A telling of an Uncoupling Ceremony that served as an alternative to the classic breakup; the intention was to honor and transition a romantic relationship into a friendship, and be witnessed and held by others in doing so. This was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
We were guided and supported by the feminine and the masculine: Gin, a Shamanic Yoga practitioner, orchestrated the whole ceremony; and Benoit, a certified counsellor and tarot-astrologer, was our guide for the process. Our other incredible friends were invited to take part in the rituals throughout the ceremony.
For the details of the process and a more concise guide, click here.
Set and Setting
The floating rose trembled in shell bound water; my whole body convulsed by the side of the river. Mist hung lightly on the high waters of the early summer, a crescent moon was the exclamation mark above the mountains to the West. The Natural World held me while tears fell on the shore. I delivered the rose and prayers into the water to be swept into the wild, the final gesture in transitioning the most significant love of my life.
How’d We get Here?
It had been (almost) two magical years. Farrah surprised me as only a Soul Mate can, plunging me into depths of my unknown Self. It was a connection like I had never experienced, full of challenge, beauty, pain and growth. For me it was a cycle of attraction and contraction, with Farrah being more consistent in her love and support. In the end I knew I couldn’t love her like she needed, like she deserved - and I wanted to feel more free; my fierce (possibly maladaptive) independence might shape this whole life. She was aware of the incompatibilities that derived from our respective conditioning and wounding. Ultimately we weren’t showing up how the other needed, causing each other unwarranted pain, so we decided to transition the relationship.
It was an agonizing decision. She was my best friend and knows me more than any person on this Earth. She was also an incredible partner in how we could co-create community offerings and share visions of a more beautiful world. The caretaker in her was ever present in her support and unconditional love. Somehow this relationship still wasn’t quite right. I drove myself mad in asking how I could let it all go.
Most relationships end with one party feeling abandoned or rejected, leading them to carry pain and resentment for the other. Or perhaps both parties lash out in anger, pain or pent up angst of carrying unexpressed truths. And all the other varietals of breakups… My subconscious pattern in past relationships was to flee the scene, leaving town to be on my own.
There needs to be a better way than burning the bridge of love with bitterness and resentment.
We chose a path less traveled: Conscious Uncoupling.
Instead of isolating in the grief of ending a romantic relationship, we invited close friends to join us in ceremony so we could fully honor each other and the process. The intention was to also allow others to process the transition as well so they wouldn’t feel awkward around us or the need to pick sides. For me this modeled many aspects of more integral and beautiful way of life. As a society, we don’t do death well. And that was what it was, a death, not a terminus, but a transition. Death is as important a part of life as any, and we should honor it, cherish it, witness it, support it and never have to face it alone.
As fallible egocentric humans, we get caught up in the trauma of our story, stuck in patterns of pain and grief from the past. Unprocessed emotions from any traumatic event linger in our physiology and shape our psyche. If we don’t find a way to work through these emotions and energies, we carry them with us, often ruminating in guilt, shame and pain. Or perhaps we hide them safely in the shadows of our subconscious, only to create maladaptive thoughts, perceptions and behaviors which often manifest as addictions. If we don’t come to peace with these past experiences then we risk the chance of recreating them in our lives to face unlearned lessons.
Part of our strategy for breaking our patterns of trauma was to recognize, acknowledge and share the mistakes we made and challenges we faced. Admitting guilt in the presence of our peers was incredibly challenging.
A pattern that I was able to acknowledge is having a closed heart. This is a hard thing to track and quantify so I have a hard time seeing it and an even harder time shifting it. A closed heart impacts not only how I express love, but my ability to receive it; I can intellectualize unconditional love, but I have a hard time embodying it. I can speculate as to why I am closed off, perhaps it’s from not having had a father in my life at a young age, the natural torments of adolescence and the public school system, or any number of influential factors of conditioning.
Ultimately it’s a survival mechanism; keep the heart closed to keep the pain out.
I’ve had moments of being cracked open in love through altered states of consciousness that were accessed with the help of psychedelics, breathwork, Nature exposure and other peak experiences. How to “stay on top of the mountain”, remains a mystery to me, and the majority of mystics in the world. With Farrah in particular, I couldn’t keep my heart open in such a way that allowed stability in our romantic connection.
My biggest admission of guilt was the criticism I had for Farrah. Without sharing specifics, I didn’t have full acceptance for who she is. Often I’m hyper-rational in my perspective, leaning heavily on the masculine left brain. I would observe Farrah’s behavior with judgement, not being able to understand her way or perspective, and not empathizing enough with her lived experience. Even when I didn’t express my criticism, it was something that she would pick up on at a subconscious, energetic level. She was grateful that I acknowledged this as it brought her some relief in confirming her own knowing.
