17 December, 2013

A Clash with Cockroaches

I was born in NYC, and have spent over 16 years of my life there (my Queens accent only seems to come out on rare occasions now).

Although I have always loved animals, plants, and insects, there are some Nature Spirits that I can Never Ever Work With during this particular incarnation of my life. And even though my spiritual growth has brought great lessons from Insects, I will not be able to ever work with Cockroaches. Ever.

from www.freepik.com

Cockroaches are everywhere in big cities, and in NYC, they definitely have a presence. Some are able to work with them as Insect Totems, but not me, not after this story from my past...

Ocotober 2003:

Last night, the bathroom was a warzone.

After washing up for bed around 11pm, I noticed that the drain in the bathtub was uncovered. I cover it ever night to keep most of the roaches that are in the pipes out of the bathroom. I put the cover over it, turned off the light, and made my way into bed. Not even 20 minutes later, I had to use the restroom. I grudgingly got out of bed, walked over to the bathroom, and snapped on the light.

*dramatic Psycho slasher music*

The walls, ceiling, sink, bathtub, toilet, and door were COVERED in roaches. And not just small itty-bitty roaches, but roaches of all shapes and sizes! Was it a nightmare?- No! It was my worst fear come to life!

I ran back out of the bathroom and searched for Dad's one remaining can of roach spray. Armed with a deadly weapon, I sprayed and sprayed until my fingers stopped shaking.

When the smoke cleared, 32 roaches lay dead, or paralyzed.

I decided not to clean up the mess, as by this time I was practically peeing my pants, and put the can of spray on the sink and used the restroom. As I sat, I observed the carnage around me. Suddenly, a shadow moved underneath the door. A HUGE roach, easily 3 or 4 inches (as compared to the standard 1/2 to 1 inch), skittered into the bathroom and began trying to climb the wall. This roach was not sleek and long as a waterbug, but squat and fat and of the same species as those dead around me. I determined that it was the King of the roaches, come in response to the many death cries of its commrades. My jaw dropped, and somewhere in the back of my mind, I realized that I was too scared to continue peeing.

That was the moment it decided to attack me.

As it made for my left foot ( very quickly, I might add), I hopped up and grabbed the can of roach spray and started going to town. Not only did the roach NOT die, it didn't even slow down! I jumped out of its way and made for the hallway. I deftly turned and sprayed the King with all the roach spray left in the can. At last, it staggered, turned, ran back in, and died at the edge of the tub.

I did all this with my pajamas still around my ankles.

The squick factor remains too high at this time for us to repair our relationship...*shudder*

What totems are YOU unable to work with, because of their physical presence in this world? Have you tried to work past it? 

12 December, 2013

Dragons: a "Hello" from the past

Every now and then, I enjoy reading through my old Shamanic Journeying notebooks, to try and remember all the different spirits I have met and places I have seen.

It can be difficult to remember Journeys, as they are sometimes like dreams, but each detail can be symbolic, and adds to the Inner Landscape of each shaman's Worldview.

Coyote wasn't always the first one to come to me during Journeywork; I had a menagerie of interesting Spirits trying to get my attention!

Who loves "Flight of Dragons" on VHS?!?
Dragons, especially the sleek, Asian-style water/air dragons, were very powerful images for me, and I adore them. Here is a story from one of my first Journeys 10 years ago (when I still lived in NYC), that can illustrate the instinctual symbolism of shamanic work:

