Water: Receptivity in Being

“And God looked out upon the Waters…”
In many traditions, water predates Creation. It is the primordial beginning, the thing that begets life. In traditions that have a balanced masculine and feminine, Water, especially the ocean, is associated with the Goddess.
The human body is 3/4 water. Consuming enough water increases our coping skills and emotional balance. Water helps all of our systems to function properly. You can survive for a fairly long time without food, but water is required for life.
“Yemaya, wash away all of those things which no longer serve me…”
Salt is cleansing. Water is cleansing. The ocean is the ultimate purifier. There are many traditions in which the best clearing and renewal rituals are done in the ocean. The saltier a body of water, the more it holds you up, supporting you, helping you to relax and float. While this is physical science, it is also spiritual – it is in giving ourselves over to the receptive aspect of the Divine that we find we are most supported.
The Goddess is about being present. When we allow ourselves to be where our feet are, the noise in our heads dissipates, and we stand in Union with the Divine. We allow the Universe to do its work as a perfectly functioning machine, without interjecting our imperfect will (small W) into the Divine stream of perfection.
Find a body of water. The ocean would be best, your bathtub will work in a pinch. Put yourself into the water as thoroughly as is comfortable for you. Feel the water on your skin. Notice the flow or motion around you. Become aware of the change in your experience of gravity. Allow the water to support you in whatever way makes you comfortable. Stay. Continually pull your awareness back into the moment. If emotions come up, bring your attention into the physical sensations of the chemical reaction of the emotion – Where is it centered? Is it hot or cold? Tight or loose? Dull or sharp? Steady or throbbing? Empty or full? Keep doing that until the sensation subsides, and then come back to the external sensations of your interaction with the water.
This is being truly present and in the flow of the Divine. Once you have a visceral memory of being in this state, it becomes easier to re-enter it at any time and under any circumstance.
Posted in Meditation, Mysticism, Personal growth, Practice, Tools

The dangers of practicing plant medicine with poor supervision

Ayahuasca, iowaska, or yagé, is an entheogenic brew made out of Banisteriopsis caapi vine and other ingredients. The brew is used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin.

From a science perspective, Ayahuasca shuts down one of the processes in the intestinal tract (it’s an MAOI) so that the DMT in the brew is actually absorbed. affects the human consciousness for less than six hours, beginning half an hour after consumption and peaking after two hours. MAOIs are used in modern psychiatry, and come with a lot of dietary restrictions.

I and a number of my colleagues have seen a surge in the number of clients seeking assistance post-Ayahuasca ceremony. Some people even come to us shattered; they present as stuck in trauma trance, and their energy looks like broken mirror shards. Most, but not all, have done ceremony in Southern California. Sometimes they’ve gone overseas.

My assessment of the situation is that the people guiding ceremony are not well trained enough to help their clients find a place of resolution and closure before releasing them back into the world. Ayahuasca is a potent mix of plants that takes the participant into their innermost psyche, and brings up trauma and disordered thoughts. The idea behind this ceremony is to help people process their past challenges more rapidly and deeply, creating a sort of Shamanic Death; it is truly Soul work and requires the assistance of a highly skilled shaman, or a depth psychologist.

A word for the people deciding to go to South America for ceremony, because it’s even more problematic. Drug tourism, and that is what this is, is not sacred. It damages the indigenous culture, it’s doing a number on the environment, and it dishonors the plants. There are many people who are trying to cash in on Ayahuasca’s popularity, and not only may they not be properly trained, but there are reports of robbery, rape, and murder stemming from drug tourism.

If a significant portion of people running ceremony in South America aren’t qualified, what does that mean for facilitators in the United States? And how do you even vett them?

In addition to local facilitators not having the psychological skills to help participants process, if they haven’t been properly trained, the plants themselves may turn on them (and, by extension, you). Preparation, from harvest to presentation, is a sacred process. The plant is going to be your inner guide for this journey, its energy is important. In order to form an alliance, the shaman will have to have trained in plant medicine for years with their mentor.

You can have a similar journey of self discovery through Breathwork or Shamanic Journeying. It’s not going to get you as high, and it’s not as easy as drinking some tea, but you’re also not going to purge from both ends, and the dangers are markedly fewer. Your pineal gland produces DMT all on its own – you can learn how to access that without the assistance of a drug.

