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Deep Living & Ceremony
In this episode
- the charity work that cracked Sarah wide open in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
- how she stays connected to hope despite our many environmental crises
- Sarah shares how you can start bringing more ceremony into your life
Sarah Rigano 0:02
If everything is lost in an instant, like what matters? What’s of the greatest importance?
Tahlee Rouillon 0:13
If everything is lost in an instant, what truly matters? Isn’t that an incredible question? Even though this interview was recorded in late 2019, doesn’t it feel even more potent? It’s clear that we are all being called to define what truly matters, which means that what we’re really being called towards is a deep life. And when you decide to embrace a deeper life, honoring what matters through ceremony becomes so precious.
Tahlee Rouillon 0:51
Ceremony helps us anchor the sacred in the here and now, to marry what matters to the mundane. It helps us celebrate milestones, recognize transformation, and connect with a profound sense of peace, deep living and ceremony, go hand in hand. You’re listening to the Seekers’ Sanctuary, a show about creating sanctuary in life, work, relationships, and home, so you can embrace a life that matters to you. I’m your host Tally. On today’s episode, I speak with Sarah Rigano, a vibrational designer, modern day medicine woman, intuitive curator of interiors, and the founder of Form and Light. Her work is steeped in ceremony, the beauty of nature and shamanic wisdom in order to create transformative sacred spaces. We discussed the charity work that cracked her wide open in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. How this changed her trajectory to an even deeper calling to serve, and how she stays connected to hope despite our many environmental crises. Sarah also shares how you can start bringing more ceremony into your life. Plus the most incredible story about how she discovered her current home Skyrise Farm, and the healing vision that she has for this place. Enjoy.
Tahlee Rouillon 2:26
Hi, Sarah, and welcome to the Seekers’ Sanctuary podcast.
Sarah Rigano 2:31
Thank you so much. I’m really honored to be here.
Tahlee Rouillon 2:34
I am so excited to speak with you. I feel like I’ve been stalking you on Instagram for quite some time now. Really, I love your writing and the depth of your poetry and all the things that you share on Instagram. So I’m really excited to hear more of your story. And so in this series, we’re talking about deep living. But I would love to know if there was a time when you were leaving a shallow life.
Sarah Rigano 3:05
It’s a fabulous question. First of all, I love this topic, because I think where I’m at right now and actually what launched me upon my journey was a desire for something more and something deeper. Deeper connection to myself and my soul and my purpose here on this planet. But also a deeper connection to community and the earth. So my background is in sustainable design in the fashion and home industry. And I spent probably a little over a decade, really furthering the conversation around sustainable materials, responsible manufacturing, this is for fashion and home products, but I always sort of felt like something was missing. And I think it’s a curious industry to be in because you’re constantly in a state of creation. And you’re also in a state of creation that’s way outside of the present day, you’re designing collections that are for almost a year to year and a half out. And so I just hit this point where even though I was doing really cutting edge stuff with regards to makers and sourcing, organic cotton down to the farm level and really trying to be mindful in revolutionising an industry that tends to be more wasteful and disposable. I… it wasn’t enough for me. Does that make sense?
