Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Is Shamanic Smudging?

Shamanic smudging--or just smudging--is an age-old tribal tradition which has been used for centuries to create harmony and peace. There are many different shamanic smudging ceremonies, and different tribes use a variety of herbs for smudging.

To define it more clearly, shamanic smudging is the burning of herbs or incense for cleansing, purification, protection of physical and spiritual bodies, banishment of negative energies and creation of sacred space. You can use smudge sticks (herbs that are tied into a bundle for easier handling), braided herbs and botanicals (like sweetgrass) or loose herbs (burned on charcoal or mugwort, or in a firepit). Shamanic smudging releases the energy and fragrance of the herbs and botanicals so they can heal, cleanse and purify.

In many traditions, shamanic smudging involves a four directions ceremony or prayer, which sends specific kinds of smoke or prayers into the four directions. Different tribes have different smudging prayers that "program" the smoke to do a specific action, such as cleansing or aiding in divination.

In general, shamanic smudging can be used in daily life for practical purposes--to restore physical, mental and emotional balance; to shield against negative energies; to cleanse yourself, your magickal tools and your space; and to restore you sacred space.


COMMON HERBS USED IN SMUDGING 
Although different tribes and traditions use different herbs for shamanic smudging, some of the most popular herbs include desert sage, white broadleaf sage, juniper, pinon (sometimes in resin form), sweetgrass, copal (in resin form), mugwort, lavender and sacred tobacco. Here are some general uses for the different herbs often used for smudging:

PINON RESIN
Primarily fire element though can also be used for four-element general purposes. Has a pleasant and meditative fragrance. Is cleansing, strengthening, warming, and used by Native American cultures for its spiritual and healing properties. Produces a thick stream of smoke, and is excellent for refreshing the senses and reviving a tired soul.

COPAL GOLD RESIN
Primarily fire and water elements though can also be used for four-element general purposes. When burned, the scent is sweet, resinous, slightly woody, mildly earthy and spicy. Was a holy incense used by the peoples of Mesoamerica. Traditionally used as incense in divinatory and cleansing ceremonies. The resin contains aromatic chemicals called terpenes, which make it volatile and flammable. Used by Mayan shamans prior to ingesting mushrooms.

MYRRH RESIN
Primarily earth element though can also be used for four-element general purposes. Produces a lot of smoke when burned, very earthy, piney scent. Gathered from an almost leafless Middle Eastern shrub called the Commiphora Molmol. It was used by the ancient Egyptians in rituals of Healing and Passing. It is one of the ingredients used by the Egyptians to embalm bodies. Useful for spirituality, meditation, happiness, release, transformation, strength, confidence and stability.

FRANKINCENSE RESIN
Primarily fire element though can also be used for four-element general purposes. Is the resin of an African tree and produces a rich, dense smoke when burned. Used extensively in meditation and healing. In numerous religious traditions, frankincense's spiritual scent was believed to confer divine blessing. Pliny the Elder mentioned it as an antidote to hemlock poisoning.

DESERT SAGE
Primarily air element though can also be used as for four-element general purposes. Has a somewhat sharp, light and refreshing scent. One of the most sacred herbs among Native Americans. Used to purify the mind, body and spirit before prayer, meditation, ritual or ceremony. Also used to purify sacred items such as pipes, magical tools, tarot decks and eagle feathers. Can be used for area, house and personal cleansings. Some people carry a small amount of Sage in a pocket or medicine pouch to insure personal and spiritual safety.

JUNIPER
Primarily fire element though can also be used for four-element general purposes. Has a sharp, piney scent. Excellent to stimulate and revive when tired in body, mind or Spirit. Used in ancient times for ritual purification of temples. Smoke believed to aid clairvoyance. Also useful for purification and to stimulate contact with other worlds. Burned during the Plague to resist disease.

LAVENDER
Primarily air element. Has a light, aromatic and refreshing scent. Useful for attracting peace, happiness and restful sleep. Also reduces depression, grief and sorrow. Aids in meditation and divination, and often said to aid in manifestation. Known as Elf Leaf, Nard, Nardus, Spike and Lavandar. Traditionally associated with fairies and elves

WHITE BROADLEAF SAGE
Primarily air element though can also be used for four-element general purposes. This is a broad leaf sage that is highly prized for its strong aromatic properties (strongest of the different types of sage). Considered the king if all sages. Excellent for meditation, divination, smudging, cleansing and purification.

