There are many times we might feel called to pick up a stone, feather, shell, or stick while walking in nature. These little friends might catch our eye or even seem to "call out" to us. We might feel a pull or even seem to audibly hear them. This is especially the case during meditation walks when seeking items for certain ceremonial working such as creating a spirit arrow or staff, when in need of a particular energetic or elemental medicine, gathering for a devotional offering practice, re-stocking Burlá Ghuí/Despacho kits, when creating medicine pouches, or simply wildcrafting herbal medicines, but we may also feel this urge spontaneously. Some of us may even develop a habit of collecting a particular item, heart shaped rocks or feathers are a common favourite.
There are a few important aspects to consider when gathering from Nature to ensure that we are doing so in a good way.
How to cultivate a relationship with plant, stone, or crystal medicine - article full of easy methods
Stone Spirit Medicine - online course for those drawn to stones in personal healing and spiritual practice
This video is a beautiful example of how the medicine gifts we bring to our Healers, Teachers, Facilitators, and Practitioners supports their work continuing for the community.
The dollars we pay is the energy exchange to keep them and their families alive, housed, recognizing their years of training, skills, and continued education, while compensating for their time - much of which is unseen by their clients, students, or members.
Medicine gifts, such as the sacred Peruvian tobacco used in this clearing, may be the only way to ensure certain ceremony or healing work is done. In many lineages, the facilitator is never to purchase such medicines, it must be grown, harvested, or gifted. Such gifts also honours their lineage, their teachers - both spirit and human, and the medicine ways themselves.
Without this gift of tobacco, this particular clearing and the ceremony to the Airts (directions) before it would not have occurred. It is a blessing to the community to receive such, and a sweetness to me to be entrusted and supported in this work. Many of the flowers I use in my offerings, and the herbs used for our smoke cleansing ceremonies have also been gifted during gatherings or even sent in the mail! <3
Don't think this way is only for the spiritual helpers in your community, gift your chiropractors, doctors, massage therapists, professors, mechanics, even your baristas! What would support them in supporting others? What would honour their time and skill?
Working intimately with my lia mala (medicine bundle) is a significant part of my personal spiritual practice and energetic well-being. Over the years of offering the Shamanic Living Immersion, I began carrying a lia mala for the community as well. In this way, each member is able to receive energetic clearing and spiritual healing support via my tending to this bundle.
It is treated similarly to my own, albeit holding different contents. It is brought to sacred places, opened to the healing elements, offerings are made, medicines added, and receives the energy stream of traditional shamanic techniques. It comes with us to each circle and session the SLI members might benefit from. They are welcome work with this energy source long distance or held in their laps as needed.
Working in this way also supports Myself. Before I had received the dream telling me to create one for them, I had been navigating the effects of a large number of people very often "reaching out" to me in unseen, but very real, ways. Healing work and support was being asked of me throughout each day and each night, even into my dream time as members moved through their deep healing processes. Community outside of the immersion program also call on me in this way and I knew I needed to find more effective means to move this work a little more "outside" of myself. Upon creation, the remedy was felt immediately. If you are a Teacher or Practitioner, perhaps this share inspires you should requests for your energetic attention require a different way of holding.
Last week a package arrived from a dear friend and medicine woman, Nikiah Seeds of Red Moon Pathways containing beautifully crafted bundles of raw cacao paste, cacao butter, raw beans, and rose quartz crystals. Since early last Spring, Cacao Ceremonies had been coming into my awareness and inspiring a sweetness that I knew meant one day, events would unfold where I would experience this ancient and highly regarded medicine way.
Cacao is a plant ally like many other plants where relationships with the plant spirit can be cultivated and connected with during ceremony, for energetic support, and within your shamanic practice. The energy of cacao has the ability to both be gentle with it's heart-opening experience (as it is an entheogen but not a psychedelic) while also bringing more ecstatic opportunities through its natural mood enhancing and energizing compounds.
On the night of my first ceremony, my partner and I placed a piece of cacao paste, a cacao bean and a small rose quarts crystal into a large clam shell, made an offering of rose petals to this new plant friend, and set it in a place of honour on the altar. We began mindfully preparing the elixir together, warming complementing spices and herbs, whisking in ghee and setting our intentions. For hours beforehand I had been experiencing a familiar, very uncomfortable, physical sensation that occurs when I have picked up an energetic intrusion. Therefore my main task at hand was to tend to this immediately with a shamanic extraction and I hoped this could happen during the ceremony.
