Travel Stories

Honoring Water

IMG_2376In July I went on the most amazing, awe-inspiring, spirit-filled adventure to Peru with fellow pilgrims on the shamanic path.  It is simply impossible to put the experience into words.  There were visits to ancient, sacred sites, trekking to 15,000 feet and camping out at the foot of Apu Ausangate, llamas and alpacas, ceremonies, healings, beautiful textiles, delicious meals, rites of passage, and the most loving, fun, dedicated, inspiring tribe of people I’ve ever experienced!

The indigenous people from the Sacred Valley and the Andes mountains are connected to the land in the deepest, most profound way.  So when we returned home, we were inspired to create a global movement to honor, bless, and heal the waters of the world, and return the cycles of water to harmony and balance.

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Honor the Waters was born.

From the brand new website, here is a short introduction ~

“Honor the Waters was conceived in July 2014 when twenty-four people from North and South America and Europe traveled together to the Peruvian Andes. Jose Luis Herrera, founder of the Andean Research Institute, led our group. We visited sacred sites, including Ausangate mountain, seeking answers as to how we (individually and collectively) could have a greater impact on shifting the direction our planet is headed.

On this trip, we fully awakened to the importance of our waters, not only for our survival but also for the peace, joy, and fulfillment of our world. We could clearly see our interrelationship with water and our role in protecting it. We were called to share our vision and to take action in caring for the planet’s waters – from the vastest oceans to the smallest human cells.”

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There will be a global event on September 21, the day of the fall equinox.  Wherever you are, in whatever way you choose, please join us in ceremony to honor our most precious resource!  There is lots of information on ceremony on the Honor the Waters website.

 

I will be hosting a local gathering at Abalone Cove, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  We will be making a traditional despacho, filled with leaves and flowers infused with our prayerful intent, just like the one pictured above that we made on a sacred lagoon in Peru.  If you live nearby, please join us September 21 at 2:30 PM, near the tide pools at Abalone Cove.  http://www.pvplc.org/_lands/abalone_cove.asp

If you are on Facebook, here is a link: https://www.facebook.com/events/555421011231164/

Meanwhile, each and every day we can all honor water by practicing conservation and offering our deepest gratitude for the elixir of life that freely flows from the faucets in our homes here in North America and Europe, never taking this miracle for granted!

From the tribe, cheers to the waters ~

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Tidepools

Just like us, in these magical places, there’s so much more than what first meets the eye. A trip to the tidepools is a revelation, and a metaphor for self-discovery.

Here’s some of what I saw and learned from this magnificent place in Baja California, at the edge of San Ignacio Lagoon, where the California gray whales gather every winter to make families and get a little sunshine.

Life Lessons:

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See the big picture.

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

Cultivate curiosity.

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

Dig down… in the mud. Go deep.

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

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

With reverence and care, pick up what you find. Expose it in the full light of day…

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

…turn it over and look inside.

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

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Reveal it all

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Surprises are everywhere…and new beginnings.

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You may be delighted by what you discover inside.

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

See the star quality.

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And the beauty.

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

Move on to the next discovery…with open eyes and open heart

Perceptual States

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I just returned from two weeks in Joshua Tree. It has been a place of transformation for me this past year.  The desert provides the perfect environment for deep reflection and change.  While there, I sat with various plants of the desert, and they proved to be profound teachers!

The shaman uses different perceptual states to track, or see, the world.

The four states are:

  • the literal
  • the emotional
  • the mythic/soul
  • the energetic/spirit.
Here is the teaching from the joshua tree, using each of the four perceptive states:

Literal

Stubby-branched, strong trunk, with scant starburst needle-like foliage.  Standing like a desert sentinel, rigid, inflexible, that only slightly yields to the wind.  The needles draw blood.

Emotional

Serious, no nonsense, well-defended, proud, receptive, radically alive, unpretentious.  Willing to produce sharp pain if not approached with care.

Soul/Mythic

Ancient wisdom stored within.  A Master Teacher of survival skills, able to pierce through illusion and lies.  A truth teller, eviscerates mindlessness.  Harsh teacher/disciplinarian, standing alone, while giving shelter to the very small; protector of the defensless.  Keeper of the Wisdom.

Energetic/Spirit

Infinity.  Circle of Life.

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

The Message/Teaching

You can thrive in any conditions.  Shed the fear of the barbs others may throw.  Be real, be authentic, in your own truth.  Drop the egoic need for agreement.  And don’t be afraid to sting, only if necessary.

