are in line with your principles or not. And rather than being over-critical with yourself or overly judgemental, you will be able to deal with these thoughts and ideas more constructively—moving them up or down your ‘pillar’.
First published in The Goddess Resolution, Llewellyn Worldwide 2022 (c) Kate Osborne, Solarus Ltd
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