Saturday, November 24, 2018

What We Hear in the Dying of the Light

As the year wanes, so does the light. Our days grow shorter, nights longer, and the heat resides in the southern hemisphere. We generally enjoy fall well enough, but by the time we finish with Thanksgiving, we are feeling the full effects of the dimming sun.

In mythology, the waning sun was often depicted as a dying king who would be replaced after Winter Solstice by his twin brother or a newborn son. For those of us who thrive in the heat and light of summer, we can feel the pinch of being forced to hunker down inside. I'm one of those beings who can sometimes resent the colder and dimmer seasons of the year, even though I know that it is only because of winter that I can truly enjoy the rebirth ushered in with spring. However, I have learned that winter offers us a special opportunity to turn inward, and like the earth bound plants, do the good work that brings abundant blossoms in the spring. 

I like to think about how we lived before we eliminated seasons in our homes. Traditionally, his was the time of year for serious sewing, repairing leather, improving the home and outbuildings, and for sharing stories and songs. It was and can be a time for self-reflection, self-care, and living close.

This is the time of the year that I like to think about those forgotten projects I keep thinking I will get to, but don't when the weather is good. This is the time I like to give myself permission to sort pictures for hours, snuggle into a huge book, work on new recipes, or try, once again, to become proficient on the guitar. 

This is also a good time to go within for soul projects, as well. Journal writing, artistic activities, meditation, yoga, reading poetry or the I Ching & other mystical texts, or tracing a labyrinth board are good ways to help us turn our vision inward. This is a good time to turn down some social events or spend some quiet time in your room. This is the season for going down and within, and the earth is sharing in this process with you. Holding winter's space across the upper half of the world.

In his autobiographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Carl Jung reflects that "The older I have become, the less I have understood or had insight into or known about myself....Yet there is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man. The more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things. In fact it seems to me as if that alienation which so long separated me from the world has become transferred into my own inner world, and has revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself" (358-59).

What's great about the darkness is that, as the business of the external world quiets, we can hear our inner voice--inner wisdom, inner needs. In the dim light our vision softens, and we can feel what's in the remote regions of our hearts and minds--those unfamiliar places. We can hear the voices from our inner corners. We can discover them through silence, aloneness, inner vision, and then explore them through art, song, dance, writing, or by doing nothing at all. I am writing this to remind myself and hopefully inspire you to cherish the gifts of waning light, cold nights, and a warm hearth. For in the dying light we can feel the subtle pulse of our heart, refocus to our inner vision, and hear the whispers of our soul.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Sage Cottage: New Blog

In my work as a shamanic therapist and leading healing arts workshops, I am often asked to recommend resources or for my opinion on certain products. In response, a friend and I have started Sage Cottage as a product review and education blog to make choosing high quality and effective holistic products easier. There are so many products out there today, and it can take too much time or too many bad purchases to find good quality products. We hope our site will not only make choosing and buying easier, but will help you feel more prepared to make educated choices. When relevant, we will also offer up suggestions & techniques to for using certain products in your personal practices.

We are just launching our new site, but you will see new blogs posted several times a month. You can trust that we are only reviewing products that we believe are of high quality and truly effective in a holistic lifestyle. Some of our blogs, such as "The Truth About Himalayan Salt Lamps," will offer an overview of the competing opinions and research about the products, in addition to our own personal experiences and opinions about them. Here's a sample below.
We hope you enjoy our new blog, Sage Cottage

The Truth About Himalayan Salt Lamps

We’ve all felt the wash of good energy from getting outside, especially among waterfalls, lakes or rivers, and especially the sea. There is no denying that when we are immersed in fresh air, sunshine, and a salty breeze, we feel lighter and more balanced, inside and out. We are told by many that Himalayan Salt Lamps can have a similar affect on our indoor spaces. Yet there is a rigorous controversy about whether salt lamps do actually have the effects that are claimed.
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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