Did you know that back in 1910 when the Boy Scouts was founded, it was because “they” believed that in a few years the indigenous peoples of the United States were going to be extinct and so they wanted to create a program to help preserve some of the indigenous ways of being in the world.
A bunch of white guys taught a bunch of white boys “indigenous” ways of being because other white guys had presumably been successful in their genocide against the indigenous.
Books and movies such as The Last of The Mohicans, Dances With Wolves and Avatar have also given voice and fuel to the idea that indigenous cultures need a white outsider to become an insider and to then save them.
It’s ridiculous. Offensive. Created for the white gaze (because the media, including the Boy Scouts, has been created for a white audience and it’s assumed that a white person cannot or will not put themselves in a person of color’s shoes, so the lead character needs to be white, specifically a white man). It’s a sign of a lazy imagination. And, I’ll say it again, it gives voice to the idea that indigenous cultures need a white outsider to become and insider and to then save them.
Let me bring this home: It is not your spiritual calling or responsibility to become an insider to any indigenous culture save your own. It is not your spiritual calling to save an indigenous practice by using it, selling it performing it. This includes punctuating prayer with languages you don’t speak such as using the word “aho” or using Sanskrit words, repeating Sanskrit prayer because you learned them at a retreat once. The Native speakers of these languages were once punished for doing these things by white colonizers. I myself don’t speak my mother tongue because it was beaten out of my grandmother in an Indian boarding school. I cringe every time a white person says “Aho” in my presence. It’s not your spiritual calling and it’s not your spirituality (hey! it’s not even MINE).
This IS Your Spiritual Calling:
Make space for indigenous people at your events. Honor the ancestors of the land you are on. Invite elders to speak. Don’t say “Aho” when they’re done (it’s not a pan-Native expression). Say “Thank You.”
And honor your ancestors. Find out what your ancestors said and did before they were colonized by the Roman Empire/Christianity. What was their version of “aho” or “namaste”? What smoke clearing practices did they use and how? What was their prayer, in Gaelic, Norse, Etruscan, [insert their native tongue here] to bless all of the beings? THAT is a language and a heritage you should be trying to preserve and reclaim. THAT is your spiritual calling and responsibility.
THIS is ancestral activism.
If you want to learn more about this, if you want to be held in a space to ritually tend your ancestors and to discover their ways of being in and with the earth, you may be interested in my offering, Rooted Here. We’ll spend six months tending our ancestral connections to food, home and land. You will be guided heavily by your own ancestors in this program and it will look different for everyone. No matter where you are on the race or gender spectrum, you are welcome. You MUST be on the open-ended spectrum of open-mindedness though 🙂 We begin this Sunday, May 6th. Learn more here.
I grew up in the same small town that my parents grew up in. There were 80 kids in my high school, one blinking light (20 miles away in the county seat) and a little over 7,000 people in the entire county. I grew up thirsting for big city flair, drama and access to art and entertainment. In 2008 I finally got my wish, at the ripe old age of 26, when my now ex-husband and I moved to Madrid, Spain (he’s still there!). We lived almost smack dab in the middle of the city of 3 million people. The noises, smells, crowded subways and alleys were all very exciting and tantalizing but came with an unexpected side affect: social anxiety.
There were probably several reasons I was simultaneously excited and scared of Madrid. It was, after all, over 4,000 times bigger than my hometown . . .er, hamlet. It was a foreign country with a foreign language that I had to adapt and operate in, every day. It was stressful, chaotic and also a lot of fun and more than a little romantic.
However, I was also on the verge of a spiritual awakening, a divorce and my Saturn return and thus was beginning to realize how empathic, sensitive and hermit-ish I really was. Although I was propelled to wander and explore the city streets, I found myself wanting nothing more than to claim the streets as my own and kicking everyone else off of them. Ha! But I soon realized that I had already intuitively stumbled onto a solution for demarcating my personal boundaries, not picking up other people’s chaos and emotions and to reclaim my body and energy for myself after every foray into the bustling streets: I began washing my hands in cool water. Frequently. Every time I emerged from a Spanish powder room, hands cool and slightly damp, I felt refreshed. I felt drawn back into myself. I felt my energy recalled from the various busy distractions and I felt the energy of others be repelled– just like you’d expect something cool and damp to repel — hehe.
