This summer our dog died. She wasn't the prettiest dog in the world, not the bravest nor the smartest but she was ours. She had her flaws, she begged (okay so that was our fault), she was terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks, and she tried to eat small children at times, yet these flaws are what made her perfect for our family. There has been an empty space in our home since she left. After she died, we had a small family doggy wake, and her ashes sit on our altar next to the ashes of other family members. For the first few weeks after she passed I could sense her spirit close by playing with that ultimate joy of running free in the Elysian Fields. It brought me comfort to feel that joy from her. Her spirit has faded to the background, perhaps signaling that she has already moved on to her next incarnation. Her old body was destroyed but the light - the spirit of her being - has moved on to something new. I'm still sad but I can find some comfort in knowing she has moved on. She was a reminder that we are always part of the cycle of creator, preserver and destroyer.
A few years ago, Coyvere and I did a sermon on the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer. We used dice (6 sided because we are gamers) and had everyone role their dice. People who rolled a 1 were in the Creator aspect of their life, those who rolled a 2, 3, 4 or 5 were in the Preserver aspect and those who rolled a 6 were in the Destroyer. As expected there was a small handful who rolled a 1 on their 6-sided dice, the vast majority of people in the middle and a scattered few who rolled a 6 representing the destroyer. When asked what does it mean to be a creator, a preserver or a destroyer we got some lovely answers. Creator was to make something new to bake bread, write a song or a poem, maybe have a child. The preserver - the aspect most of us spend our time in - was maintaining things, holding down a job, raising children, finding that balance or quite peaceful time in your life or just living day to day. Our dog was a great preserver. Her favorite thing to do was to lay on the couch and make sure it never escaped the house. The destroyer: we got the answer you would expect - destroying things, breaking things, causing strife and chaos *(see note) some even got the deeper meaning of being a destroyer of removing or getting rid of the things that hold us back, the things we no longer need or the things we need to remove to make space for something new. It was nice to see that understanding!
* note - the creation of strife and chaos is more an aspect of adversary than of a destroyer. A destroyer removes what is no longer needed and does not do so in order to create pain, but to allow for new creation. An Adversary opposes simply to oppose. The adversary may be malevolent and work simply to cause strife or pain.
This time of year brings us right into the preserver aspect of life. Our ancestors would have been busy securing the safety of their harvest. Preserving food to get though the long winter while looking ahead to seeds and life in the spring.
I offer you this ritual to explore the aspects within yourself of Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. It can be used for a group but I find it best for personal introspection.
You will need:
A couple of dice. I think regular 6-sided poker dice work best but heck, if you are a gamer and want to use a 20-sided die, go ahead. Adjust the numbers to reflect the different statistical probabilities of using a larger die.
Three candles: your choice of color to represent the three aspects of self as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer or deities you work with who represent those aspects for you
Notebook, pen or favorite writing tool
Use the following definitions of the three aspects - Creator, Preserver or Destroyer:
A Creator being an aspect of yourself or a deity that creates something new - the crafter, poet, writer, artist or smith. Use the creator of the world or even humankind if you choose. Gods of the Creator Aspect: Ptah, God (YHVH), Danu, Nammu, Brahma, Shakti to name a few.
As the Preserver we explore the aspect of just living your day to day life - the act of living, of being, of breathing, of learning and growing. Anyone who repairs or heals also fits the bill. Gods of the Preserver aspect: Quan Yin, Buddha, Vishnu, Hestia, and Demeter are examples.
A Destroyer is an aspect of the self or a deity that removes blocks, bad habits and things we no longer need to make space for growth. This destruction is not about a hunger or need for power; it is about removing the old to make space for the new. Death is an example of a destroyer – it destroys the old body to make way for the rebirth of the soul. Gods of the Destroyer aspect: Ganesha, Kali, Hecate, Hades, and Shiva.
Work with a deity you are comfortable with; do some research and pick one for each of the aspects listed above.
Gather your supplies.
You will start this ritual by creating your safe space and raising a circle.
Setting up the three candles unlit, roll your dice for the first time and light the candle that is representative of the number on that dice. 1 would be for the creator, a 2,3,4,5 for the preserver and a 6 for the Destroyer. Unless your dice are weighted there will be more roles representing the preserver than for the creator or destroyer.
Once your candle is lit meditate on the deity you rolled - say you rolled a 3 representing the preserver: light your candle, speak the name of your chosen deity (perhaps Hestia) and think of a time that you have worked to preserve something in your home or your life. Contemplate how that felt.
Roll the dice again - chances are it will be that preserver aspect again, so take the time again to focus on preservation maintaining being in the movement. Appreciating what you have right now and not thinking of what you want or desire but what you have currently.
Once you have journaled for this roll: repeat again until your rolls reflect all three aspects - the creator, the preserver and destroyer. 1 for the creator and a 6 for the destroyer, lighting the candle to represent each in turn and speaking their name aloud.
Once all aspects have been touched upon and meditated upon and journaled you can thank the deities and blow out the candles. Save them for use again. I find this little ritual one I need to come back to in the Fall or anytime that I am feeling stuck in that preservation mode of life.
May the next few months of your life be easy and peaceful
“Good preservation is a life preserver thrown to us in a shipwreck. Good preservation keeps us in touch with the graces of this life. It's bricks and mortar, yes. It's arguments about true colors and authenticity and representation. But true preservation is like the hand that shelters a fire from the wind. It protects the spark of life." -- Howard Mansfield, The Same Ax, Twice”