YERBA SANTA LEAVES
Traditionally used for enhancing psychic abilities, magical protection, healing and spiritual strength. Excellent for meditation and divination. Said to be ruled by the moon. One Native American tribe rolled the leaves into balls, dried it in the sun and chewed it for a natural mouthwash.

HIBISCUS FLOWERS
Primarily fire and water elements. Produces a sharp, invigorating scent that lasts for a long time after burning. Often used in divination and psychic communication. Excellent for rejuvenating the senses and restoring life force.

ROSE FLOWERS AND PETALS
Primarily water element. Produces a heavy, warm, aromatic scent with just a hint of sharpness – scent lasts a long time after burning. Excellent for meditation, divination, increasing psychic abilities, contacting powers and beings in other dimensions and psychic communication. Also traditionally associated with attracting love, conferring peace, stimulating sexual appetites and enhancing beauty.

SWEETGRASS
Primarily air element. As its name suggests, sweetgrass produces a sweet and light fragrance that does not last for long. Excellent for cleansing sacred space. Sweetgrass is a rare grass which is found growing wild in very few places. Traditionally, sweetgrass is believed to invite the good spirits.

You can burn these herbs singly or in combination with each other. One good combination that covers all four magical elements of air, fire, water and earth is pine resin and sage (either desert sage or white broadleaf sage). This combination is appropriate for general use, cleansing, ceremony and ritual.


WHEN TO SMUDGE YOURSELF 
Smudging yourself on a daily basis can be very helpful in keeping yourself balanced and maintaining a peaceful state of being. However, you should definitely use shamanic smudging techniques when you've been around people who are ill, depressed, fearful, angry or generally emotionally unbalanced; before meditating to create a calm state of being; when you're feeling blue or depressed; or when you've been under a lot of stress.

Smudging yourself is easy. If you're using a smudge stick, light the smudge stick on a candle flame. Hold the stick in the flame until there is a lot of smoke and the stick is burning well (that's why a candle is better than a match--it can take a while to get the stick really smoking). Using a feather (or feather fan) or your hand, gently fan the smoke onto your body, starting at the top of the body and moving downward. Get the back of your body as best you can (it's often easier to use a smudge pot and loose herbs for this). When you're done, inhale a little of the smoke (just a little!) to purify your insides.

If you're using a smudge pot or Firebowl and loose herbs, light the herbs (using self-lighting charcoal --not the barbeque kind!) until it is smoking well. Then, put the Firebowl on the ground and stand over it with your legs spread and feet on either side. Weave back and forth in the smoke until you have been thoroughly cleansed. Clothing is optional for this approach, and smudging in the nude is recommended for a more thorough cleansing. Again, when you're done, inhale a little of the smoke to purify your insides. People often feel more relaxed, lighter and brighter after smudging.

If you're going to use the smudge smoke during meditation, use a charcoal burner or Firebowl, light the herbs and enjoy the scent and smoke as you meditate. Meditating with these herbs often produces a deeper and longer-lasting state of relaxation and contemplation.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Tribe of You

When you think about yourself, you think "I" right? You think of yourself as a singular, whole being. One person. One unit. One entity.

That's how most of us think about ourselves. In truth, though, each of us is not a single "I" but a whole tribe of archetypes that use the same body to express ourselves. You are not actually you. You are the Tribe of You. There are many of you.

Interesting to think about, isn't it? You can verify this in your own experience by thinking about a New Year's resolution. Suppose one of "you" made the resolution to lose weight. All is well and good until you encounter fresh hot donuts at work. Then another of "you" takes control of your body, smells that fresh donut scent, and without another thought eats one! Whoa! What just happened to your resolution?

Fifteen minutes later, the "you" that made the resolution bubbles to the surface and notices that you've eaten a donut. Then the "guilt and shame you" comes in and starts with the guilt trip. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Each "you" in the Tribe of You has a different agenda, and you will act according to many agendas during your day, depending on which "you" has control at the moment.

How can you get a grip on yourself so you can achieve your chosen goals without causing tribal warfare? The first step is to realize that most of the time you are not yourself. Here's a simple way to clarify this:

1. Choose a goal that one of "you" has set. It should be one that lasts for at least two weeks (and maybe one that you've had trouble achieving).

2. Observe your thoughts and actions very carefully during those two weeks. Every time one of "you" has thoughts or proposes actions that are contrary to that goal, say to yourself, "This is not I."

