The celebrant industry has, like the world around us during the Covid-19 response, seen seismic shifts to all that we’ve come to know and value. We may wonder if this industry, and our individual businesses, will return to normal. Ever. There’s no one who can answer that question for us.
Unless we remain vigilant of our thoughts, we may succumb to anxiety and/or depression or inertia. As part of your celebrancy training, did you learn how to keep sentry duty of debilitating and destructive patterns of thinking? If not, then this is an ideal time to become mindful of what you bring to your celebrancy practice through your daily thoughts. e.g “Oh no, all my bookings are cancelled!”, “Oh my God, other celebrants are stealing my clients!”, “Why aren’t any funeral directors calling me?” Or are your thoughts more aligned to the outcome you seek? “I am attracting my ideal clients from all around the world.” “Every day and in every way, I am open to being of service to those people who need a celebrant.” “The right clients always find me easily and effortlessly.” In short, what’s the dominant thought you hold about your celebrant practice?
In the global economic and libertarian earthquake that ruptured beneath our feet, celebrants have fallen (or been thrown) into three areas: those who are redundant (for who knows how long) from wedding and naming ceremonies; those who are at the front line as key workers and navigating the difficult and unfamiliar terrain of time-restricted, socially distant, minimal-mourner funerals; and there are those celebrants who ordinarily and comfortably straddle the terrain of all rites of passage suddenly landing on the side of key worker.
Just like the millions and millions of people who have found themselves stuck inside four walls for weeks (soon to be, months) on end, we can choose to be victims of circumstances out of our control, or, like the optimal and professional ways we work within our celebrant role, we can choose how to respond.
Our response within a ceremony,
and within life,
is all we have control over.
No matter what’s happening on the external landscape, our inner world is an area which we have the power to master.
To attune ourselves to change is to recalibrate as a celebrant. This might be a time where you go full-steam with marketing throwing out Canva posts to the wind all day long, or maybe it’s a reclaimed space to focus on your needs as a human, first, and celebrant, second, which could mean taking some quiet, slow time and administering some much-needed TLC.
Or it may be that your office needs an overhaul, accounts need updating, or you finally catch up on some ongoing professional development by mastering your creative writing skills or undertake consistent voice coaching specific to celebrancy or consider the look and feel of your website. What does it, as your shop portal, say about what you offer? What does it say about you?
Evolution has always been survival, not of the fittest as we’re often led to believe, but of those who can adapt. How are you adapting to these changes? Yes, it can feel absolutely harrowing to have this year’s weddings cancelled. Yes, it can be an unsettling time to wonder where your income is going to come from (either this year or next year due to accommodating the rescheduling of wedding ceremonies to 2021 and 2022). Maybe you’ve adapted to doing some blessings by Zoom or Facebook Live on the couple’s original date. Perhaps you’re finding ways to attract couples for ceremonies in 2022. Maybe this is the time you’re thinking of retraining so that you can offer ceremonies for all rites of passage.
For those at the front line, walking the precarious path of funerals, yes, you might have the work and relatively secure income, but what care are you taking of yourself? If you’re dependent on a third-party, i.e. funeral directors, you may feel that your work is based on their whim, and that can be unsettling.
Empty crematoria with seats spread metres apart, and connections with families limited to video or phone, take their toll. How are you dispelling this built-up energy? Have you made use of your celebrant-organisation’s support system? (e.g. The Association of Independent Celebrants has AOICGriefchat which its members can access for free professional counselling).
Maybe you’re journaling your experiences and allowing the changes to integrate through dreamwork and meditation. Perhaps you’re part of a weekly online connection with other celebrants (the AOIC is a trade body which offers members two a week: one for wedding celebrants and one for funeral celebrants). Whatever you choose, make sure it is supporting you in moving forward and not perpetuating negative beliefs.
Collectively, humanity is going through one heck of a rite of passage. When we come to the other side, incorporating those changes will need to be marked in a meaningful way. As a celebrant, are you up to the challenge? Will you offer your community a ceremony or ceremonies to help everyone take stock of the changes we’ve been through? Do you know how to do this?
If you’re consciously recalibrating as a celebrant, you’ll soon start to see rites of passage with new eyes.
There’ll be many memorials taking place for the deceased whose final goodbye was either a direct cremation or micro-funeral ceremony. Weddings and namings will initially be for just a handful of guests. In time, the larger celebrations will return. When and how this will happen is anyone’s guess.
But what of those other rites of passage? This year’s university students who were denied a graduation ceremony? Are you able to offer something for them, their friends and family? And the relationships which didn’t survive enforced togetherness day in and day out: can you create a Parting of the Ways ceremony to honour all that was good about their union, and the decision to now go their own ways? And what of those people who will take the courage to start a new business post-Corona times? Do you know how to create a meaningful ceremony for such a rite of passage?
In what ways can you be of service to your village or town or city?
Recalibration might mean that you now think less about how many bookings you draw in but how much quality you can bring to each ceremony. If we can find the good that lurks beneath the torment, tragedy and trouble of these times, it may look like this: our hearts have expanded, rather than shrunk. We’ve looked in the mirror and said “You know what? I want more from this life.” And as you acknowledge that, you realise at the deepest part of your being that ‘more’ actually means less.
This time is calling us to be courageous, creative, consciously caring, and to listen to our intuition. The old ways no longer work. The hashtag #moderncelebrant will come to define the threshold our industry crossed as we acclimated to a new way of being. Modern means relating to the present not the past. Celebrancy has changed. And so must we. Change isn’t static. It spirals, takes steps in unexpected directions, and if we dare lean into the winds of change we can find the wings to guide us towards other horizons as we incubate new dreams.
Written by Veronika Robinson, editor of The Celebrant magazine