Although there is as many different meditations, visualizations, herbs and crystals for protecting one’s energy as there are people in Madrid, one of the simplest, most effective, and available options is to just wash your hands. You may already be doing this. You come home from a busy day of running errands or attending to people and the first thing you want to do is wash your hands– and part of you just knows it’s about more than any germs you may have picked up on the commute home.
Water, as we’ve seen from the work of Dr. Masuru Emoto, is programmable and susceptible to our intentions. Energetically it also makes a great personal barrier/boundary marker and cleanser. In my upcoming Spiritual Cleansing and Protection Course for Soulful Living, I’ll be teaching all about the healing power of water and how to utilize it in spiritual baths, protective house washes and more. But know this: All you REALLY need is water. Pause, take a beat and add the intention to wash away any energy that’s not yours, then wash your hands in cool water.
This works great if you’re an empathic hermit like me. It’s wonderful to use if you’re a hands-on healer type. REALLY handy if you have little children crawling all over and needing you all day e’ry day too.
Let me know how it works for you!
In love and sacred darkness,
P.S. The Spiritual Cleansing and Protection Course is happening next month and it’s only $13! Those $13 bucks get you a front row seat to an hour long workshop PLUS a 30-page, full color, beautifully designed supplemental ebook. I’d love to see you there! You can learn more, register and get a sneak peek at the ebook here.
As I’m working on the launch of my new website, I’ve been thinking about my vision for my business and the world . . . a lot. Please note that you do not have to agree with me to be in this space. And I’m not interested in trying to get you to see things the way I do. However, I believe it’s important, for you and for me, to be transparent about what motivates my work.
14 things I’d like to see happen and that I want this space to stand for:
- I want to see an end to spiritual bypassing and light-washing and to see spiritual entrepreneurs step into true leadership by spearheading tough conversations– not just prescribing a full moon ritual to “let it all go.”
- I want to see ancestral healing become part of the spiritual mainstream– we can help heal many of the modern world maladies by addressing their root causes, which often began taking form in the lives of our recent and distant ancestors. I believe that until we address the ancestral beliefs and behaviors that began to form a certain modern malady (white supremacy, racism, hoarding of resources, pollution, disconnection from nature, etc.) we can’t effectively open or hold the space to address and change these behaviors in the present.
- I want to see people thoughtfully and purposefully connect with their ancestral lineage as a source of spiritual power and knowledge.
- I want to see people, especially white people, STOP culturally appropriating certain spiritual traditions.
- I want to see people who are called to a spiritual tradition that does not belong to them ancestrally to first: heal their ancestral lineage and receive a blessing from their ancestors to pursue said outside spiritual tradition. Second: to do due diligence and fully comprehend the grievances their ancestral lineage may have imparted on their chosen/adopted cultural and spiritual tradition. And third: To make appropriate and sincere reparations. What this might look like: If you are a white woman who has mostly a British Isles lineage and you feel especially attracted to Hinduism, you might first connect with your own rich lineage for suggestions on spiritual practices and/or to receive a blessing to pursue Hinduism (you do NOT want to piss off or neglect your ancestors here). Then, dive deep into the cultural and religious history of Hinduism, including how the colonization of India by the British has impacted the past and present world of Hinduism. Finally, find a meaningful cause and donate time and/or money to it in the name of ancestral reparation. Do this annually. Repeatedly show up to help support the world of Hinduism, not to just take the pretty and sparkly things. Likewise, if you are a woman of color and a devout Catholic (for example) do due diligence and understand the grievances and crusades the Church has imparted on your lineage. Seek to understand and heal what you can. Don’t just blindly follow.
- I want the voices of people of color and those across the gender spectrum uplifted and honored, especially in conversations around spiritual healing and well being.
- I want to see all of us tap into the blessings of our lineage to help direct our life and our missions.
- I want to see a world where food and physical health are no longer separated from the world of spirituality. Food is a spiritual gateway. You can’t track or count your way through it.
- I want a world where spiritual carnivores aren’t demonized. There’s room at the table. Veganism is no synonymous with #crueltyfree but it might be synonymous with a disconnect with the circle of life and right relationship with death– just as cruel animal harvesting techniques is.
