Shamanism

“The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen

It’s been too long since I’ve been in touch on the blog…this past year has been intense…full of joy, full of sorrow.  So many transitions, births and deaths.  So, on this second day of spring, I wanted to send you blessings, gratitude, love. I do hope that you, like myself, are enjoying a sense of renewal, and planting new seeds for whatever it is your heart desires.

I also want to share with you an experience from a few days ago.  The ocean is a great healer, so able to receive and transform the deepest grief.  This past Friday was the one-year anniversary of my sister’s husband’s passing, so some of her family and I went out on her boat to the Coronado islands to release the remainder of his ashes, and the remainder of our parent’s ashes into the ocean.

The night before our little journey, I had made a despacho, an offering of flowers and sweets, to the spirit of the Pacific Ocean, the Mother of the Waters, loaded with prayers for our loved ones that have passed, and each of our family members still here.

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The sky was dark and gray as we boated out of the harbor, and began to clear as we approached the islands. Seals, a dolphin, and three gray whales were spotted as we made our way out. The sun came out in full upon our arrival at the little cove off the coast of Baja, and the water was the most stunning color of blue-green.

We began a spontaneous, from-the-heart memorial ceremony on the boat, and then released each of the three containers of ashes into the water, followed by the despacho. The way the ashes moved through the water, and the luminous colors that formed were stunning. We were mesmerized by their movement and the shapes they made as they travelled through the water.  We said our goodbyes and began to make our way back, a scenic tour of the little islands.

Then something truly thrilling happened. A young humpback whale appeared and breached. Then he breached again, and again, and again…over and over the whale breached, and slapped the water with his pectoral fins. For about 20 minutes the whale was in our vicinity, and jumped out of the water at least 20 times, for about 20 minutes. None of us had ever seen anything like it, a single whale breaching so many times in a row. I believe the whale was an expression of Spirit, of the water; and an embodiment of Lorton, my sister’s beloved husband, my niece and nephew’s wonderful dad.  He had a message of encouragement and love, letting us know that he, and all, is well, joyous and free. And he is right there, on the other side of the veil.

I wanted to share our journey in pictures…

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May the Mother of the Waters wash us clean,

with waves of her infinite compassion.

“Why don’t we go for Heaven on Earth, just for the hell of it?” ~Swami Beyondananda

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I love that quote, so much that it is my intention for 2014.  I don’t do resolutions, they never work out well…they just seem to be made to be broken.  Instead, I set intentions, as I’ve learned that intention is everything, and I choose one word for the upcoming year.  The quote is out of a book I’m currently reading, Spontaneous Evolution, by Bruce Lipton, PhD and Steve Bhaerman (AKA Swami Beyondananda).  I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Lipton at a gathering of shamans this past fall. He gave a morning-long talk that I think had to be the best presentation I’ve ever heard.  He is one brilliant scientist/teacher with a great big heart!

Heart.  It’s my word for 2014.  I want a life lived from the heart, not the head; to walk a path of beauty, with Compassion as my travel buddy.

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 I wish you all a very happy New Year,
filled with heart and healing,
love and joy
and a path that has a heart.

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I wish for you the courage it takes to bloom.

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 “It’s time we put our energy into fruitfully re-growing the Garden
instead of fruitlessly scrapping over the scraps.”  ~Swami Beyondananda

What is your intention for the New Year?  What is your word?
I’d love to hear from you!  ~Barbara

 

Full Moon and TreeI seem to be inspired by the phases of the moon now more than ever…maybe because I’ve lived many.  I wax and wane and the moon pulls me like the tide.  Tomorrow is the full moon following the summer solstice…and it’s no ordinary full moon.  It’s a great big beautiful Super Moon, an auspicious time to set intention, release what no longer serves you or the world, and to metaphorically, and literally, dream a new world into being.

My intention is this:  to live with more and more creativity and aliveness, more authentically, and without apology.

I want to be more available to serve in whatever way that shows up, and to be the creator of a good life, well lived, for myself, my family, friends, clients and world, from a wide open heart.

To be creative, to be an artist, holds a whole new meaning for me now, as there was a time when I would have said that I was, from an artistic and creative standpoint, a big fat failure.  When I was a kid in school, I felt miserably inferior to the friends I had who could draw and paint, who were budding artists in every sense of the word.  I was embarrassed by my inability to draw human figures, and paint with imagination and wild abandon.  And then there was creative writing!  It made me feel vulnerable, it was intimidating and just plain scary. I HATED to write!

In the 7th grade, we had to write a poem and illustrate it, which would then displayed for open house night.  I was beyond mortified, and I told my parents I wasn’t going to go…I simply couldn’t face my pitiful offering up on the wall, which, to me, paled in comparison to my classmates…and I couldn’t face the voice of my own relentless, harsh inner critic.  But let me tell you, I was a math and science whiz, and I could diagram a sentence and spell and regurgitate anything you asked me to…I was in a straight jacket of conformity and living in a world created by the imagination and imperative of others.  I was a timid good girl, living small.

Growing up, I was a dancer, from the age of 5, and it was my world, my artistic realm, yet somehow I didn’t see it as creative expression.  It was just what came naturally, and as a ballet dancer, I conformed there, too, trying my best to be technically perfect, with a body to match.  I didn’t see dance as creative form till much later…African tribal dancing to live drumming was a transformational experience, and opened up a new, wild world in one glorious afternoon.

