Back-to-school


As the air cools here in the Pacific Northwest and apples ripen on the trees, my mind turns not to fall but to the coming back-to-school season.

We carry the memory of returning to school deep inside us, whether we have school-aged children or not, for once we were school-aged children ourselves. 

Each year, after a season of ease, we return to our studies with renewed vigor and interest, though the lessons presented to us by Life are notoriously difficult to comprehend with our minds. But our hearts get it, if only we think to ask.

What juicy, heart-rending, soulful, wide-open learning does this new “school” year hold for you? 

What is your soul’s curriculum this year? Are your learning objectives clear, or do they need refinement? How might you evaluate progress and growth in your learning? 

Together, let’s journey about our soul’s priorities for the new school year. Let us gain clarity, be supportive of one another, and hold ourselves accountable for doing the things that matter most to our hearts and our communities. 
I hope you can join us this week. ūüĆĽ

RSVP

If you hope to attend this free online journey circle on Wednesday, September 1, from 4-6 pm PDT email anna ‚Äúat‚ÄĚ gaiashamanism ‚Äúdot‚ÄĚ com.  All skill levels welcome.

Warm and generous perspective of the heart

For those of you who have never attended a Gaia Shamanism journey circle before, or if it has been a while, I encourage you to attend this week. 

The participants in this weekly journey circle hail from Oregon, Alaska, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maine, Peru, and Canada, to name but a few. Some have journeyed for years, though most are relative newcomers to the practice. Without exception, the folks in this circle are damn good people: funny, real, and insightful.

By journeying, we escape from the predictable narratives and concerns of the mind to discover new questions, remember buried yearnings, and glimpse our lives from the warm and generous perspective of the heart.

To journey together (instead of alone or not at all) is to harness the power of shared intention for our own journeywork. To journey together is also to share in the spiritual spoils of the other wise-hearted folks in the circle, 

Each week, this journey circle surfaces truths I need to remember, that we need to remember, as we make our way on the pathless path of these times.

So come join us.

Practice listening to your subtle feeling sense beneath the roar of thought and mind–with others. Laugh with us. Feel less weird or lonely or lost.  Come fill up on soul food.

I hope to see you in the journey circle this week!

Intention

Bring your own intention for the journey this week.

RSVP

If you hope to attend this free online journey circle on Wednesday, August 25, from 4-6 pm PDT email anna ‚Äúat‚ÄĚ gaiashamanism ‚Äúdot‚ÄĚ com.  All skill levels welcome.

Cleansing

At the moment, I am on a cleanse. My days have been spent shopping, prepping food, and eating bowlfuls of colorful, living stuff. This is not the food of speed and convenience. But, as I chew my food for 45 minutes at mealtimes, I am reminded that this is what healing, patience, and love look like.

On day three of this liver cleanse a headache in my right temple finally abated. Today, on day 4 of 9 days, I am having moments of feeling lighter, like gravity doesn’t have its usual hold on my limbs. And as my liver cools, I can feel my old buddy, Anger, relaxing his grip on me. 

The world’s religions have all built varied forms of fasting into their annual cycle of spiritual observance for a reason: it works. Shift the body, change the mind. 

But we can also cleanse and draw closer to our natural state of effervescence and joy by consuming more–much more–of the good stuff. The cleanse I’m on is not one of starvation, but of feasting on Life.  

This strategy is one we could all use. How have you been fasting from the things that make you feel vibrant, happy, and alive? How might you consume more life, more vitality, more joy so you can release some of the funk and toxicity of living in these times? 

Let’s journey together to find out.

RSVP

If you hope to attend this free online journey circle on Wednesday, August 18, from 4-6 pm PDT email anna ‚Äúat‚ÄĚ gaiashamanism ‚Äúdot‚ÄĚ com.  All skill levels welcome.

Sustaining the soul

This week in Oregon, we expect to see our third heatwave with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees of the¬†summer. While we are lucky not to be trapped under a blanket of wildfire smoke at the moment, the forests and fields here are bone dry. Even my garden bed soil–composted, mulched, and watered daily–has turned to dust.