- I want women to embrace the story and role food has played out in their lineage– with a 21st century feminist angle.
- I want higher spiritual standards for all of us. Don’t just follow someone because they make you feel light and pretty and entertained with fluffy rituals. Find at least one spiritual teacher who pushes you to learn and do more with your spirituality.
- I want it to become standard practice for spiritual leaders to list out the educations, people and experiences who have influenced their path and their practice.
- I want spiritual entrepreneurs to examine their offerings and coaching packages for subtle or overt expressions of oppression, the white gaze, the male gaze or other practices of homogenization and indoctrination. ESPECIALLY in the areas of health, spirituality and in creating a “success”-orientated mindset.
- I want spiritual seekers to examine the courses and coaching packages they are considering purchasing for subtle or overt expressions of oppression, the white gaze, the male gaze or other practices of homogenization and indoctrination. ESPECIALLY in the areas of health, spirituality and in creating a “success”-orientated mindset.
And we had such high hopes for 2017.
Trump is still president. Charlottesville. Texas. Florida. Puerto Rico. Hundreds of thousands of acres burned by wildfires. And now. Las Vegas.
Whenever tragedy or misfortune strikes, whether it’s on a global, national or personal scale, the immediate thought is to send “thoughts and prayers” or “love and light.”
But that’s not enough. Thoughts and prayers are not going to bring back the Las Vegas shooting victims. Love and light is not going to create change in outdated policies.
Well, the truth is, I believe love and light and thoughts and prayers COULD create the change we want to see in the world IF we all really stopped what we are doing and sent the loving and healing energy we say we’re going to send– and IF we all did it on an intense and synchronized daily basis. But we don’t. We send a few heartbeats of love, shed a few tears, donate a few dollars and go on with out lives until the next tragedy happens.
And it’s understandable. We don’t know what else to do. Often, we’re restricted by geography or resources to do much else than that anyway. Appropriate and effective action isn’t always so clear. “Love and light” isn’t always appropriate. We can’t white-light pain and trauma away. What’s more, sending love and light to someone’s pain and trauma can also be indicative of our pain and trauma-free privilege; just like someone may use their privilege to gloss over racial issues by claiming to be “color-blind.” Color-blindness is a choice. A very privileged choice. Sending love and light is also a privileged choice.
Because pain and trauma don’t need the light. They need to be held in the sacred darkness. They need to be processed in the dark void. They need to be sat with, peered into and integrated to be truly healed. If you breach that process with love and light, you’ve put a band-aid over a bullet wound.
Okay, maybe I’ve starting to stretch this metaphor a little thin. Let’s get to the point: So what can we do instead of sending love and light, thoughts and prayers? What can we do in addition to sending loving energy that will be supportive and possibly change-making?
Well I’m glad you asked. Below is a list of things to do when tragedy strikes on the personal, national or global level. It’s not an exhaustive list but it’s actionable.
When a close friend or family member has experienced something painful you can:
- Sit with them and witness their pain. Don’t say anything. Don’t try to comfort them. Perhaps refrain from touching them too (better to ask them). Just sit there and let them weep or rage. They need to know that it’s okay to experience these emotions. That the world will not end and they will not die if they experience their emotions. That they will heal faster if they experience their emotions. Sit there with them and witness. Hold this most sacred of spaces.
- Ask if you can donate some time or money. Donate a house cleaning service or roll up your sleeves and do it for them yourself. Organize other friends or family members to support the person with food or food services.
- Send a handwritten letter or card. Remember how people used to do that? If someone has died, write a happy memory of that person in the card or letter. Even better? Put the one year anniversary of that person’s death in your calendar and endeavor to send a second card or letter to acknowledge and support this important anniversary.
- Send a thoughtful and appropriate gift. Mourning jewelry is a thing. A beautiful thing. Commission an art piece via an artist on Etsy. Seek out a grief counselor or death midwife and ask them to help you support your friend or family member. There are also trauma midwives out there on the beautiful world wide web. Pottery is an ancient and appropriate gift: a vase, a plate.
- Commit to praying for the person every day for a set amount of days. A week, a lunar cycle . . . whatever feel appropriate. Then do it, everyday. Try to do it at the same time every day and for the same length of time to build energy.