Tahlee Rouillon 4:53
Sarah Rigano 4:54
And so I think I was seeking more depth. I was seeking to make a greater impact. And, around this time that was right around 2011. I was also, had always been a pretty in tune individual, good intuition, but it sort of tempered the more spiritual side of myself. In exchange for… I lived in New York City, it was a very, fast paced lifestyle. And I was seeking connection. And it sent me on a journey to be perfectly honest. Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, I had just left my job and was contemplating creating a consulting company that was going to feature, my working more with charities and nonprofits and people doing more in-service projects. And I… Sandy hit New York, and it was like nothing I had ever seen before the destruction in one of the most major metropolitan cities in the world, and right outside of the city, in the Rockaways and Long Beach, which are coastal areas that are still technically part of New York City. You know, people’s lives got wiped out. And I was out there, because a good friend, a gentleman by the name of John Rose has a charity called waves for water. And I had heard that he was coming to New York to do a disaster relief initiative. And I basically reached out to him, and was, I am free, I just left my job, how can I help and what can I do? And that launched me into over a year long collaboration with him in working with some of these really challenged areas. And, for me, it just, it cracked me wide open, because I’d be standing in a neighborhood and all these houses are washed out. And a lot of the areas were lower income areas to begin with. And I was just really struck by the idea of, if everything is lost in an instant, like what matters, what’s of the greatest importance? And I was also struck by the realization that this was a direct impact of climate change, and perhaps a foreshadowing of the extreme storms that would be experienced as we navigated into the future. And it was just this aha moment where I dropped in and was “I just need to listen to my heart”, and my trajectory needs to drastically change. I don’t necessarily know what that looks but I decided in that moment that I wanted to be in service to the earth, like bringing balance to the earth, and the conversation about the earth as like a sentient being, and also in service to my community and humanity, on a greater level. It was a massive wake up call. Super intense.
Tahlee Rouillon 8:35
Just hearing you describe that experience has given me chills truly. And I’m, I’m really struggling to, form my response to that is that is kind of worthy of recognition of that experience.
Sarah Rigano 8:53
Yeah, I mean, I didn’t have words at the time either. So you don’t need to,cuz it was, it was really like next level, I had always knew that I had connections to intuitive abilities and different things. And I always felt everything like really deeply and really profoundly. And I always felt a deep deep connection to the earth and like the elemental is so like water and the trees and, always saw the Divinity in those things, but never really had a frame of reference for it. And so, to realize that the suffering that I was seeing the earth experiencing was actually a mirror of human suffering and vice versa. And how everything is so intimately connected. It was just like something in my being, dropped into alignment and was “okay, eyes are now open, wide awake” like, there’s something more. So when you decide to leave everything you’ve known, a career that you had built over a very long period of time. And what you think you’re defined by at moments and can be like a really scary initiation. But I just knew that I had no other choice. I was being called to another path, basically. And that was a shamanic path. One, where as soon as I in my heart said, “Yes”… verbally, internally everything started to kind of come into alignment, like teachers started presenting, or opportunities started showing themselves or I found a book on my bookshelf that I never remembered buying. But that was so onpoint, for where I was, in that exact moment in time. Yeah, it was, it was kind of it basically was the embodiment of that idea of when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And that was almost about a decade now, when I said, Yes.
Tahlee Rouillon 11:14
I asked you if you were if you were living a shallow life, but actually you weren’t really, that the things that you describe to me in, you’re working in fashion, you’re working in home wares, but you’re working to revolutionize that industry to bring some depth and sustainability there. So on one level, you could argue that you were living pretty deeply already. But then to get called to the next level, of even greater service of even deeper living. That’s what really strikes me about about this calling.
Sarah Rigano 11:51
Yeah, I, I think the the thing that I could best describe is that I was doing something that I felt very strongly about that was of service. However, once I said yes, to this unknown, because it’s not really necessarily a conventional thing. You know, there were a bunch of repeating signs, and different things that came through, that was really leading me on a path where I was Oh, I’m being called. And then, there was a series of several different like initiations, so it wasn’t like I woke up one day, and I was “hey, I want to be a healer”, it was actually freaking terrifying, because I was what, how, how, what is this? Like, how is this all manifesting? And definitely, some moments where I was this is really wacky, like some of the synchronicity and the repeating signs and confirmations.
