My Banishing Ceremony

(We are thrilled to announce that kmillecam has agreed to join Exponent as a new perma. Welcome! She is a feminist, dancer, reader, wife, liberal, real foodie, abuse survivor, activist, yogi, green, pilates-loving, EWG-reading mama.  Her two little boys keep her days busy, along with her quest for living life fully awake. In addition to guest posting at Doves & Serpents, and sharing here at The Exponent, she blogs about real food and abuse survivorship at her personal blog k-land.)

The day after the full moon, or the first day of the waning moon, is the day reserved for banishing rituals. It’s a time to remove obstacles and release those patterns in our lives that no longer serve us.

I have been thinking about motherhood and the full moon. I feel the brokenness of my maternal line back to my ancestors, how my own mother is a void in my life. My grandmother died earlier this year. I sat on her grave a few weeks ago, under a tree, on the edge of the cemetery. I spoke to her and kissed the stone that covered her. I did sun salutations, felt the grass and the sun warming my face and torso. I cried, felt connected to her, all without any answers about the next life.

At Phoenix Youth at Risk we set soul-shaking goals.  My first goal was to do the Forgiveness Process with my father who sexually and physically abused me when I was a child.  After I completed that goal via several weeks preparation and a lot of outside support, I got to thinking about my mom.

My mom most likely suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder.  I had been so distracted by the obvious abuse in my life from my father, that I had not been able to understand why my own mother never knew how to love me.  Until now.  Why did she require my emotional sacrifice as she treated me like an appendage to her broken life?  Why couldn’t I make her realize what she was doing to me, and what she continues to do?

On a weekend this past October, I decided it was time to have my banishing ceremony.  I did not banish my mother, I banished my toxic beliefs and patterns that I got from her.  The mother I have always wanted doesn’t exist. I released the fantasy of finding her. I let go of hoping she would change. I wanted no more expectations. I released and let go.

The night before my ceremony, I stood in the moonlight of my front yard for a solitary full moon ceremony.  I cried under the moon, my constant comfort in the sky.  I directed the energy from the moon to my heart center. I pressed my hands to my heart, and talked to the moon about how I wanted to feel right and focused during my banishing ceremony the following night. I realized then that even though my mom-link is missing in my life, the moon is always there. The Goddess is my source of strength. I am a goddess. The moon is my mother. I am a mother. I am a good mother.

My banishing ceremony the next day was beautiful.  I met with friends and family, most importantly my husband and children, to light candles to the four directions under the bright, misty moon.  We held hands and stood together in a circle.  I read my thoughts about my mother, and I offered up the papers of journaling I had been saving.  Everyone took a slip of paper to write a personal issue to release into the flame of the center candle.

We burned our conflicts, our negativity, our unhealthy attachments.  We healed together.  Since that night I have felt catharsis and emotional upheaval.  I feel so much better and yet I feel the exhaustion of healing from deep, emotional work.  I still think of the brick circle in my front yard I stood in alone under the full moon.  I still think of the circle we created under the waning moon at the park, as we held hands and listened to each other.

The circle is never-ending, reminding us of the cycle of life. My ceremony is over and the circle is undone, but never broken.


kendahl is a queer fat left-handed INFJ synesthete mother warrior activist social worker abuse survivor unapologetically brilliant powerful witch

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14 Responses

  1. Carla says:

    This sounds like an incredible emotional journey, I’m glad you could cleanse these negative things from your life.

  2. Caroline says:

    Wow, kmillecam, thank you for writing this. I’m moved and impressed by your willingness to take this proactive approach to move beyond your hurt and disappointment with your mother. I’m also moved by your spirituality. I myself don’t really feel mystical connections to nature, but I wish I did. And I love reading about people who do.

  3. Alisa says:

    Oh wow. What a beautiful post! I just love this ceremony of letting go, of seeking for the divine nature inside of you and holding on to that power that allows you to overcome such painful things in our lives. Even when earthly mothers fail, we still have a Heavenly Mother to hold us and take care of us. We are like Her more than we know, and we can use these trials to prove it to ourselves that we are more like her.

