Tierra mi cuerpo
Agua mi sangre
Aire mi aliento
Y fuego mi espiritu
I learned this song when the plants guided me to my first plant spirit training. We would sing the song during spiritual plant limpias (cleanings) and when we would harvest plants. It always spoke to me in a deep way. A prayer to the elements called out to my own inner elements, a yearning to deepen my relationship with Mother nature and all her fierce, yet gentle teachings. Over the years I noticed each soul journey I took was bringing up a element that wanted to be integrated. I started with air and ether, balancing the ungrounded winds that would sweep me away. The last element I am integrating is fire and its been the longest journey, that has given me the most potent and hardest challenges but well worth it!
I have always loved fire even at a young age, I remember staring into the camp fires and being sent into a deep trance, as if there was a void all around me, sounds would dissipate and I would become the fire. As I got older starting a fire became a challenge that brought up so much anger, rage, anxiety, nervous tension, a overwhelmed feeling or I would freeze. I was aware that the fire brought up so much for me and I didn't know how to work with the element in a healing way. When I was in Peru I was in charge of starting the fire every morning so I could cook breakfast. I would dread waking up to the tension that people were depending on me to start the flame, as soon as I would get the flame started it would go out and after numerous tries I would give up.
Four years ago I had a deep yearning to learn and understand temazcal ceremonies with a teacher in Mexico. This certainly was the hook to have me face the fire once again and connect to the fire element! When it came time for me to light the fire for the temazcal my teacher looked at me and said I was not ready "you still have too much anger to heal before working with the temazcal, you may be able to light the fire but the wind of anger comes behind and blows the fire out." Her words sat with me for a few more years, I kept attracting situations where I was asked to light the fire. I learned how to do agnihotra ceremonies at my yoga training and worked through alot of layers with the fire. I practiced every morning for a month to make a fire with cow dung and ghee in a copper pyramid. I still found my stomach turning at the thought of lighting a fire, to face what I wanted to transform. I started praying to the fire to help me, so I started rising early to practice making fires in my home, where I could go at my own pace, building trust and confidence with myself.
In November I had a friend who moved to Antigua, Guatemala, a place that has never been on my radar. But something deep within was calling me, so I went on another soul journey and bought a one way ticket to Guatemala. She was the hook to get me there. I was in search to meet Mayan elders who I could learn from and be involved in earth based ceremonies. I was led to the elders after a fall that resulted in breaking my right wrist. When I was treated by a Doctor in Antigua I knew I had to seek out a traditional bone setter to correct the malpractice. I was led to Nan Chila through a friend who was connected with a Mayan family that led me to the bone setter. It really was pure magic how it happened. The night I arrived to the bone setters house I immediately felt her fire energy and healing energy. She counted on her fingers to determine my Mayan sign and number, so that she could see my soul path and look at why the accident may of happened. I was immediately adopted by two separate families who carry the Mayan lineage of the Ancestors, they have been a stable rock as I continue to heal. They recommended I do a personal fire ceremony to clear any karmas from the past, so that I could move forward on my path and relieve me from any future accidents. This was the first fire ceremony I attended that was personalized and where I felt deeply connected to my ancestors and adopted ancestors. At this moment I knew my connection to my own fire element was being liberated. I stood at the fire and wept, all the anger left me; for the first time I received the fire as a potent ally, where I was ready to transmute all old believes from the past.
The fire was asking me to set down my baggage and be done carrying the heaviness. To be free and ask for strength to receive, a stern message that now is not the time to be giving. I celebrated my 37th year face to face with the fire element. A week later I found myself at my healers house while a fire ceremony was about to happen and then I kept getting invited to more. I showed up and faced every flame, resting on my knees, kissing the earth with so much gratitude. These potent experiences will continue to be a part of my life. I still cry for every flame, seeing all the woman healers who were burned for knowing the wisdom of nature. For all the ancestors that stepped into the fire, carving the path for many woman to bring forth the medicine. For now I lay the battle within to rest and ask for grace and determination to transmute the history of our woman. Yet this time we wont be burned at the stake for communing with mother nature nor the elements. I invite you to meditate on a vision you are trying to birth. Sit with it for 30 days and feed the intention into a candle or fire. See what is transmuted, you may be very surprised at the results. Call in your ancestors or adopted ancestors to stand around you in a circle and receive the gifts with your left hand.