- Commit to lighting a tea candle for the person every day. Light the candle and spend a few moments in prayer. Let the candle burn itself out and repeat for a set number of days.
When something happens in your country, like a mass shooting, and although you’re not directly affected, you’d like to help:
- Donate blood.
- Donate money.
- Donate supplies (clothes, bottled water, blankets) to your local Red Cross– even if those supplies don’t directly go to the tragedy, you’re still contributing and helping.
- Donate to your local volunteer ambulance. My mom started and is the chief of the volunteer ambulance service in the little community where I grew up. Money, blankets, teddy bears for children– it all is needed and invaluable.
- Donate tampons and diapers! These items are not provided by government-funded relief programs.
- Call your elected officials! It is their job to hear from you and represent your concerns and desires. This article has everything you need to know about contacting your officials, including phone and letter scripts.
- Get to know the legislative process. Understanding what your Senators and Representatives have to do, and how, empowers you as constituent. As a teenager, I spent a few weeks working in my state capitol as a page for my senator. I spent another couple of weeks interning in Washington D.C. as part of a leadership program. If your knowledge of the legislative branch is rusty, re-educate yourself. If you have a teenager, seek out your state’s page program and encourage them to become involved. It doesn’t mean they have to commit to a life of politics, but it will empower them for their life. Learn about the legislative process here.
Contact your local senator’s office to learn about becoming a page.
- Again, commit to praying and/or lighting a candle every day for a set number of days. Consider organizing a prayer circle with your friends, community or facebook group and make a set time to meet or pray at the same time.
When something happens in another country and you’d like to help (most of these suggestions can also be applied to national tragedies):
- Donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross
- Research newspapers articles that are local to the event and see which organizations they are recommending people donate too.
- Take a moment of silence or a moment of darkness to honor the victims.
- Again, donate tampons and diapers. Baby blankets and baby carriers are also sorely needed after large scale disasters or misplacements.
- Pray for the souls of the dead who are likely shocked and in denial that they are dead. Ask Archangel Michael to help guide them to cross over.
- Make a donation to a local-to-the-event women’s shelter. Consider matching that donation to a local-to-you women’s shelter as well.
- Contact a local-to-the-event flower shop and have flowers sent to the street memorial that has likely popped up. It’s a more tangible way of sending “love and light” and is likely to make an impression on the florist, who may want to match your kindness or spread the story, which spreads hope and unity. Plus, flowers bring earth energy and magic to the scene, which help us digest and process the intense and heavy emotions that come with a tragic event. Politely ask the florist to send you a photo of your donation at the shrine if you’d like.
- Organize a local vigil with your community. Light candles and hold space to honor the victims and their families. This is a more powerful and actionable way to send “thoughts and prayers.” Contact your local newspaper for coverage. Getting coverage will help spread the idea of taking action and participating in the solution. Go to your local newspaper’s website and look through the list of journalists until you find the one that covers local events and/or is a “General” reporter. Tell them what you’re doing, when and why and invite them to come.
Here’s the deal: when you post something that is full of your own conscious choices, hopes, desires and wishes, it becomes vulnerable to everyone else’s conscious and unconscious hopes, desires and judgments.
That means, if you’ve just put hours of effort and intention into something like a vision board or an altar, and then post it on social media for all 1,300 of your followers, known and unknown, to look at, your vision board or altar just got messed with.
Keep It Sacred: Keep It Private.
This also goes for sacred space you just set up for meditation or for client work. It goes for sacred tools you’ve created. It goes for any mundane object, say a job application, that you have a lot of energy and emotion behind.
And it also can apply to your body.
I’m all for the sentiment and sense of injustice behind the “Free The Nipple!” campaign, but you won’t catch me freeing mine. Not in public.
Breasts in particular are a very sensitive and very powerful part of a woman’s body. It’s an area of the body where we physically and energetically give and receive, not to mention it’s also our heart area. We often feel embarrassment at the thought of accidentally being caught naked or topless in front of someone, not because we’re afraid of our bodies being judged (though the patriarchy has made us believe that and has also shamed us for that fear) but because we innately are aware that our bodies really are our temples and our power, our juju, our feminine mojo is vulnerable to outside hopes, desires and judgments.
