Sacred Coca Leaves: An interview with J.E. Williams, OMD

Photo of sacred coca leaves by J.E. Willianms, OMD from his article “Revisiting the Purity of Ancient Spirituality”.

(This interview with James Williams was published in my newsletter before 2012. It is still valid today as we navigate the fifth world.)

Dr. Williams has over twenty-five years of experience in integrative medicine specializing in rejuvenation and longevity medicine and is an internationally known expert in immunity. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and articles on sustainable medicine, ethnobotany, and biodiversity, and has written five books: Viral Immunity, Prolonging Health, Beating the Flu, and The Andean Codex (on Peruvian Shamanism), and Winter Rain, a book of poetry. Since 1967, he has lived and worked with indigenous tribes to protect and preserve culture, environment, and intellectual rights. His current work with the Q’ero in the Peruvian Andes includes building projects, education, and community health. He has been initiated into the traditional shamanic lineage of the Q’ero and is an adopted family member. He is one of the founders of Ayniglobal.

As a researcher, doctor, and spiritual guide, you have devoted a lot of your life to the study of plants.  Have you always felt a connection to the plant world?

Yes. I was raised on an old fashioned working farm and was very close to nature since early childhood. The forest was my home and even now, I feel most at home in the deep forest. The trees and plants were my friends, and animals my brothers and sisters.

In your book, “The Andean Codex”, you describe your apprenticeship with an Andean paqo or shaman named Don Sebastian Palqar Flores. He teaches you about the sacred coca plant. Why is coca associated with spirit and ceremony?

Mama coca, as we call the spirit of the coca plant, is considered the “bridge” between the human world and the spiritual world. It is the leveling ground, the starting place for communication where everyone has an equal voice. It is also the way the high mountain Quechua natives adapt to the extremes of living at altitudes above 12,000 feet.

Is coca considered to be a plant teacher like ayahuasca or San Pedro cactus?

Coca is not a hallucinogen. It heightens awareness and sharpens consciousness. In that way, it is unlike Ayahuasca or Huachuma (San Pedro), which are used in special ceremonies because of the intensity of the experience. You might say that coca is the mother of them all that confers the wisdom needed to guide our actions and thoughts.

What does a k’intu symbolize?

The K’intu is composed of three perfect coca leaves. It symbolizes the three worlds of the Andean cosmosvision and the three dimension of time-space-energy. A k’intu is always used as a blessing and offering to Pachamama, the Apus, to the Awkikuna (nature spirits), and to fellow humans during ritual coca leaf chewing.

I once saw a photo of a paqo blowing into a k’intu. Why is this done?

We blow our breath into the k’intu offering our soul, our life’s breath, fully and completely during ceremonies.

When you use sacred coca leaves in ritual, can you sense or hear Mama Coca?

Yes. Mamacoca opens intuition and reason for wise decisions along the shamanic journey or on the high mountain trails. The connection is felt as a unity between heart and mind, emotion and thought. Nature responds synchronistically by sending an animal messenger or uniquely shaped clouds or rainbows.

How does exchanging and chewing coca leaves help to weave the community together?

Every important act, and all is important to the Q’ero, is begun and ended with the ritual group sharing of coca leaves. When we visit a paqo, coca leaves are brought as a gift. When we make a ceremonial offering, called a despacho, we include coca leaves. When disagreements arise, as in all human affairs, when coca leaves are present, no one raises his or her voice over another.

Andean people used to exchange coca leaves to seal a bargain.  Have you ever seen anyone do this?

Coca leaves are used in this way and in all aspects of daily life in the Andes.

Don Sebastian is well-known for his coca leaf divination. What happens during one of these readings?

He consults Mamacoca by offering prayers for the individual in question, then letting the leaves fall like petals onto a ceremonial cloth called an uncuno. Unusually shaped leaves are selected from the bunch of coca leaves and are ascribed meaning according to their shape, size, and uniqueness. Sebastian then gives an assessment of what he sees, feels, and intuits all based upon his experience and what his guardian Apus inform him.

When is a coca leaf divination performed?

Divination can be performed at any time and for a number of occasions including during illness.

Are divinations ever performed to guide groups of people or all of humanity?

Yes, they are used to guide the community or during special ceremonies, for example when we go in the high mountains for shamanic initiations. They have not been used to guide humanity, but we are preparing for a large ceremony to take place in Peru specifically for this purpose.

