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.
We still have some bottles of Wild Rose tincture available for purchase: $15 for a 1 oz. bottle (postage included) or $20 for two.
I have been receiving questions about how to use this tincture and so thought I’d share some thoughts with you.
This tincture is an energy medicine. When I was recovering from childhood trauma, flower essences provided me with invaluable support on my journey. I never forgot it, and so make this tincture each year at the peak of the Nootka rose bloom here at my farm.
My suggestion is to add 6 drops to water, 1-3 times a day. Honeybees are all about the number six, building comb using the shape of hexagons throughout. Using 6 drops at a time helps to build a resonance, or sacred architecture, of energy within.
You are of course welcome to use a number of drops that have a special significance for you. Just make sure you aren’t using so many drops that you are getting soused on this stuff. It’s made with a vodka base.
Much of what and how we experience life operates on the basis of subtle energy. We feel our way through life far more than our minds recognize and it is the feeling sense that wild rose nurtures.
The glorious color, scent, and softness of the wild rose petals encourage the opening of our energetic center: the heart. But wild rose energy is more involved than simply opening the heart chakra. With its thorny stems and prodigious root system, wild rose helps guard and anchor the heart’s blossoming energy.
Add these drops to a big bottle of water for sipping over the course of the day. You might want to take a moment to bless the water with your undivided presence as you add the drops.
Use this water blessed with Nootka rose energy to help you come home to your wild, fragrant. and deep self throughout the day.
This week, on the eve of American Thanksgiving, I propose that we journey together to clear the way for the spontaneous upwelling of gratitude in our lives.
I am not a fan of manufacturing gratitude. There’s subtle aggression at work in the common belief that we should always find things to be grateful about. We force it and think that forcing it is a necessary condition of becoming the kind of people who meet life, and misfortune, with greatness of heart.
But we cannot get from here to there without being real. I, for one, am a big fan of waving my fist at God as a form of prayer. Until we dare to be brave and honest with ourselves about how we really feel, there is no hope of deepening our connection with the divine or growing in generosity of heart.
Sure, profound love and gratitude for life abide at the center of each of us. That’s our normal, natural state of being in the world.
This well of gratitude, however, can be blocked by layers of judgment and unmetabolized feelings. Those who practice feeling their feelings, no matter how difficult, grow into people who can one day meet life with a grateful and fearless heart.
Back to the agression: it is not up to our minds, or our culture, or our religions to dictate how we “should” feel and when. You can’t actually legislate that shit from above, and if you make a habit of trying to do so anyway, you will find that the inexhaustible well of gratitude at your center is increasingly difficult to locate and choked off with rubble.
To be truly grateful, to practice giving thanks as a nation as Covid-19 deaths mount, food lines lengthen, and political theater threatens to spill into violence, let us journey down into the terrain of our souls where our true feelings roam wild and free.
If there is anger or grief or fear or anything else that seeks our attention before we might drink of the waters of gratitude within, this journey is our chance to show hospitality and deference to these elders. Let us sit at the feet of the uncomfortable teachers in our lives, whomever and whatever they might be, so we might be able to receive their blessings.
Think of someone or something that is especially hard for you to feel grateful for at this time. You don’t have to tell us about it, but make an offering of beauty to this person, feeling, or situation to help you soften in relationship to what is.
To clear the way for the upwelling of spontaneous gratitude in the journey of life.
You are invited to join us for a free online journey circle this Wednesday, November 25 from 4-6 pm PST. Open to all skill levels. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I have found myself longing for a text, a spiritual elder in the form of words to help guide, ground, and keep me honest in the crazy whirl of these times.
The Bible is the sacred text handed down to me by all four of my ancestral family lines. The Bible is the spiritual text which shaped and informed me and it is the one in which I am professionally-trained.
But whenever I return to the words of the Bible, I feel imprisoned by a system of thought that orders the world into hierarchies of dominance and has the unfortunate habit of splitting organic wholes into antagonistic polarities such as light vs dark, male vs female, mind vs. body, human vs nature.
