Consent in healing practice and spiritual communities is something that I bump up against very very often and yet I find is seldom spoken about. If it is, it tends to be short, vague, and encompasses the moral absolution of simply adding "for their highest good" before carrying on. To me, this conversation is essential. Not only for practitioners, teachers, and facilitators to have with those they work with, but for All Of Us. It is relevant in circumstances we regularly encounter in our day-to-day, everything from blowing out birthday candles and wishing on stars to social media pleas and conversations over tea. It plays out in a variety of ways, but here are a few common scenarios that I encounter:
I speak a firm counter stance on this and lay down strict parameters for those I am working with. There are only two.
The part I really want to speak to however is the hard truth that we can't assume to know best simply because our compassion is engaged. Humans are incapable of fully understanding the complexities, intricacies, and ramifications of any given event, particularly as time unfolds or the different realms it may affect. Heck we can't even see a full range of light and colour. Not even hear a complete array of tones and pitches. Yet a common consensus appears to be that we can freely impose our will over another when we think it is for their "highest good" or that asking the person's "higher self" or "spirit guides" for permission makes it okay. Perhaps even we double check later with that person to find they appreciated it, providing fuel for justifying this habitual response.
Myself? I believe this way of thinking to be out of integrity and dare I say, downright sloppy.
Let me explain by sharing a few true stories:
You may be familiar with the story of the man who helped a butterfly emerge from its cocoon. Essentially the butterfly could not fly because its wings had not developed the needed strength provided by breaking free on its own. I am not one to "love and light" anyone's hardship, or tell someone in the thickest dark night of the soul that "everything happens for a reason", but I also wont deny someone the transformative insights or strength of character that can only be found in our broken places. Who am I to impose my Will on another person's situation without their knowledge nor direct consent? No matter how rotten, no matter the suffering, how would I know that isn't the divine plan, pre-chosen soul path, or the exact poison needed to deliver the most potent medicine? What if our collective prayers inadvertently remove a stepping stone leading to their best life? most suited partner? invaluable wisdom? Is it okay to infringe on another's free will because we tag on "for the highest good"? What if their higher self says Yes but they themselves say No? Are we 100% certain we haven't projected our desire to fix into that divination? Is it enough to go against a conscious dissent?
What can we do?
Inquiring if someone is open to receiving your prayers or healing intentions, even if you have been friends for decades and you've done it a million times, shows respect and integrity. Every situation is different and what may have been okay before may not be this time. If it is someone you don't know well, or has beliefs other than our own on such matters, pay attention to the language used in asking for consent. If they think healing energy or divination readings are too "woo-woo" or aren't real, see if an equivalent that makes sense to them can be found. Even if it is something like, "Do you mind if I imagine you free from this challenge?" or "Are you okay with me meditating for an answer on this?"
It might be inappropriate or impossible to ask for consent leaving us with an uncomfortable feeling of "doing nothing", and sometimes we just have to sit with that. I like to check in honestly and ask myself if I am able to trust in knowing they have their own wisdom, their own senses, and their own journey in a matter or if I might actually be doubting or accidentally being condescending toward their natural abilities. Simply regarding, noticing, and appreciating someone is a powerful act. Quantum physics shows us the impact an observer can have in situations of all kinds from particle waves to ph levels of water. We aren't doing anything beyond witnessing something already present like their tenacity or the light of their life force.
What about the exception I mentioned for young children?
I recognize that small dependent children turn to their parents for all of their needs and it is up to us to draw on our skills and supports to do so. Whether it is applying aid during an illness or keeping them safe. It is expected of us. Wanted. Needed. Prayers and healing work included. I say "limited exception" because in my experience folks tend to want to push those boundaries toward pubescent and full grown adult children or stretch into areas that are life or behaviour controlling. Removing a troublemaking friend of theirs during a fire ceremony is different than praying for their ability to make wise choices. It can be exceptionally difficult for parents to honour a child's autonomy, resiliency, and need to make their own way through the dark woods. It can be hard to know when it is right to hold their hand, when we should stand beside or behind, and when to plain stay out of it. Clarity is good. Ask them.
This has been a long one. Much gratitude to readers who have made it this far. It is an area that I am passionate about, aim to follow, and am quite firm on since it comes up so often in my work and gatherings. Of course it is not always appropriate to broach in the heat of a moment either. It was time to put it all in one place and share out from here.
