“Ceremony – whatever brings you closer to your essential self.”
– Richard Wagamese,
Embers, One Ojibway’s Meditations
Hi, Welcome to Moving Ceremonies!
As a Life-Cycle Celebrant I have a deep interest in the magic of words, symbols, actions and awareness to convey and embody meaning in the mystery of life’s inevitable changes.
I love to weave tradition and the great turning inside each human heart, to re-imagine ceremony in these tumultuous times.
Whether a wedding, funeral, celebration of life, welcoming a new member of your family, or other rite of passage, your unique and personal care for life and love are the matrix for our collaboration.
Your voice and values, ideas for design and direction, invite what is known to meet the mystery of what wants to come into being. Together we bring just the right words, elements and rituals into a coherent, beautiful and moving ceremony.
Thank you for your interest in Moving Ceremonies!
Grounded in a long-time interest and respect for the world’s great wisdom traditions, ceremony has allured me since the day I carefully buried my goldfish, Goldy, in the center of my mother’s round marigold garden over the septic tank in our backyard. With flowers and a popsicle stick cross, I marked this place as sacred and holy ground.
No doubt inspired by an early orientation to the Anglican Church, I offer appreciation for the seeds of a deep spiritual gravity rooted under the steps of institutions in the fertile soil of earth and her elements.
The friendly forests and welcoming waters of the Big Rideau Lake in Ontario rocked me in the cradle of a green canoe under changing skies and life storms, providing a matrix of elemental care and seeding a deep respect for nature as our nature.
A broken back at eighteen instilled a reverence for the fragile thread that keeps us here, and a life-long interest and engagement in somatic and embodied practices. Respect for dreams, the mysteries of what is not known, and the full catastrophe of what it means and feels to be human, keeps me inspired and interested in these wild and fragile times.
Owning and operating Serendipity’s Backyard, a Metaphysical Bookstore in Steveston, BC, from the age of 28 – 40 offered a thirteen-year experiential apprenticeship in Metaphysics, Embodied Spirituality, Community Building and Business sense, which I am still making sense of!
A 13 year internship with an acreage of land on the Sunshine Coast, permaculture studies, alignment with the rhythms of elements and seasons, bee keeping and cultivating relationship with deep earth and nature restored an indigenous reverence and engagement with all of life as an interwoven web of connection – human and more than, seen and unseen.
As a poet and wordsmith I relish in collaborations with individuals, couples and groups to co-create ceremonies across the life-cycle, and flourish in opportunities to weave words and rituals to serve and express the sometimes un-expressible mysteries of love, life and loss.
A Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant with Celebrant Foundation & Institute, a Metaphysical Minister registered with Canadian International Metaphysical Ministry, Insight Certified Funeral Celebrant, and registered with Vital Statistics, I offer services in Victoria, Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands and beyond.
If it’s a wild West Coast, off the beaten track location – just tell me to wear my hiking boots or bring my kayak!
What is a Celebrant?
What is a Celebrant, you ask?
We are cultural creatives, trained and certified in the art and craft of ceremony. We are professionals who care about your values and wishes in creating meaningful ceremonies relevant and real in modern times.
I am deeply honoured to acknowledge www.celebrantinstitute.org for their progressive, insightful and in depth training, weaving cross-cultural perspectives and traditions with attention to detail and design, offering a program that supports collaboration and inclusivity in all areas of life. I am grateful for the Canadian International Metaphysical Ministry www.canadianmetaphysicalministry.com
for their vision and ministry.
I respectfully acknowledge and offer appreciation to my mentors over three decades of in-depth inquiry into the world’s great wisdom traditions, somatic and mindfulness based approaches to the body and movement, storytelling, dream tending and nature as our nature:
Angeles Arrien, Cross-cultural Anthropologist, Author & Mentor, Susan Harper, www.continuummontage.com, Emilie Conrad, Caryn McHose, Author and Movement Explorer, Sandra Sammartino, Yoga Teacher Extraordinaire, and through either in person offerings and/or writings: Malidoma Some, Michael Meade, James Hillman, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Marion Woodman, Martin Prechtel, Frances Weller, Deena Metzger, and all of the seen and unseen beings that guide the ways of ceremony and ritual.