    So many pure, deep thoughts here, Kmillecam. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Corktree says:

    I love the idea of a banishing ritual! There are a few things in my life that could use some banishing. I really like the thought of using ritual to help make an impact on ourselves in a way that simple thinking cannot. I’ve always been drawn to the ceremonial manifestations of religions, such as sacrament rituals and lighting of shabbat candles. Something about the physicality and symbolism really helps me connect with what I’m trying to understand, or with what I’m trying to change. I think this is why I am excited about starting yoga. With the way I relate, I think it will help me to connect on a higher level to something that is otherwise elusive to me and the way my mind works.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  5. Deborah says:

    Thank you for writing about this. Letting go, banishing, healing, casting burdens, moving on . . . whatever verbs we choose to describe the unexplainable process of untangling ourselves from the threads of our past that constrict our present.

    Gets me thinking . . . Some rituals have clear form — baptism for spiritual rebirth, marriage for joining two lives, burial/scattering of ashes for saying goodbye. But some changes, just as needed or profound have no set ritual. I’m so glad you wrote your own.

  6. D says:

    I love your idea! Is it really possible to eradicate noxious thoughts just by consciously wishing to “let go?” I struggle with this.

    Pain from those we love is emotionally scarring. I feel like we carry those scars with us where ever we go. The memory of hurtful times seems to linger long after we are willing to relinquish it. Often I’ve thought that negative thoughts protect me from vulnerability.
    You are a motivation. Thanks for sharing your healing journey.

    • Kmillecam says:

      That’s a really good question D. On the one hand you have to eventually choose to let go of those things. But you also have to do a LOT of work before you’re truly ready to say “I’m done, I let it go”. And even then, it may come up again in the future. I considered this ceremony to be something in my life right now. I wouldn’t judge the past or the future, I would just do what I needed today. Does that make sense?

      Looking at it from the timeline sense, I went through a similar catharsis phase three years ago. I read Toxic Parents, I wrote letters to my mom and dad that I never sent, and I got my anger out. That catharsis lasted about three years until this year when I realized it was time for another go around. I have no idea how long the positive effects of my banishing ceremony will last. It might be another three years, or longer, or just a few months. I’m okay with that. I will keep dealing with this, because it is what it is. And ceremonies really resonate with me.

  7. Jenne says:

    Its wonderful to reconnect with rituals like this but in my new church community. I remember doing a similar ceremony as a youth in the Unitarian Church. Its so lovely to see that that there is a place under the Mormon umbrella for these ideas too.

  8. EmilyCC says:

    I love that you shared this, kmillecam! Because we are taught over and over the importance of families in the Church, I wonder if sometimes we try to minimize toxic familial relationships, hoping they’ll get better on their own. I know I’m reticent to talk about those relationships in a Church setting because I convince myself that everyone else in the room must have glowing, celestial relationships with all their family members because that’s all we ever hear about in Church, which in my more rational state of mind, I realize cannot be true.

    I also love the idea of the banishing ceremony being tied to the phases of the moon because it makes me think how often we need to work on such emotional work at so many different levels. It makes sense that there is a time in a continuous cycle to do reach those levels.

  9. Matt says:

    Beautiful, K. So human and beautiful. And I said this elsewhere but seriously, The Exponent just got even more awesome — if you can imagine that.

  10. dee says:

    wow! you shared my life as far as the feelings and what happened/and is with my mom….
    I must do a real soul searching on this. I have health issues left from the stress of my childhood….Am wondering if a bandashing would help!

  11. Neva says:

    Sorry I’m so late to your blog party, Kendahl. I read this earlier today and wanted to share it with my husband – his family of origin is incredibly dysfunctional on so many levels, yet pretended to be the perfect family on Sundays to save face in front of other Mormons. He has very strained relationships with both his parents and sometimes feels guilt over not being more forgiving, etc. Thanks for your thoughts and your excellent writing.

  12. Rapunzelgirl says:

    Thank you. Beautiful and inspiring.

  1. February 20, 2015

    […] happened since the last time I wrote a post for The Exponent.  Over the years I have written about ceremonies, healing, and bodily rights.  I have written about my journey in Mormonism and feminism, and found […]

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