Animal spirits: totems for sacral chakra work

A couple of months ago I started a new exploration of the Chakra system by linking chakra energy into the interconnected web of life through the spirits of animals who embody that energy. Now that I am pretty grounded in Muladhara’s energy, I’ve begun to look at the second chakra.

Svadhishthana is the center of watery, flowing movement and creation. The animals that share the energy of the sacral chakra have a relationship with water and the creative process.

nile-crocodile_643_600x450The crocodile governs the second chakra. He easily transitions from water to land and back again, but it is in the water that this chakra’s work happens. Crocodile goes deep into the emotional world, then resurfaces with new creativity.

 

dolphin-kristian-sekulic-ispWith playful grace, the dolphin embodies freedom. Although living fully in the water, dolphins must surface to breathe air like a land mammal, representative of the duality of nature. It time they surface is a renewal of sorts. Dolphins seem to have an intuitive understanding of and a feminine friendliness towards us humans.

green_frogThe life-cycle of a frog has made it a symbol of transformation across many cultures. In Native American traditions, frog medicine is cleansing and healing, and associated with life-bringing rain. Frog’s cleansing takes place on the emotional level, where true healing begins.

 

beaverThe busy beaver is the builder of dreams. Ever creative, the beaver works hard to manifest all it desires. Yet there is a sense of balance with beavers. They work when it is time to work, eat when it is time to eat, and play when it is time to play. Beavers have strong family relationships and often work as a team. In the group, each is honored for its contribution to the whole, bringing beaver close to the source of oneness – the original creative energy of existence. Beavers’ work transforms their environment in a harmonious way, so each place they leave behind is reborn in their wake.

Get in the flow with the Water Element

Meditate on the movement of water and let your emotions flow.

Meditate on the movement of water and let your emotions flow.

During the last few months I have experienced a great deal of uncertainty and change, and a pretty tough sugar detox. Throughout, I focused on grounding and staying connected to the Earth Element. I planted my roots firmly and weathered the storm of change. Now I am flowing through life with much more ease, and getting reacquainted with Water.

Scorpio, a water sign (along with Cancer and Pisces) was rising when I was born. Perhaps that’s why, despite my strong Earth roots, I have a bit of gypsy in me. Water is movement, growth, sensuality and creation. Water is cleansing and healing. The Water Element governs your emotions, particularly love and compassion, and your intuition. When you think of Water, think of lakes, rivers, oceans, springs, otters, fish, autumn, twilight, and the colors blue and silver.

Some ways you can connect to the Water Element are:

  1. Sensual dance. Learn to belly dance (yes, guys can belly dance, too) or grab a partner and explore the Rumba or Salsa.
  2. Take a bath. Add some relaxing essential oils or bath salts and take a long, cleansing soak.
  3. Drink a glass or two. Purify your body from the inside out.
  4. Walk in the rain. Notice the gathering puddles and the ripples the raindrops make. Watch water roll off leaves.
  5. Sit by the ocean, a lake or a river. Watch the movement. Contemplate the power of the flowing water to change the landscape.
  6. Read poetry. Open up to the experience of emotions.
  7. Give to charity, or volunteer. Cultivate your compassion.

Animal spirits: totems for root chakra work

I am a Chakra junkie. I love exploring the energy of the Chakra system, and I am always looking for new ways to connect with and experience that energy. Lately I have been seeking to link chakra energy into the interconnected web of life by invoking the spirits of animals who embody that energy into my chakra work.

The first, or root, chakra – Muladhara – is the center of earthy, stable energy. The animals that bring that energy are solid and heavy, with one exception.

african_bush_elephant_big_animalDespite weighing 10,000 pounds, elephants walk softly on the earth. Nurturing elephants fare well in their often harsh natural environments, and demonstrate a strong commitment to their group’s protection and survival. As a symbol of safety and strength, elephants can be called on to support first chakra explorations. In addition, the gentle eyes of the huge elephant are full of ancient wisdom. The elephant is a worthwhile companion for your grounding practice.

highlandbOx represents strength, endurance, stamina, prosperity and productivity. These characteristics reflect the energy of the first chakra. Consider a pair of oxen as your guardians while you settle into a deep, rooting meditation.

