Sacred Reciprocity: How To Give Thanks To Mother Earth This Thanksgiving

We just survived the worst season of California wildfires I can remember after living here over half of my life. While our lives and homes were not in immediate danger as so many others were, we did have to flee the San Francisco Bay Area as smoke evacuees because our air was poisonous, having been rated the most polluted air on the planet until the blessed rains came today. Yes, it’s Thanksgiving, so it’s a time of gratitude anyway, but this year, I feel particularly touched, deep in my heart, for the profound blessing of rain, clean air, the gift of life, and a community that wasn’t devastated as so many are. As apocalyptic natural disasters become the new normal, the need for radical gratitude ramps up. Thank you for this gift of love.

Gratitude is one of my core desired feelings, so Thanksgiving is my favorite of all the holidays. Without the commercialism, commodification, and consumerism of so many of our other holidays, Thanksgiving is devoted exclusively to honoring how we’re blessed, feasting with our loved ones as a way to acknowledge the bounty of what Mother Earth offers us. In the spirit of sacred reciprocity, we take what we need (and sometimes, yes, we take that extra serving of mashed potatoes that we don’t really need) and then we give thanks and make offerings in gratitude for what we’ve taken. Because it’s one of my favorite feelings, I’ve written a lot about gratitude. If you feel like binging on gratitude posts, here are some of my favorites:

Radical Gratitude—This one is about how to experience gratitude, even when things are hard.

Thank You For This Gift Of Love—This post includes a chant Karen Drucker wrote for me, along with a slide show, using my favorite gratitude mantra, which helps a lot if you’re practicing radical gratitude when life feels challenging.

Gratitude Boosts Your WELLth—This one is about the science of happiness and how gratitude is good medicine for the body.

An Excerpt From The Daily Flame Book

For this year’s Thanksgiving post about gratitude, I feel excited to share with you one of the 365 Love Letters from my upcoming book The Daily Flame, which you can preorder here (or here). This love letter about sacred reciprocity was inspired by a Kogi shaman whose indigenous teachings about sacred reciprocity remind us that if we want to stay in alignment with spiritual law, we must not take more from the earth than we give. This love letter from your “Inner Pilot Light” reminds you to honor the blessings you receive on an everyday basis, not just at Thanksgiving, but with each blessing you take into your body, your mind, your heart, or your life.

Sacred Reciprocity (Love Letter #206)

My Love,

Are you in harmony with how much you take and how much you give? To stay healthy, aligned, peaceful, and whole, you must stay in spiritual balance with that which sustains you, and you cannot take from these forces of nature more than you give. Just as the body must inhale in equal measure to the exhale, living beings can’t function in balance with the Creator and all Her creations unless what you breathe in is equal to what you breathe out. Sacred reciprocity is the notion that it is our responsibility to help sustain harmony and balance between humans and all the creations of the Creator—the oceans, rivers, mountains, estuaries, animals, plants, sun, stars, and moon.

You take heat and light from the sun. You take food from the soil, the plants, and the animals. You take the oxygen from the air that sustains your breath and you succumb to the gravitational pull of the moon that keeps you grounded. For these gifts that help you survive, we must say thank you and pay our respects to Mother Earth. In order to maintain balance, you respectfully take what you need—appreciating what you are given every step of the way, and you give back in gratitude. Sacred reciprocity.

Please don’t misunderstand me, my darling. This does not mean you’re meant to practice asceticism or that you’re not welcome to relish in a wildly flourishing life! It’s simply an invitation—and a responsibility—to flourish in harmony with nature, which is a deeper kind of flourishing than the false flourishing of overindulgence. You may think you’re flourishing if you’re able to afford to indulge in luxury vacations, shopping, fancy cars, big houses, front-row seats at rock concerts, or gourmet restaurants. But this is not the kind of flourishing that nourishes your true nature. When you are practicing sacred reciprocity, you experience the kind of flourishing that results from falling in love with life, feeling your open heart communing with nature, experiencing that yummy intimacy of deep connection with your soul tribe, and knowing the unspeakable joy of living from your true nature. In this kind of sacred reciprocity you are truly home.

Failing to stay in harmony with nature can lead to disease, anxiety, and depression, as well as ecological destruction. You may inadvertently support systems that allow mining things from the Earth that we use for our technology or our luxury goods. You may unknowingly eat foods that destroy ecosystems. You may unintentionally consume oil from the ocean floor without realizing that the gas you put in your car pollutes the purity of our water and air. You may unwittingly give your money—directly or indirectly—to companies that participate in polluting the water and interrupting the sacred sites that protect the harmony of nature’s balance. You may even receive your livelihood from one of those corporations, without standing up and saying, “This needs to stop. How can we become nature’s allies instead?”

The indigenous people teach us that sacred reciprocity is one of the indisputable spiritual laws of how things work. The Creator asks very little of us. You are meant to love the oceans, love the rivers, love the mountains, and love other humans, even the ones you’re tempted to demonize as “other.” Loving all of creation is your way of saying thank you for existence to the Divine Mother.

This may seem daunting. How can you reciprocate with nature? How can you ever express your gratitude for that which sustains you? How will you know how to keep the life force in balance? That’s where I come in, my love.

Tune in. I can help you learn more about how to stay in sacred reciprocity with nature. And don’t hesitate to let me guide you to do your own homework on how you can give back in ways that help all of life flourish!

I am attuned to the rhythms of life and the Creator’s wise guidance. If you learn to listen deeply and obey the instructions I send you, you’ll naturally begin to feel the flow of the in-breath and the out-breath of all of creation, and harmony and balance will be restored—in yourself and in the world.

In awe of all of creation,

YOUR INNER PILOT LIGHT

A Ritual For Sacred Reciprocity

If you feel inspired, try making a “despacho” offering this Thanksgiving. This way of making a beautiful mandala out of food, flowers, crystals, and other offerings as a way to thank Gaia for all you’ve received this year is great family fun, as well as heart opening. This “despacho” ritual was taught to me by the Q’eros shamans in Peru. For details on how to make a despacho offering, read this post, How To Perform A Despacho Ceremony.

My Offering Of Thanks To YOU

I would not have the blessing of making a living as a writer if all of you who read what I write didn’t care about appreciating my written offerings. For this, I am eternally grateful. It is a great honor to have the privilege of serving you with my heart and my words. It is never lost on me how lucky I am, and I have you to thank. As my offering of Thanksgiving, please receive my gift:

  1. Free ebook: 30 Practice Tips For Getting In Touch With Your Inner Pilot Light
  2. Meet Your Inner Pilot Light Guided Meditation
  3. Free daily love letter from your Inner Pilot Light

To receive your free gift, just sign up at InnerPilotLight.com.

Happy Thanksgiving dear ones! I appreciate you!

With love and gratitude

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