Danna D. Schmidt
Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®
Ordained Wedding Officiant
Master Life-Cycle Celebrant®
Ordained Wedding Officiant
The bride was Barbie, her groom, Ken. And what a lovely event it was. The bride wore a stylish, polyester silk dress with a velcro and lace trim backline, paired with matching plastic stilettos and a tiny white clutch purse. I remember the pride and joy I felt after the ceremony, when I waved and yelled, “Happy Honeymoon!,” as they drove off and out my bedroom door in Barbie’s new motorhome.
My first green burial was around the same time in honor of my beloved first dog, Penny. I laid her still body to rest among the wildflowers and delivered tearful words of committal at her farmyard gravesite.
The appreciation for the art of celebrancy has been in my heart for as long as I can remember. Of course, back in the day, I had no idea what any of that would come to mean. I just knew big life moments deserved to be…well, celebrated.
I would go on to live this intention aloud in my tourism and hospitality work as both destination host and event planner. I came to feel most at home and on task welcoming esteemed visitors to the Province of Alberta and City of Calgary – home to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – by presenting them with a white Stetson cowboy hat, and having them solemnly swear to spread our “heart-warmin’, hand-shakin’, tongue-loosenin’, back-slappin’, neighbor-lovin’ brand of Western spirit to all “folks and critters” who crossed their trail thereafter, and to consecrate their oath with a rebel-yell of Yahoo!
Leap forward in time to fall of 2002, when I decided to enroll in a Religious Perspective on Death and Afterlife class at the University of Calgary. That one class would compel me to switch majors from English to Religious Studies, and would send me on a four-year immersion of all things comparative religions – from the various myths and rituals, to the artifacts and our modern inheritances.
These studies awoke in me a fascination for transformative arts ~ namely, the place where spirituality + creativity collide. While the journey continues, that initial soul nudge in 2005 predicated a decade-long study of artistic and therapeutic practices, healing modalities, wilderness rites of passage, spiritual poetry and pilgrim’s prose.
And then came May 2009, which delivered two pivotal events that would greatly influence my path to celebrancy. First was our recommitment ceremony to celebrate our 25th anniversary as a couple, and second was our niece’s death. Both of these moments evoked in me a compelling urge to mark them — and all high and low points like them — with truth and beauty. I have come to name May of 2009 as the month I inwardly answered the call. It would be another three years before I would go on to study with the Celebrant Foundation & Institute, officially certificate my status, and launch my new business venture.
It’s been a rewarding and eclectic apprenticeship – this road from tourism counselor > hotelier > event planner > copywriter > ritual studies scholar > milestone maven > ordained officiant > ceremonial soulsmith.
Joseph Campbell once observed that it is the great pleasure of a lifetime being who you are. And indeed, it is so. For me, this means being a commemorator, connector, creator, cartographer and compassionista. I’m delighted to be able to fully express these inner archetypes as ceremonialist + certified Master Life-Cycle Celebrant® ~ and humbled that doing so has allowed me to share my life wisdom and gifts with others in a deeply meaningful and inspiring way.
When I’m not officiating ceremonies, I can be found nesting at home rather unceremoniously with my husband of 28 years. We are the proud parents of two amazing teens – our high school-aged daughter, who is a rare indigo girl; and our son, a sophomore in college, who we delight in feeding, clothing and sheltering during his school year hiatuses.
Much to the chagrin of my ever-patient and agreeable family, the truth of the matter is, everyday home life is wrought with ritual inspiration. As a result, this household has known its fair share of milestone extravaganza celebrations, quirky but mandatory annual rituals, backyard Beta fish burial rites, handcrafted guinea pig coffin building, and pet shrouding…to name but a few.
Not surprisingly then, our kids were not afforded discreet coming-of-age experiences. Each new milestone called for custom ceremonial markers and rites too often left unmarked at such an integral threshold point in life. Our son’s (and more recently, our daughter’s) first car purchases demanded a new car blessing ceremony. Ditto his journey to college. That moment lent itself to an elaborately-themed, send-off ceremony complete with a Walla Walla onion initiation ritual. Such are the perks and perils of having an irreverently reverent Celebrant for a mother.
Aside from scheming home ceremonies for my unwitting family members, I love to get lost at play making art. I am drawn to crafting personal altar and ritual items such as mixed media shrines, art cards, totem figures, pocket charms and repurposed nature items. As a trained SoulCollage® facilitator and ardent fan of The Artist’s Way process, I also enjoy leading workshops and retreats on reclaiming creative and spiritual self-sovereignty.
I believe in giving back to my various communities and always have. I do so by volunteering as an in-home hospice and bereavement team member, teen bereavement camp assistant, home funeral alliance board member, personal development retreat aide, and youth mentor. All told, it’s a fine and delicious balance, and one that keeps my life rich, full and immensely rewarding.
But enough about me. I want to know your story. Call or drop me a line and let me know your story, what leads you here, and how I might serve you.
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”