 

bullThe bull is the Earth Lord, embodying abundance and contentment when calm. When running, the bull’s thundering hooves make the earth quake. Call on bull to bring power to a deficient first chakra.

 

shutterstock_mole.jpg.CROP.original-originalMole is neither heavy nor strong, yet offers a strong connection to the earth. Moles represent the ultimate in groundedness. Ask mole to teach you about eating right, an important first chakra lesson, by sharing her knowledge of herbs and roots.

To connect to the spirit of these first chakra animals, you can simply meditate on them or their qualities. You might also try imagining yourself in the body of the animal. What would it feel like to move like an elephant, an ox, a bull or a mole? You can also call on them as guardians during any root chakra work.

Can you think of any other animals with first chakra spirit?

 

Appreciating fall days: 4 quotes honoring autumn

We are at the peak of the fall foliage viewing in the Adirondack mountains. I love the quiet splendor of the fall colors. This is my favorite time of year. What season makes you feel most alive?

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Exploring Sacred Space: What do we mean by sacred space?

FairfaxSpiral_1Ever since I was a girl, I have been creating altars. From memorials to pets that had passed to a candlelit desk for contemplative studies to a full ritual altar at the center of a circle, I love the act of setting the stage for my intentions. Sometimes I find places where nature has created an altar of sorts: a sheltered cove between sand dunes with an interesting layout of shells, a hollow in the roots of a tree, or a mountaintop with an amazing view. As I think of these altars, I know they are sacred space. But why?

Sometimes an elaborate collection of objects creates a place where, as Joseph Campbell puts it, wonder can be revealed.

Sometimes an elaborate collection of objects creates a place where, as Joseph Campbell puts it, wonder can be revealed.

I love Peg Streep’s book, Altars Made Easy: A Complete Guide To Creating Your Own Sacred Space. In it, Streep defines sacred space as “a physical place where the divine or the supernatural can be glimpsed or experienced.” She sees sacred spaces as those places where we get in touch with that which is larger than ourselves. For me, it is the feeling of smallness you get when you stand on a peak and look out at the landscape spread out below, or the sense of wonder invoked by watching a candle flame dance. Sometimes the natural arrangement of objects, or simply a sense of the presence of a higher power, makes a place sacred.

Perhaps this, more than the need to “conquer” nature, inspires adventurers to climb the highest mountains or dive deep into the sea. Mountaintops, ocean reefs and the like are places of wonder and awe where we sense that which is beyond, yet within, ourselves. Even deep in the woods, or in your own backyard, nature offers such places. If you’ve ever stopped to contemplate a knot of tree roots, a circle of wild flowers, or the engineering of a perfect bird’s nest, you have felt it.

My simple elemental kitchen altar offers moments of serenity during busy days.

My simple elemental kitchen altar offers moments of serenity during busy days.

In Altars: Bringing Sacred Shrines into Your Everyday Life, the author, Denise Linn, notes that the human psyche yearns for the mysterious and wondrous things that bring meaning to life’s ordinary moments. Being in sacred space fills that need and nourishes the soul.  Indoors, a display of objects, when  imbued with meaning by the individual, becomes holy. Even a grouping of photos, placed with intention, can elicit a sense of connection, gratitude and wonder.

Take a look around your home, your yard, or the places you frequent. Where have you found or created sacred space?

(Perhaps my Pinterest board devoted to sacred spaces will inspire you to create or find your own altars.)

Celebrating Earth-based Spirituality on Pagan Pride Day

“A wee child toddling in a wonder world,
I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens
where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds,
the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers. 
If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan.”

Zitkala-Sa

secondbestcircleToday I am in Syracuse, New York, to lead “Elemental Yoga” at the annual Central New York Pagan Pride Day festival. My workshop is from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. Afterwards I get to spend the remainder of the day connecting with and learning from others who, like me, look to nature for their spiritual inspiration.

