Word Tour

Me & SS

On the last day of creating Soul Stories, a ceremony

Book Reviews Just In!

In Soul Stories, Gail Burkett has created a guide that will deeply affect the lives of
whoever decides to pick it up. These stories of passages and initiations create new
understanding, awareness, honor and respect for all that we have been, are now
and are becoming. I don’t know why these stories and initiations well up sadly
sweet tears … this must be the missing piece in our culture. Thank you so much
for sharing this wise, ripe gift!
-Nancy Smith, Fine Arts and Education Advocate, College of Idaho 

In Soul Stories Gail Burkett invites women, gently and persistently, to listen to our
souls, to find out who we are and how our journey through life has brought us to
this now moment – a moment to be celebrated. Follow this guide and the callings
of your own heart and you will harvest the wisdom of your stories, the beauty of
your changes as you moved through life, and a deep knowing of who you truly
are. You will not be disappointed.
-Lorene Wapotich, M.Ed., Founder & Executive Director,
Feet on the Earth Programs 

Thank you Gail! for this beautiful book, for allowing these rites to flow through
you with courage and passion. Soul Stories is written in a way that will help any
woman heal the hurts of the past and grow into a grand future. You’re paving the
way for all of us, from grandmas to our baby girls. I will be sending this book to
every woman I love and many women that I know.
-Deborah Gift, Shamanic Practitioner 

Soul Stories charts a way through the maze of our lives through Rites of Passage
rituals and ceremonies. It stirs a curiosity to ask ourself “Who am I and who was
I born to be?” Through reflection, ceremonies, rituals and Rites of Passages, Gail
leads us to drop our cloaks and embrace the One We Are, with a new understanding
of self and the importance of Rites Of Passage ceremonies in our culture!
-Kathleen Bjorkman Wilson, Rites of Passage and Wilderness Guide 

These days there is a rising awareness of conscious elderhood. In Soul Stories:
Nine Passages of Initiation, Gail Burkett brings forth a guide for claiming all our
Rites of Passage and stepping into the elder stage of life with conscious intent,
grace, and renewed purpose. Whether you are age 20 or 100, Soul Stories offers
you a loom upon which to weave the Soul tapestry of your life. Thank you, Gail,
for your inspired vision and passion to birth this guidebook.
-Reverend Arianna S. Husband, Spiritual Guide and Mentor, Rites of Passage 

The weaving of one’s actions towards one person or another, one book or another
can be a Mystery. By joining the circle with Gail Burkett, author of Soul
Stories: Nine Passages of Initiation, and six other women, we were woven together
in poetry, in song, in moon cycles all within our life stories. I had a passion to
weave the tapestry of my Elder garment by listening to those who had explored
this territory before me, sharing what they discovered. Each initiatory threshold
brings an anchor and a gift that carries a brighter light into whatever you now
choose for your life.
-Reverend Judith Lay, Spiritual Elder 

Soul Stories is a tool for all of us to learn and reflect on our own Passages. The Life
Spiral is an important reminder that our birth years may not account for the entire
picture of our lives and we certainly can use “humor to adapt to these times.”
I find rituals to be part of our daily life; we just don’t recognize them. Soul Stories
can teach us to recognize and honor our rituals, open ourselves up to new rituals
that will help us to adapt, honor our past, yet live in the present moment.
-Michele Burkett, Realtor, Wilderness Advocate 

Gail Burkett is an initiated Elder whose life purpose is to bring ritual, recognition
and respect to every women across the thresholds of time through Rites of Passage.
In Soul Stories: Nine Passages of Initiation, Gail presents her Coyote questions
to challenge memory and restore Soul parts lost upon the trail.

Janis Monaco Clark, Editor, The Flowerlover 

As an elder woman who has walked, dreamed, lived and loved through ritual and
ceremony, Soul Stories gifts each of us through our feminine ways many paths and
questions to peek or dive deeply into past memories. From this ever evolving interactive guide, take this “sacred time” to experience with honor and grace your
personal lifetime of stories with new eyes and heart wide open.
-Gail Daehlin

Take a word tour with me…

Life is circular, when we notice. I use a Spiral because it helps me see into the roundness of life, the seasons and years. Our growth accumulates and we hardly notice because we live in the present. Using symbolic language, this Life Spiral illustrates a model for development and two life stages each: Child, Youth, Adult, and Elder.
One Threshold beyond Birth is Middle Childhood; soon comes puberty, First Blood, and then First Flight. That single sentence covers at least 18 years. Our modern evolution has elongated adolescence and elder life stages. Adolescence continues until just before 30, where, there in the West of this Spiral of Life, the Bloom of Womanhood appears right on schedule.
Align with the 4 sacred directions—Birth happens symbolically in the East opposite a woman’s Bloom in the West. Wholeness: A young woman who steps into her biological, psychological soul-self, so her 30s and 40s are totally on-purpose, being excellent. Attend workshops, festivals, create music, and connect with your tribe! Grow! Curiosity glows on you.
Equinox Prayers smaller still

 Look East into the Life Spiral, move from Birth through life .