Next time you’re in by yourself out in nature, you may want to look around, get quiet, be in stillness; then see if there are messages from the natural world.  You may find that the rocks, the plants, the waters, the sky will speak to you!

Touched by a Whale

A little over 3 years ago, my husband, a dear friend and I boarded a small plane with some other folks in Tijuana, Mexico.  We were bound for San Ignacio Lagoon, where we would stay in tents on the tip of a peninsula that juts out into the heart of the lagoon.  We were there to meet, and perhaps touch, the California gray whales that migrate there from the Bering Sea, where they hang out for the winter and have their babies.

I have always loved whales, their hauntingly beautiful songs, their intelligence, their graceful movements in the water, their gentle and peaceful nature.  And I had long wanted to have an up-close and personal encounter with one of these beautiful beings, and look one straight in the eye.  We had heard that in the lagoon, there were “friendlies” that would approach boats and    interact with humans.  So off we went.

Flying over the lagoon before coming in for landing on the small dirt runway was so breathtaking that I forgot to be nervous about being in that little plane.

Here’s a little photo journal of the trip:

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

Flying over the lagoon before coming in for landing on the small dirt runway was so breathtaking that I forgot to be nervous about flying.

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

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

Mother and Baby

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

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

The older whales are covered with barnacles and have scars from the teeth marks of sharks.

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

Our first encounter with a friendly mama and her calf.

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

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

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

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

Bob touches a whale

At some point in this encounter, as others in the boat were putting their hands on the baby, I looked down, and realized the mother whale was looking straight at me.  We stared into each other’s eyes for what seemed like a very long time, mother to mother.  I can’t even describe how deeply that moved me–it was a healing, transformational moment.

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

And this awful and goofy picture is what I looked like after I touched, and was touched, by a whale.  I’m smiling, laughing and crying at the same time.  On the last day of the trip, the group gives out awards for various things and I got the “Touched by a Whale” award.  My favorite award ever…

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

Our new friend, Richard, gets love from a whale calf.

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Our morning walks around the peninsula and trips to the tidepools  revealed incredible, stark beauty.

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These beauties are actually egg sacs for sea creatures!

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Around the tidepools, we turned over a shell that held an octopus, and right then, eggs began to hatch, and oodles of little octopi were born.  Stunning!

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That trip to San Ignacio, the encounters with the whales, the wonderful people, the incredible wildlife, the breathtaking landscape–all of it was truly transformational, and the experience still lives inside of me.  I am ever-grateful for the experience, and to have been touched by a whale!

I highly recommend this trip to anyone who loves whales and adventure:
http://www.bajadiscovery.com/wwatchin.htm

 

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We just returned from a week of fun/relaxation/restoration/rejuvenation in Hawaii. Each time we travel to those islands, the fragrance of the tropical flowers and the beauty of the land hit me as soon as I get off the plane, and I want to cry–well, sometimes I do. The land, the water, the mountains, the rainforests, the practice of hula, and the spirit of aloha are heart-achingly beautiful; and for some reason I feel it to be like home. I imagine I must have been a big Hawaiian mama in some other lifetime…

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

Here is a bit on the deeper meaning of Aloha:

“Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain, it is my pain. When there is joy, it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not willfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect.

alo–1. sharing 2. in the present
oha– joyous affection, joy
ha– life energy, life, breath

This can be translated as “the joyful sharing of life energy in the present” or simply “joyfully sharing life.”

Nature is also where we can gain the wisdom to make responsible choices if we approach with Aloha in our heart. With an attitude of Aloha we can gain from the wisdom of the wind and the wisdom of the water and the wisdom of the soil and the wisdom of the trees and learn from the truths and revelations presented by the non-human community.” ~ Curby Rule

I am always struck by the similarities in spiritual and healing traditions in indigenous cultures all around the world. They all see the world as a living matrix of energy–the humans, the animals, the plants, the stones, the heavens and the deep earth. The ancient healing traditions of Hawaii have at their core the same deep reverence for the earth and the waters, and the same sharing of and caring for precious natural resources. The concept of aloha is similar to the principle of munay and ayni in the ancient Incan/Andean shamanic traditions. Munay is great love, and ayni is right relationship.

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

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

This is how I want to live–simply appreciating and creating beauty, in right relationship with all.
This is what I want to teach my grandchildren–to love and care for our beautiful, wonderful world.

Aloha!