Pagans are an eclectic group; their diversity makes them interesting and fun. Their practices may be formal and structured or spontaneous and casual. There are numerous subsets under the Pagan umbrella. Pagans may worship deities from classical or tribal mythology, practice shamanism or magick, view futurology, community or ecology as religion, focus on the Divine Feminine, or simply venerate natural phenomena. Most chose their spiritual paths, rather than following the religions of their families.

At today’s festival we’ll be celebrating the upcoming autumn equinox, as well as doing lots of networking and community building. My husband will be manning the Adirondack Earth Lore booth to showcase his amazing woodturning, and I’ll be hanging out there discussing yoga and healthy living with anyone who will listen. We’ll do some drumming. I’ll watch bellydancers. And I’ll be showing folks how to connect with the energies of Earth, Air, Fire and Water with yoga.

In the area? Come on over to Onondaga Lake Park and join the fun!

How Reiki can support you during times of change

This image depicts a Reiki treatment in progre...

A Reiki treatment in progress. Author: James Logan; Uploaded by Andy Beer with agreement of author and models. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you approach the fall equinox, you may find yourself connecting to the energy of change. This time of year, when the trees are letting go of their leaves, encourages deep cleaning. Whether it’s your home, your body, your career or your lifestyle, it’s time to clean it out, dust it off, and welcome change.

Reiki is a powerful platform for change. Regular sessions, through self-practice or with a practitioner, offer gentle yet powerful support that nourishes you and clears a space into which you can invite the season’s newness.

Reiki can lessen the anxiety and pain often associated with change, so you will feel more able to incorporate needed health interventions or make lifestyle changes. Reiki can also clear the mind, enabling you to better evaluate the sometimes conflicting choices before you, so you can make important decisions with greater confidence.

When approaching change, it is important avoid making choices based on fear. Surrender to your Reiki experience, perhaps savoring the breath, allowing your awareness to drop within. Your session will bring you toward balance, and you will be better able to sort through your options, and see possibilities you hadn’t considered before. Regular Reiki sessions support you to make wise, timely changes, ones you can sustain, and which, in turn, will sustain you.

For me, self care is about making conscious choices to address the needs of my body, mind and spirit. Reiki is one tool in my self-care regimen, an over-arching support which gently guides me towards what my body needs to restore balance and wellness. In this way, Reiki opens us up to change, welcoming the newness of natural health.

Affirmations to help you change with the seasons

As the leaves fall, are you ready to embrace change in your own life? If you are working on making changes, big or small, grab one of these affirmations to create openness to change.

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Feel the Earth Element in your body with these three yoga poses

EarthElementMountainNext weekend I am teaching a yoga workshop called “Elemental Yoga” at the Central New York Pagan Pride Day Festival in Syracuse, New York. I’m very excited. This is the first time I’ve ventured out of my comforting Adirondack mountains to teach yoga to strangers, so I’m also a bit nervous. I have been doing lots of grounding work over the past few weeks, drawing nourishing energy from the earth, while at the same time inviting my vision for the workshop down to the physical level so it will manifest.

Yoga always helps me stay grounded and centered, but these three simple poses are my go-to poses when I need a quick refocus.

  1. Mountain pose. Tadasana is the basis of all standing poses in yoga. It embodies the grounding energy of the root chakra and brings awareness to your postural alignment. Stand with your feet no wider than your hips and your toes forward. Soften your knees, spread your toes and balance your weight between the balls of your feet and the center of your heel. Drop your tailbone and reach the crown of your head up, lengthening your spine. Relax your arms by your sides. Close your eyes and imagine your weight dropping into your feet, like you are trying to be so heavy that no one can lift you off the ground. You might sense your feet sinking into the floor or, if you are outside, the ground. Keep your knees slightly bent – if you lock them it will be harder for you to keep your feet heavy.
  2. EarthElementLotusLotus pose. Padmasana originated in the meditative practices of ancient India and is still used by modern-day practitioners. This centering posture presses your sitting bones, your physical “roots,” firmly down. Due to the hip and knee flexibility required, full lotus pose, with both feet placed on the opposite thighs, is not available for everyone. If you find it difficult, you can modify by bringing just one foot onto the other thigh (half lotus pose) or simply crossing your ankles (easy pose). If you practice Padmasana regularly, be sure to alternate which leg is on top to avoid developing imbalance in the hips. Once you get settled in your seat, lengthen your spine, lower your chin slightly and become aware of everything that is touching the surface you are sitting on. I find that just a few minutes focusing on my physical connection to the earth is calming and helps me to feel present.
  3. EarthElementCobraCobra pose. It is difficult to get closer to earth energy than to have your belly on the earth in Bhujangasana. Lie face down and stretch your legs back, feet hip-width apart, and press the tops of your feet into the floor. Place your hands under your shoulders, fingers spread, and hug your elbows to your sides. Keeping your pelvis pressed into the floor and straightening your arms as you make space to do so, lift your heart. Relax your shoulder blades down your back, draw your lower belly slightly off the floor and lift the top of your sternum. Draw your ears away from your shoulders, lengthening your neck. Feel the tops of your feet, your thighs, your pelvis and your low belly on the earth. If you are in a time of transformation or change, add extra oomph by closing your eyes and imagining you are shedding your skin, slithering out of whatever you are letting go of in order for change to happen.

