This upcoming, Sunday, June 20, marks the longest day of sunlight here in the northern hemisphere and the longest night for our neighbors to the south.
In honor of the solstice, this month’s free online journey circle will hold the intention of joining the ceremonial dance of our elders–the earth and the sun–to express gratitude and receive guidance at this powerful time of year.
The dance of earth and sun is one of the primary, formative relationships that shape the soul’s journey through life.
At this moment, each of us is ripening into fullness and rooting into the darkest depths of our being. Like Gaia, we are comprised of two hemispheres, too.
We have all experienced the ways the seasons can be of help to us, encouraging us to get out and into the world in the summertime or reminding us to go inward for rest and insight during the darkened days of winter.
But perhaps you have also noticed the ways in which the season doesn’t match the whole of your inner mood?The more outward and bright my days, the more I yearn to slip into the dark waters of dreams and journeys for refreshment. And the darker and colder the season, the more I crave the fire of effort, movement, and relationship to lighten the density and inward pull of wintertime.
For this month’s journey, I propose we investigate the hemisphere of the self that is out-of-step with the dominant season. Perhaps this self will present as a child or as a wiser self from a later stage of life. Maybe this hemisphere of the self will be symbolized as an animal or a landscape that we can relate to, learn from, and explore. Or perhaps this half of the self will be shown as a color, a feeling, or as one of the senses. Who knows?
Our intention will be to meet and learn from the other hemisphere of the self to bring balance, healing, and to learn tangible ways of honoring the whole of ourselves in the months ahead.
In our journey together this solstice, let us show gratitude for the power of the ancient ceremonial dance of the earth and sun, our beloved elders.
May our prayers and journeys this solstice show us how to make our lives into offerings juicy and ripe, rooted and real for Gaia and all her children, human and more-than-human.
Gaia Shamanism’s free online journey circle in honor of the solstice will be held this Wednesday, June 16, from 4-6 pm PDT.
My parents had a labyrinth based on the pattern of the one found in Chartres cathedral on the back portion of their property. It was one of the most beautiful gifts my father gave my mother. It took him hours of painstaking labor to faithfully translate the ancient serpentine pattern onto the ground.
The “lab” (as my mother calls it) had mulch for its winding pathways and wildflowers for walls. It was a place of active engagement with Spirit in their cathedral of Ponderosa pines.
Having access to our own private labyrinth emboldened me to do what I had always wanted but never dared do in public: walk directly to the center of the labyrinth heedless of the established pathways and walls. My young son always objected but I relished walking directly to the center each time.
Sitting in the chair in the center as the others worked their way through the lab gifted me with a new perspective on the spiritual journey. Could I learn to sit in the seat of “arrival” even as I journeyed through life?
Our minds are brilliant at helping us to navigate the world, plan for contingencies, and anticipate the many twists and turns of our lives. But our hearts experience life’s labyrinth in a very different way.
There is so much overlooked beauty in our lives. In our final hours, if we have the leisure, the quiet, and the inclination, we will notice that everything and everyone is illumined from within. In our hurry to get there, to that eternal someplace other than where we are now, we fail to experience the fact that we have already arrived.
We can practice “arriving” before our last moments. At any time, you and I can break with tradition, step over established pathways and walls, and arrive at the sacred center of the heart to sit in heaven.
Around here on the farm, we are readying for a passel of pullets that we are welcoming home this weekend. Pullets are baby chickens who now have feathers and no longer require a heat lamp. In addition to readying our chicken yard for a new flock, we are feverishly cutting grass before fire season, watering fruit trees, and planting two gardens
From the perspective of my mind, these spring days are nothing more than an endless series of to-do lists and feats of physical effort. But then I pause. Our farm, like our lives, is in the process of resurrection. After weathering a decade of illness, we get to begin again. And yet, I still (mostly) overlook the miracle of these days.
Arriving, allowing ourselves to sit in the sacred center, savoring the reality of heaven in our midst, is a deeply counter-cultural move. We aren’t encouraged by our capitalistic system to get acquainted with our inner wholeness, much less notice and savor the honeyed wisdom that we each carry in our hearts.
The mind argues that there is too much pain in the world to enjoy our days deeply. It is a sin to unite ourselves with these Ponderosa pines and sunlit fields fully, bodily, and without reserve.
In fact, it is a sin not to.
We’re never going to find our way into the world we dream possible (to use a phrase of Charles Eisenstein) until we learn how to bring the wisdom of the heart into conversation with the reason of the mind.
It’s not a long journey to arrive there, to that seat where we can experience heaven on earth, though thinking makes it so.
I know a shortcut. Join me. Dare to arrive, while still we live.
A small memento from the outside world that reflects the season, or speaks of beauty, or both to you.
