We wanted to tell you about the brand new illustrated tome Tending to the Sacred: Rituals to Connect with Earth, Spirit, and Self by multidimensional artist and feminine healer Ashley River Brant. In it she shared a curated collection of over 50 accessible yet profound rituals to help you awaken your true connection with the earth, spirit, and yourself.
“Ritual connects us to the otherworlds and the infinite potentials that exist in the unseen, and it opens us to our inner worlds and our true sovereign nature,” Ashley writes, “It is encoded in our DNA as an integral way of being—this book is just a pathway to remember.”
Below we ask Ashley a few penetrating questions:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? You have such a wide range of talents and interests!
Sure! I am an artist, which to me is simply a human being feeling, embracing, and expressing the cyclical nature of life. Art and creativity are really infinite, so they can’t be defined and I feel the same about myself and my work. I don’t have one medium or way of expressing my work because I am always changing and growing, as is life. I paint, draw, create through ritual, story-tell, photograph, and teach. To me art is an expression of nature, nature is healing, and this is really what my work is about—coming home to nature, to come home to our creative nature, to heal. As an artist and bridge between worlds, I see, feel, and sense very deeply which informs how I show up in the world. This has always been the way I naturally move through life, feeling and seeing and sensing energy. In my youth, that was both terrifying and inspiring. Life is magical, but it is also intense…the light and shadow. Our culture does not celebrate sensitive and creative beings, or promote being sensitive or creative! But I want to celebrate and encourage this 🙂 Art allows us to live life from the heart, not the mind. It is what I believe the world needs now more than ever, more sensitive beings trusting the wisdom of the heart and having the courage to be creative.
Please tell us about Tending to the Sacred. How did the book come to be?
Tending to the Sacred is a book about using ritual to transform, heal, create our lives…to live more connected to our truth, the earth, and Spirit.
It’s kind of a funny story of how it came to be. I worked with my literary agent to fine-tune an oracle deck I was working on for many, many years. When I submitted my deck manuscript to my to-be publisher, Sounds True, my editor suggested we break the deck up into a book first, and then a more simplified deck to come out after. That day I went to the ocean and asked Her how I can best create two projects from one, and I heard “Tending to the Sacred” and the structure of the book flew through me and out onto my journal. My whole experience of writing the book was like this, like lightning. I wrote the first draft in just two weeks. In the book, I share a story about how I believe I had written the book before, that it had been suppressed inside of me just waiting for the right time to share it. Once we open up to the possibility that we can create something, Spirit will really work with us to bring it into form. Tending to the Sacred actually came through with much more ease than the Oracle Deck itself (which comes out October 5th!), but I think that is just the nature and energy of this book. There was this sense of urgency I felt to write it. I wrote it pre-pandemic so I have more of a sense of why now. We really are needing ritual. Through the loss, massive changes, and grief we have collectively experienced this past year, we are searching for intentionality, for connection to ourselves, the Earth, and Spirit. We are needing to step into living more creative lives, to align with why we all came here. To live creatively is to create change in our world. To heal, live on purpose, create the lives that we dream of, and feel connected to all that is sacred, and magical about this human experience. Ritual is the bridge.
What do you hope your readers take from the book?
I hope my readers remember how sacred, magical, and creative they are. I hope they find a sense of hope, purpose, and belonging through my words, and feel seen and heard. I hope they remember that their potential in this life is truly infinite and that all they need is within themselves.
What is the importance of ritual to you?
Ritual is an art form that allows us to bridge the spiritual and the material. It is a way of creating our lives and living intentionally. I connect to my personal ritual practices when I am wanting to create change, to create something new, or even to just create more meaning or beauty in my life. This could be very simple, like waking up and feeling a little off. Maybe I didn’t sleep well so I am feeling a bit ungrounded. So I will create a ritual to bring myself into balance. Lately, as I birth this book into the world, I am wanting to step into more confidence as I share myself and my work with more people. Spiritually, I feel connected and aligned, physically, there will always be fears that surface as we step into something new. So I use ritual to self-create. I use ritual to release fear or doubt, and come home to my true nature, which is infinite…it is love. This is what creativity gifts us.