Sarah Rigano 12:59
And it was really fortunate, and I don’t even know how I found him. But my first mentor, I just remember sending him this Hail Mary email, like a complete stranger and just being “I don’t think I’m going crazy. But all of this stuff is happening. And I’m basically saying yes to kind of blowing up my existence as I know it.” And yeah, he was just “guess what, I can see you next week”, and he had an epic wait list, like people would wait like years to see him. And, he’s like, “you’re not going crazy, you’re just awakening up to your highest soul path and your, your highest calling and your purpose for being here”. And nothing about that was scary to me, because I think that was like filling that void of yeah, I had been in service, but my heart wasn’t… it wasn’t in full alignment with my heart. And I think on some, like soul level, DNA imprinted level, I was on a great path, but it wasn’t my highest path. It wasn’t what was going to bring about the biggest evolution for my soul in this lifetime and my ability to hold space for other souls to have the same experience.
Tahlee Rouillon 14:17
What matters to you now?
Sarah Rigano 14:20
Oh man, so much! But the purest essence, is just being as authentically in heart as I can possibly be. So, living from a place of compassion and grace, and that creative essence like but from such a pure heart, and not only in my life, but witnessing that again for my clients, for my community, and also holding space for the earth in the evolution that she’s going through right now. My connection to the elementals is really strong. And so all of the things that are unfolding upon our planet with regards to, fires and climate change, and just, there’s a lot going on right now that I think this is why depth of living is important, because it’s, it’s that heart space, when we’re there, we can’t help but realize that we’re interconnected with everything. And perhaps that we have a super high responsibility to be not only the stewards of the earth, but stewards of our brothers and sisters in humanity. And that if one suffers, whether it’s a human, or it’s a tree, or it’s our mother ocean, at the end of the day, all are suffering from the imbalance. And I think when we were in heart, there is a greater sense of seeking balance and offering balance without expecting anything in return. Because it’s just for the benefit of all.
Tahlee Rouillon 16:06
For me, I know that when I look at what’s happening in our planet right now, and the climate crisis, and this environmental destruction that has been happening for decades, it’s very easy for me to slip into a place of despair. And you talk about hope, and I know that that is so vital, and know that so crucial for sustaining the actions and the effort that we need to take in order to bring about balance to humanity and the earth. How do you sustain and connect to that hope?
Sarah Rigano 16:38
Well, let me just be perfectly honest, it takes consistent work, because like I said, we are, we might have a higher spiritual knowing, but we are here and witnessing this destruction and ignorance on a very human level. So there, I think I allow myself to acknowledge the grief, I honor the grief, right? Because I also honor that, there is, there is a density that’s unfolding, right, as the Amazon is burning, or, Australia is on fire, like these are very, real and present instances where there is a severe imbalance that’s manifesting itself, it’s showing itself, and I can take it back metaphorically, into our own lives, like in our own worlds, right. You know, sometimes, there’ll be like big fires that will come up, and you’ll just be Whoa, right, but those are the points that I really look for, as the teachers, where the work needs to be done. Where does the energy and effort and my heart and my consciousness need to go to? To also show that I’m an ally, I’m here, I’m in service, I’m in earthkeeper, I feel blessed to, hold that space. And also, perhaps, through my clients, and the work that I do, remind others that they have that absolute ability, as well. So if we can all become ignited as these lighthouses or light keepers and hold these higher resonances, it can’t help but spread out and have an impact on not only ourselves, but our communities and the earth at large. I would guarantee that you would have the most incredible experience once you honor the sentience of the elemental and open to the energy that’s possible for us to work with and recognize, and it’s a very different way of thinking from our… what we’ve been brought up with, amid our society. But a lot of First Nations and Indigenous wisdom keepers, this was just the way and the way that they see the world presently. And I think we really need to return to that.
Tahlee Rouillon 19:13
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Tahlee Rouillon 20:29
I really wanted to talk to you specifically about ceremony because everything that you do does definitely seem to be imbued with ceremony, and with ritual, and I’m curious, like, what initially drew you towards ceremony? Why is it so important to you?