3. Briefly jot down the situation and thought or action.

4. At the end of two weeks, review your list. Notice how many different versions of "you" there are related to your goal.

You might be surprised how many of you are part of the Tribe of You. Does this shed light on why achieving certain goals is so difficult?


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

LATER GATOR... Avoiding The Blues

Have you got the blues? Feel like this week will never be over and the weekend or your vacation will never return? If so, take heart! This too shall pass, and with a few simple tricks you can make the blues go away even faster!

1. "This is Not I": If you're at work and you feel the blues closing in on you, what should you do? First, remember that "the blues" is just part of the Tribe of You, it's not you. Say to yourself, "This is not I." Say it to yourself as many times as you need to remind yourself that this is just a temporary state, not a permanent way of being.

2. "In 5 Minutes": When you feel like you just can't go on and but you have to complete certain tasks, tell yourself, "I'll take a break in 5 minutes." Then put your attention on what you're doing. In 5 minutes, if you still feel tired and blue, say "Yes, in just 5 minutes." Do three rounds of 5 minutes and see if the "blue you" has faded by then. Often by the time 15 minutes has passed, so have the blues.

3. "First Things First": If you're already stuck in the blues and your task list seems too overwhelming, just do first things first. Pick the three tiniest tasks on your list that can be done in 10 minutes or less (break down larger items if you have to). It doesn't matter how trivial these tasks are, just pick 3. Now set a target. Say, "I'll do this, this, and this." Don't focus on anything else. Just do those three things. Then do the next three tiny tasks, then the next three. Before you know it, you're in full swing!

4. "Get Moving": Mental and emotional stagnation is often the result of physical stagnation. If you just can't get going on what you have to do, get out and move briskly for 3 minutes. Talk a walk, do jumping jacks, or yoga. Just get going. Then come back to your list and do "First Things First."

Once you have a little practice at saying "Later gator" to the blues, you'll understand that negative emotions are more habit than anything else. Shaking up your routine and shifting your perspective even a little can get you off that well-worn path and moving in a new direction. Enjoy the insights along the way!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How to Work with Power Plants

The plant world, as a facet of "All That Is" is central to many shamanic, magical and tribal traditions. Plants were placed on Earth to be our companions and healers, and when we take the time to honor that sacred role, we heal both ourselves and our planet. Whether you are working with plants to create herbs, flower essences, essential oils or incense, you must first and foremost be in communication with those plants. While plants, in and of themselves, have a great deal of healing and spiritual power, when we take the time to honor and communicate with the plants we want to partake of, those plants grow exponentially in power and force.

Communicating With Power Plants
So how do you honor and communicate with power plants? It's not difficult. As Devta Khalsa, healer of many traditions, describes in her ebook, communicating with plants is really no different than communicating with another person--just more tender. Before you harvest any plant, take some time to sit quietly by the plant. Breathe deeply and center yourself. Then ask the plant for permission to use some of its body. Tell the plant what you would like to use it for. Wait for permission. Whether or not you hear a response, know that the plant's devas always hear and respond to you. Ask the plant to infuse its body with healing and harmonious power suitable for your purpose.

If you wait silently enough, quieting your mind, you'll most likely hear a response. Even if you don't, though, just taking the time to honor and communicate with the plant will make your gathering more powerful and effective. No matter what you hear, thank the plant for its role in your healing and life.

It's also customary to leave an offering at the base of the plant, so that there is an equal exchange of energy. Sacred tobacco and cornmeal are perfect for this, but you can also use a hair from your head if you didn't bring any other offering.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

An Easy Way to Develop Your Psychic Abilities

Before you waste any time wondering if you have any psychic abilities or whether you can actually develop them, let me clear up the issue by saying that you do have psychic abilities and you can easily develop them. Everyone has psychic abilities! The question is how you develop them.

Would you believe that you can radically increase your psychic abilities by practicing for 5-10 minutes a day? All you need is pen and paper. Don't think about your psychic abilities as something "special" or "difficult to learn. Learning to use your psychic abilities is no more difficult than learning to bake a cake - you're just using different ingredients!

Before we dive into instructions about how to increase your abilities, let's define what we mean by psychic abilities. In shamanic terms, we call these abilities "Spirit perceptics" or "Spirit abilities." In other words, these are abilities beyond your five senses that are part of your Spirit. You can use these abilities to access information way beyond what you can see, hear, touch, taste or smell. With these abilities you can access almost any kind of information, talk to spirits or beings who have died and much more.

