- Originally published as an appendix to Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams, an epic poem about abortion by Annie Finch (Red Hen Press, 2010)
This ritual can be done alone or with any or all members of the family or community affected by the abortion. I developed it for myself and my family a year after my own abortion, and for me the healing effects were immediate, complete, and lifelong.
Prepare for the ritual ahead of time by taking quiet time to write a letter to the baby. Young children, or those who prefer not to write, may draw a picture for the baby, or create a piece of music or a dance. Bring along some grain such as millet, rice, oats, or flour. Also think about how you will give the four elements to the baby, and which chant or song you would like to sing.
Build a small circular altar of sticks piled as high as you like. Put anything you like on top: a shell, grass, special objects.
Arrange yourselves around the altar. If a family does the ritual together, the parents might want to stand in the north and south.
Create a sacred space around the altar. This can be done by calling in the directions to cast a circle, or in any way you like. To call in the directions simply, face each compass direction and ask “spirits of the east (south, west, north), please be with us.”
Call in any ancestors, spiritual guides, deity or deities, or presences whose company or support you would like.
Say hello to the spirit of the baby. Each person should use a name that feels right to them; the names can be all the same or different.
Convey your messages to the baby aloud. Read letters, talk about pictures, and perform any music or dance messages.
Add the four elements to the altar: Earth (perhaps a special rock or stone), air (your letters or pictures, or a feather), water (a little can be poured on the altar or left in a receptacle) and fire (a crystal is good for this).
Choose a simple song, such as “The earth, the air, the fire, the water, return, return, return, return.” (This is a common chant and the tune is available online at youtube and elsewhere). If you are in a group, sing it together standing still, then in a round (perhaps with female/male parts or however you want to break it up), then together again while holding hands and circling the altar (counterclockwise for releasing).
Scatter grain around the area to symbolize the life-force (or goddess or god) who gave the baby life, gave each of us to our parents, and is the source of life. You can sing another song together while doing this (a child in our family chose “Happy Birthday.”)
Tell the baby goodbye, thank you, and that it will always be a part of your family.
Open (disband) the circle by reversing whatever you did to cast it. Say thank you and goodbye to any ancestors or spirits you invoked.
Be sure to allow some quiet time together afterwards to absorb.
Originally published as an appendix to Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams, an epic poem about abortion by Annie Finch (Red Hen Press, 2010)