Hello, and welcome to part two of this three-part post on the major streams of influence for this school. This post brings us to the same page in regards to Earth-based practices and Shamanism. If you’ve ever picked up a rock and carried it with you, not knowing exactly why, this one’s for you.
I’d like to share about this by telling three personal short stories. The first connected to a Native American tradition, the second to Peruvian traditions, and the third based on my life in the suburbs.
I work with a mentor who has been guided for several decades in ways of the Native Americans. One evening on our call together, she shared with me how she had been taught to clear and protect her home by these traditions. She spoke of going to a specific river and beginning a prayer process of finding the stones I would need for my land. She spoke of gathering them, and many specific gestures to make with tobacco to the land, and many ways to be sure the stones were up for coming home with me. In bringing them home, there were specific ways of telling the stones their roles, and specific ways and times to feed them and honor them as they stood as sentinels for me. There were specific grasses that were to be burned to care for them.
She also shared some things that had happened to the stones that guard her home. These things sounded like something out of Harry Potter. Because her stones were so fed, because she took the time to treat them like living things, true magic happens with her stones. I will not share them specifically because they are her stories, but think of pure magic. Like… Lord of the Rings magic.
I’m blessed to take part in continued ceremonial work with a bright medicine man who is one of the strongest carriers of the Tobacco plant in the states. He is also a long-time practitioner of Peruvian Shamanism and brought me to Peru with a group. He is a long-time student and friend of the tobacco plant, and has guided so many in this area in ceremony and remembrance of its power and gifts. He makes very powerful tobacco medicine. When I get to work with him with it, it’s like portals open immediately to higher dimensions, messages are instantly shared, and my body is powerfully treated. About three years ago, he taught us to make this kind of tobacco medicine. And for three years, we have made some, almost at every single moon. And you know what? No matter how much we put in, how many songs we sing, how many prayers we say, we can not make medicine like his. If we want to make it as potent as his, we can not simply add more tobacco. We could add a whole boatload, and it would not be as potent as his. I have learned well from this humbling experience. Medicine, plants and stones, they leap outside the rules of chemistry and physics. The magic of his medicine is based in his relationship with the plant. There is no shortcut here. And there is no way to fake it.
Finally, I never really understood land healing until this piece of land – a very small patch of small forest surrounded by suburbia – unexpectedly visited me in meditation. It appeared so clearly and completely out of nowhere. It was a land that I walked through for about three years, almost daily with my dog. One day I got to there and it was being logged. It looked so empty and barren. I stood at the top of it and sang mantras to it, and grieved with it. I took pieces of the broken trees home and fed them with lights and flowers. When the land visited me, it was about a year after I had moved away from that area, so, I hadn’t been there in a long time. When it appeared to me, it simply said how much it missed me. And that no one else there had talked to it like I did. It simply said, we miss you walking here. I realized and experienced that the small forest had a consciousness. I had known that as a concept, but through that visitation, I experienced it. I experienced how that place was alive, and had been watching me, and had been comforted by me. And I saw how these places are more like us than we think. They like listening, they like visits, they like offerings from the heart, they like quality time. Just like us.
These stories helped me learn the importance of relationships. And relationships as two-way streets. We talk, we listen. These stories taught me about cultivation as well. Meaning, we build up cultivation or consciousness with practice and time. And there is no shortcut here. A path, a progression, a practice – all of these things weave to form what shamanism means to me. These stories speak to respect, patience, and magic. They speak to the wisdom of our sameness with other living things. They speak to how much we still have to learn to be able to walk in balance.
I am not a teacher of any native or shamanic tradition. I am a student of them. As I continue to walk as a student of these shamanic and native traditions, they greatly humble me. My teachers in these ways influence me, and this influences how I teach stone medicine.
So, if you are one who has walked with your head down picking up simple stones, maybe since you were a kid – I feel you. This path of heart and relationship is here.