I have long since abandoned that straight jacket of never coloring outside the lines, and what freedom it is to refuse to be limited by the opinions of others, or my own hypercritical definition of myself!  It took a lot of life experience to shed those shackles.

I discovered that creativity, for me, is anything I say it is.

One day I was in a card shop, and I came upon one that just leveled me, and changed the way I felt about my own creative abilities:

“The most visible creators I know
are those artists
whose medium is life itself–
the ones who express the inexpressible
without brush, hammer, clay, or guitar.
They neither paint nor sculpt,
their medium is simply being.
Whatever their presence touches has increased life–
they see, but don’t have to draw…
because they are the artists of being alive.”
~ J. Stone

Wow, that is the kind of artist I want to be…and can be.

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We create and make art in infinite ways:  by setting a table, cooking inspired, delicious food, arranging flowers or odd bits and pieces gathered on a walk on the beach or hiking in the woods.  We make beautiful altars in our homes, we grow inspired gardens; we write love notes, take photographs, sing and make off-key music together, we make ourselves laugh till we cry.

I will make a fire to celebrate this super June moon, and will release, once more, my self-doubt and resistance, and bring in the artist, with the deepest of intentions that no matter where I go or what I do, my presence will bring more beauty, compassion and aliveness wherever it is needed.

What is your medium?  I would love to hear from you.

Happy dreaming…

 

Lessons from a Rosemary Bush

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This year one of the things I want to do is to become even more deeply engaged with the natural world, really listening from that place inside that is not the chattering mind.  My mind, my monkey mind, is always so busy:  labeling, analyzing, judging, fixing, wondering, remembering (sometimes not so well!), planning, retorting, comparing, blithering…on and on and on and on.

What stops my mind in its tracks is the beauty all around me — a red-tailed hawk screeching and soaring, a group of pelicans flying past the bluffs by the ocean, a whale spouting, a baby laughing, a magnificent sunset, the LA city lights sparkling on a clear night…and when I sit quietly and ask, I actually get answers from the earth, the stones, the plants, the animals.  All that is needed is a simple yet profound shift, into a different perceptual state; a shift from ordinary reality to non-ordinary reality, a shamanic journey of sorts.  The non-ordinary, non-physical world is infinitely fascinating and informative and beautiful.

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As a plant person, and a lover of herbal medicine, I had a little conversation with a large rosemary plant out in Joshua Tree last October.  This is what I learned from her:

Rosemary:

“I am fragrant, soft and yielding on a strong frame.  I produce delicate lavender flowers which cascade over rock walls, and I thrive in the brightest of light, extremes of heat and cold.  I provide sweetness, my nectar nourishes the bees and from it honey is made. I am a compassionate, nurturing reliable presence, softening the harshest of conditions.  I am giving, I have a generosity of Spirit.

I am Medicine Woman.
I am the pure white light of the Divine Feminine.

My message to you is this:

‘We are sisters.  There is need for strong, pungent medicine.  Bring it, you have it.  Serve, let others drink from your medicine.  Be in stillness.  Listen to the inner voice, as it is true.'”

Pretty great advice from the humble Rosemary.

So I will switch stations like a radio–tune out chatter, tune in to the beautiful, soul music of Nature!

Spider Master Weaver

Barbara Swift, SwiftWellnessandhealing.com - Integrative Wellness and Life Coaching. Energy Medicine ~ Shamanic Healing

A couple of days ago, I looked out the window of my room that I use for my coaching/healing practice and this is what I saw:

As a child, I hated spiders, they were just plain ugly and scary, and I made my mother come and get them out of the corners of my room and the bathroom.  Of course, she, not being able to kill anything, would coax them onto a cloth and carry them outside.

One day, many years ago, I sat on a porch in Arlington, Virginia, and noticed a very large spider going from post to beam to post, with a silken thread coming out of its body;  then another, and another, until it began to create a multi-sided connection between the anchoring threads.  Then it began to connect the threads in a circular pattern, at first wide apart, then filling in narrowly, weaving more and more intricate lines, and finally created spokes that held the circular pattern together.  It was MESMERIZING.  I sat for hours watching this amazing marvel, this master architect/builder/weaver.  And back then, at 23 years old, I was not a meditative sitter for anything….

I am amazed at the spider’s ability to weave, how incredibly strong the threads, and the integrity and beauty of the structure it creates.  (On the other hand, I have run right into the center of webs, complete with spider, and the ensuing screams and frantic freak-out dance is a sight to behold, I’m sure!)

The Native Americans consider the spider as Grandmother, the link to the past and future.  She is the teacher of balance between the physical and spiritual.  With its gentle strength, Spider spins together the threads of life with intricate webs.  She calls us to creativity, and is the dream weaver, the weaving of dreams into our destiny.  Spider connects the human, physical world to the worlds above and below, the world of spirits.

I identify strongly with the Native American conception of Spider:  Grandmother/Dream Weaver, and, as shaman, the bridge between the physical and non-physical worlds.  I realize today what a privilege it was to witness the whole miraculous process, from the very first thread to the very last, when the spider took her place in the center, and waited for her first meal.  It was a sign of destiny.