I acknowledge my Lineage Ancestors, without whom I would not be who and where I am right now.
What calls you to marriage and the power of committed love in modern times?
What inspires you to create a gathering of loved ones to mark this moment in the evolution of your love story?
What is at the heart of your unique union and affection for one and other?
What are the words you wish to combine to articulate the depth of your care and commitment to your beloved, in the presence of your loved ones?
What elements do you see weaving together in small or large ways to create a moving ceremony resonant and inclusive for all?
I want to know!
Together we will weave words, music, elements and rituals to reflect, honor and embody the rare and precious meeting of two lives destined to be committed partners in life.
Let’s land your ceremony on the ground of love and sweet attention for the moment you will say I DO!
“If we do not birth and die ritually, we will do so technologically, inscribing technocratic values in our very bones. It matters greatly not only that we birth and die, but HOW we birth and die.” Ronald Grimes- Deeply Into the Bone
Funerals, Memorials & Celebrations of Life in the Time of COVID19
If you have arrived here due to a recent death of a loved one during this time of COVID19, thank you for reaching out.
Please take extra care with yourself and loved ones at this time, and know there are steps you can take now to share your grief together with family and friends, even though public gathering restrictions are in effect.
Funerals, Memorials and Celebrations of Life are being held on Zoom, and although this isn’t necessarily our first choice, we are experiencing what it means to touch and be touched beyond physical proximity, and discovering new ways to share the loss of loved ones in community.
Here is what one family wrote after a Zoom service:
One last “thank you” from the bottom of our hearts for yesterday. I had been very anxious anticipating the day, thinking about how sad and difficult it would be, and of course in a big way it was. However, the manner in which you approach everything with such compassion and kindness, and genuine caring, made the day run so smoothly, and you managed to put everyone at ease and comfortable in the space, to share, cry, laugh and listen. Penny, your words, poems, quotes, introductions, were absolutely perfect and I have heard from countless people how beautiful and rich the ceremony was. In fact, the blessing of a Zoom service was that all those very important people in my Dad’s life, near and far, could all be involved to the same degree, including those in the UK.
F. Jones and family
My Approach to Ceremony
No two humans are alike. Each being deserves honor, mindful respect and personal care in death. I have a deep reverence for this transition in the life cycle, and welcome any opportunity to co-create a ceremony that reflects and celebrates the reality of your loved one’s precious life on earth and the depth of loss experienced by you and your family and friends.
A Word About the Body
Tending a loved one’s body, between the time of death and cremation or burial, in many cases is not as difficult as you may think. Taking the time you need or want to say goodbye can often serve the reality and depth of your loss. Do not hesitate to reach out for guidance in this regard. Cell: 604 803 4607
Home Funeral Guidance
The time of death, and the hours and days to follow can be a potent and healing time for both the dead and the living. Many in the West are following a natural call to reclaim this time in the cycle of life and death, and to tend their loved ones body with care before cremation or burial. I offer education and consultation to support families and communities to slow down and reclaim this practice of care, respect and ceremony after death.
Whether it’s through taking a little more time with your loved one’s body after death, bathing and dressing, bringing or keeping your loved one at home for a period, offering a vigil for family and friends, you are encouraged and supported to follow what feels right for your loved one, your own heart, family and community in each step of the journey.
Witness Cremation Ceremony
Some individuals and family’s appreciate an opportunity to be witness to the cremation of their loved one’s body. I will meet with you before hand and create a short ceremony to honor this profound transition in the death process, and hold a space for you and loved ones in your time at the Crematorium.
