Thursday, November 2, 2017

Munay-Ki Rites ~ Seeds of Consciousness

When Alberto Villoldo brought the Munay-Ki rites, a system of energetic transmissions adapted from the Peruvian shamanic culture, to us Westerners, he found a receptive culture thirsting for soulful ritual. Even people who would ordinarily not buy into something so non-rational as the idea of awakening and weaving energy fields often found themselves emotionally moved and somehow altered by the Munay-Ki rituals.

On the one hand, just being in the peaceful and comforting act of ritual is a refreshing experience for those of us who spend most of our time running on the spinning wheel of progress and productivity. We've lost our connection to quiet, pause, reflection. Even our past-times either keep us on the go with sports or activities, or we collapse into a cushion and watch someone else do something  via our electronic window.

So experiencing a ritual that keeps us actively engaged but in a process of reflection rather than projection is not only refreshing, but can reawaken us to aspects of our nature and inner dreams that we forgot or never discovered. The process involved in healing rituals takes us into a quieting, so that our bodies and mind can attune with the natural world. No matter what we may think or believe, when we feel ourselves harmonize with the living cosmos, there is no denying that there is, in fact, something very healing about being in ritual.

However, even beyond the feeling of connection and balance that healing rituals can create, the Munay-Ki Rites are energetic attunements that not only connect us to higher energies, but sow the seeds of those energies within our own subtle system. The first four rites of the Munay-Ki are what Villoldo calls technical rites, because they are about opening pathways and weaving connections that will help us access and use our subtle senses. The final five rites are versions of the rites used to initiate a paq'o (apprentice) through stages of the shamanic path. In these rites, the shaman calls in the energies to which each rite is targeted and the shaman calls in the spirits to help transmit seeds of those energies into the initiate's subtle field. The initiate then must walk a path that will grow those seeds, in order for them to shift our subtle architecture and awaken our intuitive abilities.

Each person's experience is different: some feel big changes right away, others feel little and notice a more general and subtle shift over time. I don't remember anyone, in my experience, though who received the rites and did not have a positive experience or feel a positive change in his or her body or life. Sometimes the change is that a pattern in your life has suddenly shifted. Sometimes you just feel different in your skin.  Sometimes, though, if you're subtle senses are awake, you can feel the energy pouring into or through you.

After I received the Star Keeper's rites, I went into a bit of a funk the next day. All day I felt out of place in my own skin. Nothing felt quite right. I went through the whole day of workshops and things gradually intensified, so that by the time I arrived at that evenings ritual, to receive the Creator's rites, I was in pain. Not real physical pain, but a kind of indescribable discomfort. I felt as if every cell in my body was being reshaped -- pushed and stretched-- so that I could not get comfortable, but yet, it needed to happen. By the time I sat down to get my final mesa rites from Alberto, I sat before him in silence as tears slid down my face. As he blessed my mesa with rites, I began to feel calmer inside. I began to feel as if I was getting used to this new shape my insides were taking.

It took awhile for me to feel completely comfortable in my skin again, but I continued to meditate and do the work to nourish the seeds. One day, though, I remember there was a moment when I was opening sacred space, and I suddenly realized that I was "inside" that space. It was like before I had been outside, calling in spirit guides to weave a sacred time/place we could enter. But suddenly, it was like I was already walking in that place, and when I called in the energies, I was standing in the middle. My axis mundi had been opened for good, it seemed. I felt I had woven a full time connection. I was no longer trying to get into the sacred space, but was now umbilically connected to my inner self and the higher consciousness. I no longer had to "do" something to connect, I just had to "be" in this state of connectedness that was now woven inside me.

As I said, each person's experience is different, but my experience has shown me that even in this busy, reason and productivity driven world, we are capable of discovering our subtle nature and access our subtle senses.  Click Here To learn more.
Click Here to see our next Munay-Ki event.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On Writing Tending the Soul with Healing Ritual

“People need Rituals. In today’s modern Western culture of progress and perpetual striving, the reflective qualities of religion, meditation, and ritual reside in the margins of our daily living. Yet many Western psyches yearn for a deeper experience with life and its mysteries. Despite the dominance of a material and scientific world-view, on a personal level, people still crave something more beautiful and meaningful than what materiality and the analytics of logic can offer.”