Our honeybees are now in the season of “summer dearth,” a time when available nectar sources have dried up and there is little to nothing to feed the colony. When summer dearth hits the honeybees hard and long, as it has this year, they have to dip into their reserves to feed the colony through the summer. This¬†means they will not have sufficient honey stores to make it through the¬†winter.

After this next heatwave, I will start feeding “bee tea” (a sugar solution steeped in herbs used in biodynamic farming) to the bees on a regular basis through October.¬†Feeding the bees in a parched and dry landscape¬†is a¬†long-term commitment, but it is also a tangible way of¬†praying for the healing of¬†the honeybees and Gaia alike. With the help of bee tea, our honeybees now overwinter successfully about 80% of the time.

Here in North America, we humans are experiencing a summer dearth of our own. Nectar for the soul is in short supply this summer as the extreme temperatures cook fruit on the vine, wildfires ravage the land, and death tolls mount from the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Living through colony collapse is heart-rending enough, but doubly so when our sources of sustenance and solace for the soul have dried up, flooded, or burned to the ground.

We are not without resources, however. The more we avail ourselves of the hidden nectar of Spirit inside our hearts, the more we can become like stubborn, blooming flowers in a parched and dry land. 

Together, let us seek to return some measure of the beauty, blessing, and delight that we have received from the world back to the world. 

It’s our turn to feed the honeybees and Gaia alike. In so doing, we just¬†might find that our souls are fed more richly than ever before,

Intention

We will be journeying to see which practices we should double down on to feed our souls in harsh times.

I am finding that cultivating community and using rituals inspired by journeys are helping me to feel more zest and joy in life.

What do you need to help sustain your soul in this season of summer dearth? Gaia Shamanism’s free journey circle this week is dedicated to¬†exploring this question.¬†

RSVP

If you hope to attend this free online journey circle on¬†Wednesday, August 11, from 4-6 pm PDT email anna “at” gaiashamanism “dot” com. ¬†All skill levels welcome

Pilgrimage to the world tree

The world tree is a recurring image in mythological traditions from around the world. 

From Wikipedia:

“Scholarship states that many Eurasian mythologies share the motif of the “world tree”, “cosmic tree”, or “Eagle and Serpent Tree”.[1] More specifically, it shows up in “Haitian, Finnish, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Siberian and northern Asian Shamanic folklore”.[2]

The World Tree is often identified with the Tree of Life,[3] and also fulfills the role of an axis mundi, that is, a center or axis of the world.[4] It is also located at the center of the world and represents the order and harmony of the cosmos.[5] 

Its branches are said to reach the skies and its roots to connect the human or earthly world with an underworld or subterranean realm. Because of this, the tree was worshipped as a mediator between Heavens and Earth.[7] 

Each part of the tree corresponds to one of the three spheres of the world (treetops – heavens; trunk – middle world or earth; roots – underworld) and is also associated with a classical element (top part – fire; middle part – earth, soil, ground; bottom part – water).[6]

On the treetops are located the stars and heavenly bodies, along with an eagle’s nest; several species of birds perch among its branches; humans and animals of every kind live under its branches, and near the root is the dwelling place of snakes and every sort of reptiles.[8][9]

A bird perches atop its foliage. The eagle seems to be the bird mosty frequently seen in folklore, fulfilling the role of a creator or weather deity.[12] Its opposite is a snake or serpentine creature that crawls between the tree roots, being a “symbol of the underworld”.[13][14]

The imagery of the World Tree is sometimes associated with conferring immortality, either by a fruit that grows on it or by a spring located nearby.[15][16] In some descriptions, this “water of life” may also flow from the roots of the tree.[17]

For our journey this week, I propose we undertake a pilgrimage to the world tree. A pilgrimage is a sacred journey to a place of power for healing or wisdom.

What might you seek from encountering the venerable world tree recognized across time and various cultures? 

I hope you can join us for a very special journey this week.

RSVP

If you hope to attend this circle, email anna “at” gaiashamanism “dot” com for this free online journey circle on Wednesday, July 21 from 4-6 pm PDT. All skill levels welcome.

Into the depths

Bring your own intention to the circle this week. 

The most powerful intentions are deeply felt intentions. If there is something you have been feeling under the surface of your own life or our collective life, but need clarity on, you might bring that to the circle to explore in a journey.