After we acknowledged our mistakes, we practiced the Hawaiian forgiveness ritual known as Ho’oponopono. The process goes: I’m sorry; please forgive me; I love you; thank you. This is something that I’ve also practiced in finding forgiveness for myself.
This was one of the hardest parts of ceremony. As I began to say I’m sorry, I was overwhelmed with emotion from the guilt of not opening to a deeper love. I was choked up, unable to speak, as waves of emotion rolled through me for a couple minute, a long time with all eyes on me. When the release subsided, I spoke the words to move through the ritual. Farrah reciprocated, also full of emotion.
We exchanged flowers and offered them to the fire to transmute any resentment for perceived wrongs.
The hardest part of the night was over and we were able to move into the celebration of our relationship. The first part was to express gratitude and what we appreciate about the other.
Some things that I acknowledged about Farrah were her creativity and musical ability; her connection and deep reverence of Nature; her spirituality and relationship with the divine; her unconditional love and support; the tender caretaker that she is; her playfulness and ability to bring that out of me.
One of the things that I’m most grateful for is that she awakened my love for playing music. Her love for music inspired me to buy a ukulele, handpan, flute, and get my guitar out of storage. I had subconsciously turned away from music out of resentment for my father, a musician, for not being a part of my life. It’s a story for another time but essentially I addressed the trauma in ceremony and eventually recognized the self-sabotage. In my expanded awareness I remembered how much I love playing music.
I have Soul level gratitude for Farrah helping reawaken this in me.
The most important experience I gained from being in relationship with Farrah is that she brought me closer to my Self. I have never felt so free and authentic in my expression, even if it was at times emerging from my shadow. The way she showed up in her openness and unconditional love allowed me to be radically me. She got to see a playful side of my character that doesn’t emerge as often as it should. She also saw more emotion and tears than anyone else, ever. From holding space for me at both ends of the spectrum of the human experience, she actually knows me more deeply than anyone on this Earth.
In order to honor the relationship, we shared some of our favorite memories. This is a long list of beautiful experiences and I’ll highlight a few here that represent the magick of our connection.
After a storied introduction and repeated synchronous encounters, we finally went on what felt like a date. With our mutual passion for the outdoors, it made sense for us to go for a hike. We rambled on to the top of Crooked Falls.
After arriving we stood on a rugged and natural look out at the falls and expanse of valley below. It was a hot summer day and the cool mist blessed us. Farrah joined me on my perch to marvel at the natural world; I pulled her in for our first kiss. When we opened our eyes we saw that we were completely encircled by a rainbow halo, like I had never seen.
“This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.” Hafiz
Shortly after we met again for our friend’s birthday – a fire ceremony and DJ dance party in the woods. It also was the day that Farrah’s grandfather died. Her maternal grandpa was a storyteller and true elder who held the magick and wisdom of his life and lineage; he was very dear to Farrah. The fire ceremony was a synchronous opportunity for her to move some of the freshly present grief. As she sat by the fire, making offerings and receiving elemental support for her transmutation, I felt drawn to offer her support. I walked around the substantial circle of people and joined the other friends with a hand on her back. She didn’t know it was me but would later recount a gentle male presence.
After dancing together and indulging in some empathogens, we finally made our way to my home in my camper – it was the first night we spent together. With my heart perhaps more open than normal, I mentioned that I had been feeling a resistance to letting her get close to me. Being the intuitive being that she is, she already knew.
Then she said, “Sometimes certain people have the ability to unlock certain things in others”, and I burst open with emotion.
With that we had both cried in front of each other for the first time on the same day.
As we lay there looking at each other, an unfamiliar voice spoke in my mind, “I’ve been looking for you for so long.” Followed by, “Can you be courageous enough to be cared for?” The first statement would gain context in time.
After some more connection, I left to the US for a retreat and some other experiences which included a Peyote ceremony. After some hot-cold deliberation we decided that she would join me for the ceremony.
The peyote ceremony was held in the Lakota tradition and was full of intention and beauty that cannot be captured in any short manner. I will highlight one particular moment of magick.
The ceremony takes place around a fire throughout the entire night. All of us sat there battling discomfort and fatigue, staring into the fire looking for guidance and answers to our prayers. There are four rounds during which the medicine is passed and each person is invited to sing one of the specific peyote songs in the Lakota language. We had done our best to learn the songs in a short time but I had not reached a place of comfort, especially considering I had only just begun exploring singing.
Farrah sat to my right and would sing beautifully before passing the staff and rattle to me. Each round I had growing intention to sing, and each round I would do the respectful gesture with the totems and pass them on.
A key component of the ceremony is the drummer who follows the staff and rattle, kneeling before each singer to accompany their prayers. The drummer is part of the 4 person team of facilitators, led by the Road Man, or medicine man. The drum itself is a water drum, made specifically for the ceremony.
