OPENING SACRED SPACE
Shamans always begin healing ceremonies by opening sacred space.
In this space we leave behind the affairs of ordinary life, the bustling world of meetings and schedules, and prepare to meet the divine. Sacred space allows us to enter our quiet inner world where healing takes place. Within sacred space our burdens become lighter, and we can be touched by the hand of Spirit. After we finish our healing work, sacred space must be closed by again acknowledging the four directions, Heaven, and Earth.
Sacred space is a healing sphere that is pure, Holy and safe. I imagine it as a shimmering cupola above the area where I do my healing work. Everyone within this space is protected. Sacred space creates an environment where our defenses can be lowered, where we can explore our soft, tender underbelly. Sacred space also gives us access to the luminous healer-the medicine men and women who assist us form the Spirit world.
You can create sacred space and summon the healing power of nature anywhere on Earth. You can use it while your own prayer reveals itself to you. The shaman’s covenant with Spirit is that when she calls, Spirit answers. Powerful medicine people from the Spirit world appear in the form of luminous beings who assist us in our healing work
You can employ a smudge stick of sage or a little scented water if you like. Shamans throughout the Americas accompany their prayer by fanning smoldering sage or incense with a feather or blowing scented water in the appropriate direction they are addressing, or holding their hand up to the sky and saluting each cardinal point. You will need to determine the points; ideally this is done with a compass, but a close approximation based on your knowledge of the landscape is fine.
Begin by facing South. Smudge or blow the scented water to the South, then hold up your hand, palm facing out. Recite the first verse, calling upon serpent. Touch the Earth and look to the Heavens when directing your prayers there. You close sacred space by thanking serpent, jaguar, hummingbird, and eagle.
Then, thank Mother Earth and Father Sky.
PRAYER FOR CREATING SACRED SPACE
The Winds of the South
To the Winds of the South – Sachamama – Mother of the Waters
Come Mother Sister and pull your coils of light up around us,
Show us how to shed our past and our programming the way you shed your skin.
Teach us to walk in beauty on the belly of the Mother.
Winds of the South blow through us now. Ho!
The Winds of the West
To the Winds of the West – Otorongo – Mother Sister Jaguar
Come to us from your place beyond the rainbow bridge.
Teach us to walk with impeccability, show us the way beyond death, and protect this medicine space.
Teach us the way of the luminous warrior.
Winds of the West blow through us now. Ho!
The Winds of the North
To the Winds of the North – Hummingbird, Ancient Ones
Come Mother Sister, show us we can drink directly from the nectar of life – Teach of stillness in flight, how to make the impossible journey.
Ancient Ones – Grey hairs – Members of our lineage – Slip through the curtain of time and teach us your ways. Come and warm your hands by our fire – Whisper to us.
We honor all of you, those who came before us and those who are yet to come.
Winds of the North blow through us now. Ho!
The Winds of the East
To the Winds of the East – Eagle/Condor
Come to us from your home high in the Apus in the land of the rising sun.
Give us impeccable vision, teach us of destiny.
Nudge us from the nest Mother Sister and show us the way to fly wing to wing with the Great Spirit.
Show us the mountains we only dare to dream of.
Winds of the East blow through us now. Ho!
Great Mother – Pachamama
We have gathered here for healing and we know that every time we heal ourselves, we heal our world.
We honor all our relations, the stone people, the plant people, the two legged, the four legged, the winged, the finned, the furred and the clawed and even the creepy crawlers.
Thank you for being the Mother who will never leave us or forsake us. Ho!
Father Sun – Grandmother Moon – Star Nations
Send your love, your light, your energy down upon this circle.
Great Spirit, you who are known by a thousand names, and you who are the unnameable One.
Thank you for bringing us all together and allowing us to sing the Song of Life. Ho!