Often, however, our¬†minds miss or avoid our deepest feelings, making intention-setting more¬†difficult. In this¬†case, it can be a¬†fruitful exercise to journey¬†into¬†the watery depths in order to become more aware of your soul’s intentions and dreams for you.

In either case, I do hope you can find the time to join us for the journey circle this week.

RSVP

Email anna ‚Äúat‚ÄĚ gaiashamanism.com if you would like to join the free online journey circle this Wednesday, July 14 from 4-6 pm PDT. All skill levels welcome.

Unexpected beauty

Bring your own intention to Gaia Shamanism’s free online journey circle this week.¬†

By descending from the cramped quarters of the discursive mind into the generous vision of the heart, what unexpected beauty stands in the field of your life awaiting notice?

Let us discover the¬†heart’s more complete and whole perspective together this Wednesday from 4-6 pm PDT.

I look forward to journeying with you soon!

RSVP

Email anna “at” gaiashamanism.com if you would like to join the free online journey circle this Wednesday, July 7, from 4-6 pm PDT. All skill levels welcome.

Feeding the soul

In keeping with the theme of relaxed summer gatherings around the pool of Spirit, I invite you to bring your own intention to the journey circle this week.

The mere act of seeking an intention to journey on is to practice seeing your daily life in light of the sacred.

Honey–like soul food–is made, not found. Going out into the fields of life to fill up on the nectar of experience is not sufficient to feed the soul. The stuff of life must be chewed on, refined, and digested to yield the golden sustenance that is capable of feeding our souls through the inevitable difficult days of winter.¬†

Our spiritual elders, the honeybees, teach us that the process of transforming nectar into soul food cannot accomplished by the individual alone. 

It takes the effort of at least six honeybees to create a teaspoon of honey. Each forager who sips nectar directly from flowers in the fields begins the process of digestion in her honey stomach, an organ analogous to the soul in humans.

The foraging honeybee returns to the hive and spits the partially-metabolized nectar from her honey stomach into the mouth of another worker bee who then takes it into her honey stomach, works on it, and then passes it along to another, and another, until the nectar is transformed into the medicinal, antimicrobial, and eternally-viable substance we know as honey. 

For our species, transforming the nectar of raw experience into food for the soul is also a process of digestion. To feed the soul, of course, we don’t metabolize physical substances so much as engage in sense-making through symbol, story, and creativity.¬†

And like the honeybees, it takes conversation with one other, or circle of others, to facilitate the meaning-making process of soul work.

We transform the nectar of life experience–poison oak and sunflower, alike– into honey through a process that includes attentiveness to the events of our lives (intention), meditation of the heart (journeywork), and conversation with others (guidance sessions/circle).¬†

I hope you can join us this Wednesday from 4-6 pm PDT on zoom for some honey-making, soul nourishing, fun.

Email your interest in joining Gaia Shamanism’s free weekly journey circle to anna “at” gaiashamanism.com. All skill levels welcome.

Weekly summertime journey circle

This summer I will once again begin hosting free weekly online journey circles on Wednesdays from 4-6 pm PDT.

When I was a kid, my mom hosted a weekly gathering every Sunday. It was a standing date that helped us all get through the heat of the Texas summers. 

Mom provided the swimming pool and a big bowl of sangria wine. Her friends brought food and drink, one brought his laundry, and mom floated in the pool along with everyone else. 

Those Sundays were wonderful because of their simplicity, the fact that the hostess was having just as much fun as everyone else, and the sense of community that grew over years of those open houses.

This summer, I aim to continue my mom’s tradition in my own way. You might say that the drumbeat is the sangria and the Spirit world is our common swimming pool.

Our intention will be what we bring to the circle that week. Together we will practice and grow in our journeywork skills, get to know each other, and deepen our connection with the soul or deep self.

It will be a refreshing, joy-filled time, more so with repetition.

Join us! You can find me out back, floating in the pool.

‚ėÄ

RSVP with your interest to anna “at” gaiashamanism.com to receive the zoom invitation. All skill levels welcome.

Solstice: Joining the dance of our elders

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.¬†¬†

Email your interest to¬†anna ‚Äúat‚ÄĚ gaiashamanism.com.¬† All skill levels welcome. I hope you can join us!