September 2003
Went to a Shamanic workshop today: I had to take a subway, transfer to a subway, transfer to another subway, and then hop on the NJ Transit RR. Sheesh, it sucked (2 hour travel time!) but it ended up being worth it.
GOG (Grove of the Other Gods, ADF) was originally planning to hold the workshop outside, but of course, it rained. After I got off the RR, it was only a short walk to the Senior Druid's home. I found the place easily, and I didn't even need to knock on the door b/c they were keeping an eye out for me in case I got lost. I walked in to the coolest house on the planet: there were books everywhere, musical instruments, crazy mardi gras and jimmy buffet decorations, and a plethora of Spanish Day of the Dead memorabilia! It was the normal assortment of fun pagan-y people that one could find at just about any workshop, and funny enough, it put me right at ease.
On this shamanic journey, a medicine wheel was made out of stones and crystals: to aid our travel to find a spirit animal. I had done a few other shamanic workshops before, but I had never found a specific animal that appeared more than once. I was looking forward to perhaps finding one this time.
We were directed to relax, deep breaths, etc. and to find a safe spot within ourselves. We were also directed to invite/honor our Ancestors. For the first time ever, in any ritual/workshop, I actively invited Brigid, Hecate, QuanYin, my Grandpa, my Tante Annie & Uncle Charlie, my friend Brittany, and all others that had died. Back to the meditation: The first thing that came to me was the smell of cypress trees. Huh, who'd have thunk it: my safe spot opened up into the area of cypress trees beside Mirror Lake at Ohio State! Boy, was I surprised! I could feel myself grin while in trance. A cave opened up into the hill beside the trees (before the Main Library) and I began walking through it. Surprisingly, instead of seeing a totem animal right after making it through the cave passage, I saw my Grandpa Butke. He had a small smile on his face, and tears stung my eyes. I took his hand and said, "Come with me," and we went to find my spirit animal together.
I found Them; and I say them b/c there was more than one. In a clearing in my mind, there stood/floated/slithered a dragon: a dark red, skinny, long, wingless Eastern dragon. I patted it on its head, surprised that it looked so much like my dragon figurines at home on my dresser. My Grandpa forgotten, I looked around and was pleased to see two more Eastern dragons: a total of three, slithering and floating around me. The 1st one "spoke" of what they symbolized: power, strength, balance, and Luck (along with other things that I have forgotten since coming out of trance). I remember being a little wary of the concept of Power, since I was always taught that power corrupts, it very bad & dangerous, and it is best to stay away from any desire of it. It understood my fears, and gave me a message, something close to: "Power is not a bad thing; seek it and it will help make you feel whole again..." something like that, I can't remember now for the life of me!
We were then directed to "adopt" our spirit animal's gifts for a while: fly if one had a bird, hunt if one had a lion, etc. Something strange happened: I felt I was the dragon- I can't even explain the strangeness of it. I could not fly per se, but I was able to instantaneously move from place to place. Using this ability, I checked in on my sister, my mom & brother, my aunt & uncle in Colorado, and my dad smoking a cigarette at work. It was creepy: I felt like I had appeared in the ceiling of each place and my looong body was coiled around the room as I watched over my family. This was shocking to me, and I quickly returned to my safe spot with the other 2 dragons and my Grandpa. I thanked them immensely, and I again grabbed my Grandpa's hand and we walked back to the cave passage. I can't remember if I said bye or not, but suddenly I was at Mirror Lake again; just sitting on the stones near the water.
Brittany came up to me: my dead best friend from high school. Again, the tears stung my eyes as I wondered what to say. I apologized for not visiting her in the hospital when her cancer was bad. She understood, and told me that I was a wonderful friend now just talking to her now and again. We hugged, and I said goodbye, and I came out of my trance.
4 amazing things:
1) I had never seen my totem animal before today.
2) I had never seen my Grandpa or Brittany EVER before today.
3) I had never seen ANYTHING or ANYONE in trance, other than glimpses of deities, before today.
4) I have never Astrally Traveled (if that is indeed what I did) before today.
Hail to the Ancient and Awe-inspiring Dragons!

What Spirits surprise YOU when they show up in Journeys??

10 December, 2013

Updates to the blog!

Snow day in Baltimore today, which brought me time to feed the birds, decorate my apartment for Yule, and streamline this website a bit.

I've added space for some of my most-read blog articles on shamanism, as well as a link to my Witchvox account (it's within the Coyote head!) and most-used labels.

Hope you enjoy it!

09 December, 2013

Diamond Phurba Empowerment, via 噶千仁波切 Garchen Rinpoche

During the weekend before my birthday in November, fellow shaman Nicholas Breezewood, who is editor of Sacred Hoop, notified many of us of an amazing opportunity. The Garchen Buddist Institute, located in Arizona, was hosting H.E. Garchen Rinpoche himself, and facilitating a Diamond Phurba Empowerment and Drubchen. And for those of us not local to AZ, it was also being broadcast live over the internet!

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche, from WikiCommons
I have worked with phurbas in my shamanic practice for a few years. I was gifted one from Caroline during my studies as her apprentice in Gryphons Grove, and received another (that practically jumped into my hand!) while shopping at Bell, Book, & Candle.

Of course, I am not Tibetan, nor Buddhist, but I Journeyed to meet the Spirit of Phurba, and got a very strong presence in both of them! Phurbas are unlike many other shamanic tools that I work with; they have spiritual consciousness upon being forged, and they are Ready To Work. So even though there were numerous obstacles for us to overcome (language barrier, lack of cultural knowledge, different symbol sets), the Phurbas wanted to work with me.