We will access the heart’s view from the center with the help of the drumbeat or rattle.
Our intention is to arrive. We seek to arrive at the sacred center of the heart for an experience of heaven–a taste of wholeness, beauty, or completion–that we have not yet fully embraced.
If you would like to attend this month’s free online journey circle on Wednesday, May 19, from 4-6 pm PST, email me at anna “at” gaiashamanism.com. All skill levels welcome.
In honor of Earth Day, this month’s free online journey circle will hold the intention of growing into a more conscious and mutual relationship with Grandmother Earth.
Most of us in the Western world don’t know how to begin to communicate with Grandmother Earth, though She has provided for every aspect of our material lives, sheltering, feeding, and supporting us every step of the way.
In languages from cultures with a longer memory and more robust connection to Grandmother, “personhood” is often not limited to human beings.
In the Algonquian language of the Ojibwa, for instance, there is a grammatical distinction between animate and inanimate places and things. For the Ojibwa, the grammar of animacy even extends to stones:
I once asked an old Ojibwa man: “Are all the stones about us alive?” He reflected a long while and then replied, “No! But some are.” This qualified answer made a lasting impression on me. …The Ojibwe are not animists in the sense that they dogmatically attribute living souls to inanimate objects such as stones. …It does not involve a consciously formulated theory about the nature of stones. It leaves open a door that our orientation on dogmatic grounds keeps shut tight. Whereas we should never expect a stone to manifest animist properties of any kind under any circumstances, the Ojibwe recognize…potentialities for animation in certain classes of objects under certain circumstances. The Ojibwe do not perceive stones, in general, as animate, any more than we do. The crucial test is experience.
Language shapes reality in ways that either create or foreclose possibilities in the thought horizon of its speakers. Our prevailing cultural dogma, doors shut tight against the sentience of material creation, has us behaving as stones–unfeeling and mute–in relationship to the earth and the other-than-humans in our midst.
As we learn to notice which stones (and people, for that matter) are awake and alive, we ourselves begin to awaken and come to life. As we regain an experience of connection with the “others” beyond words, we open the possibility of becoming more skillful participants in the web of mutual relationships into which we were born.
There are many ways to grow in sensitivity and perception of subtle energies. But the first step is to realize that forming relationships with the other-than-humans, including Grandmother Earth herself, is possible. This is not an article of belief so much as an avenue of inquiry to follow in search of experience.
We can just go outside and start talking to and hugging trees, which would be one way of observing Earth Day. But I have found that I feel foolish when I do this. Not because I’m too grown up for such things, but because energetically it’s like hugging random strangers at a bus stop.
To connect with any given place, tree, stone, or with Grandmother Earth herself, we are asked to notice who is alert and present, who paying attention to us, who is interested in entering into a relationship with us. We begin here: in humility, in attentiveness, and with our sincere desire for a two-way relationship.
If you are like me, your skill at noticing which stone is awake or which tree is waving “hi!” isn’t so obvious or easy. That’s where shamanic journeywork comes in.
This week, we will journey together with the intention of learning how best to honor Grandmother Earth from our respective locations. The inspired wisdom rising up from the ground will take many different forms in our journey circle.
Together we can listen, share, and adopt ideas from others for our own use. Like children learning to speak a new and ancient language, play and action are key to reclaiming an intimate and affectionate relationship with our beloved Grandmother again.
This journey will seek a ritual action for Earth Day, and more importantly, begin the process of reclaiming our relationship with Grandmother in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
If you would like to join us for our free Earth Day journey circle this Wednesday, April 21, from 4-6 pm PDT, email anna “at” gaiashamanism. com.
 A. Irving Hallowell, “Ojibwa Ontology, Behavior, and World View,” in Culture in History: Essays in Honor of Paul Radin, ed. Stanley Diamond (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), pp 24-25.
There’s a place I encountered when I journeyed in our last circle that I suggest we explore together in search of deeper insight into these times.
Our journey through the past year of lockdown and quarantine could be characterized as crawling on our bellies through a dark series of underground tunnels. As the year progressed, we grew somewhat accustomed to navigating through the constraints and uncertainties brought by the pandemic.
But then, suddenly, the nature of our collective journey changes. The underground tunnel ruptures into a place of dark and bewildering immensity. The path, as we have known it, ends.
Here, at the end of the path, with neither stars nor horizon visible, there is no vision to orient us, only sound.
The resonance of this place suggests the presence of a massive cliff rising up behind us, towering over the scene. Just ahead, a chasm plunges down deep into the earth.
Torchlight is of little use here except to illumine the narrow band of solid ground before us. This flickering light helps us to recognize that we are standing on the edge of a cliff.
In the visible world: pandemic, flood, fire, and ice. In the unseen world: the end of the path.
