"Cry Me a River: A Ceremony for Dampened Spirits" By Mama Donna Henes

Sometimes our life and times, with its constant bombardment of negativity and steady accumulation of stress, seems like too much to endure. 

Oftentimes, we aren’t even consciously aware that we are annoyed, upset, dispirited. We simply carry on. We persevere. We do what we need to do. We conscientiously continue on continuing on, ignoring our feelings, suppressing our sadness.

Until the day comes when we can stand it no longer, and then the dams break and our constricted emotions overflow. We find ourselves sobbing helplessly for no reason at all, or weeping at Hallmark commercials, completely appalled that we could succumb to such blatant emotional manipulation.

But, then again, sometimes we just can’t cry. We feel like it. We want to. We need to. But we just can’t let go. We are bound tight by some excruciating kind of crippling constipation of expression. I recently experienced a series of disappointments and setbacks. I stewed and stomped and swore, but I couldn’t find release. Then, one evening after bending down to put something away, I stood up quickly and smacked my head into an open kitchen cabinet door. That did it. I burst into tears, bawled like a baby, and within moments I felt much, much better.

There is nothing quite so satisfying as a nice, good cry. Humans cry two different grades of tears, both of which are incredibly cleansing. The tears we shed when we get something in our eye — dust or an eyelash, for example, or while we are peeling an onion, or smelling smoke, literally washes them clean of a specific irritant.

When we weep emotional tears, we release excess stores of the hormone prolactin, which is potentially toxic if allowed to accumulate in our bodies. The fact that we flush our systems of this poison probably accounts for the fact that in one survey, 85 percent of all women and 73 percent of men testified to how much better they feel after crying.

Research had concluded that people who cannot cry, or who consider that crying is a sign of weakness, suffer a significantly greater incidence of stress related disease such as colitis. According to a report just released, 95% of all illness is stress-related.

Tears are cleansing and refreshing, but there are certainly more agreeable ways to achieve the unburdening relief that they offer than by banging your head against a wall. Over the years I have developed a personal ritual, a Cryfest, wherein I indulge in the consolation of blatant lamentation. This is not about feeling sorry for myself, but a conscious dedication to release and relief. For two solid days I allow myself to weep and wallow, really revel in royal melancholy, after which I am renewed and ready to face anything.

Here are some suggested preparations for your own Cryfest:

- Set aside a weekend when you can be alone.

- Stock up on your favorite comfort foods. I usually do it while fasting, but you can use ice cream or wine 

  or Chinese food or whatever else you crave for solace.

- Rent at least twelve tearjerker tapes or DVD’s.

- Take a long, hot bath to relax and release your resistance.

- Settle into bed or onto the sofa for the marathon.

- Make sure you have handy a box of 

   ultra soft tissues, or better yet, a pile of lace trimmed, embroidered and crocheted hankies.

- Turn on the TV and let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.

Some Recommended Tearjerkers

A Night to Remember

Antonia’s Line

Back Street


Brian’s Song

Bridges of Madison County

Brokeback Mountain


Dark Victory

Days of Wine and Roses

Dr. Zhivago


Empire of the Sun

Frankie and Johnny

I Want to Live

Jules et Jim


Little Big Man

Now Voyager


Sophie’s Choice

Stella Davis

Strangers in Good Company

The Bear

The Children’s Hour

The Heiress

The Lion King

The Miracle Worker

The Music Box

The Old Maid

The Spitfire Grill

The Way We Were

Two Women

With a Song in My Heart

Check out the subject index of the “Video Hound’s Golden Movie Retriever” (Visible Ink Press/Gale Research.) It lists three columns of tearjerkers. 

xx Mama Donna

* Unofficial Commissioner of Public Spirit of NYC. - The New Yorker
* For 35 years Ms. Henes has been putting city folk in touch with Mother Earth. - New York Times
* Part performance artist, part witch, part social director for planet earth. - The Village Voice
* A-List exorcist!" - NY Post
* The Original crystal-packing mama. - NY Press  ​​​​

About Mama Donna: Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, contemporary ceremonialist, spiritual teacher, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972.  She has published four books, a CD, an acclaimed Ezine and writes for The Huffington Post, Beliefnet and UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. A noted ritual expert, she serves as a ritual consultant for the television and film industry. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she  offers intuitive tarot readings, spiritual counseling and works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion. 

Mama Donna Henes

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Email: CityShaman@aol.com