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Ritual of Remembrance

 Invocation to Wisdom

            from several traditions


Holy Wisdom, present at the creation and sustainer of the world in your manifold forms, we invoke your blessing.

O Wisdom, who issued from the mouth of the Most High, ordering all things mightily yet tenderly, come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Shekhina, sacred feminine and radiant face Holy One, come and remind us of the divine interconnection.

O Shakti, in ecstatic dance with your consort, Shiva, transforming life and death in an eternal rite of renewal, help us to save and heal the earth.

O Quan Yin, lady of compassion, turn your Buddha-gaze upon us, reminding us of the vow to save all sentient beings.

O Yemaya of the sea, with your skirts billowing waves of motherly embrace, help us to honor, protect and comfort the oceanic world around us.

O Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and turning galaxies of the expanding cosmos, light our way in the darkness of the age that we may be of service to the whole of creation.

All my relations, dance with us on Earth in the presence of the lodge of the ancient ones and the shining ones of the invisible world.

Let us say “Ho!”

John Powell, UCS, 2005

In Remembrance of the Gifts of Our Ancestors, we share these readings and, with love, we place totems of these gifts on our altar.


1.     Nurture, Protection

The woman is the planter, the cultivator, the harvester of the corn,

and the Corn Ritual is meant to portray the important part

she plays in the drama of life.

Anonymous Osage

                                                            The Spirit of Indian Women, p. 128

We place these corn kernels on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors

who nurtured and protected us on our journeys.


2.     Prophecy, Vision

My grandmother was a visionary in the village.  She envisioned the future and helped people adapt to it.  Grandmother’s role was to take people where they were afraid to go, towards what the future holds, to where they could embrace the future.  When she used to say, ‘Last night I dreamt.,.’ everyone around would stop what they were doing to listen, because everyone knew that what she was dreaming was going to be reality.

Sobonfu Some

                                                            Women’s Ways of Living, pp. 241-242

We place this crystal on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who were our

Prophets, who helped us to embrace the future.


3.     Love

You have loved us with an everlasting love because you are love.  You helped us to love without wanting to control; to love without limit; to love you, our friends, and also our enemies.  You were patiently attentive and your lessons are with us even when we cannot feel your presence.

Adapted, Hollings and Gullick:  England, twentieth century

                                                            Sacred Poems and Prayers of Love. P. 95

We place this heart on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who gave us love and taught us by example how to love.


4.     Prayer

In Vietnam, I sought help from my unit’s chaplain.  I expressed my anguish and loss and the pain of unrelenting fear.  And yet from time to time I felt a surprising, pervasive sense of peace that made no sense in light of my situation.

“Could it be,” the chaplain asked, “that someone at home is praying for you?”

“Of course!”  I answered.  “My mother.”

                                                            Adapted, Sacred Poems and Prayers of Love, p. 108

We place these prayer beads on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who prayed for us and who taught us the importance of prayer for one another.


5.     Constancy, Calm

Woman must be still as the axis of a wheel in the midst of her activities; …she must be the pioneer in achieving this stillness, not only for her own salvation, but for the salvation of family life, of society, perhaps even of our civilization.

                                                            Anne Morrow Lindbergh

                                                            The Wisdom of Women,  p. 53

We place this rock on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who represented calm and constancy in our lives.


6.  Courage

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror.  I can take the next thing that comes along”…You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

                                                            Eleanor Roosevelt

                                                            The Wisdom of Women, p. 81

We place this star on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who taught us to be steadfast in enduring hardship and to shine in the face of fear.


7.     Peacemaking

The more we learn about the life of the peoples in our countries today, their concerns and their aspirations, the sooner we will have a better understanding of  one another….Quite a number of differences stand between us.  But I feel that they in no way hinder discussions of any problems that are of concern to us: how to preserve peace, how to make the life of every individual on earth worthy of our times.

Raise Gorbachev

                                                            The Wisdom of Women, p. 48

We place this image of the world on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who taught us that the role of women of the world is to be the peacemakers.


