Experiential Processes
for Learning and Celebrating The Great Story

"No human society has yet been found in which mythological motifs have not been rehearsed in liturgies; interpreted by seers, poets, theologians, or philosophers; presented in art; magnified in song; and ecstatically expressed in life-empowering visions." — Joseph Campbell

1. "We Are Made of STARDUST". Here are playful ways (for adults and for kids) to begin to deeply experience their connection to ancestral stars. Awareness that the hydrogen in our bodies was created "in the beginning" but that carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, iron, and all the other elements were synthesized in the fiery bellies of ancient stars is one of the most awe-inspiring teachings of the Great Story. Click here for stardust educational materials and programs.

2. "DEATH through Deep-Time Eyes". Songs and responsive readings for learning and celebrating the ways in which death is not only natural but also creative at all levels of reality: how death is no less sacred than life. Click here for list of songs and responsive readings on death.   

    3. "Coming Home to NORTH AMERICA: A Co-Creative Ritual Experience". Four different versions of scripts (3 for adults, 1 for kids) for experiencing the North American Story in deep time, for the last 70 million years. Intended to help participants learn that they, too, can become native to this continent. Taking 1 to 2 hours, this ritual draws upon the science in the 2001 book, The Eternal Frontier, by Tim Flannery. Lists of Experiential Scripts.

4A. "We Are All Cousins". Connie Barlow has sifted through Richard Dawkins' 2004 book, Ancestor's Tale, to get the raw facts for creating 2 new rituals celebrating the immense journey of life.

4B. "A Meditation on the Ancestors" by Jon Cleland Host - guided meditation, published 2013 in Humanistic Paganism (online).


5. "The Great Journey: A Co-Creative Ritual of Gratitude and Commitment". Two versions are available on this website: One for groups up to 20 individuals, in which the ritual is (a) co-created by participants and leader. Another has been used very successfully in a group of more than 100 (Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral in St. Louis, 2005): (b) script for large groups. .

6. "A Feast of Elements" (subtitle: To Unite All Peoples and All End-of-Year Celebrations). This essay suggests a 19-part ritual to commemorate the element-by-element creation of atoms (The Periodic Table) in the fiery bellies of supernova stars that exploded before our solar system was formed. Ritual script.

7. "Gift of Tiamat: A Ritual for the Winter Holiday Season". This annotated script was developed by Connie Barlow in 1996 for use in a family ritual on Christmas Eve around the Christmas Tree. It is a playful celebration of how ancestral stars created all the complex atoms that now make up our bodies and the world around us. Ritual script. 2016 UPDATE: Buxmont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (Warrington PA) adapted this script for congregational use for their Winter Solstice celebration. Click the aforementioned link and see the "update" para; from there you can access the pdf scripts they used.

8. "The Cosmic Walk". Inspired by the work of Thomas Berry, Sister Miriam McGillis created this participatory ritual more than a dozen years ago. It is the first ritual drawn out of the New Story and is now widely used in many forms. Here is a version by Larry Edwards: Full text. For several more versions of scripts, click here for the website of Larry and Jean Edwards. Ruth Rosenhek and John Seed also describe the Cosmic Walk on their website, and post two versions of the Walk, plus a description of their experiential Timeline of Light workshop. Diarmuid O'Murchu posts a short version on his website, which is unique in that it includes reference to the chakras (click on "Cosmic Walk") from his homepage. Cosmic Storyteller Mary Ellen Hill posts her version of the Cosmic Spiral Walk on her Storytelling website.

9. "A Story of Cosmic Evolution". First performed in 2003 for a Sunday morning service at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, and revised on-goingly. This is an adapted form of a Cosmic Walk that can be told in story-form. Script available at: http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/uu/evolutionstory.html

10. "Grandmothers Dance the Creation of the Universe". This script of an imaginative drama of cosmic creation was performed on 5 May 2002 at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley and 5 September 2002 at Sophia Center, Holy Names College in Oakland. By Marlys Tobias, Cynthia Winton-Henry, and Susanne Cimone Script in PDF.

11. "The Star Within: An Ash Wednesday Service". This is everything you need for duplicating in your church the Ash Wednesday service conducted in 2004 at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. Congregants are offered an opportunity to pledge to do something for Earth as well as the traditional opportunity to pledge to give something up during Lent. A short version of the Cosmic Creation Story is told, with an emphasis on how we were shaped from stardust. Thus in the ritual itself, congregants have a choice of having either glitter or ash placed upon their foreheads. Created and conducted by Rev. Dr. Paula Lehman and Rev. Sarah Griffith of Plymouth Congregational. Script available on-screen or in PDF.

12. "It Matters What We Think About Evolution". A call-and-response ritual by Michael Dowd, written in January 2008. The one-page litany can be downloaded in PDF.

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  • Click for SONGS celebrating The Great Story.

  • Click for METARELIGIOUS ESSAYS by various contributors, which show how The Great Story enriches Catholic, Biblical Christian, Unitarian, Buddhist, Quaker, Pagan, and Religious Naturalist traditions.

  • Click for EVOLUTIONARY PARABLES by various contributors, including some that have been scripted for acting out.

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