Funerals & Graveside Ceremonies
Process: We meet at a location of your choosing (during COVID19 – usually on Zoom) with as many of your family as you wish to have present to discuss the words, music, and elements to create a ceremony that honors the life and unique essence of your loved one.
I reach out to anyone you wish to include in the ceremony preparation, including musicians, eulogists, readers, and/or other family and community members.
Upon approval of the ceremony, I officiate – whether in-person or on zoom, weaving and holding a space for family and community to experience and share this sacred time together in gratitude and grief.
During COVID 19 – Small in-person ceremonies can happen following current Covid restrictions.
Zoom Ceremonies – Note: I have several Zoom technicians who are sensitive and skilled in supporting folks to connect and participate with ease in online ceremonies.
Earth, Air, Fire and Water conspire to form our living bodies. For some it is an important part of the cycle of life and death to offer the body back to the living body of creation.
We are fortunate to have Green Burial here in Victoria (www.royaloakburialpark.ca) and Salt Spring Island (www.saltspringcemetery.ca)
As the world changes, including the ecological footprint of death can be a legacy worth considering. A Green Burial service can honor your loved one’s commitment to earth stewardship, and contribute to their beliefs, wishes and care for future generations, as well as offer you and your family an opportunity to fully participate in their care after death.
Interment of Ashes Ceremony
Sometimes ashes are kept for a separate ceremony later in our grief journey. I will meet with you and discuss places and ways to honor this time in the cycle of your loss. No matter how long you may have kept the ashes of your loved one, it is always a profound time of blessing, appreciation and change when you feel ready to return them to the elements from which they arose.
Celebration of Life/Memorial
In modern times Celebrations of Life may happen weeks, months and even years after a loved one has died. Together we discuss the elements, words and music that would best reflect the life of your loved one and their loss in your life. It is never too late to gather to celebrate and remember someone you love.
During COVID19, families and friends are finding Zoom a meaningful and deeply nourishing experience when space is held and a coherent and creative process is engaged to support this online way of meeting the death of a loved one.
What family’s have said:
Penny, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate and admire the care you put into this; it is evident that you see every life as precious and important and that you want to make sure that life is properly and beautifully honoured.
Words could never describe how incredibly thankful I am for you. The work you do is heavy and hard. You truly make the world a better place to live. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better service.
In some cases when death is anticipated, there is an opportunity to co-create a Living Wake to honor loved ones in life prior to death, sharing sacred space and time together to support appreciation, healing and love for both the dying and living of each person present.
I offer consultation on pre-planning any or all of the above ceremonies for individuals who wish to contribute to the ceremony that will honor and celebrate your life. This can be a healing process for many, and always an insightful and potent time of reflection on the legacy we wish to leave.
Bringing Death Home: Care and Ceremony at End of Life, A Growing Interest
In the past hundred years, modern medical and funeral practices have shifted cultural beliefs and practices around end of life experiences and ceremony in the West. The good news is there is a burgeoning movement to reclaim and honor the sacredness of death in modern times.
Beyond religious beliefs, it is natural and innate to gather when someone dies. Today, many are reclaiming this time as a potent place for healing, sharing grief and community building. For almost three decades I traveled in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala and Bali to participate in traditional ceremony and ritual in this regard. I experienced the power of shared grief and the natural expressions of movement, breath, song, lament and lyrics of mourning in community and returned inspired to Bring Death Home in my own family and community.
These liminal times when someone near to us dies can be potent opportunities to meet and be met in the communal and universal experience of loss, and to receive the challenges and gifts of this inevitable threshold we will all face in life.
Slowing down to the speed of death is an opportunity for building resource and resilience for the inevitable sorrows of human life. The good news is joy and revelation also live in the depths of this formidable time.
I welcome opportunities to share and support Bringing Death Home through private sessions, community conversations and facilitated groups (See: Living Well – Dying Well Program www.centreforearthandspirit.ca)
Community Conversations can be facilitated on any inquiry you may have with dying and living in these times, including the following topics:
The Ecological Footprint of Death, a living legacy
A Return to Family & Village Centred Death Care
Our four-legged, furred, finned and feathered friends occupy deep places within our hearts where I believe no human can tread. Their departure from our lives can be a challenging time, as they seem to companion us through important thresholds of change.