What is the most profound thing you have learned from your contact with the spirit of the coca plant?

The most profound thing is the most simple. We are to learn a new way of living on the Earth. During these planetary transition times, we are to hold tight to Pachamama’s teaching of Ayni, the way of mutual reciprocity and spirituality guided by reason.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge with the readers of this newsletter.   How can we learn more about your work and teachings?

Come on one of our journeys to Peru. See the website: www.andeancodex.com

 

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Dreaming An Animal Spirit Teacher

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Wild Unknown Tarot: Temperance

Dreams that introduce you to nature energies are very special.  Sometimes there is a natural energy that is wanting to work with you but you’re not aware of it.  Dreams are a wonderful way to experience this.  It is especially powerful if there is synchronicity between your dreams and waking life.

You may receive frequent messages in the form of symbols, animal teachers, or natural forces in dreams.  It is usually helpful to pay attention to elements of nature that you dream about the most.

I was introduced to the white egret spirit this way.  I live in Florida and egrets are very common in my town.  I have also had chronic health problems. At one point in my illness, I had very little hope.  At this time, I began to have beautiful dreams where a brilliant, white egret would appear.  There was something comforting about this nature spirit but I didn’t understand its message.  I knew it was important but did not know how to work with it.  This was in the period before I began to study shamanism with teachers.  I was trying to learn on my own.

I began to notice the egret flying over the car or crossing my path in very important moments.  I would feel comforted but didn’t quite understand its meaning.  Then I received a shamanic soul retrieval as a part of my healing process.  I was given two animal helping spirits.  This soul retrieval was performed by a woman in another city who did not know of my connection with this bird.  One of the helping spirits I received was the egret.  The next day, I discovered its wonderful gift.  I was experiencing some emotional turmoil from the healing and as I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable, a white egret flew in front of me.

I noticed that its gift included helping me feel more peaceful during times of emotional turmoil.  Since then, it is help me many times often and very dramatic and singular ways.  One time, I was very worried about my health.  I had some alarming symptoms and my health practitioners were a little concerned.  I might have a serious problem. I was trying to calm myself down and not become upset.  My intuition was telling me that the situation was going to be fine but my rational mind wouldn’t listen.  As I was returning home from my health appointment, there was a snowy egret standing in our front yard. This had never happened before. The “problem” turned out to be a false alarm.

Another time a local bank “lost” a cash deposit in the ATM. The bank employees were not too helpful. It was a substantial deposit and, once again, the egret appeared. By this time, I was familiar with the process and I really felt it would all work out. The bank later found the deposit.

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The egret has also helped me to dream in a new way. After a particularly vivid dream featuring an egret floating over a bayou in the late afternoon sun, I journeyed back into the dream and discovered another gift. Flying with this beautiful bird has helped me to enter the dream state more consciously. 

Posted in animal spirit helpers, dreams, nature divination, shamanic jouneying, shamanism, shamanism | 2 Comments

K’ICHE MAYAN CALENDAR DIVINATION USING TZITE SACRED SEEDS 

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Dark Goddess Tarot: Coatlicue

(This interview with Anita Garrett was published in my newsletter before 2012. It is still valid today as we navigate the fifth world.)



An Interview with Anita Garr, assistant to Don Rigoberto Itzep Chanchavac 

How did you come to work with Don Rigoberto?

Before I met him for the first time, I had heard of him through Aluna Joy Yaxkin and also through a friend who was the founder and director of a non-profit organization that had humanitarian projects in Guatemala. I was on the board of that organization and made several trips to a group of Mayan villages to work on our projects. Aluna Joy had written two articles on her experience with Don Rigoberto in Momostenango, Guatemala. What she wrote had moved and inspired me to such a degree that I felt it was very important for me to meet him. I contacted her and obtained directions to his house in Momostenango; she told me something of his work and family. He and his wife were very gracious, friendly and welcoming to me. My visit also happened to coincide with a four-day intimate and small international gathering that Don Rigoberto had created to celebrate the fall equinox in Momostenango in the year 2000. This offered me the opportunity to experience Mayan sacred ceremony first-hand at hilltop altars and shrines as well as participate in a “Tuj”, a traditional K’iche Mayan sweatbath which is an essential component of K’iche Mayan ancestral healing and medicine. I remained in Momostenango a few weeks and had frequent contact with Don Rigoberto and his wife Dona Maria. This was the beginning of a long-standing friendship and an on-going working relationship.

