Seasonal Salon

A Personal Ritual of Gratitude

I sit before the altar I have created whenever I, pen in hand, notebook open to a blank page, prepare to write. A black cloth shimmering with dashes of rainbow colors is the ground on which I place the symbols that have been with me in this ritual for over ten years.

In the East is the feather gifted me by sister-hawk. I invite spirits of air and honor the words and thoughts and whispers of clarity.

The candle my beloved has decorated with runes, symbols she has channeled to light my way, to ignite passion and creativity for my work, I light in the South.

A small bowl of water from a well—Brigid’s well in Ireland. sets in the West and reminds me of the depths of emotion I am called to write.

And in the North, I place a stone gifted me by a sister writer. I am reminded to stay grounded and to re/member all the beings—the trees, my elders, my dear four-leggeds who lent me their gentle and assuring presence.

And finally…Saraswati, Goddess of writing and the arts is in the Center. I honor Her and all She embodies—the spirits of those who continue, even after their passing, to mentor and inspire.

I am ready to write…to name my gratitude for the harvest at this Autumn Equinox….

--for my beloved who has listened to every word, who has critiqued with love and appreciation.

--for my teacher of twenty-five years and my sister writers whose respectful “recall” and energy led me in and through the times when I had no words.

--for the words, thoughts, phrases that woke me in the middle of the night and at dawn, nudging me to make note, lest I forget.

--for those (you know who you are) who read the story and said, “This is good” even in its roughest form.

--for all the resources that became magically available to me..from the tid-bits my father gave so long ago, to the challenge from my mother.

--for the friend who connected me to the artist whose art is on the cover.

--for the friend who led me to a book Women of the KKK, that became the intrigue for the second part of the book.

--for my own perseverance and passion...for staying the course for over ten years.

--for being an Irvington girl and for being able to remember.

My life’s work is complete. Yesterday, the final proofed manuscript—all 574 pages, my photo (against my wishes, but “every reader wants to see the author”), two precious endorsements and the cover art, was sent to the publisher.

I did not do this book alone. The women, all three generations, were with me throughout the entire journey, teaching me how it was to struggle for the enfranchisement of women, how to survive the terror of the KKK (which echoes all too authentically today) and to succumb to the illusion of a proper marriage, and finally to survive an unimaginable loss then to commit to passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

I am grateful and humbled by everyone who has walked this path with me. I honor you in this ritual.

I breathe in—deeply, and stroke the smooth stone and thank the spirits of the North for sustaining me, for keeping me grounded.

I breathe in—deeply, and immerse my fingers in the bowl of water and thank the spirits of the West for taking me into the depths of knowing.

I breathe in—deeply, and exhale, extinguishing the candle and thank the spirits of the South for the passion that has enflamed my creativity.

I breathe in—deeply, and caress sister Hawk’s feather, honoring the spirits of the East from which the idea for the book was birthed and whence all those words came.

And Saraswati…Thank you for The Thousandth Telling. Indeed, as the Native American proverb that inspired this work says: Healing comes with the thousandth telling of a story.

Blessed be.


Nancy VanArsdall is an ordained Priestess of the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess. Her novel, The Thousandth Telling,based on her suffragist grandmother, will soon be available. She published Coming Full Circle, Honoring the Rhythms of Relationships, in 1996, available through RCGI. She has returned home to Indianapolis with her beloved.

Category: Fall Equinox 2018