Be whole where you are on the Life Spiral . . . live a ritual life!

This Spiral on my land has moved me completely into a ritual life. By that I mean, when I visit every day, I think of community members and using my elder eyes, I notice growth and movement. Here, I reach out my hand, asking, “Where do you stand? Have you welcomed ritual and ceremony into your life?” Ritual is a most inviting way to open to contemplation and meditation. Just light a candle. Consider where to place an altar, dig deep to understand what questions are you holding?

So many terms . . . a mystical language

For culture to re-new the tradition of Passage rituals or Rites of Passage, we must return to our ancestral fires and relearn what it means to live a ritual life. Penetrate your deepest memory to find instinct to do ritual for initiation. We each have that memory and that instinct. To recall it, use vision, imagination, intention, and design.

Understand the TermsThe words rites of passage or passage rituals travels along a century-old thread to Arnold van Gennep. He performed field research in cultural anthropology to preserve in 1906 a language for transitions: rites of passage. Thankfully, his form derived from indigenous peoples has stood the test of time.

I use a Life Spiral and design a ceremony to consider separation. In the past, mentors have taken 15 year old girls or boys from their sleep. Separation, the most important part of initiation, can be accomplished in many ways. Away from mother or familiar is my firmest rule. A ritual performed at a threshold between here and there makes separation a distinct severance. Drawing a line and stepping over is a favorite of mine. Any manner of decorum may be used. Years ago, we used a soft jute rope as a symbolic umbilical cord and gave the scissors to the girl. Her mother left for a week.

On the other side of the threshold an initiate enters liminal space. The liminal or betwixt and between space is another firm rule: a place away, perhaps secretive, perhaps overnight or over a week or even a month describes the between place; she used to be here, she is moving to there. Away does have to allow her psychological temperament to be altered. This is the space where the transition happens. Some activity in liminal space must take her out of her logical mind. Challenge? An ordeal? A reflection? Writing a memoir? Painting a portrait? A mix of outer challenge and inner reflection? See design, below.

When I say reincorporation, everybody expresses puzzled looks, but if I say integration, most women understand: old self welcomes a new stage, symbolized by a new essence. The liminal space provided the transition and integration provides the transformation. These two movements of soul are unique. Old skin has been shed in severance and liminal space. Symbols like a bracelet, a crown, or girls’ anklets we used this summer allow the initiate to display her change. With her symbol, a story can be invited. Through the story-telling, change begins to feel more comfortable.

Design: Do you remember your ancestral elements? Ceremonialists of old always used five elements to perform ritual to celebrate living, harvests, abundance, and to express thanks. Use the same elements your Great and Great-Great Grandparents used for their rituals. I use earth, air, fire, water and nature, they roll off my tongue like I was born with them. I was. You were born with your combination, do you remember what it is?

Planning a Passage Ritual to celebrate growth requires slowing down to a quiet mind and reaching for the matches. Once the candle is lit, the ceremony design may begin. With a candle, one seeks only to make a holy moment, to create a sacred feeling, a spiritual feeling, and to bring inspiration to your imagination. A candle will also focus your attention.

What is your Burning Question?

Many feel stuck somewhere in time; do you feel that? Even if you want to offer this for your daughter or your granddaughter, shouldn’t you begin with yourself?

Consider your own Passage ceremony to honor growth in your current stage. To experience the early Passages, I recommend women, Mothers and Grandmothers, do a series of personal ceremonies to feel ritual, to have Passage energy in your bones. Whether deep or shallow, the experience will help understand what is being given to another’s spirit.

Can you locate yourself on the Life-Spiral? To “catch yourself up” with all your missed ceremonies, I recommend an intimate group gather and commit to begin and end in a good way. Step back to the time of your birth and come forward slowly. Look for the guide-book, Soul Stories, coming in September 2015 to help deepen this ritual for yourselves.

From the celebratory welcoming at your birth-to-now is an incredible journey and desirable for healing. Creates a life review and an autobiography of morning pages. There is a destination: this trail leads to your natural maturity. If you can allow the elegance of self-love, go slow. Down-time is free. Who better to invest in those free moments than yourself?

Please email me, tell me about yourself and your burning questions. gail@ninepassages.com Ask how to begin this spiritual journey. I’m the writer-ritual guide for Soul Storiesyou can use this guidebook to adapt this journey for yourself.



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