What was your first experience of Mayan divination with sacred seeds?

My first experience was in several small K’iche Mayan villages near Nebaj Quiche, Guatemala. I was spending six weeks in those villages working on projects for my humanitarian organization and got to know a number of respected traditional elders who were esteemed community spiritual leaders. I had seen them perform these readings from a distance and had faith in the process as well as in their abilities, knowledge and wisdom. The accuracy and relevancy of the answers obtained through this process was impressive. The elders often consulted the tzite seeds for wisdom and guidance when planning community events and celebrations, when making decisions on behalf of their villages. They had great confidence in the tzite, i.e. this ancient system of calendar divination, as well as its ability to call forth wisdom, information, guidance and direction from spiritual realms.

What happens during a divination ritual?

The K’iche Maya daykeeper or priest [ajq’ij or [chuchkahaw] begins by removing the bright-red tzite seeds from his sacred bundle of seeds and crystals and places them in a large pile on a hand-woven cloth. He or she usually has a special table set aside for this purpose close to his or her home altar. It is here that the client consults the Maya priest [or spiritual guide as they prefer to be called] for spiritual counseling and divination readings as well as requests for sacred ceremonies. The Maya daykeeper or priest moves the sacred tzite seeds in a circular motion with his or her hand, blows on them and prays over them asking Ahaw [the Creator] and the Nawales [spirits of the daysigns] to guide him and empower or facilitate the reading. He divides the pile of 260 seeds into four smaller piles and then begins to create rows of seed groups to answer the first of four related questions on a particular topic or issue. He creates groups of four seeds until he runs out of seeds. It is auspicious if the last little group of seeds has 2 or 4 seeds. Each little group of seeds represents a specific calendar date in the 260 day ritual calendar. He might begin counting dates on the date Wajshakib’ B’atz, the K’iche ritual calendar New Year, or the client’s birthsign date or the ritual calendar date on which the reading is taking place. This varies from daykeeper to daykeeper, but the method remains the same. The daykeeper or Maya priest says the calendar date out loud as he or she counts days and goes through the rows of seed groups twice. The last date he reaches each time he counts is significant as well as any date that activates his or her “blood lightening”, i.e. causes movements of energy, tingling and pulsations of energy in the priest’s body that are moving through his or her bloodstream. The calendar dates that emerge during the divination reading and the location of the priest’s “blood lightening” shed light on the client’s problem or issue and assist in answering the question posed in the reading, clarifying the situation, suggesting a solution to the problem. There are commonly understood meanings or sets of meanings for each daysign that emerges during the reading or for the “blood lightening” movements within the priest’s body. The meaning would depend on the question, problem, issue or situation that is being addressed by the divination reading. The meanings change according to the theme, purpose and context of the reading. A particular daysign has one meaning within the context of a reading on a proposed marriage and another in relation to an illness, for example.

When is divination performed?

The K’iche Maya do divinations to determine the cause of an illness and how to work on the spiritual levels to heal it, before making important decisions or changes in their lives, to determine the suitability and compatibility of a potential partner before a formal engagement or marriage, to resolve a conflict or dispute, determine the source of a family or marital problem, to ascertain the potential success or failure of a proposed business deal or trip, to uncover the underlying causes of failed or failing crops, etc. Private consultations/divination with tzite readings/private spiritual counseling sessions are performed for many different reasons but are frequently executed for the purpose of obtaining greater clarity and insight on the problem, situation or issue the client presents to the Maya spiritual guide.

There is no set time for readings. The client either shows up at the home of the daykeeper or priest unannounced or phones and makes an appointment beforehand. [cell phone technology has made telephones much more accessible than before]

Are there different types of divination rituals with the sacred seeds?

The K’iche Maya use the same basic format for the ritual calendar divination with tzite seeds with every reading. This is a very ancient system and there are references to it in the Pop Wuj, the sacred K’iche scriptures. The grandparents of the hero Jun Junajpu are daykeepers who do this same type of calendar divination. The calendar date used to begin the reading may vary from daykeeper to daykeeper and the meanings of the ritual calendar dates that emerge during the reading vary according to the issue, situation, problem and theme of the divination reading. So again, a particular date would have one meaning within the context of a business proposal and another if the priest is attempting to uncover the underlying spiritual causes of a chronic illness.

