Lessons from the Dark

Lessons from the Dark

It has been a while since I have written I have been enjoying a much needed break from all the extras in life. After the wild ride 2020 has offered us up, I have been spending time with my family, friends and clients and in quiet contemplation and reflection as i truly believe this time of year is meant for. 

This time to nourish myself and take care of my body has offered a great many lessons, including some deep transformations of family patterns and bodily manifestations of these patterns, which only seemed fitting after teaching a course on Ancestral healing and medicine. I am still working at it as we all are but I can feel the shifts with the eclipses and solstices.

I know from speaking to many of you,  that either you or those you know are also experiencing such things. It may show up in an emotional pattern, a dis-ease, a traumatic accident. All of these things are coming up to help us shed the last vestiges of Jupiter and Saturn in Capricorn which as an earth sign is focused on the physical, our structures and habits and patterns. Each awakening of a pain, illness or broken bone is an opportunity for us to learn and shift. Bones and teeth particularly hold our oldest patterns from our ancestors and even our past lives. So though I know it can be hard and painful and seem so bleak when we initially discover experience these pains and traumas, remember that it is always darkest before the light and with some quiet reflection and the desire to learn from our situations we can begin to shine our own light on the darkness and discover the medicine that resides there. 

So I invite you all to sit a little in the dark and get curious see what is there for you and with love and compassion begin to light your inner light on the situation asking what you need to learn from this and what support you need. If you are having trouble awakening your own light, you can try lighting a candle and asking the spirit of fire to enter into you heart and burn away the fear, and hucha there and once it is gone ask the fire to help grow your inner light, a bright clear light that is part of who you are as a person and what the world needs right now. 

And of course if you need more support I am always here for a session to help you find out what it is the dark is trying to tell you and how you can awaken this light to help transform these pains into crystals. 

With so much love and Gratitude,

Honouring the Ancestors and Releasing the Baggage

Honouring the Ancestors and Releasing the Baggage

My favourite of the cross quarter festival is upon us. The last of the harvest festivals as nature prepares for her long slumber through the winter. It is a time of magic, mystery, ancestors and spirits. In many cultures this time of year was a time to honour our dead loved ones and release what no longer serves us preparing ourselves to rest and refuel our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits. As this was the final harvest festival it was the practice amongst those who celebrated Samhuinn to leave any remaining food in the fields and gardens to the spirit world. In that way creating balance and nourishment for all. 

This year is an especially powerful year as we have a blue moon as well. A blue moon refers to the second full moon in a month and is a modern invention but this still has not occurred since 1944 and we only have a full moon on Samhuinn ever 19 years. The energy of the full moon adds to the power of our intentions to release what is no longer serving us.  Below you will find three rituals which you can do separately or together. The first is to help you release what you need to to prepare for your own dream time. This is best done in the window of the full moon in the next few days. the other two are rituals to connect with your ancestors and can be done in the next few weeks as the dates of Samhuinn would have been based on the harvest and the moon and not the Roman calendar. 

Skeleton Dance

The fall is such a powerful time for release, All around nature is releasing things and so deep within us we also feel this desire to release. On top of that as the moon begins to wane and shrink down it also encourages us to release. 

I have affectionate called this practice the skeleton dance in remembrance of the old disney cartoons. It was taught to me by my teachers Lena and Jose Stevens and it originates from a Siberian practice. You will need room to move around and shake. I highly encourage you to give your all to it. The fiercer you can shake the more you will get from it. Shaking also happens to be a great reset of your body. 

I have recorded an audio of it for you to listen to. You will find it below

Dumb Supper

This is one of the easiest ways to honour your ancestors and is such a great thing to do if you have kids. At Dinner time on Samhuinn, Halloween or Day of the Dead when you are setting the table you set an extra place for the ancestors and fill it with food. You then can eat your meal in silence thinking of those who have passed or you can share stories about them. When dinner is over you simply take the plate and put it outside to be offered to the nature beings who are connected to our ancestors. 