I have experienced the great loss of my equine, canine and feline companions through the years and have created ceremonies to honor the unique gifts each one has brought to life.
I welcome the opportunity to co-create a meaningful ceremony to honour the loss of your animal companion.
Private Sessions, Healing Ceremonies & Stewarding Soul
For over two decades I have sat in the fire of transformation with folks in transition and on the threshold of change. Whether physical, spiritual, mental and/or emotional, the soul longs to be seen, felt, heard and mirrored in a container of care.
From the sometimes awkward and wordless places, into sensation and embodied awareness, we find our way one breath, step, gesture and moment at a time.
Self designed ritual and ceremony can support you in acknowledging a time of transition or rite of passage into new territory and allow you to find your feet firmly on the ground in the new life you can call your own.
Stewarding the life of Soul into being moves us out of pathology of pain, into sensitive care for despair and grief as portals to maturity, meaning and the deeper mysteries of being human.
Ways we can work together:
- Private Consultations for one hour in person/Skype/phone.
- Series of 6 sessions scheduled at regular intervals (bi-weekly suggested) for specific and focused work.
- Series of 9 sessions scheduled to work with the 8 Gates of Initiation in the Second Half of Life – a powerful way to tend the inner longings and un-lived life that can emerge in midlife for all humans.
I welcome your call!
Ceremony offers an opportunity to tangibly mark the visible and invisible changes of our lives. Whether in private or public, engaging embodied imagination through ritual and ceremony can provide a container to slow down and safely cross the thresholds of life, incorporating what has been experienced and gleaned into life sustaining action and being.
Baby naming and welcoming, important birthdays, graduation, divorce, healing, anniversary, midlife passages and more.
I welcome any opportunity to co-create ceremony with you!
Next StepsWhere do we go from here?
1) First we meet in person or by Skype or phone for a FREE consultation
2) Together we create an agreement to engage my services.
3) I interview you (in person for Funeral/End of Life ceremony) and/or offer a questionnaire(s) for you to support the personalization of the ceremony.
4) You have unlimited contact with me to finalize and approve the ceremony from start to finish.
5) I arrive early on the day of to collaborate with other providers (musicians, videographers, caterers, venue) and officiate your Ceremony with warmth and care.
6) I provide an electronic or paper Keepsake copy of the Ceremony.
Let’s get started!
Email or call for your FREE consultation.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call
(Victoria) 250.592.6400 or Cell 604 803 4607
Moving in/With Mystery – Januray 4-week Movement Series with Penny
Thursdays January 7, 14, 21 & 28, 2021
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Where are the gestures of unknown gifts?
hidden in human’s sleep …
What are the movements calling for incarnation?
in a world on the precipice of ….
When will you make an offering?
at the feet of nameless grace …
How will we unfold the next petal?
in the rose at the heart of peace.
An invitation to pause in the growing light of a new year, land in somatic resonance, listen for emerging whispers, gestures, impulses and expressions … unfamiliar yet peripherally possible.
Through breath, sound, movement gestures and embodying metaphors, we gather in a field of inquiry to unravel, unmake, and unknot together the tethers of cultural constraints, uncovered in habitual patterns of movement inclined to create mediocrity where bounteousness longs to bloom.
Sliding Scale: $85.00 – $125.00
(Small groups for depth and attention to personal inquiry)
To register: email or e-transfer to email@example.com
Water – to swell and be swelled
Dip into the living waters of life, our bodies part of all bodies of water … capable of changing state – cloud, ice, snow, rain, river, lake, puddle, tear drop.. ocean … swelling with tides of re-membering resonance with all fluids … capacity to soften stone … seep, sip, slosh, slide … solidify … ancient ancestor …. water knows infinite ways of being ….
