Posts Tagged ‘Melisa Pearce’

Earth and Dance

December 5, 2010
Jorge Luis Delgad called Amantani Island the island of love and said that it worked with the pink (munay) ray. I had to agree that there was something about the place. I felt relaxed and energized at the same time, as if something were about to happen and I was poised for it without needing to think or do anything, really. I could feel my heart reaching out to my host family, even though we shared no common language. They were a bit shy and I felt soft and respectful around them.

After being served a meal, Sandy, Tim (my travel group companions also staying with my host family), and I made our way back down the hill and joined the rest of the group for more ceremony. We had taken part in fire, air, and water ceremony. Now it was time for earth ceremony and it would be led by don Mariano, Jorge Luis’s teacher.

I gravitated towards the Peruvian shamans. I was learning. The Peruvian shamans always managed to find the best place to sit at ceremony and they seemed to do so effortlessly. Perhaps they had some sense about the land that guided them. Or maybe it was just about comfort. I didn’t know, but I was learning to follow their lead.

Only a person or two separated me from don Mariano and I noted, with a bit of amusement, that he carried some of his shamanic supplies in a North Face pack. It was very much like the odd pairings one experiences in dreams. In the sleeping dream state, I might find myself making a dinner for long dead relatives in a mansion that seemed to belong to me. In this waking dream, the very alive–and very revered–don Mariano was pulling shamanic items out of a North Face pack on an island in the middle of Lake Titicaca. No sleeping dream could match that!

But I was also amused because I had long been toting some of my own shamanic items around in a pack my husband brought back from Kosovo. I had needed something practical to transport white sage, a Celtic cross, my Om tuning fork, special stones from special places, candles, scented herbs and flowers for scattering, a rattle, and other items I used when I cleared and blessed homes. My drum and beater, large feather fan, my altar cloth, and many other items didn’t go into the pack, but some of the smaller tools did and while the pack had served me well, I’d always been a bit amused about it. I was not the archetypal image of the female shaman (or shamanista, as my friend Melisa Pearce referred to me) and my pack was certainly not the archetypal image of what a shaman would carry tools in. But here was don Mariano pulling shamanic tools out of a North Face pack. I loved that we shared that bit of practicality in our work.

Jorge Luis spoke to us about earth energy and suggested that we practice looking at the distance between ourselves and a tree or mountain, then feeling the energy. I knew what he meant, or thought I did. I’d long practiced softening my eyes to see the auras of trees and I often allowed the tug of energy between me and a mountain or lake or tree or boulder to inform me and open me to communication with the spirit of it.

As with the other ceremonies, coca leaves were involved. A small fire pit (cold) was used in this ceremony. Four people at a time brought their k’intus (fan shaped arrangement of three coca leaves) to the pit, one person taking each of the cardinal directions. We then blew our intentions into the coca leaves, touched the earth, and put the coca leaves into the fire pit.

Earth Ceremony--Offerings at the Fire Pit

It seemed a simple enough ceremony, but it was a powerful one for me. When I made my way to the fire pit and kneeled, I blew my intentions into the k’intu and was drawn to bend down and kiss the earth three times before placing my coca leaves in the pit. And as I did, my crown chakra began to vibrate. I was immediately in an altered state of consciousness. I could not give words to it in the moment, but my later sense of it was that I was feeling myself as a bridge between heaven and earth, in love with both and at the service of both. My crown chakra continued to vibrate for some time and, later, it began to vibrate again.

Once the earth ceremony was complete, we all drifted towards a large square that seemed to serve as a local gathering place. There was a sense of waiting for something and I could guess what that might be: the dreaded dancing in costume. I was weary from the day’s activities and so were Sandy and Tim. We were also concerned about finding our way back to our host home. And the sun was sinking. I wanted to get the heck out of the Amantani Island version of Dodge before the festivities began. We made our way down the path, but didn’t get far before being hijacked by Paulo and Juan Carolos.

View from the Square

We attempted to communicate through motions and words we knew they would not understand that we wanted to head back to their home. But Paulo had come bearing a pile of clothes and was intent on dressing us in them. Let me be clear: The will of the Aymara on Amantani Island is a force similar to that of the tides or the wind or the sun, itself.

We surrenedered and Paulo pulled traditional clothes–all of which appeared to bleong to members of her family–over our heads. These were not castoff clothes, but beautifully made and embroidered. Over my head went an embroidered blouse and it was accompanied by a bright green skirt. These went over the hiking pants and knit top I’d been wearing. Then Paulo wrestled with my body until she had two cloth belts tightly cinched around my waist. Interesting. I had already wondered how I would dance at this altitude. Now I saw that I would be expected to dance pretty much dressed in the Peruvian version of what Scarlet O’Hara wore to balls. Over skirt and blouse, Paulo placed one of the most beautiful embroidered shawls I have ever seen.