Connecting to your Ancestors

This simple ritual is something I do every year and since offering my course on Transforming Ancestral Trauma it has become a daily practice. All you will need is a candle and some memento that reminds you of your ancestors (a photo, keep sake, snack, drink,…)

You begin by creating a little altar for your ancestor. Placing their photos and keepsakes around the candle.

Take a moment to ground yourself with a few deep breaths.

Light the candle and ask your ancestors to come and surround you.

When you feel their presence you can ask them a question. Like what do I need to know? What do I need to release? How can I connect more with you?

Then take as much time as needed in silence or you can do automatic writing allowing the messages of the ancestors come to you.

When you feel complete thank your ancestors and blow out the candles and write down the messages you got.

Much Love

Summer Solstice Eclipse Ritual

Summer Solstice Eclipse Ritual

This weekend is the summer solstice, solar eclipse and New Moon in Cancer, Cancer and the moon are kindred energies they come from the same deep and holy place, enabling us to feel the feels and wrap ourselves up in the caring and compassion of our hearts. They bring us closer to the motherly energies we all possess and ask us to love ourselves completely and honour our own sacred lives, as well as all life. In Chinese Medicine, the heart is the empress. It oversees the work of all our other organs and houses our shen, the light of spirit that animates us, allowing us to know our true selves. The heart-mind speaks to us through our feelings and helps guide us on the truest path of spirit. The peak time of the heart is in the heat of the summer, a time of connection, play, laughter and energy. Just as the fire element drives the heart, we are driven by our inner fire that asks us to step out and dance amongst the other flames, to connect and create sparks of joy and love. Fire, like all elements is in a constant flux and keeping it from being extinguished or burning up is a practice we all take on each day of our lives.

Through observing nature, ancient Taoist Sages recognized that the simple ways that fire was strengthened and weakened. In moderation, heat strengthens fire and cold soothes it, in excess heat may cause fire to burn up all the body fluids, while cold will freeze the body and no fire can start. The spirit of wood with its direction and healthy anger can reignite and replenish our fires and the soothing nature of water can calm an abundant fire. They also recognized that when we go through a traumatic experience, our inner shen will return to Shen and leave our hearts and bodies empty. In my shamanic training we referred to this as a susto and can result in delusion, anxiety, depression, confusion, despair, fear, panic, numbness or pain in an area of the body, sleeplessness, palpitations, difficulty breathing, digestive concerns, the list goes on. Depending on where the trauma happened and our natural areas of weakness. Sometimes these sensations can come up without an obvious experience of trauma  but from something witnessed, heard or felt that links to our ancestoral or past life traumas. 

The solstice was a fire festival for most of our ancestors, being the longest day and shortest night of the year they would stay up with bonfires through the night asking for the blessings of the sun on their growing crops, relationships, babes and lives. Fire is a powerful transmuter of energy, burning away what no longer serves us and carrying our prayers out into the universe. 

 

Here is a simple ritual for you to work with on this summer solstice, eclipse, new moon:

If you have access to a place where you can safely have a fire that is ideal and you will need a piece of twine or cord, some tobacco, cornmeal or another offering and some twigs, If you don’t you can use a candle and very thin thread and paper along with an offering.

  1. Begin in the dark, sit comfortably and take three deep breaths centering yourself into your body
  2. Call in great spirit and your guides, allies, ancestors and angels to support you and hold you in your work
  3. Take some time to breath in the dark and find that place deep inside you that feels dark and unwanted
  4. invite it to be seen and share its medicine with you. 
  5. pick up your piece of twine or thread and begin to tie knots in it as each aspect of your shadow comes up. 
  6. Once you feel completed, light your fire and offer it some tobacco, cornmeal or other offering to thank the spirit of fire for its support
  7. Now place your twine in the fire and watch it burn away taking several deep breaths feeling it release from your mind and body
  8. Now pick up your sticks and begin to embrace the positive or opposite aspects of what you just released. Fill the sticks with it. If you are using a candle write it down on paper
  9. Once complete add those sticks to the fire or paper to the candle. Again take several breaths, breathing these qualities into your body.
  10. add more of your offering to the fire. Thanking the fire, guides, spirit, etc for there support and release them. 
  11. Sit and enjoy the light of the fire/candle on this the shortest night of the year. 