Some anthropologists mention a special bag used for divination. Does Don Rigoberto use a diviner’s bag?

Yes . All new daykeepers receive a cloth bag with 260 tzite seeds at the time of their initiation ceremony on the date Wajshakib’ B’atz, the ritual calendar New Year. This bag is called a “Vara Sagrada” in Spanish and K’iche Mayan; it is usually translated into English as “sacred bundle”.

It symbolizes the profession of daykeeping and the initiate’s sacred mission.

What is the role of the calendar in these divinations?

These divinations are based on the ancient ritual calendar of 260 days, the K’iche Mayan version of the Tzolkin. The priest lines up small groups of seeds and assigns a calendar date to each one. The various meanings of the dates that emerge during the reading answer the client’s questions and shed light on their situations, issues and problems.

Is there a connection between dreams and different types of divination?

Yes. A similar process is taking place in both cases. The K’iche of Momostenango value their dreams and view them as a source of guidance and messages from spiritual realms. The purpose of divination is also to bring forth information, messages, answers, solutions to problems, guidance and direction from spiritual worlds and other dimensions, from our common divine Source. A Maya priest might counsel a client during a reading to pay close attention to his or her dreams and advise that person to look for answers or solutions to problems .Maya daykeepers and priests are adept at dream interpretation.

Is divination with sacred tzite seeds ever performed to guide the destiny of humanity?

Yes. Calendar divination is done in relation to a specific event , project or gathering. Maya priests do divinations on community projects, events and activities. The elders that lead the community have divinations done or they perform them themselves to guide their actions and decisions on behalf of the community. Divinations are performed before organizing an international gathering or deciding whether or not to participate in one. The president of Guatemala is an initiated daykeeper so it’s possible that he sometimes uses calendar divination with tzite seeds to guide his actions and decisions on the national or international levels.

Did Don Rigoberto ever use special crystals with the sacred seeds?

Yes It is part of K’iche tradition for priests to use crystals which they place on their home altar and also form a row of them on their divination table to empower a reading and aide them in the process of drawing down information, answers, messages and guidance from spiritual realms and higher dimensions. There are tiny crystals in the sacred bundle of 260 bright-red sacred tzite seeds . Some Maya priests work with large crystals and use them outdoors during sacred ceremonies . Some priests are adept at reading large crystals and obtaining info or messages from them. This in itself is another form of divination.

Did you ever experience the spiritual aspects of the calendar during these rituals?

Yes. The spiritual power and energy of the Nawales, the Spirits of the daysigns, come through during the reading. The daykeeper or Maya priest experiences tingling, pulsations and energy movements through his or her bloodstream as he or she passes a finger over a particular daysign; this indicates that the daysign and its meanings within the context of that specific reading is part of the answer to the client’s question and may also be a solution to his or her issue/problem. The accuracy of the info and messages coming through, the uncanny relevance of the answers are testimony to the spiritual presence and power of the Nawales. I recall that during a reading in Deland, Florida, I experienced being filled with energy of a positive and spiritual nature as I translated the words of Don Rigoberto into English for a local woman who was receiving a private consultation from him, a divination reading with the sacred seeds. She later commented in an email to us “I really felt the great love you give to all humanity.

Is there a connection between the sacred seeds and the calendar?

Yes. The 260 tzite seeds in the sacred bundle represent the 260 days of the K’iche ritual calendar.

What was the most profound thing that you gained from observing these rituals?

The realization that past, present and future co-exist in the moment and that one already has the answer to a question or solution to a problem if one can tap into the unlimited spiritual guidance available.

How has your understanding of time changed as a result of these experiences?

The divination process transcends time and reveals the interconnectedness and interdependence of past, present and future. One might for example, be ill as a result of a past family dispute or for not honoring a dead relative or ancestor. I would say that my own experience and observations in relation to calendar divination have caused me to perceive time as an integrated whole in which the past, present and future are inherent in the present.