When the elixir was ready, we ladled it into our mugs and took our spaces facing each other and listened to a medium's channeled message that my partner had received earlier. Each sip was a bit like a warm hug on a cold winter's day - which actually it was with the largest snowfall in years! A peaceful, calm, and sleepy cozy feeling soon came over me and all I could think of was curling up into a big feather duvet to soak in the good feeling and tend to the intrusion which still caused me a fair amount of discomfort on both physical and spiritual levels. Into a journey I went seeking my extraction guide to remove the projected energy that didn't belong to me and restore myself to a "full cup" state to prevent taking on anything further. The journey was simple - my power animal performed the removal which was different than usual, and while it was in its clutches I saw a vulture circling overhead then come to a river bank to pull apart a decomposing salmon. A scavenger feeding. The intrusion was then passed to my extraction guide to complete the removal process. There were flashes of 3 different likely sources, but truly, the source wasn't my concern - just the healing. After the extraction was fully complete I noticed all of my senses were heightened. The ambient music, energetic awareness, and tactile experience were all very sensitive, alert and far reaching. I was still extremely cozy and super sleepy but with a euphoric and inward feeling. I began slipping in and out of the journey and was guided to channel the energy of cacao, of love, and reiki into the area on my body where the intrusion had been. I could feel immediate relief as I did so, but with a tenderness to it, like after a migraine one's head still feels tender, as if it could return if not carefully tended to. For the rest of the evening I stayed curled in my cocoon, cultivating the heart-filling gift of self-care, the good feelings of the elixir, and the sleepy coziness of a winter's night.
The next morning I marveled at how completely recovered I felt from the extraction and healing. I had not expected to feel so sleepy and cozy, thinking instead I would become energized and invigorated - though I can still feel the inspiration to dance, journey to the heart, and to create art that did visit me through the cushion my very quiet and inward focus had developed. Later, I read an article by Ruby Warrington where she says, "in ceremonial doses, raw cacao is a powerful heart opener that paves the way to transformation through self-love" This sentiment definitely resonates with my experience and was exactly what I most needed.
I will continue to cultivate my relationship with cacao in all the ways that one gets to know a new spiritual ally. I have added a cacao bean to my mala (medicine bundle), I will journey to the spirit of cacao, I will ingest micro-doses, honour it on my altar, embark on more ceremonies, dream with it under my pillow, read about it and listen to people's experiences, learn how to ensure environmental and humanitarian harvest practices, dance with it, meditate with it, and discover more ways that cacao can facilitate healing, how I may be able to support this plant spirit and its work, and listen for if cacao will become a regular part of my shamanic practice.
Please feel invited to share your experiences with this ancient and prized medicine plant either in the comments below or privately to firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear them!
Healers of the soul, bean feasa, medicine people. western shamanists, animists and certain energy workers often speak of “medicine” in ways that are sometimes confusing to us. Usually when we think of medicine we think of a prescription a doctor gives us or an over the counter pharmaceutical to ingest. So what does it mean when we hear our alternative health practitioner speak of the medicine of a cherry blossom or of a garden snake? What healing alchemy could they possibly mean?
Many alternative health and spiritual practitioners work with energetic fields and spiritual consciousness, bringing harmony and balance to our lives with the aid of our natural world. Examples of disharmony in these realms would be the tension one can feel in a room after an argument has taken place or a sense the person we are talking to isn’t being “present”, or has a jittery nervous energy. In these cases, the medicine is not drawing on a chemical compound interacting with our physical body as with medical medicines, but instead it draws on the energetic and spiritual qualities for an ability to restore a healthy balance within our emotional, spiritual and then in turn, sometimes our physical health improves as well.
Let’s think of some of the qualities cherry blossoms bring us. Softness. Beauty. Sweetness. Gentleness. They are delicate and uplift our spirits after a long hard winter. These qualities make for a sweet remedy to any residual hard feelings after an argument. A shamanist when seeking to bring balance may have the spirit of cherry blossom come through to be applied in a variety of ways. We can bring a bouquet of cherry blossoms into our home, swish them in our water cup to create a flower essence, we can sit under a tree while the breeze snows petals around us on the wind or even visit the spirit of cherry blossoms in a meditation or shamanic journey.
Now what about a garden snake? What healing qualities might be found here for the ungrounded, anxious person? Let’s think about snakes for a minute. They are belly to the earth grounded, their skin shedding makes them experts at releasing what they have outgrown, they are acutely aware of their surroundings with a tendency to rest in complete stillness and without wasting energy on useless movement. These aspects all would help balance out an ungrounded person. If a garden snake came to the shamanic practitioner in their journey and brought these medicines, they could be integrated over time by practicing these qualities, perhaps by walking barefoot or lying on the earth, finding ways to release and let go of situations that bring anxiety, and taking time to be still in the sun.