Sarah Rigano 20:50
Yeah, it’s really interesting, because I never really realized I was doing it on some level. I always really felt called, ever since I was a child to create things with natural materials, or with stones or flowers and being called to certain trees. And it was something like a remembering for me, once, I was also able to see that in creating these center pieces, or focal points or experiences, that there was a calling in of energy, there was an anchoring of energy. And there was a way to allow people to experience that, to shift their energy to also release energies that weren’t serving and call in higher energies with the assistance of the earth and the elemental. Ceremony, I think it’s, I think a lot of people don’t realize that like getting up in the morning, and just like lighting a candle and taking a breath, and just saying, “I’m thankful, may this day unfold in the highest way, may I be of service, may I stand in light, may I receive all that I meant to receive” that could be ceremony that can be ritual. So sometimes I think people get caught up with the idea that needs to be really elaborate. And sometimes, there’s a calling for that level of more layered experiences. But we really can kind of look at the whole world, again, from that place of balance and honoring. And so individual ceremonies, I think, are super important. But when you also bring together more than one person in a circle, or in a group setting, you’re now amplifying the resonance of experience,
Tahlee Rouillon 22:58
If someone is listening, and they’re hearing this absolutely delicious idea of bringing more ceremony into their life, and they’re just yes, this is what I want to on a soul level, this is what I’m craving, I want more connection, I want more ritual, I want more depth in my life. What would you suggest they do to begin that? How do they bring more ceremony into their life?
Sarah Rigano 23:25
I think a really great place to start is just getting really quiet. And if you have a meditative practice, or you have a journaling practice, just writing that question out or asking that question to yourself, again, from this place of being open, and in wonder, and kind of in this way of “show me teach me”, and seeing and allowing things to come through, inspiration to come through. I think also not questioning intuition or inclinations. If someone really has an affinity for fire… what a profound elemental! What an amazing elemental to work with in ceremony. It’s an element of transformation and transmutation, it can allow us to clear, it can allow us to fill back up by drawing the light into us. Same thing with water as well, some people are really drawn to water. Again, an amazing elemental takes multiple shapes and forms. An element of wisdom and very much connected with the feminine. So perhaps tracking into if there’s an element that speaks to you more than another. Again, I do a lot of work with spaces and clearing spaces and creating energetically charged spaces. So some people might be drawn to stones or crystals. Again, giving yourself permission to be in wonder, honor the element, ask for wisdom to come through, “how should I be working with you?”. And following those intuitions.
Sarah Rigano 25:25
I think too… I keep saying this, as crazy of a time as it is to be alive, I think it’s an amazing time to be alive. Because I think a lot of people are having beautiful remembrances of perhaps, like the old ways, again, of coming together in circle and in ceremony. So putting out feelers within your community looking for, if there’s any spiritual centers, or meditation centers, or things that seem interesting. I would say to everyone, your path is your own, no one else is going to live, breathe, see, as you are seeing, living and breathing. So the first step is the most important step, just take the step. Like, see where it goes. If you feel called to go to a sound bath and you’ve never experienced that before, or if you have the opportunity to experience like a sweat lodge… get in your intuition. If it feels right for you, and experience those things, because that’s how you’re able to, perhaps hone what feels most resonant for you. And also, something I wish someone had told me back in the day, if you’re having an experience, and it doesn’t feel in alignment, and it feels like, “I’m not supposed to be here”? Leave. You don’t have to sit through something where you’re like “this is so not for me, I don’t know what’s going on here”. But it’s not like a permission slip to, get out of uncomfortability. Because sometimes, our mind, and our ego can mess with us, and we’re really supposed to be there. But if you feel like something’s like grossly not in alignment, trust your intuition, and politely excuse yourself, because you know best.
Tahlee Rouillon 27:27
Yes! I love that! And I think you holding some pretty big energy in your life here. How do you support yourself to live this level of depth?
Sarah Rigano 27:42
Yeah, I honestly, I get out in nature as much as possible. Like I was saying, I lived in New York City forever, I was seeing clients in an office space and tried Backup for about five years, if not longer than that. And my building sold down there that I was in, and I was just, super launched. And I was looking for new spaces in the city. And it’s not you can just go into a regular old office space, because I work with sound and drums and beautiful plant incense and smoke, and it’s a gorgeous process, but it’s not like conducive to cubicle culture.
