The other day I was at a place that I feel is sacred. It’s a ravine where a sweet little waterfall runs down layers of sandstone and clay to stream across the sand and into the sea. The sides of the ravine are woven with a tight matrix of grass and a myriad of plants. Purple aster and horsetail bob in the breeze with mint, yarrow, wild rose and ever present salal. A pale smooth driftwood tree with branched limbs thrown up by a high tide long ago liked it so much it wedged itself sideways and stayed. It makes a perfect perch to cultivate my joy. I reach my senses out to all the life and nature spirits around me in deep gratitude. For a water sign like me, sitting between a waterfall and the sea feels so homey.
I brought an offering with me. I pull the strands of sweetgrass that were gifted to me by a friend and inhale the exquisite scent. The scent that brings me both up to the sun and down solidly to the earth at the same time. The scent that brings me out of all the rabbit holes of collective chaos that I cannot avoid on my screens most days and into the amazing process of sun and water creating perfect green grass.
I exhale my gratitude and prayers into the grass and stand it upright in a fissure in the branch beside me. A place where it can wave in the breeze and feel everything.
Awhile later when ready to continue my walk down the beach, I see a strand of sweet grass on the rock below me. I reach down and drop it into the stream to flow out as an offering to the sea. It gets caught in an eddy next to a rock, unmoving like a swimmer in an infinity pool. I reach down to free it and I hear a message.
Daughter, thank you for your offering. Please don’t force where it goes. It soaks up what it needs to, it goes where it needs to. There is a divine purpose to how it flows and where it goes… and what it means in relation to your intention, your gratitude, your purpose as you are here in this place. We feel you.
The lesson has stayed with me this week. It is one that I have revisited again and again over the years. We are so prone to micro-management, even in spirit matters. We need to learn to give our prayers without condition and truly release them. Give them away without attachment to outcome and any sense of how it should be. Of course we have our opinion, which is why we are making prayers in the first place! But once those words, that song, that heartfelt blessing has left our mouths and hearts, it belongs to the winds of Spirit.
Trust that Spirit will know exactly what to do with it.
The orchids get another spring to bloom, and this year there are twice as many. They reflect the magic in this little patch of forest that is just a ten-minute walk from my place. The forest is behind a park managed by the city of Corvallis. It has been relatively left alone for a long time, but well used by the locals and crisscrossed by deer trails. An amazing ash tree and several oaks that live there are in the 150 to 200-year-old range. When I’m in their energy I can feel their wisdom far beyond human intelligence, but it is so old and deep that I cannot fathom it. Douglas fir was planted in one large area about 50-70 years ago. It has become rich in fungi and mushrooms, birds, insects and wildflowers. And the incredible fairy slipper orchids.
Last year I found out that all the trees and their ecosystem will soon be gone, cut and bulldozed into a housing development. I still cry about it sometimes. And I visit the forest often, enjoying the time we have left. I tell the trees and the devas and nature spirits what is coming so they are prepared.
But the orchids. To me they feel so special, never having lived in a place where they grow wild. A few days ago I told them what was coming. For a moment I considered if I could transplant a few, but they seem so much a part of where they are. I asked them to let me know if there was anything I could do for them.
That night I had a dream the orchids were making themselves into flower essence.
There was my answer. The next day I went to the forest to make the orchid flower essence. How fortunate that a few days before I had taken a drive out to the spring on Kings Highway and filled up a few gallon jugs with pure spring water! I filled two cobalt blue bottles with spring water, got my crystal bowl and went to the forest. I always ask the flowers if they want the water bowl just put underneath them or if they want the blooms to be cut and put in the water. They said they were willing to be cut and as I snipped them into the bowl, I could smell their faint vanilla sweet scent. The flower essence is charged by sitting it in the sun for an hour or two, and as I sat there, I felt I must give them a gift in return.
A song suddenly came to me, its melody insistent, the words simple. I sang it to them while the essence charged.
Orchid song, orchid song
Orchid song is song of the forest
In the breeze, in the sun
Weaving light around everyone
Orchid song, orchid song
Orchid song is song of the forest
In the trees, in the sun
In the weaving all are One
A few days later I was able to sit and get a full transmission from them:
We cannot be separated from the forest. We are inexorably part of it, part of the greater whole. Our roots are irrevocably entwined, as is our energy. We have an agreement to weave our support within and throughout the ecosystem here. You only notice us in the spring when we bloom, but we are here – transmitting – all the time.
Not only do we have a song that is always a part of the greater chorus of life, but as you felt, we draw out the songs of others so they can know them and sing them to their fullest. Our songs, scents and blooms come from tenaciously rooted and intertwined runners of light and energy that is the matrix we live in.
Just as we cannot be separated from the forest, you cannot be separated from the Divine, or from your world. Everything in your world is alive with Divine energy no matter how dark it looks to you. You are not alone, you are not separate. Your nature is like ours, intertwined and a part of the whole. Your song makes up a sweet and important part of the chorus of all.