8.     Connection

In the old days, the primary job of the native Lakota mother was to teach the new child that he or she was connected with everything in the circle of life.  She would take the child walking and say, “See the squirrel?  That’s your brother.  See the tree?  We are related.  This is your family; these are all your family.”  Because they were all brought up that way, they knew deeply that they were all interconnected, they were all family, they were all conscious.  Lakota children had an opportunity to begin early in life to attend to the whole or the holiness, the spiritual side of things, and then to expand this ability powerfully as they grew.

Brooke Medicine Eagle

                                                            The Wisdom of Women, p. 55

We place these stacking dolls on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who taught us the interconnection of all living beings.


9.     Independence, Freedom

I hung on the wall the work I had been doing for several months.  Then I sat down and looked at it.  I could see how each painting or drawing had been done according to one teacher or another, and I said to myself, “I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me—shapes and ideas so near to me—so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down.”  I decided to start anew—to strip away what I had been taught—to accept as true my own thinking.

Georgia O’Keefe

                                                            The Wisdom of Women, pp. 33-34

We place this Eagle feather on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who taught us to be independent thinkers and who gave us the freedom to be ourselves.


10.  Imagination, Compassion

I remember thinking one day about the responsibility of being a parent.  I am here to teach my children about life,…What one practical lesson would I teach?  …the hope that they would always be able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes….And what I was really striving for was to help them stay connected to the wide realms of the imagination.  To be able to come to know and expand their understanding of the mystery behind all life through their imagination.

Jackie Crovetto

The Unknown She, p. 123

We place this dreamcatcher  on the altar in remembrance of our ancestors who taught us to embrace our imagination and our intuition  and always  to be compassionate.



            We recognize that many gifts have been bestowed on us by our ancestors and that we are the containers of these gifts for the future.  We are called to protect, develop, and share these gifts in our lifetimes. We know we have received far more gifts than we have been able to name.  And, we know all these gifts can be summarized as one:  Wisdom.

And so I prayed, and understanding was given to me;

I entreated., and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.

I esteemed Her more than scepter and thrones;

Compared with Her, I held riches as nothing;

I loved Her more than health or beauty,

Preferred Her to the light,

Since Her radiance never sleeps.

In Her company all good things came to me,

At Her hands riches not to be numbered.

All these I delighted in, since Wisdom brings them,

But as yet I did not know She was their Mother.

What I learned without self-interest, I pass on without reserve;

I did not intend to hide Her riches.

For She is an inexhaustible treasure to us,

And those who acquire it win God’s friendship,

Commended as they are to God by the benefits of Her teaching.

Wisdom 7:7-8; 10-14

We place this figure of Sophia on the altar in gratitude for Wisdom in our lives.  We honor our ancestors who were carriers of Her gifts and our connection to the great Mystery.


Honoring Our Beloved Deceased, Candlelighting

At this darkening time of the year, our thoughts turn to things past, to life retreating, to those who are no longer with us.  Images come to our mind: of dear companions, who once graced our lives; loved ones whom we miss; persons whose lives made an impact on our lives; of all those who were here, contributing, caring, and are now gone.

Our memories bring both joy and sadness.  Let us not push these feelings away.  For our recollections attest to the enduring importance of these friends, this love, our memories.

May these brave and lovely spirits live always in our tender thoughts, and prove that death and distance are powerless to sever the bonds that connect truly loving hearts.

We come forward to light a candle for those we wish to honor and remember,

After all have had a chance to light candles, we join in this prayer:

Spirit of Life, whom we know best in our own loving and being loved, hold us as we remember those we have loved, and those who have loved us.  May our gratitude sparkle in our lives, may our tears lubricate our souls.  Help us to know that we are not alone in our grieving and help us also to come to that peaceful place in which we can take what we learned from those who have gone before us into our own lives.  Remind us that we, too, are mortal, and that the only enduring legacy we leave is the love that shines through our lives and manifests in our gifts to future generations.


Adapted, Unitarian Universalist Association

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