A Ritual For Betrayal — When You Have No Choice But To Become Someone New
Howl for me, Wolf Woman!
I consider myself a spiritual woman on a spiritual mission. I’ve been working hard to bring light to my darkness, and to be an honest, fierce and kind person in the world.
Along the way I’ve met many beloved sisters, and unfortunately I’ve met a couple that have betrayed and hurt me deeply. It’s something that feels hard for me to get over and it stings and aches from time to time. I thought these women were my sisters.
I know that betrayal can be a door and a blessing in disguise, but when I see them claiming to walk their talk, it almost feels fake when I see them now. I don’t want to lose site of my path or get stuck in the poison of others. It’s just heart-breaking that women who are on a journey of mindfulness can be cruel to one another. I’m not completely sure what I’m asking here, but any insights you have would be appreciated.
Blessings to you!
☾ ✩ ☾ ✩ ☾
Dearest Betrayed Sister,
There is no wound so uniquely ego-softening and heart-shattering than betrayal, and I indeed share your scars. My personal betrayal wound also “stings and aches from time to time,” as it does now reading your words. The wild woman in us yearns to be untethered and fiercely independent; and yet, it is through betrayal we are so blatantly shown our vulnerability. For all of our howling, our bare-breasted dancing, and our sacred solitude, we are, in the end, empathic creatures who crave safe communion with others. My love, I do not claim to have made complete peace with my wound, but I will most certainly howl for you and tell you what I know of the unapologetic beast that is betrayal.
Betrayal by those in our pack carves bloody chasms into our very identity. Betrayal changes the conditions of our relational world so completely and irrevocably that we ourselves have no choice but to become someone new.
Betrayal can cause a physical experience of trauma that must be released lest it be stored in the cells, later causing any number of energetic and physical conditions. It is pure agony, so let no one discount your pain. Your familiar and safe world seemed to close in on you, forcing you toward soulful rebirth as if you were a babe in the birth canal…
You did not will it to happen, but it happened just the same. Now, in the brightly lit place where all is unfamiliar, you must give yourself a new name. You are no longer the woman who was betrayed; you are a more soulfully awake version of her.
I want to assure you that when I speak of your own growth in the aftermath of this great wounding, I am in no way absolving those who hurt you nor am I suggesting you somehow set yourself up for harm. Without knowing the precise nature of your betrayal, I will still stand by this:
Those who commit egregious betrayals against others do so from a childlike, ego-born desire to dominate, to enact power over their fellow human beings, and that thirst for dominance is socially indoctrinated and culturally validated in our feminine-starved world.
Of course, there are myriad factors in play within any betrayal, but the mechanisms of power-hunger are easily accessed by anyone who cares to wield them for they are, in the end, based upon fear. Ask yourself if those who betrayed you may have done so because they were ultimately afraid of abandonment or feeling insecure themselves. The initial steps of empathic connection with those who wronged you are the most difficult, for you are tasked with stepping into the shoes of your most difficult teachers. What was the catalyst for the betrayal and can you consider, however momentarily, their position in the event that wounded you?
Forgiveness does not mean condoning; it is an act of heart-liberation. Memories of betrayal bind the heart chakra like thick wire mesh, allowing love to ebb and flow but precluding the fullest experience of deep vulnerability. I believe it is impossible to will yourself to forgive someone who wounded you deeply, for the will exists in the belly chakra at the solar plexus. Forgiveness is heart-born just like compassion and grace. I will offer you the same ritual I have used to forgive those who betrayed me, and it is yours to use and claim as your own when you feel ready.
Mind you, most of my betrayers had cut me so deeply that I severed all in-person communication from them, which brings me to an important point. You began your inquiry by citing that you were on a “spiritual mission.” Remember that a spiritual community that ignores the significance of soul is fertile ground for betrayal because its very culture discounts the value of our individuality, our passions, our sexuality, and our unique purpose in this world. Those who become blinded by the light of spirit can easily betray others for they are affected by spiritual apathy. They believe that, in the end, their crimes against soul mean little for we are all moving toward ascension, connected by the same goal of enlightenment. Shadows and wounds are easily ignored in such communities, and power-hunger is positively pervasive.