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Divining her creative fire: Imbolc Candle Divination

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Mythical Goddess Tarot: Brigid

Bride (or Brigid as she is more commonly known) is a deity who was revered by my Scottish ancestors for centuries, first as a goddess then as a saint. Healing, creativity, and divination are her gifts. She is associated with fire and also with the water of holy wells. Her festival of Imbolc is today. It’s a great time of year for fire divination with candles.

I once dreamed about Bride and Imbolc. People were placing candles in the hollows of trees and in holes in the ground. The warmth of the fire brought light and healing into the cold ground.

This time of year is associated with preparing the ground for planting in spring. It’s also the beginning of the creative year.

What do you want to create? There is a fire inside that wishes to be expressed in some way this year. I use the following candle divination to help the process flow more easily.

Asking yes or no questions from candle flames or fire

Usually it is very important to attune to the fire before asking questions of it. Fire is the element of quick transformation and it needs to be attuned to. If there’s a spirit or deity you associate with fire, a quick prayer or invocation is often very centering.

It is also helpful to leave a small offering for the fire, such as a stick or drop of oil or small piece of sage if it is a candle.

At some point, you begin to communicate with the fire as a living being. Then it is time to begin your divination work.

The simplest yes or no divination is to center yourself, ask your question, and wait for the flames to either rise up suddenly or drop. If the flames stay the same, you will have to ask another time.

Interpreting the fire

It is also good to watch how the fire burns. If the candle or fire burns cleanly, that is a good sign. There’s a lot of smoke, or if there are interruptions in the burning, this can be a sign of blockages. This can be applied to any fire divination technique that you use.

Imbolc blessings!

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2017 World Tarot Year Card: Wheel of Fortune

I like to use Tarot World Year Cards when planning anything that involves large groups of people or society as a whole. These cards describe what we will all be experiencing and needing in our lives to grow and develop. 2+0+1+7=10, and the tenth Major Arcana card is the Wheel of Fortune. The Wheel of Fortune is associated with luck, big changes, karmic patterns and the growing season.

We’ve just ended a Hermit year, a year of endings and completions. We’ve watched the power of people who “walk their talk” at places like Standing Rock. Now we are going into a new cycle together and big changes are possible. It’s helpful to keep some ideas in mind during a Fortune year:

Bliss is at the center of the Wheel. Joseph Campbell discussed the ancient symbol of Fortuna’s wheel during The Power of Myth. He described the ups and downs we all experience with the Wheel of Fortune. Then he added that bliss was at the wheel’s center. If you follow your bliss, you’ll always be at that center.

The Wheel of Fortune is associated with entrepreneurs. Whether you work for yourself or someone else. be open to opportunities. The Wheel of Fortune creates change and these changes create new ways for all of us to share our gifts. This can be personally and financially rewarding.

Harmonizing with natural cycles helps to ground us during times of change. Big changes are coming this year. This is both exciting and destabilizing. Each season is ruled by one of the elements and we are in the earth element this winter. Earthing, exercises that unite body and spirit, nourishing foods, and introspection can help us to nurture the visions we have received this solstice. Even if you think you did not receive an insight or vision seed for the year, people tend to be reflective at this time of year and your vision for the year is developing. Working with moon cycles, the Mayan Calendar, or the Celtic festivals can help you plan and direct this energy to create results that harmonize with the natural world.

Sacred Circle Tarot: The Wheel

Sacred Circle Tarot: The Wheel

Happy New Year!

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Ancestral Wisdom On The Longest Night

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Greenwood Tarot:King of Cups/Reindeer

Winter solstice is a time of stillness. Yule was the reset button for ancient Europeans: the time to listen to the guidance of the ancestors as the sun is reborn. Megalithic monuments like Stonehenge and Newgrange were aligned with the Winter Solstice.

The Reindeer and Ancestral Wisdom

Last Winter Solstice was my introduction to an ancestral helping spirit who has taught me the importance of this time of year. I was feeling burned out and was practicing sodarshan: a Kundalini Yoga practice. As I struggled with the breathwork (and my runny nose), I began to see “visions”. I was in Northern Europe many centuries ago. I found myself in a tiny hut surrounded by tall thin trees that I did not recognize. The trees were bare and the ground was covered by snow. As soon as I fully saw this scene, I met a being who had deep respect and connection to reindeer. This spirit has continued to work with both myself and a relative this year.

