The Search for Lost Holy Things

I’m back!

It’s interesting to me that my last post was about what I do and why.  My experience last summer with the homeless woman helped me to understand one piece of what is at the heart of my work.  I wrote in that post about the fire of my heart that needs to be present and burning in this world, ignited by what I know about myself.

I know that I desire to learn to see what many don’t or can’t see, the largely invisible needs that live in the spaces between.  The wanderers of the world know what I am talking about.  What do we need, we wanderers, when we search between one thing and another and do not quite see ourselves reflected, yet know there is more to life than invisibility?

I have felt homeless in many ways in the months between last August and now—adrift in the world, untethered to my vision, disconnected from what would have grounded me in my focus on what my heart says is most important.  I have felt what it is like to be in need of both “incorporating” and “ritual”: “incorporation” to keep me in my body with all of my feelings and senses alive and working together in service of my soul, and “ritual” to ground me and provide structure that keeps me in my right relationship with the natural order of things.  I have been neither here nor there: neither doing my work nor willing to completely give up on it.  I have been between.  In other words, I have been my ideal client.

I return now with new fire on my lips.  I have remembered another piece of what is at the heart of my work, one which I have known all along but has not fully come into consciousness until recently.

Several years ago, I was paging through a book called Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece, by Joan Breton Connelly, and came across a listing of titles of women who served in ancient Greek temples.  One title, the “hieronostoi” (the one who searches for holy things), stood out to me for some reason.  I wrote the name down, thinking that one day I would write a story about someone with that name.

I did begin writing that story, years later, and the Hieronostoi took shape for me as a character in her own right, a playful, eccentric woman who took people on picnics to the cemetery because she thought it was wonderful to feel surrounded by the memories of people who had lived a century or more ago, who stuck her hands in the multicolored light shining through a stained glass window and wondered if the different colors felt differently to her fingers.

It took me a while to realize that the Hieronostoi is not only a character who lives in my mind, but a part of me, and a part of me who is keenly interested in my work.  She searches for lost holy things.  She sees what has been disguised, the sacred which has taken countless forms in the physical manifestations of this world.  She can look through someone’s life story and find the thread of holiness that was never completely lost, only hidden very cleverly, and can, with a joyful heart, pull that thread forward so that it now weaves into the person’s everyday life.

Holding this piece of who I am and what I do, as well as all of the other pieces I have known and held and written about and shared and lived, I recommit to my work.  I commit to writing here on a regular basis, while I move in and out of the between, with all the uncertainty that is present for me as I learn how to bring my work and myself into the world.  I am here.


About Jayleigh

Drawing on experiences within women’s spirituality groups for the past ten years, as well as experiences of creating group ritual within these spaces, I am passionate about bringing the healing and enlivening power of ritual to individuals and communities. I believe that the roots of ceremony lie deep within all of us. Our bodies and hearts know these ancient ways of connecting with each other, with our deepest selves, and with our earth. My work centers around helping people remember ceremony and incorporate it into their lives. My business, Incorporating Ritual (, is a vehicle through which I offer consultation services for creating self-designed ceremony as well as facilitation of ceremonies for life events personal and communal, large and small.
This entry was posted in What Is Ritual?, What Is Sacred? and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Search for Lost Holy Things

  1. sammiwitch says:

    A lovely and thought-provoking post. “The One Who Searches for Holy Things” has such a lovely ring to it, no wonder it stood out. Brightest Blessings

  2. dewiniaethason says:

    Wow, incorporating — I just realised the etymology of that word. Brilliant. I love your business name even more now.

    My heart beats faster even at your short description of that story. I already feel myself engaged in Hieronostoi’s world, learning about myself through her embodied curiosity, love and playfulness. I can see myself learning so much just by observing her simple way of BEING in the world, and I want more!

    Making the invisible visible, revealing that which has been hidden. I think I have always sensed that’s what I do, or try to do. I feel like this is a discovery I’ve made at various times and then lost. It’s so easy to doubt. Easy to just feel like an outsider or too weird or… — but then it reemerges in a way that’s impossible to ignore, and I remember who I am. I feel I have so much to say about this… and yet, it’s not coming at the moment.

    Beautiful writing.

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