Psychic Development Exercise
Here's a simple exercise that will help you develop your psychic abilities. With this exercise your goal is to practice using your Spirit abilities to access information that you can't access with your five senses. Here's how you do it:

1. Bring pen, paper and a watch or timer to a very public location that has lots of people. Fast food restaurants, airports or malls are good places to start.

2. Seat yourself in a comfortable location where you can easily write, observe people and see your timer or clock.

3. Pick a person to observe (you will need to observe him or her for 30 seconds). Set your timer for 30 seconds and start writing.

4. Write anything and everything that comes up about that person, whether you can directly observe it or not. It's easier to start by writing what you can observe about the person (such as hair color, clothing, activities and so forth). Don't think about what you are writing and don't allow yourself to pause. Don't worry about whether your observations are correct or not. Write as much as you can and as fast as you can.

5. Once the 30 seconds is up, pick another person to observe, set your timer and start writing.

6. Observe 10 people during a span of 5 minutes.

To give you an example of what you might write, look at the paragraph below:


Man, blond hair, jeans, has kids, mustache, kind, loves sports, likes water, has a brother, works outdoors, in tune with Nature, born in the West or has a connection to the West, nice tan, sneakers, talking with someone, talks with hand gestures, works well with hands, sensitive hands, sensitive nature, enjoys people, likes the color red, wears red a lot, brown eyes, around 40, jazz music, smiles a lot.

You'll notice in the short description above that there are many descriptions that can be seen with the five senses - the color of his hair, the way he talks with his hands, the color of his eyes and his tan. In between, though, are descriptors that can't be seen with the five senses - that he has a brother, he is in tune with Nature, likes the color red and jazz music. Notice that I didn't write that he likes jazz music, plays jazz music or listens to jazz music. I just wrote "jazz music." There may be someone around him who plays jazz music or he may like to listen to jazz music. Those details didn't come up so I just wrote jazz music. Be sure to write whatever comes up - no editing!!

It doesn't matter if any of your descriptions, especially those that are done with Spirit abilities, are actually correct. The goal is to practice accessing information with these abilities. The correctness of your observation will improve with time. Practice this exercise as often as you can - any time you are waiting for a bus, sitting at a restaurant or resting in a public setting. If you don't get out much, you can do the same exercise by turning the volume off your TV and observing the people on TV.

You'll find that with practice you will develop the ability to simply look at people and know what they are like, what's going on in their lives and what is important to them. The more you practice, the better you'll get. The key is not to get attached to the correctness of what you write. The less you judge yourself the more correct your observations will become. Now if you are ready to get more help with tuning into your psychic abilities, take a look at our Psychic Development eBook.


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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Plan For Abundance

How do you feel in the morning compared to the middle of your day or the end of your day? Do you wake up full of optimism in the morning, only to find yourself stressed out by lunch and exhausted by dinner?

If we stop and really assess how we feel at the beginning of our day as compared to the end of our day, it's no surprise that we get off track when it comes to our goals. Most of us know that "energy attracts." In other words, when we feel optimistic and happy we tend to attract positive experiences and people into our lives. When we feel down and out, all kinds of unhappy accidents cross our paths.

So if we feel happy and upbeat early in the day, then get dragged down as the day progresses, we're attracting abundance and positive events early in the day and accidents and negativity later on. For most of us, that averages out into a neutral score so that we stay exactly where we are in life-stuck!

What can we do to get moving and attract the abundance we really want in our lives? We can plan for it. For instance, if you know that you tend be stressed by lunchtime, plan to take some time at lunch to restore your energies. Or, if you realize that you feel tired by 3 o'clock in the afternoon, plan to take a 5 minute break to revitalize yourself and remember your aims.

Your energy boosting break doesn't have to be a big production, just a short period of time dedicated to feeling good again. The key is to plan ahead for those times when you know you tend to feel tired or stressed, and to take breaks when you plan to, whether or not you feel tired at that moment.

In certain esoteric traditions, these pre-planned "stops" in the day are called moments of "remembering ourselves." When we get wrapped up in work, expectations, fears, and stress, we tend to forget all of our aims. When we take the time to remember ourselves, we get back on track and every event takes on a new meaning and new light. The key is to stop yourself before you get too far off track. Plan to stop, and stop when you've planned it!

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