As a participant in the first core conversation series of the Peterborough Dialogues, Jovanna Soligo had an “a-ha” moment about the possibilities that could arise through creating a ceremony to express Peterborough’s transition to a new story.
A core focus of the dialogues was awakening participants’ deepest gifts and possibilities to create a more resilient and thriving Peterborough.
She says creating a community ceremony that parallels the spirit and intent of the dialogues could be one of her possible gifts to give.
So what does she mean by “ceremony?”
As others might find, Jovanna’s childhood memories of traditional ceremony stir in her a blend of repulsion and fascination — she was mesmerized by the sweet incense and deep canting of a church ritual, for example, while simultaneously put off by the rigidity of it all, the anxiety arising from not knowing what to do next.
Today, though, the Peterborough resident has come to a place of embracing the beauty in a new kind of ceremony. Ceremony that is light in spirit and authentic to the people going through it.
Ceremony that does not bind and restrict, but offers a container for people to be themselves, that is loose enough for “magical” unanticipated things to happen.
Every person — maybe even every community — has a ceremony within just waiting to be performed, Jovanna says.
Jovanna’s journey to embracing ceremony began in her 20s, when she sensed the possibilities from creating a physical, symbolic experience to help her move through some difficult personal changes.
In one case, she already knew it was time to let go of a certain relationship, but she created a space to honour that awareness, doing something with her hands — in this case, burning some love letters one by one in a conscious way of release.
“I had to go through some physical act that was usually brave. I found most of my personal ceremonies had some bravery involved with them,” Jovanna says.
As she moved through life, Jovanna began creating ceremonies for her family. One centred on the coming-of-age of her 13-year-old son.
For two family weddings, she created a special blessing-of-the-bride ceremony with the bridal party and female family members and close friends sharing wisdom and blessings for the bride’s future. “Even the most reluctant ended up sharing and being touched in their heart,” recalls Jovanna, who has a strong commitment to making ceremonies simple and accessible.
Other opportunities surfaced for her to join in creating custom-made, authentic ceremonies to mark transitions — from graduation to a new use for a property.
Now approaching 60 and entering what she calls her wisdom years, Jovanna feels a desire to give back a pure form of what she’s learned all these years.
“I’m really devoted to offering ceremony, simple practices and rituals as a way of helping people move through transition and change their perspective about a certain thing,” Jovanna says, noting she finds she is most alive when doing this work.
As she creates those ceremonies, it’s very important to her to draw on her intuitive gifts and respond to the needs and interests of those around whom the ceremony centres.
Jovanna’s passion for creating ceremonies with a different kind of spirit and framework touches on similar energies arising in other parts of the world.
There’s a bubbling of interest in bringing custom-made ceremony back into people’s lives, especially around milestone moments, such as birth, death, and marital union.
As for what might unfold around this notion of Peterborough ceremony, Jovanna says, suggesting this idea is another act of bravery for her. She is open to seeing what emerges as well as taking steps to make it happen.
Based on her previous experiences, the shape that this could take will likely require some bravery by community members, include some physical and symbolic elements as well as the sharing of wisdom and gifts. It will also definitely be simple and accessible.
Watch for more about the possibility of a ceremony for Peterborough’s New Story soon.
And to learn more about Jovanna and her incredible work, click here.