If you are still looking to do an Ayahuasca ceremony, these should be some of the questions you ask when choosing a facilitator:

  • How long did the shaman study with a mentor, and what is the mentor’s background?
  • Do they have a degree in Depth Psychology, or do they have someone on staff who does? Where did they get their degree?
  • How long have been actively facilitating ceremony?
  • How much preparation will they take you through prior to ceremony? A three day workshop, with the ceremony on the thurd day, followed by additional processing is best.
  • Do they suggest you fast or at least modify your diet prior to ceremony? In the traditional cultures for whom this is sacred, they abstain from spicy and heavily seasoned foods, excess fat, salt, caffeine, acidic foods (such as citrus) and sex before, after, or during a ceremony.
  • What components do they use in making the brew? Does it include Ayahuma bark, which is helpful in avoiding shattering?
  • Do they ask you your medical history and what medications you’re taking? If they don’t, they do not care about your well being.
  • If you have participated in an Ayahuasca Ceremony, and you don’t feel okay, please seek healing from a Shaman who can do soul retrieval, regression therapy, and counseling. Let’s get you put back together.

    Posted in Healing, Health, Herbalism, Personal growth, Practice, Ritual, Shamanism, Tools

    A Tarot Reading for December 2018

    This segment originally appeared in this month’s newsletter

    Strength from the Starman Tarot by Davide and Esther de AngelisI pulled a card from my new Starman Tarot deck, to set up a theme for this month’s newsletter. The card I pulled was Strength. I’ve mentioned elsewhere how much I like this deck for so many reasons, not the least of which how incredibly pointed it is as an oracle. Here’s what Davide and Esther de Angelis have to say about their version of Strength:

    “While this card symbolises strength, its nature is very different and in great contrast to the masculine counterpart of Strength, which is the Chariot. Sheer determination and will are not wielded. Instead the lions that symbolise our innate power and instincts, the frenzy and passion of our emotions, are tamed by the calm, loving, and sure touch of the feminine and purity of heart. The lions have deferred to her inner strength and self mastery and know that they will not be harmed.

    “The feminine speaks the language of the heart and is fearless in its truth. The mandalas alive in the background behind her are generated from the patterns of particle collisions. Particle accelerators allow physicists to study subatomic particles by speeding them in powerful magnetic fields. They then trace the interactions that result from collision – enabling them to delve into the mysteries of the universe: the nature of dark matter and the deep structure of space and time. These particle mandalas represent the phenomenal power and energy that is embedded in nature. Like a mirror, they reflect the powerhouse of humanity waiting to be released.

    “Power is total and complete in itself, making no demands. It instead gives energy, supplies, supports and sustains. Its inferior cousin, force, takes it away, incomplete and always needs to be fed energy from the outside. Power, being whole, needs nothing.

    “The feminine archetype, supremely courageous (heartfelt) in the face of daunting odds knows how to embrace and accept that which otherwise could be lethal and dangerous. She understands the power of acceptance, trusts it wholeheartedly. From experience, she knows that when we face our fears, when we face and bring light to our shadows, they disappear. That’s not to say that she doesn’t feel fear, merely that she feels it and acts anyway.

    “Hers is the courage for instance to face another day when the life of a beloved child has been tragically snatched away. The courage to be in the chaos and meaninglessness of it all, to be in the abyss of life where nothing makes sense. This is the inner strength required when war and natural disasters bring chaos to family and communities, when war crimes seemingly destroy all sense of respect and hope. The strength to carry on, with power and integrity, however dreadful the circumstances, love yoked with the power of passion.

    “Strength therefore suggests that you have the capacity to endure and overcome the obstacles which are presenting themselves to you right now. By calming the negative voices with the breath, witnessing the self talk as a stream of consciousness rather than “the truth’, uo give yourself space to breathe new love. It speaks of being aware and acknowledging the instinctual energies that want to lash out and rage at the injustices of life and tempering them from the inner well of love, compassion, and kindness. It asks you to relinquish your doubts, realign with your principles and courage and thus reveal your true inner strength.”

    So there you have it. That’s the theme for December.

    Posted in Tools

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