Deck of cards

The love feast

In Community and Relationship, Love, Sex and Sexuality by LivingNowLeave a Comment

The love feast can be a long picnic stretched out over a day or continued over many courses for a lifetime. The entree is the most important, to declare as much as is conscious first off, to be as transparent as possible, to form the basis of the relationship or to heal and grow an existing partnership.

 

What if relationship were a game of cards? Two people come together at a table, the deck is shuffled and the cards dealt. Some cards symbolise interests, skills, culture, status or spirituality. Others are personality traits, ego, games people play, childhood hurts and emotional ‘buttons’. The trump cards could be hopes and dreams, inner work, sexual expression, positive attitudes, ability to trust, surrender, love … or adaptability to change.

The room is smoky and it’s not always easy to see or hear properly. The jukebox is blaring, symbolising the constant external inputs from our material and busy world. You only have a handful of cards each and they’re mostly hidden from each other. The remaining cards are stacked in the middle, the future unknown. Each person takes turns exposing their cards, one at a time as the rules of the game allow. Some stay hidden forever. Chance gets dealt from the middle, prompting all manner of reactions. One person wins while the other loses. At best it’s a draw. Get the picture?

Imagine if all our cards were placed on the table all at once, from the very beginning of a relationship or as a renewal process partway along the journey. Instead of a game of cards, see yourself having a sumptuous picnic with your beloved, a love feast in a sacred, private space that you both relax in. You’ve rolled out the picnic blanket and invited in the support of all the energies you relate to – Spirit, the Universe, God, Goddess, Angels, Archangels, the Four Directions and Elements, whatever feels right. If prayers or invocations aren’t your thing, maybe you’ve simply placed flowers around the perimeter of the blanket, lit a candle or acknowledged the specialness of taking the time to share more deeply together.

There are many bowls laid out in a curious, balanced formation and two large comfy cushions facing each other. The central bowl is the most beautiful and is surrounded by natural and sacred objects that are special to both of you. All the bowls are colour coded and have labels on them. There are small rectangles of cardboard in a multitude of colours, scissors, note paper and coloured pens.

You are sitting on one of the cushions sharing with your partner about dreams and visions for the future, your intentions, commitments and the shared agreements and understandings that you may make together. If you’ve been in the relationship for some time you would be reaffirming some of these, exploring new ones and acknowledging others that haven’t worked out.

You’ve decided to start your love feast here, in the middle, right at the heart, and as you converse you begin to write down the things you have both agreed with, one thing per slip of golden coloured card. These are all placed in the central bowl and acknowledged in whatever way is most appropriate, knowing that additions can be made at any time in the future. You may agree to revisit this on a regular basis.

Other bowls are calling to be explored. You choose to spend time quietly pondering your ‘offerings’, what you bring to the relationship. One response is written per slip of green card. As you alternate turns to share, all of your responses are placed one by one into your ‘offering’ bowl. The orange bowl for declaring ‘skills and gifts’ might be the next bowl you work with or, if you’re feeling brave, you take a deep breath and contemplate your ‘stuff’, all wounds and ‘buttons’ that you’re aware of. Some you’ve healed to varying degrees, others are a work in progress. Nonetheless, you share them with your partner and they share their ‘stuff’ with you. Your awareness of your inner process grows and you feel trust and empathy building between you.

There’s a bowl for ‘attraction’ – what attracted you at first, and now. The flipside of that mirror is the ‘disowned/owned’ bowl – all your projections, judgement, complaints or blaming.

There’s a ‘gratitude’ bowl for saying thank you for all you’re grateful for in your life, a ‘manifesting’ bowl to consciously call in what you deserve and an ‘honouring’ bowl full of lush, ripe strawberries or grapes to feed lovingly to each other as you acknowledge the many blessings of your mate. There’s a ‘men’s business’ and ‘women’s business’ bowl where you choose to share or process something with support from someone of your gender away from the love feast. There’s even a couple of blank bowls for you to share about aspects of relating that particularly fits your situation.

The love feast can be a long picnic stretched out over a day or continued over many courses for a lifetime. The entree is the most important, to declare as much as is conscious first off, to be as transparent as possible, to form the basis of the relationship or to heal and grow an existing partnership.

Next to the central bowl is an ‘honesty’ bowl. This is for adding to privately and finding the first possible opportunity for sharing the contents. As stuff comes up or buttons are pushed, one can decide where that particular response or piece of information goes. Is it a projection, my old wound being activated or simply something I feel I need to share and be honest about?

The ‘holding’ bowl is for placing in anything that can’t be agreed upon or that needs more work or support. Often when we don’t have agreement on something, conflict or disharmony arise. By having a holding bowl it’s more obvious that there is so much in common, so much love, honouring and agreement and just this small piece that needs attention. It puts things into perspective and allows and encourages space to do the work.

Imagine also that there is an enormous bowl on the edge of the picnic blanket that is full of support – friends, family, connection to Spirit, intuition, therapists, practitioners, energetic beings, counsellors, books, magazines, divination tools, films and DVDs, music and CDs, processes, workshops, remedies, retreats… all waiting for you to act and invite in help or guidance.

See the love feast set up permanently if you have the space or packed up into envelopes, one for each bowl and set up again whenever the need or desire arises. Imagine couples in relationship taking this level of responsibility and care with their connection. Imagine a world full of people respectfully feasting on love instead of playing games.

I’ve never cared much for card games, feeling that there’s a multitude of other more enriching activities to experience. I love picnics and sharing food though and sharing deeply with others has become a primary focus in my life. After a deep and dynamic long-term relationship years ago and through several explorations searching for the ‘one love’, I’ve longed to attract a mate to dive deeply with me, a far as we can go, to fly as high as we choose, to surrender and open fully to the joys of love on all levels – someone to partake in the love feast with me.

On the edge of a new relationship two years ago I started seeing the first few bowls of the love feast. I sensed that if this was the man for me he’d be able to dive into the depth of trust and sharing that this process calls forth. He liked the idea but turns out it also freaked him out. I knew he wasn’t ‘the one’ and, as he went, the process went out of my mind until the week before ‘The Joining’ gathering in South East Queensland last September. All the bowls were flashing into my mind, presenting themselves. Did this mean that I was going to meet the man who could walk this journey with me, the man of my dreams?

‘The Joining’, held in sacred space over the time of the spring equinox each year, brings together men and women to celebrate the dance of conscious connection, honouring the masculine and feminine in all of us. I’ve been intimately involved since the first gathering eight years ago. Ironically, apart from occasionally dipping my toe into the possibility of relationship, I’ve remained a single woman all that time. I wouldn’t trade the learning and gifts of that time for anything. Yeah! for sacred, single woman time – but not any more! There he was. I blinked and my whole life changed. My clarity, trust and knowing that I deserved to be met fully by a man had produced fruit. The love feast set the standard. It was borne out of the desire for clear, open and honest communication, in a loving relationship supported by sacred space, creativity, deep honouring and inner work.

The love feast, though possible to do alone, is also appropriate to share within family relationships, work teams or friendships. It’s at its best when eaten in big bites by those in intimate relationships. Nibbles will do, but I suggest you savour the whole feast, morsel by morsel. Be sure to celebrate as you fill each bowl and partake of all the love and joy while transforming the lumpy bits. Happy feasting!

 

Robin Clayfield is an author, facilitator, trainer and musician with a passion for creativity, ritual and ceremony, Permaculture and Deep Ecology. She lives and works in community, runs Earthcare Education, her own small business, and home educates her teenage son while finding time to enjoy a new relationship, be a grandma and potter in the garden.

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