© 2006-2007, The Four Winds Society, All rights reserved
After the fire has been lit, the chant is begun to call upon the spirit of the waters beneath the earth:
Nitche Tai Tai, N-U-Y
Oro Nika Oro Nika
Hey Hey... Hey Hey
Oh Eu I
The following is not a literal translation, but it does express its essence:
O Great Mother, Mother of the Waters
We call on you, waters of our birth
Waters of our sustenance
Waters that cleanse us on our death
Waters of life.
The Archetypes in the Medicine Way
Each of the archetypal animals exudes a different flavor of energy. In the South serpent symbolizes knowledge, sexuality and healing. Perhaps the most universal archetype, serpent has always represented the healing power of nature. The staff of medicine, or caduceus, is formed by two serpents intertwined around a rod. In the East it is the coiled snake of the Kundalini energy.
Serpent represents the primeval connection to the feminine and thus is a symbol of fertility and sexuality. It symbolizes the essential life force that seeks union and creation. We can summon the creative principle by calling on the archetype of serpent. When I work with a client who has lost her passion for life, who has exhausted her energy and enthusiasm, I connect her with the energies of the South and send her home accompanied by the spirit of serpent. I know that this will rekindle her longing for life.
The animal of the West is jaguar. It renews and transforms the life of the rain forest. Where serpent represents the power of healing, which is gradual and incremental; jaguar stands for sudden transformation, fire and death. It might seem odd to us that the transforming force in the Universe is also associated with death. That which endured was always changing and renewing itself. That which remained unchanging perished. The Ancient Americans recognized that chaos and order, expansion and contraction, were the natural cycle of life.
We can transform our bodies so that they heal more rapidly and age more elegantly by embodying the forces represented by jaguar. I have grown to believe in the metaphor that we have nine lives, like cats. When we reach the end of one of these lifetimes (other people would call them stages or phases in one’s life), it is important to give the old self a decent burial, and then leap like a jaguar into who we are becoming. Otherwise, we can spend years patching and fixing an old self that we have outgrown.
When I work with a client in crisis, who may feel his life is beyond repair, I send him home with jaguar. Often my client thinks this is only a metaphor. I know that the life-and-death principle represented by the jaguar will assist him to allow those parts of himself that need to die to do so, as well as to regain hope and bring new balance from chaos.
In the North direction, hummingbird represents the courage required to embark on an epic journey. Hummingbirds migrate over the Atlantic, traveling every year from Brazil to Canada. When I work with a client who is embarking upon an epic life’s journey, I help her to connect with the energy of hummingbird. Once touched by the energies of this archetype, we are propelled on our own epic journey that eventually leads us back to our source, where our spirit was spawned.
The North energy helps us embark on great journey despite tremendous odds. When there is not enough time, money or know-how for what you are attempting, hummingbird can provide the courage and guidance necessary for success.
The East direction is represented by eagle and condor, who bring vision, clarity, and foresight. Eagle perceives the entire panorama of life without becoming bogged down in its details. The energies of eagle assist us in finding the guiding vision of our lives. The eyes of the condor see into the past and the future, helping to know where we come from, and who we are becoming.
Eagle allows us to rise above the mundane battles that occupy our lives and consume our energy and attention. Eagle gives us wings to soar above trivial day-to-day struggles into the high peaks close to Heaven. Eagle and condor represent the self-transcending principle in nature.
HEAVEN AND EARTH
The final two directions - above and below, represent the masculine and feminine. The Shaman summons it to preserve and perpetuate, while understanding that life is a delicate balance between the changing and the unchanging. The Inca believe that the soul has three parts. When people die, one part of their soul (the changing) returns to the Earth, to be reabsorbed into nature and become one with all life. Another part (their power and wisdom) returns to the sacred mountains, and a third part (the unchanging) returns to the Sun.
* Earth is the receptive and nurturing principle. Its power is to mulch and renew. The summer leaves are turned back into rich soil. When saluting the Earth we acknowledge our relationship with all other life forms, from the trees to the fishes, the birds, and the stones. When saluting the Heavens we acknowledge our star brother and sisters, and we dedicate our healing effort to the Great Spirit, the Creator of all.