Grounding with Stones and Crystals

The ongoing volcanic eruption in Holuhraun, near Bardarbunga, has already become the largest lava eruption in Iceland since the 19th century.

The ongoing volcanic eruption in Holuhraun, near Bardarbunga, has already become the largest lava eruption in Iceland since the 19th century.

I’ve been following the seismic activity and subsequent eruption in and around the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland with fascination. I live in an area where the mountains were created by glaciers, not volcanoes, and the ground rarely shakes, so it’s easy to forget that even the Earth is sometimes unsettled. Over the last few weeks, there’s been lots of shaking going on, all over the Earth, and there was another volcanic eruption in Papua New Guinea. We are in need of some collective grounding, and there are some stones that can help.

Snowflake obsidian is black obsidian with whitish-gray spots of radiating needle-shaped cristobalite crystals.

Snowflake obsidian is black obsidian with whitish-gray spots of radiating needle-shaped cristobalite crystals.

There are a number of stones that are particularly grounding. In honor of the volcanic eruptions, I have to start with Obsidian. Obsidian is a natural volcanic glass formed from molten lava that cools very rapidly. It’s origin creates an instant connection to the core of the Earth. Obsidian is a powerful, protective stone that absorbs negative energy and enhances resilience.

Metallic grey hematite was popular for jewelry in Europe during the Victorian era.

Metallic grey hematite was popular for jewelry in Europe during the Victorian era.

Hematite is another grounding and balancing stone. It is mined as the main ore of iron and is somewhat magnetic. Use hematite to relieve spaciness, to protect your aura, and to enhance your memory.

Smoky quartz is very comforting and calming.

Smoky quartz is very comforting and calming.

Technically, smoky quartz is caused by irradiation and traces of aluminum built into its crystal lattice. Smoky quartz is a very physically and psychically protective and grounding stone. It also removes negative energy of any kind and transforms it to positive energy. Smoky quartz enhances survival instincts, and can help one reach personal and business goals. It is also used in assisting in making wishes come true by grounding their essence in reality. Thus, it is a stone that brings abundance, prosperity, and good luck.

Jasper is known as the "nurturing stone."

Jasper is known as the “nurturing stone.”

Jasper is a common stone and comes in many beautiful colors and patterns. It offers gentleness, comfort, and relaxation. Jasper is associated with agriculture, gardening and prosperity. It also grounds and protects you during astral travel by keeping you connected to your body. Jasper helps you become peaceful and centered.

Scientists have long been intrigued by the unique electrical and magnetic properties of tourmaline.

Scientists have long been intrigued by the unique electrical and magnetic properties of tourmaline.

Black Tourmaline is a powerful stone, with a long history among many cultures of providing protection during ritual work. It is best known as a grounding and protection stone. Tourmaline takes negative energy and grounds it into the earth where it is transformed back into pure potential. It also promotes a sense of power and self-confidence, allowing for a clearer, more objective view of the world.

You can work with any of these stones by holding one during meditation, placing one on the Root Chakra during healing sessions, wearing a bracelet made of stone beads, or placing them on an altar or another sacred place in your home.