Please let me know how it went and if you have any questions please reach out. 

Healing the Divide: From Complacency to Embodied Action

Healing the Divide: From Complacency to Embodied Action

I am a firm believer that re-establishing the connection between spirit and our conscious, unconscious and bodies is the greatest work we can do and with these truly incredible times we are living in where we are being asked to rewrite the story of humanity centered on our connection with spirit. As I have mentioned in previous posts in Shamanism we believe that we are constantly dreaming our worlds into being. This is an incredibly empowering and scary concept that has truly been seen in our covid lockdown. How quickly have we changed our lives for something we can’t even see. Collectively we believe that it is worthwhile to protect the lives of those most vulnerable and have been willing to transform our lives for it. Now that this has been proven others are demanding this same respect and protection for black, indigenous and other people of colour. Are we willing to transform our lives even further and instead of governments telling us what to do, can we the people transform our governments ( who after all are supposed to be in place to support the collective voice of the people)

As an empathic, white, straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied, educated, middle class Canadian woman who practices indigenous healing, I am deeply aware and grateful for the immense privilege I have in this life time. Not all of my life times have been like this, I have been slave and slave master, warrior and witch. The list goes on how long I don’t know some privileged and very brutal. In watching the Black lives matter movement roll out in front of me, I have deeply felt all the emotions rolling around in the world, the rage, grief, anger, sadness, powerlessness, despair, hope, fear, frustration,… dragged up from the depths of my own ancestoral lineage and my past lives that my spirit and bones still remember. I have had the privilege to be brought to my knees by them and am blessed with the time and space and knowledge of how to process them.

 

My beliefs have all been challenged this week and no doubt yours have been too. It has been hard to witness my complacency and apathy in the systems that keep this world separated and segregated. Acknowledging that I am indeed apart of this collective dream. I can see the very real consequences of having the structures of our reality built on the backs of others and the degradation and exploitation of the earth and its people. The thought of dismantling it all seems so momentous and the huge changes that need to happen are rattling to the nervous system.

But one truth I do know and feel at this time is that we are triggered when there is something that needs to be cleared and right now we are all being given the chance to do some incredible healing work. We each carry in our bodies and DNA the stories and traumas of our ancestors as well as of our past lives and these get passed down to each generation creating our realities. In order to make true change we must address our own traumas and the traumas of the world. Just as our DNA is marked by these stories, so are the systems we live under. The rules that govern us were created out of slavery, rape, pillaging, war, fear, hate but also out of love, inspiration, creativity and hope. We as a species have come through so much and together can create a new way forward.

I would like to begin by acknowledging all the voices that have been raised to share their stories and stand up against a system that does not see or treat everyone as equals. It takes immense courage and a real ability to step beyond the traumatized places within us to create change. It is truly the first step in healing.

So I have been asking myself how can I help dream a new world into being both in spiritual practice and lived action. A world that recognizes each person’s sovereignty, unique wounding and perspective, while remembering we are spiritual beings having a human experience that we have chosen.

I begin at home by educating myself and having the uncomfortable discussions with my friends and family.

I continue to learn about and work at transforming the trauma that I carry and my friends, family and patients carry.

I am working on practicing Deep listening and honouring each humans unique experience, while remembering that they are spirit and perfect, whole and complete.

I will be offering special sliding scale sessions for those who do not have the financial means but wish to do the powerful work of transforming trauma.

I will donate 5% of my revenues to regenerative projects that are actively working to create resilient, flourishing and equitable systems that respond to the needs of society while respecting the integrity of nature.

 

I offer my humble gratitude to all the voices that have been raised to share their stories and stand up against a system that does not see or treat everyone as equals. It takes immense courage and a real ability to step beyond the traumatized places within us to create change. If your are interested in doing this work here are some of the people I have found most helpful and transformative:

Resmaa Menakam

Rachel Rickett’s Spiritual activism course

Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD Being an antiracist practitioner

Jose Stevens PhD, Slavery, A closer Look

The Ritual as justice School

Light Watkins

D’orjay The Singing Shaman

Janaya Future Khan

Tracy Stanlee

Through all of this be gentle with yourself. Our egos love a good opportunity to make us feel guilt, shame and fear. They are our biggest slave owner and doing the work to recognize this and transform it is crucial to being able to make meaningful action in the world.