4th part of a four part series of apprenticeship with the elements. All are welcome – meaning you don’t have to have participated in the prior three sessions.
Zoom – in this case doesn’t mean all screen time – as much of our time is in inquiry based movement practices, after which we return into a circle of care to share and be witnessed as individual waters speak. Two sessions during the day with an off screen break for lunch, digestion and rest.
- Morning session: 9:30 a.m. – noon PDT
- Afternoon session: 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. PDT
Sliding scale: $65.00 – $95.00
To register: e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dreaming Alone Together, in these times
Dreaming Alone Together, in these times
I’m curious – what are you dreaming?
Dreams can be personal, and what i like to call community dreams – sometimes the ones that come with a feeling of overwhelm and seem too much to process or tend on one’s own.
I have a sense that dreams long for embodiment rather than analysis, and come through us to encourage movement and change, more than interpretation. Thus, this invitation into a dreaming circle to share and explore moving and being with some of the dream images of this time.
If you haven’t been catching your own dreams, you are welcome to come with curiosity to be in the collective dreaming space. When we tend and bring awareness to the smallest snippets of our own or someone else’s dreams, the dream muse awakens and may begin to engage with us more.
- 2021 sessions to be announced
- Inquiries: email@example.com
Navigating Transitions: Opening the 8 Gates of Wisdom – A 10-session Journey
New sessions starting January 2021
Navigating Transitions, 8 Gates of Wisdom is an invitation to return to the soul’s highest values, deepen character, harvest meaning and embody spiritual maturity. The COVID 19 crisis finds us in a time of great transition as a global community; we are being called to become exceptional Elders, regardless of our age.
Join us on a luminous journey for navigating these dark times – to reclaim unattended gifts, shift from ambition to meaning and contribution, and to trust this dissolution we are all in together.
Through storytelling, listening, sharing, song and silence, we invite you to put on your inner walking shoes and pick up your soul (walking) sticks as we navigate these transitions of change (gates) together!
Note: This journey draws on the work of cross-cultural anthropologist, author and teacher Angeles Arrien, who Penny was blessed to mentor with for over two decades.
Living Well – Dying Well ®
Online Zoom Courses
Living Well Dying Well – Online Zoom Courses
January 2021 dates available soon
Some think of tending end-of-life as a step-by-step process. The truth is, it’s a labyrinth – a journey that can take us in every direction and some we didn’t know were possible. To enter takes courage – to meet what arrives, willing to be changed, while caring for ourselves, the earth and future generations.
6 – week online (Zoom) program to tend end-of-life concerns with consciousness and care within a peer based learning circle. The program includes practical applications re: Advanced Care Planning, knowledge of local resources (Hospice, Palliative Care, Funeral Services) and stimulating participant lead conversations, with facilitators grounded in direct experience of many aspects of end-of-life support and preparations.
From past participants: “Super informative!” “This has made me aware that I need to get things down on paper, not just talk about it.” “I shifted fear I had that I would be alone and found out I already have a village, I just need to ask!”
Visit our website for more information and to register.
Turning to One Another: Intergenerational Circles of Listening and Care
Turning to One Another: Intergenerational Circles of Listening and Care
Ongoing – Please contact Penny for 2021 dates/times
Reflections from Alice Meyers: Birdsongs and Blossoms
“This space has created a sanctuary, a safe place in which to express our thoughts and feelings related to everyday experiences, to loss and to healing. As we sit and gaze at screens and out windows, our “kaleidoscope” of faces beam back at us with light and love. Birdsongs and blossoming flowers guide conversations as we grapple weekly with inner and outer worlds. As a witness, the supportive nurturance of Turning To Once Another educates me about the experiences of others, allowing me to draw from inner strength mirrored in the courage of participants.”
An opportunity to rest into a circle of sharing, listening and witnessing, receiving unfolding wisdom, when two or more gather together to be present, honest and true to what is being experienced now.