Elen of the Ways and Sovereignty

Winter is associated with the earth element. Earth is a cold, dry element that represents “the get real” time of year. This can feel constricting or constructive, depending on how well the rest of the year has gone. Yet Earth, as Christina Pratt teaches, is also the element representing sovereignty. This element governs both personal sovereignty to claim our own inner authority – and our ability to live in balance with the land.

The symbol for this is the Reindeer Goddess. In Britain, she is called Elen of the Ways. The “ways” were originally reindeer trails that the ancestors followed during the ice age, as well as the red deer trails after the ice receded. In this article about Elen by Caroline Wise, she traces the relationship between hunter/gatherers, shamanic journeying and the health of the land:

“She is the Guardian of the ancient track ways, the Leys, the kundalini currents in nature, and as the Horned Goddess, she leads us to the first trackways, the migratory tracks of the reindeer and later, she leads us to the path of the red deer through the forests.”

Journeying with ley lines

Ley lines are spirit paths.  They represent places where it is easier to travel from one power spot to another.  Your energy field may feel connected to a holy place and you source from it. Lines of light called “cekes” connect you to this place. Honoring this place with ceremony or your intent strengthens this connection.

Soul travel can be made easily and safely this way.  If you’re already familiar with the ley line, you can perform a middle world journey starting at one holy place and ending at the intersection of the ley line with another.

Thom Cowan describes a process for mapping out these lines.  He suggests that you perform a middle world journey, skimming over the surface of your local area.  As you note the location of water and other significant geographical markers, you may begin to notice areas that form a straight line.  Or you may notice the energy lines themselves.  If there are holy places in your area, these are definitely markers for ley lines or spirit paths.

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A Sense of Belonging is Grounded in the Natural World and the Ancestors

 

Green Man Tree Oracle: Scots Pine

Green Man Tree Oracle: Scots Pine

“I’m a Lakota woman. I’m so grateful for that. Not a lot of people around the world can say that. And we are still here, surviving. They were trying to take us out hundreds of years ago. They were trying to take us out a hundred years ago. And everything my ancestors have gone through just to be here today. Yeah, I’m going to stand up because enough is enough. And that’s how I felt during that first relay run. No matter how scared I was, how embarrassed I got, people didn’t understand what I was doing and didn’t support me, I’m going to stand up for my ancestors, for what they did so I could be here, so that we can all be here”. Bobby Jean Three Legs, describing her long distance run to draw attention to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The ancestors show up in a powerful way through our habits and the gifts that we have inherited from them. Much has been written about the painful wounds that are often passed down across generations. But the ancestral helping spirits can also empower us to go beyond what we think we can accomplish because they give us a sense of rootedness and belonging. They can inspire us to protect what is important and reach for a new vision.

That sense of belonging is grounded in the natural world as well. If you are lucky enough to live on the land your ancestors have walked upon, you may experience this connection frequently. Indigenous people often say they live on lands given to them by their Creator. And many indigenous people feel guided or inspired by their ancestors as well. The combination of these two spiritual energies, land and ancestors, can be very powerful as the quote above demonstrates.

Very few of us are indigenous to the lands we inhabit. A lot of ancestral wisdom and ancestor reverence has been lost. Yet we can begin to reconnect to both. The three day holiday of Samhain through Dia de Los Muertos offers a unique opportunity to enhance this connection. In the northern hemisphere, the growing season is either winding down or shifting to winter plants. Lately, I have enjoyed these practices that help me connect to both energies.

Grounding and journeying

In many energy systems, the chakra below the feet and auric field near the skin are connected to your ancestors and home village. I like doing yoga poses or first chakra exercises to stabilize my connection to this chakra and my body. Afterwards, I might use a trance posture to journey to one of my ancestral helping spirits. The shamanic lightbody meditation also helps me to do this.

Outdoor Ancestral “Shrines”

Like many people who honor their ancestors, I have an indoor altar. But the following practice really brought a much deeper experience into my life. On my daily walks, I offer small offerings to places that my ancestral helping spirits feel close to. This has helped me realize how stressed out I can be as I think about my plans for the day. I find that the ancestral helping spirits are easier to hear after I leave my offerings and send them blessings on my walk. I am able to feel their energy lifting me up throughout my day. This can be fleeting but is also very empowering. I’m lucky to be able to go on these walks with my sister or partner.