Sarah Rigano 28:32
I was looking in the gallery district and Chelsea, because at some level, when you create these kind of experiences, or even just the in-person experiences, even though a lot of my clients that I work with, I do work with them remotely for one on one sessions, because I’m really just tapping into the energetics of it. But when I am doing things in person, it’s very beautiful to bring all the helping energies that are there in the physical to the experience for the client. And so, I also was just realizing that I had so many friends, other healers, creatives, like everyone was leaving New York City and moving to California, and I was “Okay, I’m the only one holding down the East Coast here”. But I travel extensively, like the southwest of the United States speaks to me deeply, there is a huge connection that I have out there to the stones, and just that landscape, and so I was really in this place of asking, “Where am I supposed to be? What’s the next evolution here?” And I basically realized that I needed to leave the city and again, a series of unfoldings… really had a profound launching again, with this idea of… I’d always wanted to create a space for people to be able to come and experience a reconnection to themselves a reconnection to the earth, a reconnection to beauty and community. And it was a real struggle trying to find where that would be in the city. And I ended up getting guided to upstate New York about two hours from Manhattan. And all the messages that were coming to me was “you’re going to need to get property and you’re going to be creating something” and I’m just “Oh, my God, this is the 10 year plan. This is not like the right now.”
Sarah Rigano 30:55
But an adage that when you ask of Spirit, Spirit has to answer and when Spirit calls, you have to answer. That’s the agreement. laughs So as much as I was asking, “what’s next?” Spirit was “hey, guess what this is next!” I was Oh, God, here we go. So yeah, it turned into a very profound journey of seeking out a property up here to create an awakening space, basically, where the vision is the ability to not only be a steward and a caretaker of land, and all the elemental on it, but also create a more expansive container for my clients to come up from the city or anyone else who is called to delve into this work in a more deeper and meaningful way to come and gather in very intimate groups, very small, beautiful circles, and have these immersive experiences about activating our creativity, our highest knowing, our intuition, and really honoring the experience that we’re all having right now as humans, but also really igniting people in the remembrance of the interconnections.
Sarah Rigano 32:32
So almost a year ago, I landed up here at a place that all the signs… rainbows are my sign. And I follow the rainbow. I know if I see one, it’s like The Place. So there was a double rainbow at the end of the street, and an eagle crossed. And then… I had kind of given up hope because I looked at so many places. And it just all felt super overwhelming. But I stumbled upon this place and I’ve named it Skyrise Farm. With this idea of… I walked in here, I totally trespassed. Luckily, the people who owned it, this beautiful older couple, they weren’t here, but it was Magic Hour, the light was golden. There was this red tail Hawk that came screeching through and the moon was out. And I was just “Oh my gosh”. There’s these two grandmother willows, and there’s water and it just… I always thought people really kind of making it up on that were “And then we stepped in the property and we just knew!” I’m so one of those people now where I’m like “Oh, my God, I just like knew I was just like mesmerized”. So, yeah, that’s what I’m I am in the process of anchoring and creating up here. And it’s amazing. And that’s how I’m nourishing and nurturing myself right now is in this idea of, when I’m able to create space, or give back or inspire in someone else, or hold witness to someone else’s journey. I am like receiving just as much in that moment. I see myself as a perpetual student always right. And I might have gone through initiations or have been gifted information that other people not might not be privy to. But again, it’s that level of responsibility of like as you receive, to keep things in balance, so too must you give, and like give abundantly. Because that’s going to come back to you in the abundance of wisdom that now you’re making room for. New wisdom to come through. New learnings to come through. So I’m yeah, I’m in the midst of quite an epic renovation. And, just really getting to know the land and anchoring the land and crystal gridding the land and just asking for it to show me how it wants to be in service. I feel like it’s chomping at the bit, I feel like it’s “get off us already lady, you don’t need to plaster the walls”. laughs Like, it’s beautiful enough, let’s get going.
