What is it that you do?
I'm often asked this as an Interfaith Minister.
My answer is: I support people in times of transition, uncertainty or growth to access the wisdom of their authentic spirituality through bespoke ceremonies and spiritual counselling.
Then people often ask - What's a bespoke ceremony? What difference can that kind of ceremony make?
When people talk about ceremonies what usually springs to mind are the well known and conventional ceremonies at various key stages of life such as baby blessings, weddings and funerals. These are powerful and beautiful events in peoples lives that are often dictated by the norms of society, the faith traditions or the structures that already exist. I know these ceremonies. I have been part of them. I have been trained to deliver and I hold space for these ceremonies, with joy, as an Interfaith Minister.
However, I have also been called to expand the world of ceremony for my clients. I have been inspired and tasked to create bespoke ceremonies that meet the deep inner needs of my clients. These bespoke ceremonies are framed to mark, not just the standard rites of passage in life but also, the meaningful transitions that are not often formally acknowledged. These bespoke ceremonies help people, couples and groups feel whole, complete and ready for the next stage of life. Examples include moving into menopause, post divorce new life, moving into womanhood, post surgery wholeness, relationship commitment, inner vow creation and vow renewal ceremonies.
I received an email last week that demonstrates perfectly the difference that an unconventional bespoke ceremony can make. What follows is the reflection of a recent client on her "Moving into fullness' ceremony. We had 3 deep listening, spiritual counselling and planning sessions followed by a day of personal ceremony. I will let the email speak for itself.
It's now been three weeks since my wonderful ceremony. The flowers lasted until yesterday, would you believe it! They must have soaked up all the wonderful energy that filled the ceremonial room.
I've been wondering how to put into words how I feel about the ceremony. It's not that easy! First and foremost, I feel huge gratitude to you for creating such a beautiful template for us to use, for letting me fill it with my own suggestions, and for providing such a beautiful space and leading the ceremony itself. I truly cannot think of a single thing I would have preferred to have any other way.
I felt held and supported all the way through our preparation process - in fact, as you said, I felt that the process of transformation was already at work during the preparation, and the ceremony was actually just the final step in a longer journey. It felt completely safe to share both my hopes and desires for the ceremony and the future as well as the painful things I wanted to acknowledge and let go.
On the day itself, again I felt completely safe and supported from the moment I arrived at your house. It was a delight to first indulge in play with the labyrinth before settling into the ceremonial process proper. I appreciated having my own special space to prepare and get changed (with Rajesh's music - perfect!).
The space you had created for the ceremony was so beautiful. The way you had set up the room, so that I could physically move from one stage of the ceremony and of being to another, was absolutely perfect. I had tried not to come with any expectations of what the space would be like, but when I saw it I was completely delighted with it!
I experienced the ceremony itself as incredibly powerful (as you will have been able to tell from my reactions!). The process of writing to the various aspects of myself in itself was healing, but speaking those words aloud in that sacred setting had a power I could not have fully imagined. I felt complete joy, sorrow and surrender. And throughout all of it, your presence there meant I felt held and supported. I did not feel the need to hold anything back; it was safe to let go, safe to show and share my emotions.
It was lovely to dance together at the end of the ceremony, and then share another hour or so over lunch and tea - thank you so much for your hospitality. It was a great way of gently returning to the "real" world.
So how has the ceremony changed me?
First and foremost, I feel more whole, I feel more solid. I feel a deeper connection to an authentic sense of self, and to what MY truth is and how I need to be and act. I feel empowered! I don't necessarily feel like a different person, but like a more real, full version of myself. I also have a much, much stronger - almost permanent - awareness of the presence of the divine. I find myself looking at things and at people with greater awareness. My dedication to the Goddess means she is not letting me forget my vow!
I sense that there will be shifts in my life as a result of this journey; I am not sure exactly how they will manifest, and am excited to see what changes will occur and how my path will unfold over the next years. I am open to what the universe has in store for me!
All this has been made possible because of you, and for this I am so, so grateful - words can't quite express it, but I know that you know what I mean. I will always bless the fates that had us sharing the same bedroom at the Ashram! I look forward to sharing many other events with you in the future - whether it's yoga or red tents or something completely different. You have a wonderful gift and I feel so lucky that you shared it with me!
I am happy for you to use any of this on your website or any other materials - whatever makes sense. In the meantime, I'll keep following the Rebel Rev on Facebook and your blog until we see each other again!
With so much love and gratitude,
I am so grateful for this email. It confirms that this is the right path for me to be walking at this time. I am privileged and blessed to be able to share this gift of bespoke ceremony with those who need it. Thank you Margaret. I know from your wonderful example that bespoke ceremony can change lives in boundless and unpredictable ways.
Rebel Rev. Monica Douglas-Clark is a Ordained Interfaith Minister, Transformational Wellness Coach and Trainer of Nurturing Yoga Teachers and Practitioners. She is passionate about supporting rebellious souls to break free of the chains that bind through Transformational Guidance and Training, Spiritual Counselling and Bespoke Ceremony. She is passionate about creating space for people to transform, blossom and grow. CLICK HERE if you're ready to break free, nurture your truth and BE all that you are.