A dove from my heart, Sondra
Art: The Three Sisters by Jackie Traverse
My travels to Peru have always left me with a deep yearning to share more of the Andean wisdom with others, connecting even deeper with all the elements. The seed of envisioning a intimate journey to Peru has been incubating for a while when I was first introduced to Q'ero Andean wisdom. I was drawn to the deep connection the Q'ero have with nature, how they maintain reciprocity and balanced relationships with the cosmic (mother) universe and all the elements. How the simple act of giving offerings to the earth can bring harmony to the mystical and spiritual body.
The 1st seed that awakened in me after my first visit to Peru over 7 years ago was the connection I felt with the medicinal plant world, how every plant was connected to the stones, to the earth, the cosmos and the living energy of the universe. The 2nd seed that awakened after I studied herbalism was 3 years ago when I found a Yoga and Ayurveda training where I lived and went through a very deep spiritual rewiring and shift in consciousness. I was led there at a time when I was abandoning my body and physically exhausted. The program was very much focused on getting in your body through yoga, breathwork and meditation. By using Ayurvedic principles I slowly was able to come into balance and become more earthed in the soil and centered in my spirit. The 3rd seed that awakened in me was when I went to India this summer in 2018. I immersed myself in a 26 day panchakarma in a Ayurvedic hospital away from chatter, internet, responsibilities etc. During this time it was the most nourished I had ever felt, allowing to receive was the hardest lesson. Everyday felt like a profound spiritual and physical ceremony. I could see and feel emotional toxins becoming dislodged from the darkest areas. As a result a force of will power arose from deep within, it took weeks for me to become accustomed to a strong force of creative energy that was flowing through me. It felt as if all the seeds were screaming to be watered and nourished.
I left India with a willpower that took over my whole being, I came back to the states and knew I had to really follow all the dreams I had shot down or told myself I could not do in previous times. Here I am sharing this dream with you and inviting you to sit in sacred space among the mountain spirits of Peru. A place where you can fully earth into the energies in a grounded and supported container, by remembering what seeds may be dormant inside you. Are you walking your soul purpose out? Are you yearning to develop the seeds of wisdom you have planted? Reawaken your seeds for embodiment in a 6 day culture immersion with Q'ero elders or choose to do the full 13 day journey where we will visit two sacred mountains that can create movement and alignment in your life.
Together we will birth a vision.
Birth a dream into fruition.
"Lets make the earth our church and protecting it our religion"
The more I dig deeper into Curanderismo I start to see so many parallels to Ayurveda. Any practice or lineage that is rooted in nature and the elements will contain similar alignments. It all comes down to the core essence within the teachings of nature. I first started learning about Curanderismo eight years ago, when I met Estela Roman who continues to teach me about spiritual immunity and the nature of the winds. Alongside that time I was just starting to become curious about the practices of Ayurveda. I recently got to spend time with Estela at a healers gathering with fifteen other woman to dig deeper into how we can create resources in movement, and the stages of our growth in the Aztec lineage. She explained the elements and emotional winds that are being cultivated at a specific age.
Age birth-13 is when we are in relationship with the earth element. Laughing, we cry more to build connection, learning to walk upright, we are softer in this phase of life. In Ayurveda birth-20 is the time of the water and earth element kapha dosha.
Age 14-26 is when we are building our connection with the water element. We look deeper into our life, produce more water, tears, develop intellect and heal the Mother relationship. In Ayurveda 20-50 is the pitta years the fire and water element when we transform and create what we desire to generate in or lives.
Age 27-39 is when we are in relationship with the wind element, the growth of who we are, inner voice, resolve repressed intellectual growth, emotional intelligence develops. When we are able to look at our emotional winds that reside in our thirteen joints and allow space for transformation.
