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.
This Monday, December 21, we are asked by the Knowledge Keepers Council of Turtle Lodge in Canada to light and tend a sacred fire throughout the day in observance of the solstice.
This sacred fire can be either a fire or a candle. Because it may take some lead time to gather the candles or wood for Monday, I wanted to get the word out to you so you might participate, too.
By kindling this light, we kindle our own spirits. By tending this light, we tend to our relationship with Spirit, the natural world, and one another.
From our elders:
“This request of lighting Sacred Fires is in keeping with the ways of our ancestors, the First Peoples, and is the first step to ensure our survival as human beings.
There is fire in each of us that needs to be nurtured. The date chosen to light our Sacred Fires is December 21 2020, the solstice, and we will be joined by people all over the planet.
The fire acts as the entrance to the spiritual realm. It is in humbleness that we request the help of our highest intelligence — the natural forces and laws that govern the universe and the land itself.
We need healing, and the land cleansed from the impurities causing the destruction of life, which are harming the animals, the birds, water, plants, and ourselves. With humility we invoke the help of the spirit so we might evolve to take better care of the earth, and accept with gratitude this collective responsibility.
Through the help of the Sacred Fire we will receive direction that can help us reach a deeper level of understanding, and lead us into balance, harmony, and peace with all life on Mother Earth.
Wherever you may find yourself on Mother Earth, join us in lighting a Sacred Fire that will bring light to a dark world.”
Sitting out in my sit spot each day has had the effect of rooting me more deeply in the rhythms of nature, making me less inclined to fall in line with the demands of the calendar.
I’ve been pressuring myself to kick off a new offering at the start of 2021. But now, after being more intentional about sitting daily in nature, I’m realizing that January is simply not the time for me to birth something new into the world.
Even in the dark days of January, even with a pandemic raging through the land, the messaging of the New Year will be that we need to do more, better, faster, and harder.
Never are we presented with a season for rest, inwardness, or the enjoyment of simple pleasures. And never will we receive it from our culture.
Let us look elsewhere.
About two weeks ago, we took the syrup off of our two beehives. Each year, these busy, honey-making, pollinating creatures of efficiency are forced to retreat into their hives for a few months since they cannot fly once temperatures dip below 55 degrees.
While overwintering, honeybees cluster in a ball, drawing upon their stores of honey to help them generate warmth. Whatever the external conditions, honeybees need to keep the temperature inside the hive a constant 93 degrees. In this way, honeybee colonies resemble mammals more than insects.
We are mammals who also yearn to overwinter by slowing down, sleeping, and eating our winter stores. Darkness and cold triggers a biological yearning down to our cells to recollect ourselves by curling up in a warm and cozy ball and taking a break from the world.
Our human colony, however, demands that we override our biological and soulful instincts. No matter the cost to body, spirit, or planet, we are obligated to do our part to keep the wheels of commerce turning.
Like honeybees on the verge of colony collapse, we fly ourselves bald in the search for ever more nectar in the fields of life. Unlike the honeybees, however, winter is no different for us than any other time of year. We live and die by a modified version of Caesar’s calendar rather than observing the soulful wisdom of Gaia’s calendar.
It is a deeply countercultural move to slow down, rest, and turn inward. Allowing our bodies and spirits to follow the natural rhythm of light is a radical act and a spiritual discipline.
Find an item in nature that reflects the season to you. When you go to take whatever it is from the land, pause and ask if you may take it. Leave a small offering behind in exchange for the gift: tobacco, a shell, a pinch of bread.
We will be sharing these offerings at the start of the circle.
To grow in our understanding and practice of sacred time in our lives.
You are invited to join us for a free online journey circle this Wednesday, December 2 from 4-6 pm PST. Open to all skill levels. Email anna “at” gaiashamanism.com for more information.
I’ve returned to the practice of visiting a daily sit spot out in nature each day. The idea is to be present to the land, listening with my whole body, eyes open or closed. My intention is simple: make time to sit with the Beloved.
I was directed on a journey to make a circle with thorny branches and red rose hips to honor the land where I will be sitting. It isn’t much of a circle but the place where I sit is now marked by a spare and beautiful boundary.
Next, I hope to add some moss hanging from the nearby white oak trees to help round out the circle. I think I’m in the process of building a nest.
In this last month of 2020, we will gather to create sacred space in our days. May this circle be a nest for you, a place separate from the demands of the world, a time for rooting your soul in the leaf litter and messy love of life.
It is fertile here, festive even, in this season of spare branches and red berries. This circle, in this season, is meant to encourage the spiritual observance of rest and regeneration in our lives.
No offering for the circle this week.
No intention beyond asking Spirit how we might create sacred space to help us observe and be nourished by this holy season.
You are invited to join us for a free online journey circle this Wednesday, December 2 from 4-6 pm PST. Open to all skill levels. Email email@example.com for more information.