You’ll know your body energy has been compromised, whether you had an audience of one or took part in an impromptu skinny dipping sesh at a festival, if you find yourself suddenly and uncharacteristically concerned with what others are thinking and feeling about you. If you find yourself seeking outside validation or acceptance more than is healthy. If you feel inexplicably “addicted” to outside praise or just as inexplicably shy, anxious and obsessed about avoiding outside thoughts and opinions.
These symptoms of energetic compromise can occur anytime we’ve been vulnerable, not just naked.
What To Do If Sacred Space Is Compromised
You can smudge anything, including your body, with Palo Santo to clear away unwanted emotions and energies. Be careful about doing this to sacred objects if you don’t really need to– you could clear away some of the energy you’ve intentionally built over time. Being clear on how you want the Palo Santo to work is key: Clear away any emotions or energies that do not belong or do not serve the higher purpose of this object— is an example. I don’t recommend sage because it’s actually a consecrating herb, not a cleansing one. Palo Santo will cleanse and then you can come behind with some sage to consecrate if you’d like.
You can also take a shower and intend/pray that the water also washes away those thoughts, emotions and energies that are not yours or are no longer serving you.
If you enjoy being naked or otherwise vulnerable around folks, no worries. You’ve got a natural shield put up, the people you choose to be naked or vulnerable around are energetic rock stars, or you can take a cleansing and intentional shower afterwards to cover your bASSES. (I crack myself up).
In love and sacred darkness,
I’ve just returned from 6 weeks in my homelands in Washington State. It was the first time I’ve seen my family in 21 months and I experienced a range of emotions while I was there. I was also struggling with guilt at having moved so far away and with a deep, grievous homesickness.
I’ve kept the homesickness at bay for years, but this trip home opened the flood gates. Part of my spiritual growth has included working with my ancestors and I think that accounted for some of my weepiness: My home is also the home of my ancestors– 40,000 years worth of ancestors. Give or take a millennium.
When we flew back to Costa Rica last week, I was a mess. It had never been so hard for me to leave home. Growing up, I was the kid who wanted to learn her tribal language. I dreamt of being an activist within the community. I wanted to go to ceremonies, participate in them and even lead them. But I was also the kid who wanted to travel far far away. I wanted to explore other worlds and cultures. First, I moved two hours away to get a bachelor degree. Then, I moved across the U.S. and to Spain, following my first husband. Then I moved to the Southwest for a master’s degree. With my master’s degree in hand I thought finally I can go home and learn the language. Participate in ceremony . . . and then I met Andy and found myself committed to him, our children and his (our) farm in Costa Rica . . . for life.
Last week, July 13th, was also my birthday and I always try a new sort of reading or healing technique for my birthday. This year, at the behest of my friend Lis from Little Fox Tarot, I booked an Ancestral Reading from Andrew with The Hermit’s Lamp (love that name). In the session, I bumbled and cried and snorted while he listened and interjected messages from the Ancestors as well as a bit of life coaching. One of the things Andrew pointed out was that I kept using the phrase “I feel so lucky to be here but . . .” He asked me to go deeper into why I felt lucky and I bumbled around a bit before he added his two cents (paraphrased of course):
“Why do you think you and Andy are together? Why do you think you have a magical story? The ancestors brought you together. We’re talking hundreds of years of scheming and planning. Your ancestors want you in Costa Rica. Your ancestors want you in your homelands. This IS the plan. You talk as if you’re getting away with something, as if you don’t deserve your magical life, but you worked harder than anyone. You listened.”
And whoosh. Everything came into place. I did listen. I listened to my soul and to my dreams when they told me to leave my first marriage. I listened to my heart and the synchronicities when they led me to Costa Rica for the first time. I listened when my gut told me to trust the stranger who wanted to pick me up at the airport and I listened when the souls of my children came through in a dream and announced the adventure we’d be having together. (you can read my multi-part series on this divorce-love-babies-divine-intervention story beginning here)
I super listened. With all of my senses.
I’m not getting away with anything. I haven’t gotten more than I deserve. These are the blessings (and hardships) of this lifetime. And I know, without a doubt, that if I had not listened, I’d be in some city somewhere, aching for a life in another world.
I’m still listening.
Now, I’m curious to know: what blessings are you “getting away with” ? How have you listened to divine guidance through life changes?
In love and sacred darkness,