SVÃHÃ – A mantra used when offering oblations to the sacrificial fire.
Two night’s ago I took part in a Shamanic healing ceremony intended to clear out old, unwanted energy from 2010 and set a completely new slate for the coming year, 2011. It wasn’t about resolutions; it was about revelations.
I know some of you are thinking; ‘wackiness’, ‘quackery’ or just plain weird and, it is. If you don’t know it. Anything is all of that if you don’t know it. This wasn’t my first foray into Shamanic practices, I had taken part in a healing ceremony 6 months ago that came about from an impromptu invitation following a massage I had given, so I wasn’t completely green going in.
So, we were there to cleanse our energy. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word ‘energy’ these days I have an urge to roll my eyes.
There is such an overuse of the word in the ‘alternative’ world…bordering on abuse. Its overuse has made it feel diluted which is a shame, because what other word is there to use? There is no doubt we live in an energetic world. It’s been scientifically proven that we have a magnetic field – an energy force that we can’t see.
You can’t see it, but you can feel it.
You know it if you’ve ever connected with an animal, or a lover in sex; eyes fixed on each other, completely locked in an embrace and the energy builds until if feels like there is nothing else but the two of you in the world. You can have it with a child, a tree or something in nature. It can be a feeling you have when you walk into a room full of people…some call it ‘vibe’. But energy is more intelligent than that.
It’s all of that. It’s that feeling you can’t give a name too, it’s an ingredient in your….dare I say it? Spirit, maybe even your soul. Energy moves us, it motivates us and yet, so many of us don’t pay attention to it….but energy is not what this little rant is about. I want to introduce a little bit of my experience with Shamanic ceremonies.
Shamans believe very strongly in ritual, all religions have ritual and shamans use ritual to heal.
Rituals work to move the energy that resides in us – move, and create space for newness – clean energy. That’s precisely what this ceremony was all about. Cleansing, shifting, moving, eliminating, inviting so at the end you feel more focused, more connected with your dreams and visions…cause that’s where it all lies – the secret to your life- right there in your visions. In your dreams. You just have to muster the momentum.
Rituals create momentum.
In Shamanic ceremonies there is a lot of smoke from tobacco or sage, there are bird feathers waving the smoke in your direction to ‘cleanse’, people whistle and blow on things and there is a flame of some sort. There is an alter that is often decorated with talismans and offerings from nature that have been given to the Shaman along his/her journey. There are whispers in a different tongue, chanting, music, prayer and visions.
That’s the textbook explanation for all you left-brains that need to work in logic and ‘know’ what happens.
But none of that is actually what really happens. I mean, it happens, but that’s not what you experience. Confused? That’s the point. I’m here to confuse you a little, to wake you up out of your comfort zone. To shift your energy.
Shamans live very much in the spirit world and are totally connected to it through nature. Through vision work and breath and meditation, the shaman arouses the spirits and incites the spirit within you.
In the ceremony, we were asked to visualize climbing a mountain with a view of our perfect 2011 at the top while the shaman shook a rattle to keep the energy in the room moving. We blew on incense sticks, drew smoke toward us from the fire and offered candles at the alter. The shaman moved a stick of burning sage around us and fanned the smoke with a bird feather in our direction to cleanse our energy. The shamans prayed for our well-being, they sat and offered themselves to our needs.
Sounds weird right? But is it any weirder than a ritual in which you decorate and worship a tree, sacrifice your financial safety to offer gifts, and the mythological figure is a fat man in a red suit who rides a sleigh pulled by reindeer, one of which has very shiny nose…that glows? Sounds really fucking weird to me!
Ironically, there is something really grounding about arousing one’s spirit, and the spirits of another world. There is a sense of connectedness and let’s be honest, it’s what we’re all after.
I had visions of a lot of ‘yeses’ in my life for 2011, and I threw old, defeating thoughts and fears into the fire. Let’s be realistic here, it doesn’t mean I am not going to have those thoughts again, or that I won’t expect any ‘no’s’ in my life for the year but it felt good to throw it away, it felt exhilarating actually because it did all just go like that – at least in that moment and it just serves as reminder of how simple it can be and how powerful, in our own lives, we all are.
What you put out in the world is what you get back – That’s how powerful you are!
There were 60 people in the room that night. 90% of whom I would have never imagined taking part in a ceremony like this. People who probably would have sat on the lap of a fat guy in a red suit and asked for gifts to be sent down the chimney at night while they slept. People who clearly felt they needed healing, and maybe they were curious. However, there was no doubt that something very profound happened to everyone.
So, I invite you now – as an offering from my own experience – to sit for a moment and think of something that doesn’t serve you in your life; an attachment to an old lover, a negative belief about yourself, a destructive relationship…you know it – and say
SVÃ-HÃ…”Into the Fire”. Even if you feel it just in this moment – what other moment is there?