These opening words of my book, Tending the Soul with Healing Ritual explain exactly why I wrote the book. I grew up in a conservative Christian family, and even though I was devout, I also found a lot of what was being taught from the pulpit lacking a broader perspective and relevance to my life and my own philosophical observations. In college, I gained exposure to a wide range of perspectives, especially those argumentative against the belief-based traditions of my heritage. The more I learned, the more confused I became.

This triggered a search, a quest, if you will for my own sort of “Middle Way.” I began looking for deeper & broader wisdom that could help me cultivate a life-design balanced between extremes: one that benefitted from both reasonable rationality and empowering spirituality. My love of literature and writing led me into old stories, and in the study of myths I discovered that I was making a study of myself, as well as all humanity.

My studies have taken many turns and exposed me to many viewpoints, some of those ideas, like those of the shamanic culture in Peru and certain other Native American cultures, especially spoke to me. I would never suggest a return to the old days and the old ways, such that we forfeit the benefits we’ve gained from today’s panoramic view of cultures and philosophies. Yet, by rediscovering the jewels of perennial traditions, we can enlighten and enrich our existential dilemma with beauty, wisdom, and reason for being.

One of these jewels is the practice of Ritual. When I say ritual, I suspect you’re imagining something totally benign like tailgating parties or Thanksgiving dinner, or else something horror movie sinister with black robes and virgins on a central stone. It’s true that some traditional rituals, even ones practiced today are extremely harsh by modern standards. However, the jewel of healing Rituals (which I capitalize to distinguish as a high form) is more than some scripted act or idea. It is a vehicle for change. When we perform Ritual, we soften our mental and physical patterns so that inner and outer shifts can occur. Emotional and physical healing can be found when we relax our bodies and minds such that the very patterns of our being are influenced. Mystics have understood this metaphysically for millennia. Science is now making headway in identifying what the sages of the ages have tried to hand down.


This book is mostly a how-to book for creating personal rituals for your needs. Part One of the book provides some introductory theory about the whys and hows of Ritual. Especially important is how to create effective and safe rituals. Part Two offers a set of rituals that can be practiced in your home and yard or in other natural settings. For me, Ritual is a way of stepping into my prayers, animating them so that my whole self—body, mind, and soul—are aligned in one effort for healing and divine support. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Flower Shower: Turn Your Summer Blossoms into a Healing Ritual

Summer may be nearing its end, but late-season blossoms and the butterflies that cherish them abound. We tend to think of spring as the time for blooms and butterflies, but my favorite time for a cool drink on a late afternoon porch is this time of year, when the silent colorful butterflies and noisy, hectic wasps and bees pulse the landscape to life. There is a certain awe in sitting beside a butterfly bush or a porch edge bursting with tiny white thyme blossoms while dozens of such flutterbies hum and hover all around, taking little notice of the human presence among their bounty.
Like most people, I enjoy the sight and scents of my garden. But when a shamaness in Peru performed a flower shower cleansing ritual on me, I discovered another way to appreciate my garden.  Click to read whole article on Huffington Post

Friday, June 16, 2017

Forgiving Mothers ~ Mythically

We love our mothers, of course. Love of Mother viscerally lives within our being; we carry the muscle memory of having been enwombed, birthed, suckled, and protectively held against a breast wherein beat the heart of our first universe. We love our mother’s unconditionally (be they natural or adoptive) even though we grow to discover their flaws and weaknesses. Adolescent resentments begin to foster a desire to separate and ultimately seek independence from the smothering love of our mothers. Though it takes some of us much longer than others, eventually, we do get over or look past their imperfections enough to once again appreciate their offerings of nurturance, sacrifice, and constancy. But have we really forgiven them for being imperfect?
As new mothers, we daughters set out to improve upon our own mothering, hoping to avoid their mistakes. We develop strengths where we perceived weaknesses, and give our children a new and improved kind of mothering that we wished we had had. And yet, two heartbreaking realizations inevitably come to light.  Click to read rest of article on Huffington Post.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Huffington Post Article: The Healing Legacy of the Inka: Five Ancient Principles that we need today