I was given specific instructions for how to use them, and how to store them between appointments. There were some difficulties in translation, as they gave me images in my head that I didn't quite understand, but after reading about them in the Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols..., it became a little clearer.

However, even though I respectfully request their help in each shamanic session, there are still times in which I am unable to understand what they want me to do, or how they communicate via specific symbols. I am sure they get just as confused and frustrated as I do, but our relationship is strong because they Want to do the work of healing others, removing blockages, and assisting with transmutation.

So this is why I jumped at the chance for the empowerment. In the way that I understand magic and healing, I believed that the empowerment will facilitate greater communication, a more common symbol set, and stronger lines of energy between us.

I made sure I had the perfect set-up from home!

And it has! My first few healing appointments afterwards were amazing; the Phurbas quickly identified intrusions/blockages, "sucked" them up, and sent them to the Nagas for transmutation. Our shared symbol set in my head is becoming clearer, and I am better able to use my instincts in determining what They want for a particular client. I will never be as well-versed in their use as a Tibetan-trained phurba master, but they are satisfied with being able to do what we can, together, in Maryland!

The weekend-long workshop was also beautiful and moving. Although H.E. Garchen Rinpoche required a translator for his teachings, the genuine compassion and empathy in his words could be felt hundreds of miles away, even through an Ethernet cord.

I felt so blessed after the ritual empowerment, and am so thankful for the opportunity to learn more about the Tibetan Buddhist/shamanic culture (within its own context, and not diluted/lost in translation). I know that I still have many things to learn, especially about Vajrakilaya and Mahakala (who have made Their presence known in dreams and Journeys)!

How do you work with other cultures that are so different from your own? How do you work respectfully with new tool/concepts, and keep away from cultural appropriation?

08 December, 2013

Upcoming Shamanic Healing Ceremony (local to DC, Maryland, and Virginia!)

Hello to you all!
I haven't spoken to many of you in the past few months, so I hope that this post finds you all healthy and happy. I am updating this blog to inform you all of a large Shamanic Healing Ceremony that will take place in the new year, on January 5th.
Here are the details:
My teacher, Caroline Kenner is organizing a group Healing Ceremony at the Blueberry Gardens in Ashton, Maryland. I will be there, along with my fellow healers Christian Stone (of Central Maryland Pagans) and Niall Sheehan (amazing acupuncturist in Laurel). Other graduates of Gryphons Grove will also be in attendance, providing support and healing energies.
The doors will open at 10:30am, with greetings and scheduling starting around 11am. The Healing Ceremony itself will begin at 11:30am (song will be sung at that time, don't be late!). Myself and the other healers will work until around 2pm, and then we will share a meal and discuss the different healings and imagery (of course, specific details will remain confidential, to protect your privacy). The ceremony will end around 4pm.
The charge for attending the Healing Ceremony and receiving a healing will be on a sliding scale of $75.00 to $100.00. This is quite affordable, compared to normal rates, and you will receive the benefit of many healers and many years of experience! For those interested, please leave a comment or send an email and I can send you the specific link to the PayPal account (payment in advance is required for this event, as it can fill up fast!).
While you are waiting for your specific appointment, you will receive subtle but powerful benefits from a large crystal grid that will be set up in the main Octagon Room to strengthen and empower the healing ceremony. There will also be lots of singing, crystal and Tibetan bowls, Native flutes, and other sacred music.
If you attend, please bring a chair or mat to sit on (Blueberry Gardens has some Yoga mats, but not enough for all), lunch for yourself, any food/drink that you would like to share with others, and a notebook to take notes from the Spirits.
I hope that this post inspires many of you to seek healing, and if you have a schedule conflict, please email me and we can work together privately in my Healing Room in Baltimore (or via Skype).
Hugs and well-wishes to you all,
Monika Lonely Coyote

02 December, 2013

Travel Altars for the Holidays

During the Holidays, and long-distance conferences, I like to creat little mini-altars before I start driving. This helps me align my Will with the goal at the end of road. It also helps me to make the travel a Spiritual Act. And on some occasions, it helps me to "plug in" to the Urban Nature Spirts (like I-95 and Amtrak) and work with them for smooth travel. 

I like talking with Ganesh, Asphaltia, Mercury/Hermes, and of course, Coyote. 

My drawings are entertaining to Them :) And cookie offerings are mandatory!