sage burning

One of the most frequently used tools to clear negative energy is smoke and incense. White sage is my favorite for the aroma it imparts. I light it, and it should extinguish itself. The smoke is what we are after. If it stops to smolder, that’s all right. Just re-light it and start again.

A fire proof dish to hold the burning material is needed for the sage. I like a large shell because it is a natural material, rather than human crafted. But I don’t recall ever hearing any rules. So much of what we know and learn in our shamanic studies comes from “intuition”.

Incense is also used. I like to put incense sticks in a container of rice. They are held easily and the fear of a fire starting is eliminated.

Buddhists use incense in much the same way that shamans use it. It is one of the many intersections that I see in the two practices.

In Christian churches a thurible is used to distribute the incense. (I love this new word to my vocabulary) “The word “thurible” comes from the Old French thurible, which in turn is derived from the Latin term thuribulum. The Latin thuribulum is further formed from the root thus, meaning incense. Thus is an alteration of the Greek word θύος (thuos), which is derived from θύειν (thuein) “to sacrifice”.[1] Wikipedia

It is difficult to find an ancient culture that has not used smoke ritually. Since shamanic rituals began around the fire, it feels like a natural extension.

What are your attitudes about smoke?

Filling Yourself With Light

While we are working with energy, we are also working with light. Sit comfortably. Relax your belly. Let your shoulders fall. Unclench your jaw. Breathe easily and softly. Close your eyes.

Body’s energy fields
Imagine a bright ball of light just above your head, or crown chakra. Slowly, imagine this light moving down to fill up your head.

Bring the light down into your throat. Feel its warmth. Expand the light into your chest. Notice your heart fill with this light. Pull the warmth and the light further into your body.

Slowly fill your arms and legs with this light. Let the light rest in your root Chakra. If you are sitting, connect this grounding energy to the floor and down into the earth.

Notice the spiritual connection. Expand this connection to everyone else near you, in the same home, in your neighborhood, in your city, in your state, in your country.

Try to expand your light and energy to include all beings, sentient and non-sentient.

Look with your inner eye and see if your can see the web of interconnection.

Share your experiences, even your frustrations.

Fluffing your Energy Body

In Shaman Kindergarten, we want to have our energy fields to be full and bright. Usually we met in a person’s home, seated on the floor, rather than around a campfire in the wilderness, which all shamans would prefer. So how do we transition to spiritual work in the city?

Sit quietly and breathe slowly. I always like to close my eyes. The better to see. Next we begin a breathing sequence that helps oxygenate the body and also helps to fluff our energy field.

INHALE two quick breaths through the nose, followed by one SLOW EXHALE through the mouth. Again. Again. Again. For about five minutes, or as long as you feel is right — all times being as one.

Now, read your body’s energy field with the back of your hand. It should feel like a puffed up egg with you in the middle.

If you are adept, you might find “holes” or “dark” places in your energy. If so, trying the breathing exercise again, paying particular attention to the areas of weakness,

Restoring Your Energy Body

Restoring your energy/energy body can be done in many ways. An easy way is to lie on the ground. There is nothing like it. We, in the United States, have been brought up in cities and instructed to “stay clean.” My cousins on the farm could frolic in the mud and muck. They weren’t afraid of getting dirty nor of the rain.

Playing in the rain is restorative. Water has so many cleansing effects. One of my fondest memories was camping in a torrential rain. The rain fly was filling with water. So rather than get our PJ’s wet, we stripped down and dumped the water. Once out in the dark in the midst of the rain, we became giddy kids again.

Connecting with Mother Nature in any way restores the soul. A forest of redwoods. A Hawaiian beach. A city lake. A backyard. A city park. A farm. A desert. A mountain. A rocky perch.

Where do you restore your soul?

Reading Our Own Energy Body

Gradually we are able to read our energy. We are most intimate with our internal energy. Ah, I’m tired. I need a nap. or What a great day. I think I’ll climb to Twin Peaks today.

We also exude energy in many forms. The chakras that we have been talking about have palpable energy, energy that we can feel with our hands. Together these energy centers create an energy field. If our energy is strong, we are able to rebuff negative energies.

When our mood is low, we are more apt to catch a cold than when when we are up. The question is: which comes first.

I believe that if we keep our energy bodies strong, we maintain our health.

HOMEWORK: Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Take several deep breaths to calm your breath and your heart. With the BACK of your hands slowly push out from the center of your body until you can feel the edge of your energy body.
Some days our energy body fits like a glove, other days, we are surrounded by a large fluffy cloud of energy.

How is your energy field today? Let me know.

A Ball of String

Trying to pin down this information of a spiritual journey is like catching snowflakes on your tongue. There are plenty of flakes everywhere, but sometimes it is hard to capture one. My thoughts are like that.

However, there is a spiritual principle in Shamanism that might explain this: All times being as one.