Check out Gay's article on Huffington Post: 


When you read “Inka,” what may flash through your mind is creepy Hollywood scenes of terrible and tortuous sacrifice rituals or Spanish conquistadors slaughtering masses to procure Peruvian gold for King and Church. Apparently any tradition can lose its bearing when human frailty takes the helm. Yet, for all that the Inka system was authoritarian and imperfect, it was one of the greatest empires of antiquity, and its people flourished. What you may not know is that the cultural framework of the Inka is based in ancient mystical philosophies for living in harmony with the Creator and the living world.... We are taught five concepts at the heart of the Inkan philosophy that are crucial to being healthy, balanced, and an “investor” in life, rather than a “consumer” of life: Kawsay, Munay, Yachay, Llanchay, and Ayni. These five concepts are as relevant to us today as they were in the archaic world that brought them to light. Click Here to Read Gay's Full Article on Huffington Post Blog

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Yoga and Psyche Article: Huffington Post

I'm loving the ever growing dialogue linking spirituality, depth psychology, and various mythologies or spiritual and energetic modalities. There are many wonderful conversations going on out there, and I'll try to keep pointing you to them. Here's one for us yoga folks. Just click the title.

Yoga and Psyche: The Marriage of Ancient Wisdom and Depth Psychology

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Pacifica Graduate Institute Celebrates 40 Years

My doctoral alma mater, Pacifica Graduate Institute is celebrating its 40th anniversary. A truly magical place, where students of Mythology and Jungian Depth Psychology are held in the bossom of the foothills overlooking the Pacifica coast and the literary legacy of great teachers and mentors of mythology and depth psychology. The school houses a number of archival collections including those of Joseph Campbell, Marija Gimbutas, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, and reknown classicist & Pacifica professor, Christine Downing. In honor of their 40th anniversary, Pacifica alumni have published a book collecting memories and tributes to our beloved alma mater. Below is a reprint of my article.


Tending the Mind and Soul at Pacifica 
More than fifteen years before entering Pacifica, I wrote my thesis for an M.A. in English on Flannery O’Connor’s work. While I delved into the fascinating world of O’Connor’s themes and character’s, hoping someday to write great works, I found myself jealous of her extended stay at the Yaddo writer’s retreat in New York where she was enveloped for a time in a world of supportive peers and mentors.
It was about midway through my second semester at Pacifica when I realized that I had unwittingly found my own creative retreat. Yes, the schedule was rigorous and the standards were high, but for three days each month, the rest of the world was put at bay while the pursuit of knowledge and our passions became paramount. Always arriving in the mantle of burn out, the Pacifica setting and community never failed to foster a rejuvenation of my spirit and objectives.
Perhaps this was especially important since the Pacifica curriculum functions as a sort of medicine wheel process in which we not only accumulate knowledge, but also activate our inner workings. As we delved into many of the most profound questions, ideas, and stories of humanity, we had the support of the comforting campuses, the caring faculty, and the shared experiences of our cohorts. For example, right from the start of the Folk Story class I was in the grip of powerful archetypes. As I worked on my presentation, I became so caught up that I would work ridiculously long hours on it, even more than thirty-six hours straight as I finished. It was only a ten-minute presentation. This was absurd, and of course, I ran over time and had to be cut off, and I could have sworn that I was only speaking five minutes when I was stopped. After my presentation, we took a break, and I went into the garden and cried—but not alone. Few words were needed as friends sat with me while I finally found myself slipping from the grip of the archetypes. I would never have survived this journey alone. Yet, it absolutely helped me to evolve into the kind of person and writer that I had hoped to become.
Though I’ve been gone a little while now, I still treasure the special friendships and professional liaison’s that my time at Pacifica yielded. We cannot share a soul journey such as this without making deep friendships along the way.

~Get your copy of the PGI Alumni Tribute book