Do you miss anyone who has died? Could you use some extra guidance?
If so, you might like to try a ritual that I've found very useful. Each time I do it, I find both comfort and guidance. It brings a fresh perspective I could never have figured out on my own.
Every November 1, I do a personal ritual of Consulting the Ancestors. I've been doing it for so many years that I don't remember how much of it I created and how much I borrowed. Certainly the timing -- November 1 -- is based on ancient cross-cultural wisdom that the night of October 31 and the morning of November 1 are the time of year when the veil between the worlds is at its absolute thinnest.
You may associate Halloween with parties and candy, but the current celebrations have evolved from more serious rituals celebrating communication with those who have died. And the Christian church's "All Saints' Day" is also simply an adaptation of ancient rituals. I enjoy Halloween and celebrate All Saints' Day too -- but for me, consulting my Ancestors is more important.
Of course, for this to work you need to have at least a hope that there is some "world beyond" or "a different plane of existence" or that the "reality" of the everyday material world is only one aspect of a larger reality. If you absolutely don't believe in such a possibility, try simply suspending your disbelief.
I think one experience that helped me believe this came from a guided meditation I did many years ago. It was one of those meditations where you expect to meet a spiritual guide who will answer questions and give you useful advice. In the meditation, I pictured myself slowly climbing a ladder -- a very tall ladder -- toward a platform high in the trees where my guide waited.
When I reached the platform, I was stunned to find that the guide was my father, who had died several years earlier. "What?" I felt indignant. I didn't see my father as having lived a happy or satisfying life at all, so it seemed absurd to think he could possibly be of help to me now.
To my surprise, his advice was very helpful indeed. I don't remember a bit of the content of our talk -- just my amazement at how much he seemed to have learned and changed since his death. This experience opened my mind to the likelihood that all of us learn and change after death.
Reflecting on this over the years, it makes sense to me that it would be impossible to stay the same limited selves after entering the full presence of the great light. Even a brief experience of unconditional love is life-changing. How much more expansive must be entering a realm where that's all there is?
Skills - Spontaneous Free-writing or Meditation
The one skill I bring to such a ritual is that of spontaneous free-writing. I've always been a writer and journal keeper. To write completely spontaneously -- not controlling what the pen writes but just watching to see what it does -- probably began for me about 40 years ago. So I've had some practice!
Perhaps you've been doing three pages of spontaneous writing every morning -- the Morning Pages learned in Julia Cameron's course, "The Artist's Way." Or you've been doing a writing practice learned from Natalie Goldberg or similar teachers. Any such practice will help.
What if you are brand new at spontaneous, uncontrolled writing? And your mind stiffens up just imagining letting go that much? Perhaps instead of writing what the Ancestors say, you can just listen and watch. Any kind of meditation practice may be enough skill to allow this to happen.
And it may be that without any practice in free-writing or meditation, just really wanting something to happen will be enough!
How to Start
Make sure you have complete quiet and privacy in a place that feels good to you. I have done this at the Medicine Wheel where I live, or on a covered deck on a rainy day, or indoors. Shut off any chance interruptions -- phone ringer or notifications, etc.
I like a campfire or at least a candle, but the main thing is to do whatever it takes for you to open a ceremonial space-time. I usually call in the Four Directions and smudge myself with sage or sweet grass. Any prayer that's meaningful to you will be just right. You might want to add that you ask for full protection from any evil.
I sit comfortably then, and have a pad of writing paper and a pen at hand, and perhaps some nice coffee or tea as well.
Whom to Invite
I start with writing the date and a list of the Ancestors from whom I'd especially like to hear. For me this includes parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, and many friends who have died -- and of course now, my beloved life partner, Marge.
Then I write a few sentences about how I'm doing (not that they don't already know), and about what I think I need some help with. Then I wait a moment to listen. The pen just takes off, writing a name (and sometimes more than one person at once) and what that person tells me. There are times when everyone agrees on something!
What I'm told is always surprising. It's not always what I wanted to hear. I'll never forget the time, after Marge died, when I complained about being lonely. "Good!" they all exclaimed. "We want you to be lonely!" The idea was that I needed to create my new life on my own, with a lot of solitude, and not immerse myself in friendships and new groups that would influence my new life and perhaps shift me off my true path. The Ancestors warned me, especially, against too much involvement with the church -- which could keep me busy and distracted but not creating the life I needed to live.
Let yourself be surprised
If the ritual unfolds as it should, you'll find yourself surprised yet acknowledging the truth of what you hear. It can also be surprising that people are both "themselves" and yet also different. Often people who pressured me in a certain direction when they were alive, reversed that after they died. (I'm sure I'll find this true after I die, too!)
May 1 is another thin time
If you try this and find it of value, you may want to consider doing the same ritual also on May 1. This is another time of year when "the veil between the worlds" is especially thin. After Marge died, I began consulting the Ancestors on May 1 for the simple reason that I didn't want to wait till November 1! And it worked just fine on May 1 too.
There are probably people who could do this ritual on any day of the year. I don't know. For me, twice a year feels like enough. The guidance I get is powerful. I want time to think about it and act on it.