Women are uniquely orphaned by the loss of the divine feminine, and spiritual communities of women are not immune to this spirit-centeredness. We are all struggling to reconcile our individuality with our collective spirituality, our soul with our spirit, our feminine with our masculine. Amidst this struggle, our grossest shadows will surface and, in the absence of a soul-validating space where our wounds can coexist with our egos, we will undoubtedly harm others over and over again.
Be a soulful woman on a soulful mission as much as you are spiritual; this means cultivating the wealth of talents and passions that have always made you who you are and distinguish your selfhood from that of others in your community. This means seeking and finding your sacred work that you will then protect with all the ferocity of a wolf mother, and, very often, this means severing any and all ties from those who threaten your soulful world. Feel no pressure to forgive too quickly, and feel no obligation to stay in any sort of relationship with your betrayers.
You are the Goddex embodied. You are God-Goddess-Mystery, and you do not deserve to have others carve their wounds on your soft skin.
When you feel ready, knowing it could be now or years from now, feel free to use this ritual to help spur you forward. You will need a burning bowl with sage (optional additions are heart-herbs such as rose petals or lavender). If circle-casting is in your practice, cast a large circle around yourself, ensuring you have the bowl along with matches or a fire source, paper, and a writing utensil. If you can be outside, find a maternal mother tree who can serve as your protectress while you move through this heart-healing ritual.
Center yourself with some deep breaths and body prayer, perhaps arching your back on the exhale as if you were howling your pain skyward, then begin writing. Address the letter to those who wronged you by name, then drop your consciousness down to sacral center between the hipbones. Harvest all the emotions that have embedded themselves there in response to the betrayal. All the ugly, all the grief, all the rage; bring all of this up through belly to heart and then write. Begin with these words: “You hurt me, and I felt…”. Let it pour out of you into this letter. Say all of the things you would never say in person and more. Tell them how they made you feel, and hold nothing back.
Center yourself again with breath and prayer and see if you can move toward empathy; this is the most difficult part of the ritual. Shift your consciousness up from sacral center to heart chakra, and begin this section with these words: “Were I in your shoes, I would…”. Given all your betrayers have learned and known in their lives, given all their experiences and personal wounds, can you consider their actions as part of their own growth? This does not, in any way, justify what they have done to you; it is only opening a small door in your heart toward forgiveness.
Now, my love, move toward grace and acceptance. End your letter with these words: “I do not condone your actions, but I accept this betrayal as part of my path. Had I written my experience with you into my life for a reason, that reason would be this:” Consider your cosmic souls orchestrating the events before you were born in order to support the growth of all parties concerned, and consider the work the betrayal was meant to do complete. End the letter with “I forgive you,” signing your name.
Read the letter now as loudly as possible, sending the words into the Holy Wild, and then set the letter aflame. Bathe in the smoke of sage and forgiveness, then rest there for a time.
Feel free to adjust the ritual or prompts for the letter in whatever way seems right. Do not write anything that seems inauthentic. I have begun writing forgiveness letters that get stuck at the empathy point, as I am unable to truly understand how they could have done what they did. Use the ritual as a bare-bones recommendation and feel free to add or subtract any components to suit your situation.
I recommend reading Aphrodite’s Daughters by Jalaja Bonheim; she offers women’s stories of betrayal, sexual growth, and wise woman nature. This book has been amazing medicine for me for many years, and I believe it will be for you as well.
When you howl your words of heart liberation moonward, know I am howling with you.
Much love to you, Sister,
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Sip a little more from Danielle’s medicine:
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The Timely Salve Of The Dark Primal Feminine