Stepping into Ceremony
When we are well prepared and present to intention,
we set the stage to safely step back and allow healing to move through us
without trying to control or struggle toward a perceived goal;
opportunities unfold to perceive medicines and divine wisdom
greater than we can imagine.
An Initiatory Experience
An initiation marks a distinct time of "before" and "after". The kind of experience that, at its extreme, will feel like a complete life over-haul, almost like we have been reborn or achieved a new level of depth/height in awareness. Everything is somehow different or has shifted in a fundamental or cellular way.
Often it is a rite of passage, deep ceremony, intense personal medicine work, vision quest, or healing event that creates a significant shift in the way we relate to and experience the world. It steps us into a new phase of life or welcomes us into a community previously unavailable to us. It applies also to unplanned events like serious illness, accident, or tragedy, as well as natural life stages such as birth, puberty, menarche, labour/birth/parenthood, coupling/uncoupling, menopause, eldership, and death.
As I have learned it, there are 3 distinct phases to an Initiation.
Severance. Threshold. Integration.
Others may have different names or words to describe them, but the essence seems consistent in my experiences and observances so far.
The preparation phase. This is the lead up to the experience, and is when the healing work actualy begins. Sometimes as early as the moment when we commit to the opportunity. We go through a phase, consciously or not, of acts of letting go of our life as we know it, saying Goodbye to all that is familiar, releasing our grip on the anchors that make us feel stable - patterns, beliefs, relationships, perceived goals and desires, daily constructs, ways of relating, ways of being, ways of thinking - and cutting all ties to the way things are.
If you recognize you are in the Severance stage, you can support and deepen this process by:
This is where we cross over from the "before" to the "after". It is the Experience that changes us or the culmination of experiences that leads us to a pivotal threshold or doorway to step through. It may be marked by ceremony, ritual, vision quest, dark night(s) of the soul, a period of deep healing, or it may not even be fully recognized while in the thick of it - particularly when without the witnessing of community or when the experience(s) are viewed as trauma without resulting gifts.
When in this stage, you might support and deepen the experience by:
Often considered the hardest part, and sadly too often overlooked - integration occurs when we are able to Return to our usual life and keep the gifts we have acquired intact. We are challenged with bringing our internal shifts outward to affect change in our day-to-day living and resist falling back into old ways of thinking, reacting, and being. Many times this transition isn't easy, might be messy, and perhaps feels a bit chaotic as things shake up in order to fall into more harmonious places. Touching in with any community, elders, or teachers that held us through the Threshold phase can be a wellspring of anchoring resources.
When in this stage, you might support and deepen the experience by:
A few years ago I wrote some practical, hands-on, tips and suggestions for integrating the medicines from the Threshold, and bringing all of the unseen, personal, inner work Out into our mundane living experience. If you would like more on the Integration phase, find yourself post-ceremony or have recently undergone a personal healing session, please read "Integration ~ the often overlooked time after soul-work".
If you would like personal and direct support as you move through any of these stages, you are welcome to send me an email at email@example.com or book a consultation.
Winter Solstice Blessings to you! We don't have a Journey Circle in December, but I do put out a quarterly newsletter called On the Medicine Wheel that includes an energy update portion (and spiritual practice suggestions, event details, articles, sometimes videos). Here I read from that newsletter.
If you would like to see the steps for a fire ceremony that I mention, here is a link ow.ly/XLLW30hji5y
Journey circle dates are posted here if you would like to join us in Squamish BC, www.facebook.com/groups/3FoldBalance
Fire ceremonies are a time tested ritual for marking certain points of the year, for energetic maintanance, and honouring vital forces in Nature. A common practice is to hold a fire ceremony at the "4 fire festivals" Samhain (Halloween), Imbolc (Groundhog Day), Bealtaine (May Day), and Lughnassad (1st Harvest) as well as at Winter Solstice (the longest night), Vernal Equinox (Equal day/night), Summer Solstice (Longest Day), and Autumnal Equinox (Equal day/night) as opportunities for a deeply personal soul tending experience. Truly, incorporating fire ceremonies into one's energetic maintanance routine can become a beautiful and profound support.
Not everyone can attend a community ceremony however, so here I share the basic steps, as I know them, to support others in holding their own fire ceremonies - from great outdoor bon fires to a single indoor candle flame.
*Please use the utmost fire safety practices and take your inner work as deeply as you are ready for - perhaps even a little deeper ;)
There are a few who are keen to attend our upcoming Solstice Celebration, but are unsure of what winter solstice means or what a fire ceremony is. So I thought I’d write a wee something up for ya.