This is a journey to explore this moment in human history.
Let us listen together here at the end of the path. What can we learn about the character and shape of The Change before us?
What can we learn by journeying to this place that we didn’t recognize, feel, or understand before? How does it feel to stop avoiding but instead explore this time and place with the strong eye of the heart?
What is yours to do with the narrow band of time, or solid ground, we have left?
If you would like to attend this month’s free online journey circle on Wednesday, March 17, from 4-6 pm PST, email me at anna “at” gaiashamanism.com. All skill levels welcome.
There’s a place I encountered on a recent journey that keeps calling me to return, in daylight and dream alike, for deeper insight into these times.
This journey begins next to my sacred tree where I am standing and warming myself by a fire. The spirit guide, a black snake, comes forward to take me on an underworld journey.
Sometimes black snakes come to take my clients on journeys as well, though they aren’t always welcomed. After all, aren’t black snakes evil?
Antipathy to the color black—and to snakes—illumines just how uncritically our culture has adopted the symbolic vocabulary of Christianity.
The color black is associated with humility, health, wholeness, and fertility among my Basque ancestors. The opposite of black—the color of life—is not white but instead the color red.
According to the wisdom of these indigenous European elders, red is the color of pride, fever, lack, and barrenness. This is no simple inversion of the color-coding that informs our culture but rather represents an entirely different and pre-Christian constellation of symbolic wisdom.
We build hierarchies of meaning—and whole social orders—from our understandings of color and their oppositions. To free ourselves from the colonizing impulses of Christianity, we would do well to revisit the belief that any color, or creature, is inherently evil. Whenever I see a black snake in these realms, I know that I am on the path of life-giving insight.
As I follow my guide through a series of tunnels in the earth, I notice that there is a faint orangish glow, an echo of light, that enables me to see in these underground realms.
Soon we enter a cave that is almost entirely filled with fire. This is the source of the mysterious light in the underground tunnels. My guide isn’t interested in stopping or slowing down here, even for a moment. Instead, she presses on, staying close to the rock wall at the edge of the cave, and then disappears down a darkened tunnel to the right.
I grab a stick from the ground, plunge it into the fire, and then hurry to catch my guide before she disappears completely from view.
The tunnels seem to be getting larger now, or perhaps I am getting used to the traveling within these networks of constraint, much as we have grown accustomed to the limitations of pandemic and quarantine. Whatever the case, I am feeling more confident in my ability to navigate these pathways with the help of my torch and guide.
Then, suddenly: the air changes. The path stops. I manage to catch myself just before taking another step. The familiar landscape of restriction and containment has ruptured into a land of bewildering immensity.
Here, at the end of the path, with neither stars nor horizon visible, there is no sight to orient me, only sound.
The resonance of this place suggests the presence of a massive cliff rising up behind me, towering over the scene. Just ahead, a chasm plunges down deep into the earth.
My torch, representing human ingenuity, tool-making, and intellect, is of little use here, except to illumine the narrow band of solid ground before me. By its light, I can see the black snake arranging herself into a coil at the edge of the cliff.
The scale and size of this place give me vertigo. I take my seat, gingerly, in the dark.
This place is a metaphor for the times in which we now find ourselves.
In the visible world: pandemic, flood, fire, and ice. In the unseen world: the path, as we know it, ends here.
What does it mean to reach the end of the path? This is what I have been turning over in my mind as I listen here at the cliff’s edge.
The fires, the arctic storms, the pandemic itself, are telling us that we have reached the logical limit of controlling and rearranging the natural world to our liking. Any attempt to move forward from here on the path of business-as-usual is lethal.
Yet, there remains a small band of time, a sliver of solid ground, upon which we still stand.
The scale of the energies at play in our world is downright overwhelming. Unforgiving cliff walls rise up behind and plunge down before us. This moment is so much bigger than we are.
This is how the ancient ones felt when faced with the raw power of nature, the absurd task of feeding and clothing and protecting their people, and the realization that a lifetime is but a small sliver of ground in the face of eternity.
But at the end of the path, a narrow patch of ground remains. It is small, precious, and precarious, as ever has been the case.
Spirit’s question for us at the end of the path is this: what do you want to do from here?
What liberating, scary, delicious gift have you been waiting to bestow upon the world?
Whatever it is, whatever your circumstance, now is the moment to begin.
If you would like to explore the place at the end of the path and your part in the larger story of these times, this might be a good time to book a shamanic guidance session: http://gaiashamanism.com/shamanic-guidance/
This month’s online journey circle holds a simple intention: to meet by the light of the sacred center in the Spirit world and request an experience of compassion, wisdom, humor, or clarity about something that is difficult, confusing, or unresolved in your life.