Age 40-beyond is when we are in relationship with the ether element, our intuition, trusting our inner voice, following our heart. When the spiritual cosmic connection is made. In Ayurveda 50-beyond is the vata time of life, air and ether element, when we begin to have a deeper understanding of our spiritual path, our intuition is developed and we trust ourselves fully.
The thirteen emotions/aires that reside in the thirteen joints are: trauma, fright, fear, sadness, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, envy, jealousy, selfishness, lost and resentment. The elements present in each age group are there to support the healing and transmutation of the aires. This is why emphasis is placed on the joints during body work to release emotional and physical pain in the body. In Ayurveda there is a focus on the joints and moving the lymph where old stagnant emotions reside. Massaging oil on the joints in a circular direction assist in secreting fluid from the lymph nodes by releasing emotional toxins and circulating blood flow.
By working with the joints energy can be moved and the client can begin to have a dialog with the winds/aires that are being released from the joints. A simple yet powerful massage technique can provide the client with more space and depth to continue the healing process and become the cosmic basket of their true nature.
I wanted to welcome the new year with a question to ponder, what element do you need to invite deeper into your body for healing or balance?
We have all five elements within us: earth (prithvi), water (apas), air (vayu), fire (tejas), ether (akasha). The elements present in our parents are encoded into our being at the time of conception, creating our unique constitution. There are usually one or two dominant elements that reside in us and play out in different ways that either create harmony or imbalance in our mind and body.
The last five years I have been on a journey balancing all of these elements within my mental and physical body. Ironically I did not see the pattern until a few years ago when I was with a teacher in Mexico and I had this strong pull to learn how to start the fires for the Temazcal ceremonies.....I chuckle now when I retell the story! My teacher looked at me one day with a stern voice and said " You can not build a fire for the Temazcal with all that anger inside of you, the wind of anger will come and blow the fire out." Two months later I went to Hawaii for a Ayurveda and Yoga training where I was fully immersed in the Vedic fire ceremonies and mantra. The first month I observed the fire and imagined all the anger being transformed, at the time I did not know where the anger was coming from, but the fire stirred it up in me to a point where I felt my blood boil in my veins. By the second month they asked me to perform the Tryambakam fire ceremony for fifteen minutes every morning as part of my seva, my heart raced when they asked me to take on such a scary task of connecting with the fire. Trying to manage the fire and keep the mantra repeating aloud seemed so daunting at times and other times I felt completely tuned in with a higher source. I would re-lite the fire numerous times as it would continue to be extinguished no matter how many drops of ghee I would offer or how many fans I would put up to block the ocean breeze. Until one day I surrendered with complete union with the fire and the flame stayed alive, all the nervousness and anxiety I would get around the flame transmuted before my eyes.
The year 2017 was a deep initiation with the water element, when I saw a photo of Apu Ausangate, I knew at that distinct moment I had to go connect with the sacred waters. Days before my birthday I was looking into the eyes of Ausangate, with my body fully immersed under the healing springs having a complete rebirth back into my body. The following months I was lead to more bodies of water and imagined bringing the healing element into my body, hydrating my tissues and ligaments. The earth element will be the focus for 2018, the most solid structure for life to exist in, along with anchoring the energy. It will be a year of allowing my body and mind to be earthed in the hands of the majestic Mother. I am trusting that the Ancestors will guide me to the Lakes, Rivers, Oceans, Mountains and Plants to continue the journey of being earthed. All of these elements will ebb and flow inside me at different rates, but the key is to know how to keep them balanced within our being. The process will get easier as you start to attune your energy.
A starting point would be to observe the picture above of Mullein, what elements do you think reside in each part of the plant? What part of the plant do you need to ingest more of this season? The root contains the earth element, providing nourishment, minerals and carbs. The stem stores water to hydrate the tissues. Air contains the spirit of the plant, the subtle body energy, the invisible. Fire transmutes the energy into a flower and the ether element resides in the seed, existing before and after the material form. If Mullein was lacking in any of these elements there would not be a proper state of balance or attunement in order to produce the healing medicine that is stored in the flowers and leaf. I invite you to go into the woods and explore the elements within nature!
May the plants guide your way home,