Photo credit rebrennan.com
Gaia Shamanism held our first online journey circle in honor of Gaia for Earth Day.
The intentions of the circle participants included:
“What can I do? How can I help the earth?”
“Is there something more I can do?”
“How can we prepare our children for the future? What tools can we give them? How do we make change?”
“What I’m doing seems so small.”
And another in our circle spoke of a great sadness and her practice of Ho’oponopono to heal the earth, praying the mantra “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”
After sharing our intentions, we signed off to take a 15 minute journey for guidance from Gaia for Gaia.
My journey for the group for Earth Day was as follows:
The journey circle entered my sacred garden and we sat on the ground in a circle. It was night. We sat silently together, waiting, but no guides came for us. After some time, we walked out of the fenced confines of the garden, downhill along the main path, and seated ourselves in a new circle on giant moss-covered rocks at the heart of this land where three winter streams meet.
Here we stayed holding silent vigil throughout the night while the sounds of coyotes, dogs, and owls echoed throughout the valley. Symbolically speaking, journey circles are a means by which we can step out from our protective frameworks and fences of ordinary “daytime” consciousness to commune with the symphony of life that ever-surrounds us, but to which we are habitually closed off and “asleep.”
It felt vulnerable to be sitting out in the open under the night sky in the circle, but it also felt true, powerful, and full of magic. For a change, this shamanic journey circle placed the dark and wordless wisdom of the earth at the center of our consciousness instead of endlessly spinning around the thoughts, words, and chatter of our species.
Simply put, shamanism is an opportunity to experience Gaia’s wisdom in a new way through an ancient and largely forgotten spiritual way. From Sandra Ingerman, one of the preeminent authors and teachers of shamanism:
“Shamanism is the most ancient spiritual practice known to humankind. We know from the archeological evidence the practice dates back at least 40,000 years. Some anthropologists believe the practice dates back over 100,000 years.
The word ‘shaman’ comes from the Tungus tribe in Siberia and it means spiritual healer or one who sees in the dark. Shamanism has been practiced in Siberia, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, Greenland, and native North and South America.
A shaman is [one] who uses the ability to see ‘with the strong eye’ or ‘with the heart’ to travel into hidden realms.”
The wisdom of the earth is as night to the intellect, signifying that it is of a greater order and hails from a deeper source than that which is constructed by the human mind.
These images underscore why the practice of shamanism can be of help in these times. Shamanism allows us to make use of the rational mind in recording and interpreting our experiences in the unseen world, but the imagery of this journey suggests that the mind is itself powerless to guide us out of the prison of ordinary consciousness. This why “no guide” came to lead us out of the fenced-in garden.
Much as we aren’t going to solve the ecological crisis with the same mindset that helped to create it, these times call upon us to quit the safe and familiar cages of the intellect and journey “downward” into the dark and vulnerable realms of the heart. Here, we can commune with the song of the earth and her creatures, and find fresh guidance for our lives.
At dawn, we heard the sound of a crow cawing at us. Our guide had arrived. We followed crow on foot, journeying all day across fields and roads, until we arrived at Haceta Head lighthouse on the Oregon coast.
Again, it was night. We each took our places around the lighthouse at points equidistant from one another, creating another circle. We stayed awake—silent, still, listening—through the night, facing inward toward the lighthouse.
The imagery of the lighthouse is one worthy of reflection. As you know, lighthouses are navigational aids for ships at sea and also serve as warnings of danger ahead. That we faced inward toward the light suggests that the practice of journeying can help a people “at sea” to keep their bearings in dark and stormy times. The lunar light of inner consciousness, by which the shaman sees, can help us to avoid crashing into the hidden dangers of the visible world.
With sunrise, crow flew upland, above and behind the lighthouse, taking us through forests until we ended up on top of a rocky sea cliff looking down at the ocean below. Then a strange thing happened: as we stood out on the cliff, each of us standing apart and forming another circle, I saw what appeared to be the massive stones of Stonehenge where each member of the group stood. Then I saw the people again. Then the massive stones again. Then the people.
This continued until I realized that we, ourselves, are as sacred stones, holding vigil, staying awake, rock-like and unmoving, each holding her own space, yet doing so together. This was nothing less than an image of our outsized, ancient, weather-beaten, and determined souls standing vigil in this time of climate change and colony collapse.
Our guide crow then shape-shifted into the form of a woman who called herself Raven. When she drew close to each of us in turn, our intentions and emotions welled up inside, bringing each of us to tears.
