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Healing Takes Many Forms

I had the opportunity to write an article for Kajama, an online magazine. The article is on healing. To view the full story follow this link: kajama.com/… Featured Article September 30th. Blessings!

Mid-Winter Celebrations

Today is a day celebrated in many cultures as the mid point between winter and spring. There are a variety of rituals and celebrations that are held both in the spirit of hope and in an invocation of welcome.

Today is significant because it is at this point that the ancestors took time to both acknowledge their journey and fortitude in surviving the long winter and to look toward the coming spring. This pause gave the people time to show their faith that they would see the spring arrive once again. Spring meant that the earth would wake up and the land and her creatures would grow and produce which equated to life for the people.

The ritual ceremonies allowed the people to participate in honoring the cycles of life. I imagine they felt that this celebration was vital in bringing forth the spring and renewal of life. They saw themselves as a part of the whole of nature not separate from it. On a practical note, the preparation, ritual and celebration gave people a tangible relief from the harshness of winter while still being enmeshed in its reality.

I find this sense of optimism and faith expands hope within me today. It is a conscious reminder that yes, the light does return, yes, there will be new growth and new life. Yes, things can begin anew even amidst the dark and cold. Let us celebrate that knowledge!

Whether or not you practice modern rituals marking this day, consider lighting a candle in honor of the light returning. Place the match to the wick in reverence of all renewal of life. Think of the hope it may ignite to see something new and vital grow within you. Remember that even in times of darkness you can offer your knowledge that the light always returns.

Clearing the Air and Energy

Have you ever found yourself feeling overcome with emotion? Maybe you have walked into a room that feels like the air itself is pressing down on you? These can be indications of a room or space that needs a good clearing out.

Sometimes it is not enough to scrub the place clean. Many times the energies, spirits and/or emotions linger long after cleaning products’ applications have faded. This is when clearing the energy can help.

There are many ways to remove unwanted energy or energy that is stagnant or oppressive. One of my favorite and most effective ways to do this was taught to me by my Native American Elders. It involves the use of sacred plants and prayers or intentions. Often referred to as smudging; it purifies the space.

Let me share with you the art of smudging as it was taught to me. Gather your tools first. Collect together; white sage or ceremonial sage, matches, a shell or small fire-proof container and a feather or small feather fan. Put a few leaves of the dried sage into the shell or other container. Locate the direction of the East. You will begin your cleansing of the space and energy in the East.

Take your shell with the sage leaves, your matches and feather or fan to the area of the East in the space you are smudging. Light the sage pieces with your match. Let them catch fire a little then blow out the flames. I put the used match in the shell next to the sage leaves. Take your feather or fan and gently move the smoke up and down the walls of the space while praying or keeping an intention. This can as simple as saying or thinking, “Bless and cleanse this home.” You can substitute the name of the space you are in if it is not a home, such as an office, or you can simply say, “this space” instead.

Move in a clockwise direction as you move the smoke and repeat your prayer or intention. Complete a full circle. When you return to the East and where you started say, “Thank you.”

Extinguish any smoking leaves. I place the shell on my stove or other nonburnable surface until it cools. The shell can sometimes become hot on the bottom depending on the area I am smudging and how much sage I have used. Return you other tools to their storage area. Once the shell is completely cooled, I usually leave it at least an hour for safety, I put it away.

You can sprinkle the cooled ashes on the Earth or place them in a potted plant. Just make sure they are totally cooled by touching them with you fingers. Living in an arid and dry climate makes me especially cautious when handling fire and embers.

Now you are done smudging. I notice an immediate difference in the environment once I have completed this cleansing ceremony. Things feel lighter and more in harmony. You may experience a shift in the area right away or you might notice that you are less stressed, have more patience or it may dawn on you after a while that everything flows better.

If you are interested in using smudging as a tool begin with sage as noted above unless an Elder specifically tells you otherwise. Sage can accomplish cleaning the energy, lightening up the space and restoring harmony.

Sage sticks are also available. If you use a full stick I suggest carrying a shell under it as embers can fall while smudging. Doing so will help to keep this a safe process. Also when you extinguish a sage or smudge stick really grind it down into the shell to tamp out any smouldering embers.

It is important to be responsible and careful when using these tools and teachings.

Recently I’ve read some articles that indicate that smudging can remove germs from the air. These ancient practices hold more meaning and practical applications than generally understood. Be respectful in using this ritual.

Thank you to the Elders who have shared their teachings and ceremonies with me. Aho.