Joanne Van Beek, Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant®

Maya Angelou has a beautiful quote which says, “A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing.  She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination, prepared to be herself and only herself.” This quote so inspired me, that in early 2019, to “bloom as my true self” became my daily prayer.   

Shortly afterwards, this prayer took flight when I registered with the Celebrant Foundation & Institute to become a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant®.  By the end of 2019, with Certifications in Ceremonies Across the Life Cycle, in Weddings and in Funerals, I felt ready to step out and begin my own Celebrant business in early 2020.

I was beyond excited to be a new Celebrant, and to actually launch my own business, which was to be called, Circles and Ceremonies.  I worked diligently to get a logo designed, a website established, business cards printed, and some networking opportunities lined up.  Before starting though, it became important to me to begin with a Launching Ceremony.  I must admit it felt a bit weird to host my own ceremony, but I was convinced that if I wanted to be a Ceremonialist for others, I needed to be one for myself as well.

In February, I invited some friends to join me in an official launching ceremony for Circles and Ceremonies, to be held on March 14, 2020.  There was no turning back now.  Unknown to me at the time, COVID-19 was on the move.  As the date got closer, I wondered if I needed to cancel because the realities and fallout of COVID-19 were beginning to materialize.  Thankfully, we were still able to meet, just days before our community was locked down tight.

As the guests arrived, they were invited to stand around a table which had been prepared ahead of time with a beautiful scarf, a Tibetan singing bowl, a center candle, champagne glasses, Angel cards, and flowers placed gently along the edges of the table.

Although I wrote the ceremony script, I invited Karen, my new Celebrant friend, to be the acting Celebrant.  She began by inviting me to light our center candle and to give some introductory words of welcome.   Next, a dear friend of mine read, “For a New Beginning” by John O’Donohue.  I then shared about my dream and vision for Circles and Ceremonies and how this dream had come about.

Karen then invited everyone to take an Angel card and to share how they might see this particular Angel being an important guide in my new role as a Celebrant.  The Angels cards shared were those of: Transformation, Awaken, Expansive, Explore, Integrity, Strength, Relaxation and Sisterhood / Brotherhood.

To close, each guest was gifted with a flower and thanked individually for their love and support during the many years leading up to this big change in my life.  After a lovely toast, we raised our glasses of champagne together; the Tibetan singing bowl rang out, and Circles and Ceremonies left the ground.  I felt inspired, moved and humbled!

Elaine Voci’s Ceremony Matters blog (January 2020), had asked the question, “If you were to write a manifesto for your own career/life path, what would you declare as your guiding principles and intention?” I couldn’t get away from that question, and decided that the Angel cards chosen for me, would become the guiding principles of my work as a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant®.  

After a few months of musing and mulling over the words, I wrote the following Celebrant Manifesto, intentionally incorporating each of the Angel cards given me.  It inspires and guides my work on a regular basis. 

My Personal Life-Cycle Celebrant Manifesto

Circles and Ceremonies

  • I stand in the liminal space between sacred and secular, and welcome the transformation of my heart, mind, body and spirit.
  • I expectantly look for new stirrings in my heart that would awaken my spirit, jump start my creativity and kindle my compassion.
  • I willingly embrace the expansive nature of Celebrancy, being unrestrained and open to all those I meet and work with.
  • I diligently explore unknown territories, and the unique synergies of ritual, ceremonial customs and traditions that would benefit my clients.
  • I steadfastly commit to working with integrity and veracity in both my actions and attitude, and in alignment with the Celebrant Foundation & Institute’s Code of Ethics.
  • I resolve to act with wisdom, courage and strength when facing challenges and trials that may test my tenacity and capabilities.
  • I commit to serving the whole Sisterhood and Brotherhood of humanity, believing that all people, regardless of nationality, creed, beliefs, values, personality or gender are equal.
  • I pledge to work hard, but acknowledge the importance of rest and relaxation, for my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Running a business or launching a new business in the midst of COVID-19 is a challenge, but knowing what guides and inspires us will enable us to arrive at our destinations, in harmony with our spirit. 

What are the guiding principles which allow your Celebrant business to flourish and flow like a beautiful river?  Whatever they are, may they allow you to bloom as your true self, and become the Celebrant you are destined to be.

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