Two nature energies are specifically connected to my ancestors as a group. The first is water. My ancestors in Europe left beautifully made objects as offerings in bodies of water. When I thank the water I pass by on my daily walks and leave offerings, I connect to an ancestral tradition. The second are pine trees. Pines have been important to my ancestors, showing up on a coat of arms and even on the front lawns of my relatives. One of my ancestral helping spirits feels more clear when I leave offerings at a pine tree. The pines I see throughout the day remind me of this.

Candle Offerings

I am finding this to be a safe way to begin healing “ghost energy” and family beliefs that I no longer want to hold on to. When I first began to “meet” my ancestral helping spirits, I could really tell this difference between their energies and the unresolved issues carried by my ancestors. I wanted a way to send blessings to my unhealed ancestors while reinforcing my connection to the healed ones. I wanted to live in a way that was closer to the healed ancestors’ values.

Fortunately, I was able to ask Jaguar Wisdom (Kenneth Johnson) for his advice. Offerings are often burned on a day in the Mayan calendar that is sacred to the ancestors: Ahau. It is a day that helps people to have courage as well. Some Mayan groups, like the Mam Maya, use candles as offerings on their altars. I burn candles or other offerings completely after my time praying and communing with them. Kenneth told me:

“Actually, Ahau is the favored day for communication with the ancestors. The Maya do have “problems” associated with ancestors, mostly in the form of being out of harmony with “awas,” the code that binds a community or society together. They leave offerings of various kinds for ancestors. I always knew without looking when it was an Ahau day, because you could always see plumes of smoke rising from the cemetery, where people had made a sacred fire at the grave of an ancestor and done offerings.”

Why do this?

I do these things because they help me live in a more courageous way, while feeling connected to deep roots. These practices also help me to speak up when I feel the earth or other people are feeling violated – without feeling disempowered or too frustrated. I feel that my connection to the place I live in is gradually healing. It is a slow process because I was not raised to live this way. But it is happening over time.

Samhain is a time where the veils are thinner and it is a little easier to commune with the ancestors. I hope you feel empowered by your connection to the land and your ancestors.

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Tarot Layout for Activists and Changemakers

 

Tarot of the Sidhe: Dancer Ten

Tarot of the Sidhe: Dancer Ten

 

1. Which movement or vision of collective change do I resonate with?

2. How does this movement mirror a need for change within myself?

3. What action am I inspired to take?

4. What is the benefit of my taking action?

5. What is the downside of taking action?

6. Who or what will help me take this action? ( Or Which nature energy do I source from?)

7. What blessing will I receive when I complete this process?

 

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Journey to a Healed Ancestral Helping Spirit

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Wildwood Tarot: The Seer

(This is a reprint from my Solstice newsletter).

In my last post, I described a simple meditation or shamanic journey to connect with your ancestors. There is an important distinction that, once understood, makes these relationships with the ancestors healthier. Many people might not realize the difference between ancestors and ancestral helping spirits.

Ancestors may include both ancestral helping spirits and the dead, who have unresolved issues they take with them into the afterlife. In shamanic cultures, death does not magically resolve the inner conflicts created during life. However, it can make healing more difficult for the ancestors. Some ancestors may try to create resolution for themselves by influencing their living descendants. Often they don’t mean any harm, but their influence can be toxic. This toxic influence is called ghost energy and can help to create dysfunctional family systems. There are excellent in-depth discussions about ghost energy here and here.

Ghost energy can be resolved in different ways. Sometimes a shamanic healing is required. Nicolas Pauccar Calcina describes the use of colors during a Q’ero ancestral healing ceremony. Another practice taught by Daniel Foor involves connecting with healed ancestral helping spirits. These helping spirits are often ancient and possess knowledge that Western people have lost.

A healed ancestral helping spirit feels whole and complete. They want to communicate with you, they may even challenge your assumptions, but they don’t encourage emotional drama. This is because these spirits lived and died in a good way. They have successfully merged with the oneness and now wish to guide their descendants. In some cultures, this is the true meaning of the ancestors. In fact, the distant or deep ancestors are sometimes thought of as the most integrated.