What set you on the path you’re on now? What inspires you?
Like many before me, and many after me, an experience of loss got me onto this path. When my mother was 8 months pregnant with me, she held her grandmother’s hand as she died, and I always felt that was influential to my path of understanding the nature of death. But when I was 18, my own grandmother passed. She was my best friend and biggest teacher, so it was a very impactful loss. I write more about her in the book, and how she raised me with an understanding of beauty, intentionality, and energy. But when she passed, I could no longer ignore my gifts. The light in the darkness of death is that it creates a portal for rebirth. I wanted to create a very different life for myself than the one I was given, and I no longer had the one thing (lovingly) keeping me in my cozy comfort zone and away from creating the life I truly desired on my own in the world. I had a few supernatural experiences in art school where I was like “ok, I think they call this mediumship.” My grandmother very much guided me along this path. It was very lonely at first, but I always had my guides and the earth. I started doing readings in bars/restaurants and events around NYC after moving there at 22, while also pursuing my art. It took me many years to fully trust my gifts until I found teachers and a spiritual community while living in NY. From there I had the support, tools, love, and courage to create my dreams.
What inspires me is simply life. Bloom and decay, light and shadow, death and rebirth. This is nature. The elements of our natural world inspire me deeply. They carry so much wisdom and healing for us. The flowers in particular are very inspiring and influential in my work. I also am very inspired by dreaming. I think dreaming is the seed of the feminine. It is where infinite potential and creativity lie, both in the dreams we dream at night and the dreams we dream while awake. My dreams influence all my art and offerings. I would say about 90% of the cards in my oracle deck and art in the book came from my dream messages. This really started when I was given a dream symbolism book when I was 7. I started studying patterns, symbols, and dream messages when I was so young, and drawing what I saw…but here I am still studying patterns, symbols, and dreams, and turning them into art 🙂
What simple advice would you give to our readers looking to connect with spirit and/or the sacred?
Come home to your heart. Embrace stillness, silence, and presence, so you can hear and sense the sacred.
How do you stay enchanted?
Dream, create, dream, create 🙂
Here are some illustrations from the book:
And then here’s a lovely excerpt:
Creating an Ancestor Altar
Ritual connects us to all who have come before, to all who have walked this sacred Earth learning the way of tending, learning their lessons of spiritual evolution and truth. All our ancestors who have come before us are guiding us in Spirit. We have ancestors so ancient, who carry so much wisdom and spiritual power, including the ancestral lineages that exist in our DNA. Even if we don’t know our ancestors or where we come from, their songs hum in our bones and their wisdom flows in our blood and spirits. We only need to be open to connecting with them, using our intention, space, love, and belief.
A beautiful way to honor and tend to your lineage daily is to create an ancestor altar. You can add photos, candles, fresh or dried plants or fruits from where your ancestors come from, any family memorabilia, etc. For example, my partner and I have an ancestor wall altar in the center of our home. This wall is filled with multiple generations of photos of blood ancestors, ancestral art or photos of the land, and in the center of the wall is a small shelf where we leave offerings and light candles or incense. Incense and smoke from plants calls in Spirit, so having something to burn is a beautiful way to connect. There is no right or wrong way to set this up, but you’ll feel when it’s complete, even if it’s just one item. If you are open and present, you may feel your ancestors near. Don’t fear their love and support.
When you feel called, sit or stand at your altar and commune with those who came before by leaving an offering, doing a ritual, journaling or writing a letter to an ancestor, praying, or simply drinking tea and admiring their photos. Taking time to center and heal yourself while honoring your ancestors is a wonderful practice to guide you through your days with their loving support. Making an offering of water to your ancestors is another way to encourage collective healing, as the shadows that come up for us have often been passed down for generations.
~ Ashley River Brant from Tending to the Sacred: Rituals to Connect with Earth, Spirit, and Self