I think of it as that ball of string that Grandmother Martin used to have, tying on more bits as they came into her life. It was wound tightly and contained a variety of strings.

In Shamanism, and Shamanic Journeys in particular, we drill down through space and time, as if we were drilling down through that ball of string. We are able to get to different places in time and space quickly, often mysteriously.

We will spend quite a bit of time on Shamanic Journeys in the course of our Kindergarten. But for now, understand that shamanism is not a linear nor a logical process. Study astro physics if you want to get a more intellectual idea of what I’m talking about.

And so my posts will also not follow a clear linear outline. All times being as one. It won’t matter in the end.

Whale Mugging

Alaskan humpback whales migrate every year to the warm, calm, preditor free waters of Hawaii to mate and to give birth. These magestic creatures continue to excite me. That they allow us to be near is one of those mysteries.

Their brains are almost four times larger than ours or about 10 pounds. How do they use their brains? We’ve been told that they sing a song, which changes from year to year in some small measure. All the humpbacks, regardless of location, sing the same song. I find that amazing, and encouraging.

Instead of killing these mammals, we now travel in boats large and small to get as close as the protective rules allow. Our favorite whale watch boat is Maui Adventure Cruises, Slip 11 out of Lahaina. They are fast, small, inflatable boats. We have never been disappointed and year after year our experience exceeds the previous.

A whale watch is a time for me to pray to the spirit of the whale. I thank them for allowing us into their world. I tell them we mean no harm.

Over the years we have had babies give us a thirty minute show of breaches and whale tail slaps of pure joy. Others have decided to rest beneath our little boat so that a masked head looking down into the water can see eye to eye with a whale. And often, they swim near and around us so that as we bob with engine shut down, even I with a small cell phone can get a phenomenal photo.

End of March is pushing the end of the season for whales. Some are still here, but in the interest of full disclosure, the photo was from a previous visit.

I loved being mugged by a whale.

Turtle Meditation

Kalani Honua, one of our favorite places to stay on the Big Island of Hawaii, has changed over the years. They now have electricity, but it still has rustic feel of shared community. The showers of the small cabins have large plants growing beyond the screen for limited privacy. I love it.

Yoga and other types of spiritual retreats are continually hosted at Kalani. The opportunity for individual retreats is also offered. I made my first lauhala bracelet there and I bring it with me on each return visit.

One of my favorite forms of mediation at Kalani is to cross the street to a small patch of land. It appears that other souls have carted sand to cushion the sharp lava here. On this small promentory, high above the crashing waves there is nothing but ocean to see. There is no other land of any sort until the west coast of the United States is reached.

Here is where I commune with the sea turtles. It feels a miracle that I can even see their heads surface for air. They are like coconuts bobbing in the surf. Very little effort is expended on their part to remain free from the razor shore.

Flow with the currents.

Losing my Way in the Lava Field

On the Big Island of Hawaii is Volcanos National Park. Lava flows in a constant, living, changing river of molten energy.

This kind of energy one can feel in your body. It is my favorite of all the islands, less developed in the part that we visit.

Kilani Honua is a small echo-resort on the eastern most tip. It is close to where Kalapana USED to be. The road ends abruptly to a black craggy lava field from the massive eruption in 1990. Plants exert their power here, ready to spend a century or more breaking down the rock into soil.

On one visit, our leader offered a sunset viewing of the lava flowing into the ocean. The path was different than today and access has changed. We grouped into pods of six to eight with a “leader” in each.

A lava field is a moonscape of undulating hills of sharp rock, crevices, and hidden lava tubes where active lava might still be flowing. We stopped for snacks on the way since our excursion would have us missing dinner.

Were we advised to wear hiking boots, take an adequate supply of water and nourishment? I don’t recall the instructions, only the need afterwards. Yes, the hike of perhaps a couple of miles was arduous, but well worth it when we perched high above the shoreline to see the steam and glow of the molten rock hitting the ocean.

Then the sun set. Our local guide told of spending the night out in this blackness on a moonless night when she had lost her way. Even with a weak flashlight there were no landmarks. Each step was treacherous. Believing myself in a spiritual place, I prayed. I have never prayed for my own survival in such a way. Our guide had vanished into the darkness as well as our fellow travelers.

I believe in the Mystery which brought us safely out.

I love the Sea

My mediation and Buddhism teacher recently tried to explain the concept of non-beingness to me. Like a wave, our minds sometimes crest, and then flow away like the dip in the wave. But always the wave is water.

Is it because I am made of water that I feel so connected to it? I love water aerobics. I am still one of the kids who loves to swim in the pool and in the ocean.

I know that the attraction of the Hawaiian Islands is the surrounding water. Friends who live there know the power of the water, respect it, as well as revel in it. I am spoiled to visit it during its calmer seasons.

But given the opportunity, I can sit on the shore, or in a boat, knowing that my survival is not at risk, and love the sound, the smell, and the feel of the ocean in the air.