The longest night of the year has been marked by our human tribe for aeons with fire ceremonies, divination, spiritual cleansing & purging as well as intention setting, story telling, manifesting and honouring the return of our life giving Sun.
It is the beginning of Winter where we shift into the feminine half of the year, the long time of dark womb-like home-stay. We turn inward and call on the latent medicine of dreaming, finding the seeds of intention to germinate and plant in the Spring for metaphoric sprouting in our day-to-day lives.
There are many customs around the world for this time of year, some jump over the fires to burn away troubles, for luck, purification or wish making. Some cultures parade with homemade candle lanterns or create little candle boats to call back the Sun. And some, like we will this Solstice, build a sacred fire to help us transform energy, limitations, or old unhelpful patterns.
There is a very effective process that can be taken as deeply as you like, to clear and transmute, tailored to your personal needs. Keep it fairly surface level and let go of a dynamic with a disgruntled neighbour or take it deeper and let go of old wounds from childhood trauma. Sweetly, one is able to have a private experience while being held in the safe and supportive container of the collective. As we empty out and release what we need to, we also have ability to fill back up with goodness just when we need it most. At the fire ceremonies I host, each person spends time infusing our medicinal water with blessings, love, light, healing and vitality. This we drink as desired throughout the releasing process.
We will also spend time in a grounding meditation and embark on a beautiful healing technique known as Transfiguration where we draw on, and radiate out healing essence from a divine source and envision ourselves, our homes, our tribes, our earth – all in their most perfect divine state.
Its all big, good soul work. An energetic/spiritual maintenance practice, something to do periodically. You will be held each step of the way with guidance, tips, encouragement, humour, love and the promise of great food and company afterward!
There is something about a Dark Night of the Soul that is indescribable. It is not depression, though often mistaken for it as it shares some similar aspects, but a Dark Night of the Soul has a Spiritual element to it. Somehow you know something greater is afoot for you to pass through, a test of faith that shakes the very foundation of everything you know, sometimes even destroying those foundations. Despite its name, this generally lasts many days and nights, not just one. There is a pause, a disconnect, a definite blanket damping out the light even if one is able to periodically resurface with laughter and short times of ease. It may not be apparent to others and it may take you some time to realize a Dark Night of the Soul for what it is. The expression “the night is darkest before the dawn” is meant to give hope, but when you are in the middle of it, dawn seems impossibly far away. That is why this elixir was created. To help ease this journey and shift into the light again while still retaining the higher purpose of the Dark Night.
Lovingly Prepared With:
Rain Drops & the First Snows – Some medicine traditions believe the Rain blesses us and bestows forgiveness. The water that holds the imprint of the energy and crystals used was rain water & gently falling snow gathered during the darkest nights of the year, and coincided with my own Dark Nights. There was a deep knowing this gentle blessing water gifted from Nature was meant to soothe aching hearts & souls.
Mookaite – the piece of Australian Jasper used looks just like the yolk of an egg with a little wriggly red line from an edge to the center. Immediately this piece spoke to me of being nurtured and held like a baby and of new beginnings. Mookaite supports, sustains, brings peace and a feeling of wholeness during times of stress. It is great for times of difficult decision making as it helps us to accept change while discovering all the possibilities in a situation in order to choose the right one. Mookaite eliminates and blocks unwanted outside influences providing a protective shield against negative or dangerous situations, while promoting renewed energy, new ideas, enthusiasm and kindness within us.
Hiddenite – a crystal of renewal, providing hope in difficult circumstances, Hiddenite helps in healing deep psychic wounds of the heart and dispels negativity, shielding the body’s energy fields from unwanted energies and influences. This crystal provides a constant pulse of loving heart energy.
Selenite – remarkably peaceful carrying a very high vibration, instilling clarity of mind and a deep sense of inner peace. Selenite also cleanses and charges other the other gemstones, while being a powerful aid in psychic communication for interaction with wise ancestors, angles and spirit guides.
As mentioned above, the water and intention of this elixir was gathered over many nights of my own Dark Night of the Soul. On the auspicious Winter Solstice of 2012, the longest night of the year, I felt a shift from darkness to light in my being and knew the time had come. After a ceremonial despacho and a shamanic journey to An Cailleach for guidance, this elixir was created during the time cited by ancient Mayans for the great shift of consciousness as we make our way out of the depths of a Bronze Age and begin to head toward a new Golden Age. On the first morning of this new age the sun’s rays further empowered this elixir – truly bringing the Dawn to a Dark Night.
Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year ~ always a good time to set intentions, plant the seeds of manifestation to germinate in the dark, holding focus as they sprout with the returning light and come to full bloom. Listing & Sifting; what is to let go of, what is to die with the old passing in the darkness and what is to bring into being, birthing in the light. This solstice, of all the solstices, holds extra energy to lend support to our seeds of growth and change.
Amplifying the vibration of this time is not just a Full Moon, but a ‘Super Moon’. It’s at its fullest while orbiting it’s closest to the Earth. It’s the longest night of the year, the first of Winter, with a full moon as close and bright as can be. But that is not all… mere hours before the ‘official’ point of solstice a total Lunar Eclipse. A concentrating, amplifying, awe inspiring event in itself. Place yourself back before technology, before weather forecasts, city lights, cell phones, to a time where all women bled the same days and in synchronicity with this powerful Moon, shining bright and in full glory ~ casting us from this darkest of times ~ and then it is blotted out by the Earth’s shadow and takes on a magnificent RED hue. We are now in the darkest of dark. The ultimate womb. A place of quiet growth. The still darkness before emerging into the light. The Moon, the Earth, and the Sun in total alignment on the longest night of the year. And it’s pointing to the place within the Milky Way the Mayan’s believed marked the source of all Creation. Phewf!! That is the recipe for one powerful night.
So, I made a powerful elixir. It is intended for use while doing manifestation work, while setting strong intentions, planting and germinating new seeds for your life. You can take it as needed during ceremony or over time. It is best if you can embody the peaceful joy of being ‘in right relation’ while visualizing,
meditating, journeying, collage making, singing or writing about the seeds you are planting with this work. Find a way that clarifies yet leaves room for the
Universe to co-conspire with you. If you are not feeling in a balanced, easy hearted way, wait until you do. Perhaps try the Ultimate Balance elixir first.
This isn’t something to rush into, a right time will come.
This elixir was lovingly made with:
Moonstone: for its Lunar connections, but it also carries a soft tender vibration facilitating inner peace & security. This gemstone also balances and promotes all rhythms of the body while supporting flexibility and flow in life. It is lovely for inspiring new beginnings, and for supporting wishes.
Moss Agate: represents the Earth with its strong connection to Nature. It has a stabilizing affect and is said to refresh one’s soul with feelings of freedom and expansion. Moss Agate is a gemstone of new beginnings and abundance.
Citrine: for the Sun which on Solstice seems to ‘stand still’ then makes it’s return. The Sun also plays an integral part with regard to the Eclipse. Citrine brings happiness, joy and optimism. It offers courage & self discipline, supports getting tasks done & matters settled. Great for uplifting mood and brings abundance, good fortune & feelings of generosity. Helpful with healing emotional trauma, sleep disturbances, and addictions.
Rainbow Obsidian: representing the darkness of Winter Solstice and of the Eclipse. This gemstone clears the emotional body of any lingering patterns of emotional trauma. It is a grounding stone that brings hope, alleviates stress and facilitates a view of the big picture.
Rose Quartz: the self in this equation, with pure support for our Hearts. It supports with unconditional love, a very soothing and happy stone. It comforts and heals any wounds the heart has accumulated & dissolves stored energy from trauma. The Soul sighs with relief when it senses Rose Quartz energy as it intuitively knows healing has come with gentleness, forgiveness, compassion, kindness and tolerance.
Shamanic Guidance: I was sweetly informed the Rose Quartz needed to be added by my Soul Retrieval Guide, and a healing spirit infused this elixir in the spirit realm with healing light.
Total Lunar Eclipse & other planetary aspects: In addition to what is mentioned above, an eclipse magnifies an entire month’s worth of astrological energy into a few hours. Much was happening in the sky this night, let alone during the entire month. Feel free to look up planetary aspects for December 2010.
Due to a Mercury Retrograde and Mars activity, looking inward, finishing off projects or situations before moving on, communication and how we relate to others was a focus this month, important supports to the intention of this elixir.
Empowered on an altar with cyclical properties, self honouring & healing, and Sun & Moon aspects.
This gemstone elixir was poured during the actual eclipse and set under a special alder tree where the moon’s returning light energy would infuse it.
May all your manifestations come to be if they facilitate the highest good for all. Blessed Be.
A bean feasa of Gaelic heritage shares stories & insights from her animist and 'shamanic' practice on the West Coast of Canada.