Connecting with a healed ancestral helping spirit can be one of the most important spiritual influences in a person’s life. In my life, the ancestral helping spirits help to ground me. My awareness of them has nurtured a sense of belonging to all of life. This is a great antidote to the feeling of separation that Western culture imposes on many of us. Connecting with a healed ancestral helping spirit can also help to protect us from distracting ghost energy.

  • Ancestral helping spirits can encourage you. They understand your earthly concerns and want you to share your gifts. They have passed down some of these gifts to you.
  • They can help release unhealthy patterns that have been passed down through your family.
  • The reciprocity involved in tending an ancestral shrine reinforces the connection with loved ones who have crossed over. These shrines contain objects that connect to the ancestral helping spirits.
  • Meeting these spirits is a first step in healing ghost energy, if this is an issue in your life.

The following journey is one I have used with other people and myself to meet one of these helping spirits. The intent is to meet an indigenous healed ancestral spirit. This helping spirit will specialize in ancestral healing and be a type of teacher for you. Every person on Earth has this ancestry.

The Journey

  1. Open sacred space.
  2. Journey to the axis mundi. You may see a great tree with deep roots and many branches. Your intent is to meet one of your indigenous healed ancestral helping spirits.
  3. Go through the tunnel to the lower world. In many cultures, this is the location of the ancestors. (Not all ancestral helping spirits will be here.)
  4. Greet your guardian animal spirit or shamanic guide.
  5. The guardian animal spirit or shamanic guide will guide you to some kind of open space like a clearing.
  6. An energy being with a high vibration is coming towards you. As it moves closer, it will take the form of a man or a woman. This is an ancestral helping spirit.
  7. Spend time with this being as long as you wish.
  8. Return through the tunnel or tree roots to the middle world.
  9. Close sacred space.

 

I hope this practice encourages greater contact with these helping spirits in your life. Please feel free to leave comments or any questions you might have.

Posted in ancestors, ancestral healing, andean mysticism, shamanic jouneying, shamanism, shamanism | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Remembering Our Mother’s Mothers

Greenwood Tarot: 10 of Arrows

Greenwood Tarot: 10 of Arrows

(this is a reprint from my Beltane newsletter).

Matrilineal Bloodline Journey

Every person on Earth has indigenous ancestral helping spirits. These ancient ancestors want to help us remember our connection to the earth. They are luminous beings who often appear in dreams or meditations, perhaps taking the form of a symbol or dressed in the clothing of their times. The ancient indigenous ancestors are relatively easy to reach out to, yet it is helpful to also explore the bloodlines that connect them to us. Ancestors sometimes lived in troubled times and may need healing, so try this meditation with a lineage that feels relatively calm. Shamanic ancestral healers like Christina Pratt and Daniel Foor make a distinction between healthy ancestors and “ghosts”. The ghosts are the ancestors with unresolved issues who pass along unhealthy patterns to their descendants.

You may wish to journey into the bodies of your ancestors first. This is a simple journey (or guided meditation) created by Frank McEowen, practitioner of Celtic Shamanism. I have been using this practice to help myself and others explore the matrilineal ancestral lineage. This lineage carries our mitochondrial DNA. The steps are simple. I have created these instructions as if you were exploring your mtDNA. However, it can be used with any of your ancestral lineages. You may want to smudge yourself and light a candle before beginning.

1. Create sacred space.
2. Ground and center yourself.
3. Call on your helping or guardian spirits or spirit teachers.
4. If you practice shamanic journeying, and it feels appropriate, go to the World Tree. Your spirits will guide you.
5. With your guide, see your most recently departed ancestor on a bloodline that you want to explore. If you wish to explore your matrilineal ancestors, it will be your mother, your mother’s mother, or your mother’s mother’s mother.
6. Step into her body. See through her eyes.
7. Now ask to move to her mother’s body. Once again, step into her body. See through her eyes.
8. Continue to do this until you wish to return.
9. Now come back through the female descendants until you reach the most recently deceased relative on that bloodline.
10. Be with your spirit teacher or guardian spirit and receive their blessing. Now thank your ancestors and return.
11. Open your eyes and close sacred space.

If you find this practice to be helpful, I’ll be including an article about journeying to and working with ancient indigenous ancestors in the next newsletter. Remember to journey to bloodlines with more resolved energies. And it is relatively easy to contact your luminous ancestors by calling to them.  Feel free to contact me with any questions here.

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