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The Seasons in Ceremony: Making Room for Growth at The Prairie Recovery Center

The earth’s seasons are cyclical, as are our lives. The solstices (from the Latin “solstitium,” meaning “stopped sun) mark the longest and shortest days each year during the summer and winter, while the equinox (from the Latin “aequus,” meaning equal, and “nox,” meaning night) happens twice each year, during the spring and fall, when the day and night are of equal lengths. These days not only mark the beginning of each season but hold a wealth of history and symbolism. The spring equinox has long been celebrated as a time of birth, growth and renewal, while the summer solstice brings a fertile earth and productive crop season. The autumn equinox ushers in the season of harvest, and giving thanks for what the earth has grown, while the winter solstice symbolizes death, a natural part of life to make room for rebirth.

"These days not only mark the beginning of each season but hold

Each quarter, we hold a ceremony here at The Prairie to mark the change and intentionality that we set for this new season. We hold a bonfire on our land which provides an opportunity for a burning ceremony, where we encourage patients to let go of things that no longer serve them, whether that’s a past relationship, a trauma or loss, an insecurity or resentment, etc. This process does not just facilitate letting go, but release in a broader sense. We also encourage the offering of prayers and things they are hopeful about in this next season of life.

What often happens in addiction, and what we work to remedy here at The Prairie, is that we get stuck in cyclical, maladaptive patterns. We use ceremonies and rituals such as these to help create forward movement and growth, breaking free from unhealthy cycles and habits. We understand that these struggles don’t simply go away; there is still a whole lot of work involved in creating a platform for long-term wellness and recovery, but it is a symbolic step in the process towards change.

"We use ceremonies and rituals such as these to help create breaking free from unhealthy cycles and habits. "

The morning following the burning ceremony, basking in the blessings of the new day, we go out to the smoldering ashes of what clients let go and have them collect the ash in mason jars to carry with them throughout treatment. This furthers the symbolism in that we have taken something and transformed its state through fire—from the paper to the ash. Once you burn something, you can’t un-burn it; it cannot be undone. This adds gravity, encouraging the understanding that if you let go of something by adding it to the fire, it has changed permanently. Later, at the end of their time with us, clients are asked to choose a tree that holds special meaning to them. We hold a ceremony, planting the tree—along with the ash at its base—to represent their growth through treatment. Symbolically, the things that kept them stuck have now become the very things that fuel the growth of this next chapter of their life and their recovery.

"Symbolically, the things that kept them stuck have now become the very things that of this next chapter of their life and their recovery.

For many, this process can take on a lot of depth and meaning. It can impart a sense of freedom, allowing clients to feel deeply unburdened as they begin the process of letting go and moving forward, and it can re-instill a connection with nature and the land that nurtures us. Another layer of symbolism is the understanding that everything has a season, even our struggle, and there is always something beyond it.  These rituals speak to the care, consideration and intentionality with which we have structured treatment and the client experience here at The Prairie. While education is a vital part of the recovery process, we believe that the experiential nature of treatment is important as well. Many times, facilitating a lasting and meaningful change involves not just an explanation, but a meaningful experience.

"Many times, facilitating a lasting and meaningful change involves not just an explanation, but

For those at home, consider experimenting with your own ritual as a way to set your intention for the new season. Let go of what is no longer serving you to make room for growth and encourage the change and movement we are meant to experience through our lives. Whether it is burning, tearing or simply throwing away, try writing these things down on paper and transforming them with some finality. What is important is not the action, but the experience and intentionality we take away.

To learn more about The Prairie Recovery Center and how we can help you or a loved one break free from the cycle of addiction, visit our website or contact our care team confidentially.