Other times we may hear spiritual healers speak about “being in the medicine” and again this has a different meaning. In this case it is usually a reference to undergoing a process of deconstruction followed by growth that is being supported by a conscious personal spiritual practice. A sort of “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” type experience. Outwardly it may look like a personal crisis such as the end of a relationship, loss of a job, death of a loved one, maybe mental or physical illness. Inwardly, there is an element of mindfully moving through it, drawing on all the spiritual and energetic supports one has available. Prayer, meditation, energy healing, plant medicines, journeys, vision quests, yoga, dance, making offerings, dream work, journaling, intention setting, following our cultural spirituality, all the aspects of our personal practice - this is being in the medicine. When balance has been restored and health regained, we often find we have reached a better place than previously imagined, stronger, and having learned valuable life lessons. A new and healthier relationship has been found, or a more satisfying job, even renewed physical health and strength.
A lovely exercise to try is to identify an area where you feel out of balance, or that you could use some support with. It might be a weary heart, a difficult relationship with a co-worker or racing thoughts at bedtime. Find your symptom situation, and set an intention to notice a natural remedy of energetic or spiritual medicine as you go for a nature walk, sit in a garden or meditate. See what catches your eye, stands out or appears in a dream or meditation. It may be an animal, plant, stone, clouds, wind, warm sunshine, rain drops, bird song - be open to the many forms it may come to you. Then relax and sit with the idea of the remedy until the medicinal qualities become apparent. You could journal stream of conscious style or research information, or simply tap into your inner knowing. Then allow a method of connecting to this medicine come to you. If you need some support in this area, here are 7 ways to cultivate a relationship with spiritual medicine, in this article or you may choose to book a soul restoration session with me. To learn more about my practice and how we can facilitate well-being together, visit www.3foldbalance.com for sessions & journey circle information and www.returntoreverence.ca for our year long immersion programs
* Edited in 2022 to update language and links.
Do you have an affinity for a particular herb?
Have you been drawn to certain crystals?
Maybe you collect rocks that always seem to catch your eye.
These are each invitations to cultivate a relationship with these beings and their unique medicines. Perhaps you have already studied a bit or have begun to work with them and want to take things deeper.
There are a good number of methods that you can gradually get to know your new allies with or dive right into a full immersion experience. Here are a few of my favorites.
Take a fresh sprig of the plant, a crystal or the stone you want to work with and place it under your pillow (or inside the pillowcase if you are worried about losing it) Thank them for sharing information in your dreamtime. This may come through directly where you meet the spirit and have a lucid dream of asking questions or being shown energies and how to work together, or it may come through as an indirect influence of metaphor where meanings reveal themselves over time.
Depending on the type of crystal or plant (watching for toxicity or dissolving) having an ritual bath is a lovely way to immerse yourself in the energetic medicine of your new ally, especially if you are sensitive to energy. Rose quartz, amethyst, lavender, rosemary, or stones from special places are all wonderful to bathe with. This isn't a "get-clean" kind of bath, it's a quiet time to feel subtle energy. Light a candle, do some mindful breathing, meditate, and allow yourself to notice how you feel, invite these energies into your thoughts and see how they shift.
Make a tea or water:
Again using caution around potentially toxic plants and crystals if using a direct method, or stick to an indirect method to be safest - you can transfer the energy of your new friend into teas or waters and bring these medicines right into your body. A direct method is one where the plant/crystal/stone has been washed then placed directly into your water cup, or if a plant it can be brewed as a tea. Some safe crystals for this are rose quartz, clear quartz, or non-irradiated citrine. Generally some safe plants are lemonbalm, lavender, or red-belted polypore (of course I need to advise consulting a professional for any contradictions with existing medical conditions). An indirect method involves placing your item into a flat bottomed glass, then placing this glass into a bowl that has been semi-filled with water. Your item never gets wet, but will infuse the water surrounding the glass with its energy. Again, being thankful and respectful of the gifts being shared with you. This indirect method is safe to use for any plant, crystal or stone. If you are very sensitive you may only need a couple drops of your water or tea to feel its effects, you might choose to sip all of it slowly over the day, or you may wish to drink much over a few days.
'Shamanic' Journey or Meditation:
If you have learned the shamanic technique of journeying, or if you have a meditation practice suitable, you may glean a lot of information by visiting the spirit of the plant/crystal/stone that you are working with. You can ask for a healing, for guidance on how to work further with them, thank them for showing you just what the medicine they are offering is and importantly how you can reciprocate in the relationship.
Tuck your stone, plant or crystal into your pocket, into a medicine pouch around your neck, find or make a pendant where it touches your skin (some plants like Devil's Club can be dried and made into beads) In this way you are in constant contact with the medicine, the energies of this helper. Skin to skin or simply in your energy field, there will be a conversation happening as you move through your day.