Sarah Rigano 35:34
I’m a designer at heart too. So that kind of like old habits die hard. But yeah, that’s, that’s what’s super nourishing. And just like getting to know this space that I, when I first got up here, I really felt like I had to consciously increase my vibration, to the level at which the land was vibrating. And I think I pretty much cried every day for two weeks or so because I just felt so grateful at the fact that I was able to locate this space and this property. And then also, there was a good mix of terror at “what did I just take on?!” Like leaving New York City and then delving into 50 acres is like it’s kind of a thing.
Sarah Rigano 36:30
So yeah, but just then also, knowing in my heart, again, like another pivotal moment on the journey of just being “Oh, my God, this is the right thing”. This is the next and this was all part of it from the beginning, even though I might not have had that visibility. I’m just that again, that idea of like saying yes. And being in surrender, I’m you’re show me teach me What am I supposed to be doing? How, how can I create something that helps as many people as possible. And I think there’s gonna be some incredible conversations that happen here, with regards to bringing some of my elders that I’ve been able to be blessed to work with, other creatives that I know writers, thinkers, makers, everyone. You don’t have to go and pursue some… there can be ceremony and ritual, and intention and consciousness, infused into every aspect and every profession. Those are the conversations that are exciting to me. And I’m sure for you too, like the the individuals that you’re blessed to speak with, everyone is living their own medicine journey, depending on what they’re doing. And that inspires me and co creating with those people really inspires me. So it’s going to be it’s going to be unfolding up here. For probably beginning in the spring.
Tahlee Rouillon 38:10
Wow. Oh, my goodness, I want to go to Skyrise Farm!
Sarah Rigano 38:15
Please! I’d be so honored to have you
Tahlee Rouillon 38:18
Sarah, you truly are a lightkeeper, you have been a beacon on Instagram. And the wisdom that you have shared here has really, I knew it would be good, but it’s truly blown my mind.
Sarah Rigano 38:33
Oh my gosh, that’s so kind, I feel like really humbled to just share my journey and thank you for opening me up to this experience. I think it’s a curious place because this work and everything that’s unfolded for me is so important. I think when you get into this place of this is my life’s work. Like I’ve kind of like figured out why I’m here and what I’m supposed to be doing. Sometimes you can hold it a little bit close and just be cautious about who you share it with and who you speak about it with. So I just also realize that like I was saying, everyone’s experience is inspiration to someone else. And perhaps I know, on my journey and reflecting on certain moments, there were a few words that people had said to me that just like clicked something in me, that set me on my next path. So that’s why I just think that like Form And Light on Instagram, I started that because I was on this journey and just having these experiences and having, the words flow through so beautifully. And it’s much like medicine and reminders for myself as it is for whoever happens to find it. So if we’re all just you doing the thing together and it’s much sweeter and enjoyable when we realize that we’re not alone. And even though we’re having very individualized experiences, there’s support, and there’s community and beautiful experiences, and allies, whether they take human form or a form in the natural world, there’s just, there’s so much support here. So it’s, it’s really beautiful. And you’re obviously in deep service as well, which is lovely.
Tahlee Rouillon 40:37
Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. Yes, I’ve, I have just adored learning from you and listening to you. And I’m just so excited to share your journey and all of your wisdom with the listeners. So thank you so much for being so open and vulnerable and generous with your time and your wisdom. So thank you.
Sarah Rigano 41:05
I am beyond honored. Be well.
Tahlee Rouillon 41:08
Thank you for listening to the Seekers’ Sanctuary podcast. I’ve been your host Tahlee. If you’ve enjoyed the music on this show, then you’re going to love becoming a Seekers’ Sanctuary member. You can access hours of calming meditones music on any device with our premium streaming service. Head to seeksanctuary.com for your free trial today. Special thanks to our editor Justin Rouillon for helping bring these episodes to life. Until next time, big love.