A lit candle to feed the fire that marks the meeting place of heaven and earth in both the seen and unseen worlds.
If you would like to attend this month’s free online journey circle on Wednesday, February 17, from 4-6 pm PST, email me at anna “at” gaiashamanism.com. All skill levels welcome.
This week marks our last weekly journey circle for the foreseeable future. Instead of a weekly format, I will be offering a free online journey circle on the third Wednesday of each month, 4-6 pm PST, starting this February.
Making room for new things to take root in our lives is a spiritual discipline, even when we don’t have the foggiest idea of what comes next. Perhaps especially then.
I have loved seeing and journeying with the members of the circle each week. Over the past year, it seems that my role was to keep the porch light on in a dark and scary time. Our collective dark night is by no means over, but here in the US, we have earned ourselves a rest. What a month January has been!
My spiritual journey is taking me into the study and practice of the Mongolian-Siberian shamanic tradition. To learn the names and functions of the many helping spirits in this pantheon reminds me of the challenge of keeping up with the characters in a Russian novel. I love the poetry, potency, and relational focus of this path, but I need to reclaim some hours in my week to help me make this spiritual dialect my own.
Accompanying others on their spiritual journeys remains my greatest honor and joy. If you’ve not tried a one-on-one journey with me yet, hit me up. It is profound and potent work that happens to feel like play. http://gaiashamanism.com/
Making room for what’s next is a spiritual discipline. I, for one, don’t love letting go (thus the discipline) but know that more is coming, be it rituals, pilgrimages, retreats, or writing.
I’m going to miss seeing y’all in circle each week. But I look forward to seeing what we’ll cook up next.
If you would like to attend this week’s journey circle this Wednesday, January 27, from 4-6 pm PST, email me at anna “at” gaiashamanism.com. All skill levels welcome.
This week we will again gather to feed the ritual fire at the center of our journey circle.
One definition of God that I have grown to love is “an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” The Divine fire lives at the center of all people, plants, rocks, bacteria, and trees. At the center of all life experiences and historical events, too, the divine fire dwells.
To connect to the sacred center within is to find oneself connected to all the “other” centers, or fires, also united by the dark sky of Spirit.
It is all here, in the center. Always we look elsewhere for the power, the understanding, the warmth, and overlook the sacred glow of embers deep within ourselves and just beneath the surface of the ordinary.
In our final hours of life, however, we will be in touch with the sacred light emanating from the center of all things–hairbrush, tree, spoon, hand–and the sight will bring tears to our eyes.
Let us journey this week to experience the illumined reality of our lives before we reach the end. May we be guided through the dark times by the subtle glow of the sacred center in all things.
Please light a candle to feed the enduring fire at the center of our circle.
Let us revisit a place, a moment, a relationship, or even a world event with the intention of re-visioning, seeing again, by the sacred light that emanates from all things.
You are invited to join us for a free online journey circle this Wednesday, January 20 from 4-6 pm PST. Open to all skill levels. Email anna “at” gaiashamanism.com for more information.
When the US Capitol was being stormed last Wednesday, I was out in my sit spot in the woods. That sit spot, now demarked with fir boughs and tree branches with red berries, grounds and reminds me of the consistent work that is needed to maintain and protect our connection to the sacred center.
Most every time I go to my spot, I notice that some portion of the circle has been moved, likely by a critter in the night. I love finding evidence of the activity of the other animals who call this land home and the process of recreating the sacred circle in nature each day.
My sit spot is teaching me that it takes consistent, daily effort to care for the center and maintain our connection to the healing and wholing power of the sacred for the short time we have here on earth.
The sacred center, where spirit and matter meet, is marked by the presence of fire. It is our sacred charge to tend the fire at our individual and collective centers lest they are quelled by the harsh winds of pandemic, upheaval, and violence.
But more than simply keeping the fire from going out, we are called to tend the fire of Spirit within and among ourselves until we have a crackling blaze of healing, warmth, and vision to offer our darkening world.
This week, I ask that each of you join with a lit candle to represent our individual and common center in Spirit.
This journey will be to the campfire in the forested center of our souls and our circle. Take your time to explore, learn from, and be healed by this place. Tend the fire to help it burn bigger and brighter for all. Rest here to thaw, regroup, or heal in this profound and safe place.
While you are tending the fire, ask for a Spirit guide to join you. Learn how you can feed the fire of the sacred center. What practices will help ground and anchor you in Spirit? How can you foster balance in your own life and in your community?
What else do you need help with or wish to ask of your guide? Do be sure to express gratitude to your spirit guide and to the fire.
You are invited to join us for a free online journey circle this Wednesday, January 13 from 4-6 pm PST. Open to all skill levels. Email anna “at” gaiashamanism.com for more information.