Each week is different, as it matters who shows up!! We welcome your presence and contribution to this evolving and engaging circle.
Being Together – Weekly Circle
Being Together – Weekly Circle
On-going weekly drop-in
As these times call us to deepen our roots in home and open our hearts to the world, we feel called to offer an opportunity to be together in somatic and spiritual resonance.
We meet on Zoom to explore a somatic practice based in the wisdom of Nature. Deep embodied awareness practices can bring us into somatic resonance with one and other, as our nervous systems align for a moment of re-calibration.
Facilitated by Penny Allport and offered free of charge.
TestimonialsWords of Appreciation
Penny went above and beyond
Penny went above and beyond to ensure our wedding ceremony was unique, sacred, and full of beauty. Her powerful use of words, knowledge and history of creating ceremony, and herself being a talented poet truly elevated the whole experience. We enjoyed having Penny guide us through the process of marriage, both before and during the actual ceremony. Our families and friends were very touched, and we had many guests comment on how special the ceremony felt for all involved. Thank you Penny for your kindness, and contribution to our wedding.
Lydia and Michael
The ceremony was by far our favourite part
Honestly we feel like there is almost too many things to say thank you for. Your grounding the ceremony in the physical location, your graciousness in guiding us and patience working with us to bring into existence the best version of what was in our hearts, your ability to take the sentiments we were feeling and put that into such poetic words. Looking back at our wedding celebrations the ceremony was by far our favourite part. We are so blessed to have had the chance to work with you!
Jason and Eileen, September 2019
So special and joyful!!
A transformative ceremony
We can’t thank you enough for a transformative ceremony, and helping us create such a beautiful wedding ritual. Lydia & Michael
I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and this is by far the best one!
“The sentiment we heard continuously throughout the day and for weeks to come was “I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and this is by far the best one!”.
Penny seamlessly created a ceremony that was exactly what we were looking for and more. She brought forth great ideas to incorporate into the ceremony that made it very unique and personal. Penny easily communicated with everyone involved in the ceremony on the day before and the day of the wedding, making sure everyone knew in advance where to be and how the ceremony would flow.
Within the months leading up to the wedding, Penny continuously connected with us to make suggestions, see how we were doing and get information from us about ourselves and our families to tie into the ceremony.We couldn’t imagine our day without Penny as our officiant and anyone using her services in future will be very impressed and happy with the way she organizes and presents. Penny truly has a gift for creating a beautiful wedding ceremony and we are so grateful she was part of our special day!” Megan & Shawn Hunt
Many thanks to Steve Cronin, of American Funeral Director Magazine for inviting me to share about end of life ceremonies. To see the full article see my blog post at https://movingceremonies.com/2018/10/27/bringing-ceremony-to-end-of-life/
VICTORIA, British Columbia — Two days before he was scheduled to die, John Shields roused in his hospice bed with an unusual idea. He wanted to organize an Irish wake for himself. It would be old-fashioned with music and booze, except for one notable detail — he would be present.
It was Penny’s privilege to be a part of the ceremony of farewell for John Shields in Victoria. The New York Times wrote an article about it see below.
Collectively we are now in what we might call a nearing death experience. The way things were only a few weeks ago are in dissolution and some have completely dissolved. Events planned will not happen in the way they would have, even if postponed for a future date. I...
Many thanks to Steve Cronin, of American Funeral Director Magazine for inviting me to share about end of life ceremonies. View pdf article here http://www.celebrantinstitute.org/media/2018-10-End%20of%20Life%20Celebrant.pdf
This is timely and inspiring, although my heart ached when i got to the last line of the article. It clearly is time to re-imagine ceremony - a funeral simply means a gathering to honour the dead where the body is present. Here's to re-imagining funerals in modern...
My mother says my birth was quick! Forty-five minutes after she got to the hospital i arrived. She had been out on a boat that day bobbing and bouncing on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario. I like to think the waters rocked and rolled me into the perfect position to...