So much love to you all

Marika

 

 

Postpartum Healing: A Holistic Approach

Postpartum Healing: A Holistic Approach

It is believed in Chinese Medicine that proper healing in the postpartum period can lead to a graceful menopause, greater health overall and even recovery from previous illness and chronic dis-ease. The body, mind and spirit go through tremendous changes in pregnancy and these changes don’t stop once baby is in the outer world. We must grieve our lives from before, we must learn to communicate and support a whole new human who is utterly dependent on us, we must find a new rhythm and our bodies must find a new normal. This takes time, lots of patience and support from our greater village and can lead to amazing, almost magical transformation in our bodies, beliefs and perceptions.

While most put lots of emphasis on the birth plan and what the nursery will look like, not many think about those tender weeks, months and first year of recovery and transformation, love and grief, confusion and joy. It truly takes a village to support a new family in this period of time and I encourage all my clients to sit down and make a plan in advance. Asking friends and family to help cook food, do chores, run errands and give a family space to find their new groove. 

In many traditional practices including traditional Chinese medicine, the mother and baby were left from one moon cycle up to 6 weeks to recover and build their bond. Family and friends would bring food, clean, keep mom and baby warm and away from cold, wind and the outer world, in order to protect the new family from illness, over exertion and emotional overwhelm. In some cases the mother was not even allowed to bath. Her only job was to eat, rest and learn the language of her new baby. In our modern world we know it is good to bath on occasion and getting some gentle exercise is very important to help in both physical healing and mental wellbeing. But the general principles behind these practice are still important to keep both moms and babies healthy, encourage recovery and bonding and lead to long term health outcomes.

In this article I am going to go through some of the key elements to work with postpartum that I have learned in my studies, practice and life. 

Building up the blood and yin

“Qi is the commander of blood and blood is the mother of qi”

It takes Yin, Qi and Blood to make a child. Yin the material form of all life gives rise to the anatomy of the body; its organs, tissues, muscle, skin…. Qi the energetic form of all life gives rise to the physiology of the body; digesting food, breathing, thinking, moving,… Blood, a yin substance connects the mother and baby, nourishing the fetus in the womb and then turning into breastmilk after the baby is born. Labour requires an extraordinary amount of qi to birth our babies and with the birth mothers lose some blood and with it more qi. Thus it is essential to build up the yin and blood to restore mama to her full strength and to make the milk that baby requires.

The best way to build up yin and blood is through the food and drink that we consume. Bone broths, liver, red meat and red fruits and vegetables are the best for building the blood. Whole grains, nuts, seeds and spices help build up the milk. Warmly cooked and neutral foods are easiest to digest. Here are a list of foods that are great to give a new mama. 

Bone broths (my favourite recipe)

Red Meats and Liver to replace Iron

Beets and Red fruits esp. Chinese red dates aka jujubes, goji berries, raspberries, strawberries and cherries to build the blood

Oats, Barley, Peas, Legumes, walnuts, almonds, sunflower, flax, pumpkin and hemp seeds to nourish the milk

Fennel, anise, dill, coriander, caraway and cardamom to aid digest and increase breast milk.

Keeping the body warm aka mother roasting

All that qi and blood that gets used in labour can leave one feeling chilled and more vulnerable to invading pathogens like wind and cold. Thus it is essential to keep both mom and babe (who can’t regulate their temperature yet) nice and warm. There are several ways to do this. 

  • Wrap mom and babe in warm clothes and blankets
  • keep windows closed, especially if there is a cold wind.
  • Feed mom warm teas and foods
  • Moxa!! An amazing medicine in my tool kit. Moxabustion is made of Chinese Mugwort, one of the only ways to increase qi and Yang (heat) from an external source. I give all of my postpartum clients a moxa stick to use three days after birth (six weeks after a cesarean) The stick is lit and held over the womb space and slowly moved over the abdomen in circles, spirals or figure eights until the skin becomes slightly red and warm. This feeds the qi, warms the body, moves the blood to prevent stagnation and clotting and generally feels amazing!
  • Get a full Mother Roasting treatment! For more info

Of course you do not want them to get to hot either, so in summer do be mindful of the ambient temperature of your rooms. 