On the final round, we were invited to sing in English; this was the variable that encouraged me to share my voice. At this point we had passed the peyote “mush”, and tea 4 times and it’s Spirit had woven its way into our consciousness. Some of the other experienced facilitators were invited to drum, which gave me the idea (perhaps intuition, assisted by the mescalito), to ask Farrah to drum for me. We both looked to the medicine man to see if this would be ok.
He hesitated briefly but being the keeper of a compassionate alter, permitted the experiment. Not knowing that Farrah was a talented musician that had been paying close attention, he offered a well intended over-explanation on how to drum.
I started shaking the rattle at rapid cadence and Farrah matched my rhythm on the drum. I closed my eyes and sung from my Soul, unabashed in the flow of ceremony. When I finished my two medicine songs I was met with a gracious AHO from my friends. Farrah looked up at me starry-eyed, also under the influence of the medicine. She later shared how she knew in that moment that she had drummed for me before. There were other aspects of the ceremony that felt undoubtedly familiar.
“It will all make sense in the morning”, the Road Man kept on saying.
Eventually the Sun rose and the ceremony ended. Farrah and I found ourselves lying on the ground among the dessert grass, staring into the mountains, clouds and beyond. In a state of openness and bliss, it became obvious that we have spent other lives together.
Our new awareness led her to extend her stay with me. We rented a camper van and traveled through 4 states, offering 3 nature connection workshops, climbing in iconic locations, deepening our experience with the Natural World, each other, our Souls, and the cosmos.
Inviting the witnesses to participate seemed important. We gave space for our friends to share how they viewed our relationship or recount favorite moments. Some of which were how we showed up in creating community events, our birthday celebrations, special moments of aided correspondence and gifting during a particular action of activism - the ordinary. There was a lot of offering of love and support, which I’m so grateful for.
One of the most helpful reflections was from our roommate; she noted how we kept “missing each other”. This was indicating how we had the impression that the other wasn’t offering us what we needed, but actually it was a matter of timing and perspective. We had blind spots for how and when the love was offered.
The transcendent intention of this ceremony was to empower us to still show up in loving support of one another, like anyone would with a close friend. I won’t pretend that this will be easy and without challenges, but we do have sincere intentions. The vision of our relationship moving forward was similar for both of us, though I don’t speak for Farrah.
My hope is that I can have more acceptance and unfiltered love for Farrah. This might seem counter intuitive but I think there will be a natural softening with more space. We are the hard on the people we are closest to, likely because we are always the hardest on ourselves. The pressure we put on ourselves to be our best (often unattainable and rarely attempted), spills out to all those around us. Very few of us have unconditional love for ourselves, which makes it challenging to have unconditional love for those around us.
We hope for the unflawed reflection of our Soul, yet are always met with another fallible human.
Without viewing Farrah through the lens of “life partner”, the way she is in her natural, wild, authentic self, will have less direct implications on my life experience. Our relationship will shift into a less charged space, and I will be able to see her more wholly.
My intention is to show up for her in a supportive and loving way, as we continue to help each other along our respective paths.
At this point in the ceremony we cut a red thread that we had been bound with at the beginning of the ceremony and threw it in the fire. We also offered tobacco to the fire, a masculine element, to help transmute any distorted energy and aid in the transition. We invited others to use the tobacco to clear any lingering distortions from past relationships.
The final portion of the ceremony had us move down to the river to invite in softness and feminine elements for a smooth transition of love. A song began at the fire and was carried as we changed locations. It was not surprising to find a rich synchronicity at this culminating moment – the song that Gin led us in was a version of the song I sang at the Peyote Ceremony.
There were roses waiting for us in Gin’s singing bowl which was filled with water. Our instruction was to scoop the rose and water in a shell provided, infuse them with our intentions and prayers, and send the rose down the river. I saw this ritual as a prayer for the continuation of love.
Farrah and I stood at the water’s edge, mist had settled in on the river as we approached dusk, a new moon hung above the mountains, and a choir of heart centered vigils sung behind us. It was cold away from the fire and emotions trembled up from my gut.
I prayed that my love would remain open for Farrah.
I prayed that she would find new love quickly.
I prayed that I would find new love quickly.
I prayed that all those behind me would experience deep love.
A shift came to my awareness and I embraced a higher notion of Love. I thought about love in the ultimate sense, like the infinite Source of all things, and that a return to that gnosis is of the highest virtue; that’s when I really began to convulse. The energy of all my emotion, combined with a more expansive prayer, charged through me.
I prayed that I could find that connection, that remembrance of Ultimate Love.
I prayed that we all could be reunited with it, the foundational building block of the Universe, the love that exists within all things, even the ones we don’t understand.
I wished blessings on the evolution of humanity and our expansion of consciousness;
May we all return to Love.