Dangerous Compassions

Thanksgiving ritual

Thanksgiving ritual

Hello, how are you doing?  We had a warm Thanksgiving ritual for the house we live in.  It was me, Ming, and three of our housemates at the dinner table, right before our feast meal.

There were only five of the housemates because some were away traveling.  One housemate stays mostly separate because of pandemic.

I want to share the material in case you need ideas for a Thanksgiving ritual also.


The outline is open source.  Please feel free to use, amend, and make it your own.

Thanksgiving ritual at 3pm on Nov 24 2022, dining room table


candle and lighter

palo santo

objects of gratitude, harvest, abundance

Thanksgiving art

bell to ring

flowers and fruit

dish of water for blessing

water to drink


light candle

light palo santo

statement of intent

This ritual is to express the respect of the participants for Parents Earth, respect to the people who were and are harmed by colonization, and to bless the people and all creatures who are violenced, as well as the perpetrators of violence, that we can heal together and choose Love.  This ritual is also to express gratitude for all we have, and to honor the last of harvest holidays before we turn deeper to winter.

respect to the directions –n, e, s, w, up, down, inner

song–You Are Not Alone, words

prayer to the ancestors

–this land ancestors

–bio ancestors

–art ancestors, queer ancestors, disabled ancestors, activism ancestors

prayer of Thanksgiving to Parent Earth

prayer of blessing to the violenced and violencers of colonialism, ask for healing

blessing of the objects of gratitude

movement together of objects

blessing of the participants, with consent

thank you and repeat of honoring the directions

blow out candle

drink water, hugs all around

prayer of blessing to the violenced and violencers of colonialism, ask for healing

This prayer was one of my favorite parts of the ritual.  I read each line, and Ming dinged a bell.  So each line felt honored by the bell.  We had thought of throwing flowers or flicking water, after each line.  But the bell was good.

to the water and earth and air who were here first
to the animals that were here first
plants and mushrooms that were here first
people who were here first
people who birthed babies, loved, fed, clothed, sang, buried their dead
people who invaded and invade
people who suffer and suffered
people who invalidate
people who record and study history
people who avoid
people who face truth
people who descend as progeny
people who die
people who protect the water, land, air
people who support
people who try
people who fail
people who embrace
people who isolate
people who dance
people who give
people who farm
people who exploit
people who feast
people who abstain
people who are mixed
people who are less mixed
people who abuse
people who reach out and ask for help
people who gather in housing co-ops to live together
people who partner
people who remain single
people who come out
people who stay in
the babies to be born
the animals to be eaten today
the animals to be free and not eaten today
the plants and mushrooms to nourish all
the medicines to nourish all
the water to nourish all, even water nourishing the water

Please hear us, the harmers and the harmed, and touch our hearts to heal, as we do love skillfully, and make choices for the good of all beings, as we learn.


The invitation of the directions is usually something I speak off the cuff, but it was fun to write this out, and see how I actually feel about the directions.  Seems idiosyncratic and not all the way making sense.  But knowing what I’m working with, I’m free to change!

How do you feel about the directions?  I didn’t know I had such specific feelings–with colors even–until I wrote this out.

thank you

Thank you to the North, land of ice and snow and blowing wind and cold. Source of privilege-power, crisp northness, blue, and white. Please bless our ritual with your unique dommy goodness.

Thank you to the east, place of origin, romanticized elsewhere old countries, place of grandparents and what was left behind for better and worse. Please bless our ritual with your red eastness.

Thank you to the south, place of warmth, tropics, pineapples, cigars, passionfruit, amazon river, Jaguar, pyramids, birds, cactus, brown yellow orange. Please bless our ritual with the light of your southy equator brightness.

Thank you to the west, place of pacific ocean, homeland of Ming and Laura-Marie, where the ashes of parents are scattered, journey, coastal bliss, mild fish ease, boats, queer rainbows, strawberries, tidepools, popsicles. Please bless our ritual with wild westness.

Thank you to the spirits of up, the sky, the clouds, outer space, stars, satellites, moons, and all that is huge above us. Please bless our ritual with your deep night and terrible vast awesome.

Thank you to the spirits of down, earth, darkness, soil, holes, compost, adobe, where seeds grow, where bodies fall to pieces, and where mycelium spreads to connect. Please bless our ritual with your home stable solidness.

Thank you to the inner, where the spirit lives in the bodies, and we carry the energy of our ancestors in our cells and selves. The deep truth that nourishes us and wisdom of past, future, and present in all of us. Please bless our ritual with your inner shine.

consent check

The Thanksgiving ritual actually started with a consent check.

  • Is burning palo santo briefly ok?
  • Is it ok to bless you with water?  I was thinking I would do the tops of our heads.
  • Usually I refer to the divine as Mother God.  Is that language ok?

I got consent for all three things from the housemates.  They listened then nodded clearly.

what could be better next time

It was a good ritual.  Felt important to express thanks in a ritual way, and I like that we faced some truths together about colonialism.  It helps me situate myself in this house and city and state, to comprehend the directions here.  I’m still getting my sea legs, for sure.

We got positive feedback from the participants.  They said they enjoyed it.  I’m glad for that.

Afterward the non-participant asked, “How was it?”

“It was great!” I said.  “Nothing caught on fire.  No demons were summoned.”

He laughed

“Well, nothing caught on fire that wasn’t supposed to,” I clarified.

I don’t think the Thanksgiving ritual moved anything that was stuck in me, or changed something that needed changing.  I didn’t learn something I really needed to learn.  But it was our first ritual here, and not all rituals need to be extremely transformative.  I like the transformation of the everyday.  Maybe next time we can get to a deeper place.

Or maybe this type of ritual is appropriate for a mixed group.  Maybe it’s only ritual alone or with Ming just the two of us, where I can break open somewhat and find deep rearrangement of my inner life.

questions for discussion
  • What do you go to ritual for?
  • Would you like to do a Thanksgiving ritual like this one?
  • What do you enjoy doing for holidays that you may not feel deep shared connection about?
  • Are there any songs of Thanksgiving that you enjoy?  What songs do you associate with Thanksgiving, the holiday or the activity?

We sang this one, You Are Not Alone by Mindy Dillard.  Seemed very appropriate, a song of welcoming for me and Ming’s first fall / winter here.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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