Raven explained: “When I am close, your wound opens. This is true north for you, your guidance for safe passage through dark seas. Use your concerns, your sadness, your love of the natural world, your yearnings to guide you.” She then kissed each of us gently upon the cheek.
“Be rooted and fiercely awake in your connection to the earth. The answer is not to do more. Know your ground. Hold it. Be true to it.”
“Yours is not a path embraced by the larger culture. That comes later. Do not look to others to affirm your value or your methods. Be willing to stand firm, stand apart, and sound your tone loud and clear out into the world. Connect to the earth with reverence and attention each day.”
Ravens and crows are birds of carrion and they were a common sight on the battlefields of old. At present, we live on a bloody battlefield where two-thirds of the planet’s wild animal population is predicted to die by the year 2020. Pause a moment to let that sink in.
With crow and raven as our guides, we are called to feed on the carnage of these times and use this senseless slaughter as fuel for a true revolution in human consciousness with regard to our relationship to the earth and her creatures, our own species included.
How to do this? Here I take the liberty of weaving together the messages from the journeys of those of us in the circle:
Pay attention to the elements and use the raw material of your life to awaken. Feel the sun on your face, listen to the wind, give thanks for the support of the earth, pray for the water as you drink.
We may not be rooted in an indigenous tradition, but the winds still blow and though we inhabit a harsh and rocky landscape, it is wild and beautiful and we belong to it.
Should we awaken, as individuals and as a people, the carnage of our times will have served a purpose. Sacrifice means “to make sacred.” It is up to us to make sure that the sacrifice of the animals and of the environment are not in vain. Honoring these lives begins with each of us.
To awaken means learning how to show up for relationship to the earth and to life itself. To awaken means learning to live from the heart. The depth of our sorrow is equal to the depth of the love we feel for the earth and this love will enable us to endure the pain of our grief.
Wounds are the result of initiation. As our physical senses come from wounds or holes in our bodies (sight, smell, hearing, taste) so, too, the emotional wounds of living in this world can teach us to see with the eye of the heart and navigate well in dark and stormy seas.
Stonehenge is a mystery to us, not unlike Life itself. The consciousness of those who built and used this sacred place is so alien to our own that we have scarcely scratched the surface of the intent underlying this ancient circle of stones.
With the help of ground-penetrating radar, however, we have discovered that Stonehenge is not only what we see above the ground. Far more of this healing land of stone is now to be found underground —an apt metaphor for the purpose, power, and mystery of the soul.
This underground Source of ancient wisdom awaits our rediscovery still, even as storm clouds gather on the horizon of this age. Everything we need for the future is already given, already present, and as close to us as the ground beneath our feet.
We are not as small and insignificant as we believe, but to awaken, to hold our ground, to join the symphony of life requires that we gather in circles of intention and explore the underground realms of feeling, spirit, and soul. In the words of one in our Earth Day circle: “[O]nly because we were journeying together and I had that strength of our circle to hold me, to contain this intense sorrow, [could I] experience it without collapsing….”
Stonehenge gives us a beautiful image of great souls standing together while also standing apart, united in purpose to foster an experience of the sacred while also standing distinct in position and gifts, each one connected to the unseen power of Source beneath the surface of the visible world.
Sounding our unique and pure tone, learning to live in pitch-perfect alignment with our immense and soulful selves, standing unmoved by weather or praise or the mindset of our times—all of this is captured by the standing rocks of Stonehenge.
All are equal in the circle of life. All are needed that the symphony of life might ring out across the land with fullness and healing power once again.
“Researchers from the Royal College of Art in London have discovered that some of the monument’s stones possess “unusual acoustic properties”—when they are struck they respond with a “loud clanging noise”.
According to Paul Devereux, editor of the journal Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture, this idea could explain why certain bluestones were hauled nearly 200 miles (320 km)—a major technical accomplishment at the time.
In certain ancient cultures rocks that ring out, known as lithophones, were believed to contain mystic or healing powers, and Stonehenge has a history of association with rituals.
The presence of these “ringing rocks” seems to support the hypothesis that Stonehenge was a “place for healing”, as has been pointed out by Bournemouth University archaeologist Timothy Darvill, who consulted with the researchers. Some of the stones of Stonehenge were brought from near a town in Wales called Maenclochog, a name which means “ringing rock.”
Join Gaia Shamanism for the next free online journey circle for Gaia on the full moon, Wednesday, May 10, 6 PM PDT.
For those who have never journeyed before, you might want to check out this blog post. All levels of experience are invited to attend, but do let me know in advance if this is a first for you.
Email me at aalkin07 at gmail dot com to RSVP.