Mesa/Lia Mala/Crane Bag/Medicine Bundle:
Some shamanists or medicine people carry a Mesa, Lia Mala, Crane Bag or other Medicine Bundle. If you have one of these, tucking a new stone, crystal, or part of a plant into the folds is a nice gentle way of bringing their medicine into yours. If it is right to do so, you might add this piece fully inside to work more deeply, to alter the harmony already present, and to stay as a longer term influence. Each lineage will have differing ways of working with your medicine hearth so you may want to consult an elder for guidance around this.
Some plants, even certain fungi, are beautiful to cleanse and bless with while burning. You may already know how buffalo sage brings about a different cleansing than tobacco or palo santo, but you might also find rowan berries become your go-to for protection while lavender opens the door to your Ancestors. You may find that some plants instantly connect you to different healing work, helpers, or area of focus than others. Over harvesting of certain popular herbs gives us an extra nudge to look local and to our cultural heritages. What is naturally growing in abundance around you? What might your great-great-great-grandmother have burned? I have been sweetly surprised to learn certain plants coming to me have a long history of being added to sacred smoke rituals. I had been working with fomitopsis pinicola for about 20 years before I discovered some First Nations used it during smudge rituals. This knowledge deepened my respect for this powerful healing ally. Oh! how I love working in these ways!
Remember, we don't just ask and take from our human or animal friends, we also care for them and support them when they need it. The same is true for our plant, crystal or stone friends. We are entering into a spiritual relationship, they may become sacred objects and part of your medicine basket, we need to always treat them with respect and honour. Never leaving them laying around or placed directly on the floor, cleansing and recharging them with moon or sun light, salt, the running water of a clear stream, or by saining. Feed them offerings, whisper your gratitude, sing to them, wrap them in special cloth or place them on your altar. This is a special and personal friendship :)
The creation process began on the International Day of Peace and was infused & bottled during the auspicious “Super” Harvest Moon of 2010. The rare conjunction of a Full Moon during the Autumn Equinox added Feminine strength to the balance and equality of night and day, rising into the Eastern sky while the Masculine Sun set over the West. It was a beautiful moment on the Ocean witnessing this ultimate point of balance. The Intention during creation of the Ultimate Balance Elixir was more than just a balancing of energies, but also mood support during the transition into the dark womb incubation period of the year. The turning of the wheel from the outgoing time of the Big Sun to the internal Little Sun can be a rough time if one is not prepared and fortified.
This vibrational medicine was lovingly prepared with:
Shamanic Guidance: a journey to the Sidhe for confirmation of the stones chosen as well as receiving additional ingredients.
Citrine: A warming sunshiny golden stone of masculine quality that never needs ‘clearing’ or ‘cleaning’, it does not accumulate or hold unwanted energy
~ one of very few crystals of this nature ~ brings Happiness, Joy and Optimism. Citrine offers courage & self discipline, supports getting tasks done &
matters settled. Great for uplifting mood during long winter months and draws near Abundance, good fortune & feelings of Generosity.
Physically balances digestion, food disorders, allergies, diabetes, kidneys, liver, spleen, respiratory & circulatory systems. Helpful with healing emotional trauma, sleep disturbances, and addictions. Sensuality & Sexuality can also be heightened by Citrine.
Onyx: This dark black Grounding stone also protects against unwanted energy, but in a slightly different way than Citrine. Helps smooth out “roller coaster rides” of emotions and is valuable during difficult or confusing times of our lives. Onyx helps you release the past or attachments and supports you during times of change. Its excellent in centering oneself & aligning with your Divinity or Higher Power. Onyx balances hyper sexuality.
Physically supports healing of teeth, bones, feet, glaucoma, epilepsy & cellular damage.
Apple Seed: Very feminine & fertile, apple is associated with Love and is held in high respect by followers of many spiritual paths. In its seed form, it also represents the incubation period we cycle with during Winter. Apple wood is helpful for making clear choices when similar options are presenting themselves to you. Connected with the Sidhe, it promotes Visions, Peace, Harmony and Oness with Elementals & Fae.
Joy: A beautiful overflowing expression of love, filled up with gratitude, support and right relationship with purpose expressed in a single tear of Joy.
Emotion aided the catalyst of alchemy taking place here.
Singing Bowl & Song: Deep resonating sound vibration from a large hand forged brass singing bowl followed by a lullaby~like song “Sanctuary” invoking the peace of personal sacred space to be present within the energy of this elixir.
Reiki : As always, Reiki, a channelled energetic healing technique, was added to this elixir.
Feel free to glean more information about reiki here.
The light of the Full Harvest Moon as well as Morning Sunlight just South of my creation space in the Center and followed by charging on a Balancing Altar of my North to complete this three day creation process. Appropriate libations were poured for the Sidhe, Elements and other Helping Guides of this process.
A bean feasa of Gaelic heritage shares stories & insights from her animist and 'shamanic' practice on the West Coast of Canada.