For me, reclaiming the value of the dark, the female, the body, and the natural world constitutes a large part of the spiritual and social justice work of this age.
But merely reversing the polarities in our Western worldview isn’t enough. If we are to heal our people and return to our earth-honoring origins, we need to disrupt the linear, conquering, and separating habits of the Western mind.
The practice of drum-based journeywork is a big part of the equation, helping us to remember how to speak the heart-centered language of kinship with soil and soul once again. But this, too, isn’t enough.
We also need to find ways to counter our culture’s tendency to toxic individualism. Spirituality needs to be grounded in shared understandings and communal practice if it is to help us live in ways liberated and liberating.
And so we will anchor our journeys in the teachings of world religions outside the Western canon. These sacred scriptures have much to teach us about the work of cultivating and sustaining Life in ourselves and the world.
This week and for some weeks going forward, I will offer readings from the ancient Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tsu some 2,500 years ago, as the basis for our journeys in the circle.
This week’s passage, titled “Eleven,” in the translation by Gia-Fu Feng:
Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape the clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes that make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
You are encouraged to carry these words with you as you go about the days before our meeting. Allow them to work on you. Together, we will journey on this passage and its teaching for our life, individual and collective.
To deepen your journey experience, search these words for their connection to what you are experiencing in your own life and in our common life.
How might you practice the wisdom of this passage?
This week we will attempt to make the sacred offering of an open heart and mind.
However you wish to symbolize this intention, while putting forth some kind of time or effort, will be what we share at the start of our circle.
To plumb the wisdom of what it means to become useful to Spirit, self, others, and/or the natural world.
You are invited to join us for a free online journey circle this Wednesday, November 18 at 4 pm PST. Open to all skill levels. Email email@example.com for more information.
I awakened this morning to the sound of my mind chattering away. It was so busy in there that it took me some time to notice that there was virtually no space between my thoughts. This is how life used to be for me. It was painful to find myself back in the cramped and noisy prison cell of my mind.
It sneaks up on you, or at least it does me, this increasingly noisy mind, detached from reality, distanced from body and breath, lost in the narrative, separate from the moment, unable to access the real reality just outside ourselves.
How did I get here? TV, for one thing. Refreshing the NYT home page all day long for four days for another. But more than that, I climb up into my head when I am scared.
When I used to pick my son up from daycare after a full day of work, he would invariably cry, yell, and meltdown on the ride home. I couldn’t figure it out; the staff always told me what a good day he had. No one had bitten him, no punches were thrown, pizza abounded at Friday lunch, and yet here he was howling like a banshee the whole way home.
What I came to learn from my son is that when we feel safe we naturally discharge tension and distress. Until we feel safe, we carry it.
I take this morning’s nonstop narrative in my mind to mean that I have been in distress for the past four days, not to mention the past four years. Adults are a lot tricker than toddlers when it comes to feeling and expressing their emotions.
This morning reminded me that stuffed feelings can take the form of mental chatter. This chatter is far more of a problem than any temper tantrum because: a) we tend to believe our thoughts (no matter how off-base); and b) the cascading waterfall of thought distracts us from the quiet awareness just beneath our thoughts. Only when the rowboat of the mind is stilled do we notice the dawn of tranquility.
If you have a monkey-mind like me, take heart: there’s hope. I’m not great at stilling my thoughts in meditation, but I can dive beneath them with the help of the drumbeat. But maybe you find yourself in the throes of some old behavior again, your left eye has developed an involuntary tic, you keep accidentally breaking glassware, or you just want to yell or cry or sleep all day instead.
Consider the possibility that you are in the process of releasing pent-up stress and distress. And that’s a very good thing.
Bring an offering to the circle that symbolizes tranquility or safety for you. For the first-timers, we do a bit of a show-and-tell before we share our intentions and journey.
This week’s intention is wide open and responsive to whatever you feel you most need from Spirit at this time.
You are invited to join us for a free online journey circle this Wednesday, November 11 at 4 pm PST. Open to all skill levels. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.