Tim and Juan Carlos

We were led back to the square where we saw that we could relax because all of our peers looked, for the most part, as ridiculous as we did. The women in the group, no doubt, were as breathless in their cinched belts as Sandy and me. I was beginning to understand that breathlessness in women, while once highly praised, was actually produced by clothing that would not allow them to breathe. While I knew about corsets and the like, this had never really hit home . . . until now.

Melanie and Kay Mott in our Peruvian Costumes

Of course, I would soon discover just how breathless a woman can be. The sun had set, a bonfire had been built, and the dancing began. After avoiding it for a time, I was eventually pulled in by Paulo or Sebastiana (I cannot quite recall) and surrendered to it. (An explanation of that surrender will be found a few paragraphs above in my reference to the will of the Aymara people.)

I’m exaggerating a bit about the tightness of the belts and the quality of breathlessness I experienced, but I will say that I was happy that I work out on a regular basis–both cardio and weight resistance training–because it supported me in dancing wildly at an elevation that was challenging even for me, a Coloradan.

As it happened, it was good training for the hike up the mountain the next day. But that, as they say, is another story.

Copyright 2010 by Melanie Mulhall


April 25, 2009

No doubt about it: the internal guidance system is a major tool for navigating life. But using the internal guidance system requires something else, too: faith. I have been reminded of that, again and again, over the past few weeks.

When I listened to my internal guidance system and kept driving forward through that snow storm, as reported in the last post, faith was required of me. The road behind me was quckly becoming impassible. The road ahead was uncertain, except insofar as I was willing to have faith in what I heard through my internal guidance system. I’m happy I had faith that day. Otherwise, I would have missed my own talk.

Last weekend, I again found myself in circumstances that required faith. Actually, those circumstances really began in February, when Melisa Pearce (Touched by a Horse) and I decided to offer a workshop together in April. We both knew that April is a fickle month in Colorado. It can be clear and in the sixties one day and snowing enough to make the Easter Bunny think he’s covering for Santa the next. We each trusted our intuition and set the workshop in the geographic center of April (about as close as the Four Corners Marker is to the geographic meeting place of four states–which means just a bit off center). This was the first time I would be offering my Shamanic Writing Workshop and to do it with Melisa and her talented healing horses was a gift of grace. We did our marketing and had faith that those perfect for the workshop would sign up.

They did. We had a very good response. People were coming from out of state as well as within the state of Colorado. It seemed we were on to something.

The weather was wonderful a scant week before our workshop and all looked good, apart from that pesky storm that was working its way towards Colorado. Our workshop was to start at 6 p.m. on Friday the 17th. The day before, it rained. The forecasters believed that rain would turn to snow sometime after midnight and predicted either slushy roads or a major snow storm. We were right on that liminal edge between the two.

I needed to have faith that all would be well for the workshop, but I must admit that my faith slid sideways on Thursday. I was opening my house up to an old friend who had a four-day commitment  nearby and wanted my home to be her port in a storm. It was a very reasonable request and one with which I happily complied, though I pointed out that I might need my own port in a storm if the weather turned ugly. I would be out in the wilds of Colorado, between Boulder and Lyons. I knew I could stay at Melisa’s ranch if necessary, but what about our workshop attendees?

Friday morning brought rain turning to snow in much of the Denver metro area. I left for the ranch in the morning, set myself up for the workshop, and waited. A couple of people cancelled. A couple of others called to be sure the workshop would go as scheduled (Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday). Two women had driven in from Utah on Thursday, the storm tracking them.

What was it doing at the ranch? Raining. Just raining. We seemed to be in the metro bananna belt, in a manner of speaking. There was a bit of magic to it. When I went inside and slid beyond that part of me that feared a workshop at risk, I kept hearing a voice that said it was all much ado about nothing. I needed to have faith that all would go as planned and I chose faith over fear.

The workshop did go as planned. Apart from two or three cancellations, everyone was there. One woman had even come from what would turn out to be “snow central” in the mountains. Some brought clothes so they could bunk at the ranch that night (the equivalent of praising God, but tying down your cammel).  No lives had been at risk and no one whined. There was an undercurrent of faith in the group, faith that we were all exactly were we were meant to be and with the people we were meant to share that time.

The workshop was a huge success. There were moments of breakthrough for some participants, moments of profound self-realization for others, and many moments of pure joy for everyone.

We’re planning another Shamanic Writing Workshop together and I have faith that it, too, will unfold beautifully and perfectly.


Copyright 2009 by Melanie Mulhall