The Twelfth Annual Wotai Ceremony for our GBA family of friends took place in Baja, Mexico this year, which marked the first time our gathering took place at a beach.
As always, our multi-day New Year’s gathering was full of other activities, including a group field trip to the neighboring village of Puerto Nuevo, best known for its delicious small lobsters served in its numerous restaurants and a smattering small stands selling typical Mexican handicrafts.
The Wotai Ceremony is a ritual I devised for our group of friends to bring more purpose and meaning to our annual New Year’s gathering other than for the usual get-together-and-party routine we had been doing years before.
I first came into the “group” back in the late ’90’s through one of its first members, Bert and since that time our number has grown to perhaps seventy people, now spread out from the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, with GBA outposts in San Diego and Tucson and roving emissaries traveling to far off and exotic places around the world such as Sierra Leon, Iran and South America for work, education and pleasure.
From our group / tribe’s beginnings we recognized we all shared a special bond of friendship, adventure in nature and depth of heart-felt sharing. We’ve seen each other through many of life’s major events and challenges such as marriage, divorce, birth, illness and death.
In the year 2000, I was in the middle of my master’s degree program in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica and our host of that year’s gathering, asked if I would create some sort of ceremony to celebrate the New Year.
I took this request as a great honor and responsibility to create something of meaning and new immediately that I would be including symbols that held significance for me from Native American culture, European mythology and Eastern philosophy; i.e. the acknowledging the wisdom and teachings of the Four Directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky, having Wotai carry our intentions and ancestral knowledge of the Stone People, Water for cleansing, Fire for purification and transformation, drumming, Tibetan bell, sage, tobacco and using Nature as teacher and messenger.
Not everyone in our tribe is spiritually minded. We do have a small contingency of dear friends who think all this ritual and ceremony is a bunch of woo-woo, tree hugging nonsense and they refuse to participate. I find their contrary perspective a great blessing and balance for the others of us who may float off into the ethers without their cynical and grounding reminder that we are here now.
I have also witnessed those who I thought would be the most contrary, embrace this ceremony in earnest, sharing deeply and releasing the burden of years of mental and emotional weight through the Wotai.
The Wotai Ceremony provides a sacred space and time each year to honor each person’s journey, acknowledge their challenges, support their personal transformation and hold their intentions and goals in the Light for the coming year. It is also a ceremony filled with much laughter, joy and even silliness, for laughter and child’s play is a great liberator.
Over the past twelve years, the Wotai Ceremony has become the focal point of our tribe’s New Year gathering, with many new friends participating annually.
I look forward to the day when I may bring the Wotai Ceremony to an even greater audience and inspire many other people to join hands in friendship, community and mutual honoring, creating their own Wotai Ceremonies across the world.