When human beings realize this, all toxins they have produced on the planet will transmute into light. With love and care they will sing a new song of love for all life. Harmony will spread. Balance will be restored.
The flower essence not only contains our essence song, but the song of the forest. Use it to connect to and be aware of the web of life, to connect to your song and to find the beauty of how it connects to all other songs in all the universes.
Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.
— Theodore Roethke, American Poet
Fairy Slipper Orchid Calypso bulbosa
One of the things I like best about shamanism, and any kind of spiritual work for that matter, is the knowing that all kinds of helpers, teachers and allies are available as consultants in challenging times. And we are in some hellified challenging times right now.
Here in western Oregon in less than two weeks, over a million acres have burned from wildfires. Entire towns have been destroyed. There were so many fires happening across the western states at the same time that there was a shortage of firefighters. Fires here had less than 25% of the optimum number of firefighters. The ones that were here worked 14 hour days doing the most difficult work in the worst conditions. I am so grateful to them and to their guardian spirits who kept them all safe.
Those of us who did not have fires advancing toward us and did not have to evacuate dealt with a pall of smoke so thick that for several days we had the worst air quality in the world. It was dangerous to go outside.
Our first reaction as humans is to want to do something to help. In our shamanic and spiritual communities a call went out to focus on rains coming instead of fires burning.
I thought about who I could ask for help.
I decided my action would be to go into journey mode to ask for help from ancestors who had faced something similar before and who experienced a good outcome. My helping spirits took me to where a tribe of about 15 people stood gathered in a circle. Fires burned in the hills close around them and smoke filled the sky. They were gathered on a small dusty plain. Water was scarce, but they had a little bit left in a jug. They poured it into a bowl and set it in the middle of the circle. They included me in the circle, we held hands and began to sway. I locked eyes with a young boy who wore a cloth wrapped around his head turban style and had white dots painted on his forehead, nose, and cheekbones. He grinned and bounced up and down on his toes. Others also had painted dots on their faces. Some were humming.
I began to feel a shift in my body as they showed me that they became the feeling of rain in their bodies. Someone was speaking kind and loving words to the bowl of water in the center of the circle. It was being invited to merge with the people, with the air, with the sky. I felt a luscious cool expansiveness within me and in the circle. The first few big drops of rain drew giggles from the children. The drops hit the dust in beautiful spatters. The swaying and humming continued. The drops became a shower. I could hear steam hissing from the hills as the water met the fire. The circle unclasped and everyone swirled and danced with one another in the downpour. An elder picked up the now overflowing bowl from the center of the circle and gave it to me. As he did, I saw the future of the next season with the hills being thick carpets of green dotted with colorful wildflowers. There was a feeling of partnership and harmony, and complete trust in the outcome. I thanked him for the water and the wisdom.
Back at my sacred garden in non-ordinary reality, I set out an altar cloth and put the bowl of water on it. I asked that the Undines, the water elementals, teach me what I need to know about being in balance with the rain within myself.
Nature has an intelligence that most of us do not understand. That is because we have not been taught how to have a harmonious relationship with the spirits that make up nature - the Elementals, the Devas and Nature Spirits. We can ask the fire elementals to be merciful and stop burning, we can ask the winds to change direction and ask the rains to come. But we need to realize and respect that they have their own greater purposes which we know nothing about. We don’t want to cross the line into thinking we can manipulate the elementals with our will, or on the other end of the spectrum, feel as if we are always completely at their mercy. Our relationship with nature is always a co-creative process. If we are unconscious of that, as many of us are, our environment is unbalanced because what we are creating is unbalanced. So nature will reflect that.
I believe that in the future humans and nature having harmonious relationships with one another will be the norm, not the exception. We will develop new beneficial ways of living and working together with natural resources that we will think of as kin instead of resources, and we will nurture instead of manage.
To help you tend to soul issues that may manifest in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual aspects of your life, and to give you tools to empower your path to harmony and well-being.
-There are so many kindredspirits doing the work out there. I include these links to help our community connect with one another.
SACRED HOOP Magazine Guide to Shamanism Compilation- http://www.sacredhoop.org/Pages/FreeGuide.html
Kitzie's podcasts include interviews with artists and kirtan music. I love attending her weekly Satsang group and the New World Kirtan Band concerts -
My friend and herbalist mentor, Lawrence Birch is a Certified Clinical Herbalist, plant whisperer and shamanic practitioner. If you need custom tincture blends or are interested in a wildcrafting apprenticeship, he is the teacher extraordinaire:
Roger Wheelock and Gayle Ruth are shamanic practitioners and teachers in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. https://www.rainmother.com/ I am grateful to be able to take part in ceremony with them, and to support their love for the Peruvian people through the World Ayni Association.