Reducing pain and inflammation 

The body’s natural response to going through the hard work of labour, the stretching and sometimes tearing of tissues, the hours of squatting and pushing is to send fluid and immune cells to these tissues to repair them. This insurgence causes inflammation which causes pain. In order to reduce the pain we want to reduce the inflammation by helping the healing of tissues. Good nutrition as mentioned above is key to repairing the skin and building new vessels and cells, especially helpful is bone broth and collagen. Other helpful nutrients are vitamin A, C and zinc which are crucial to building new collagen and blood vessels, Rutin and grape seed extract are antioxidants that help vitamin c enter the cells and prevent scar tissue formation. Also taking natural anti-inflammatories like bromelain or turmeric can reduce inflammation, pain and speed healing. 

One of my favourite and safest ways to speed healing, reduce inflammation and pain is with acupuncture. Acupuncture works by stimulating neurotransmitters that modulate pain, release tight muscles and helps the body find the optimum path to healing. Ideally, having acupuncture in your home three days after your delivery is best to promote healing and well being. But it can be done at any time even months after delivery to help heal scar tissue and residual aches and pains.

Homeopathics are gentle yet potent medicines that hold the vibration of the plants, animals and minerals they are made from and help the body find its return to health by itself much like acupuncture. For pain and inflammation: arnica Montana 200c, calendula officinalis 200c, staphysagria 200c and hypericum perforatum 200c are taken one tablet at a time up to every half hour.

Keeping the emotions balanced

In TCM, Our emotional well-being is controlled by the liver who is responsible for the smooth flow of all our mental, emotional and physical energy, as well as bodily fluids. So if we get stuck in a mental or emotional rut or don’t move enough our qi becomes stagnated causing the liver to become upset and stagnate further. As we know post birth there has been lots of qi and blood lost and the change in our hormones, sleep schedules and need to rest can lead to further qi stagnation and emotional imbalance. 

Acupuncture excels in balancing the emotions. In fact, in Chinese medicine each emotions is associated with a different organ. Long term emotional imbalance can injure the organs as can injury to organs lead to emotional imbalance but lucky it is quite easy to help the qi move smoothly and find the correct path again, relieving anxiety, depression, worry, sadness, fear, shock, anger and over stimulation.

Some other ways to help process and balance your emotion are:

Support groups- We are never alone in our experiences, though we are each unique we also share so much especially in the world of birth and parenting. We were all born and were parented and many will go on to birth and parent themselves. Finding others who have gone through birth and parenthood or are going through it helps us to remember we are not alone and allows us to express our feelings and thoughts and hear from others perhaps gleaning some nuggets of wisdom, tools or compassion for ourselves and others.

Counselling- seeking out a trained counsellor who has experience in working with birth and parenting and can offer tools and insights can be a real game changer. I am especially fond of somatic and mindfulness based approaches.

Placenta pills are made from your placenta. The placenta is cleaned and dehydrated and then powdered and encapsulated, some also make a tincture or eat their placenta whole. The placenta is full of minerals, especially iron and hormones from pregnancy and labour. Some women find that consuming their placenta helps balance the hormones and emotions after they drop on the third day postpartum. Others find they are too sensitive to it and can’t take it. When looking for someone to encapsulate your placenta always make sure they have training in blood borne infections and proper clean technique.

Rescue remedy is a combination of five flower essences created by Dr Bach. Like homeopathics they contain the vibrational imprint of the flowers and are especially good at balancing emotions, releasing grief and trauma, reducing anxiety and fear and reconnecting the spirit withe the body. Four drops can be taken at a time as often as needed.

References

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20040708/supplement-speeds-wound-healing#1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3839002/

Medical Disclaimer

Information in this post and on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a result of practice experience and research by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem.

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