On the first evening, I softly welcomed the music into my body by absorbing the comforting concerts through every cell. Eyes closed, I let the vibrations work their magic. The following morning offered an inspiring challenge: how to look (as in dive) into the eyes of a stranger. Remembering that maybe you do not even look the people closest to you in the eyes, even if you meet them everyday. In the eyes you truly see the soul: a reflection of yourself and the world. READ ONRead More
The sweat lodge or temazcal/temaskalli is a ceremony or ritual that is part of many Native American as well as Latin American traditions. In the north, the indigenous Samii people had/have similar healing and self care rituals, using steams/saunas together with herbal medicines. Traditional medicine men and women have past on this tradition about being in contact with nature, the plants, and the four elements through this purifying ceremony. The healing work aims at working therapeutically on the physical body, spiritually purify, and to meet/heal/cleanse fears and negative aspects of the mind.
Some of the therapeutic uses of the sweat lodge/temascal are:
to eliminate toxins through the sweat of the skin
to improve the texture and color of the skin
to de-intoxicate body and mind
to increase vitality
treatment with plants’ healing properties (herbal medicine) and the water steam
thermotherapy; viruses and bacteria don’t survive in the heat, the heat also stimulates the endocrine glands and remove impurities in the circulation.
(Read more in La Pipa de obsidian Danza de Luna, Anita Carmona Itzpapalotl.)
Sweat lodges can be built in various ways depending on the surrounding environment and tradition. It is, however, always the same with water poured on hot stones to create the healing water steam. According to the Mexica tradition, and others I have been fortunate to come into contact with, it is also important that the participants are co-creators when building and preparing the sweat lodge ceremony, under the lead of a temascalera/abuela/shaman.
Local medicinal plants are used in the ceremony. Usually there would be some aromatics, some calmatives, or maybe some with properties to heal infections and inflammations. The plants may for instance be hung in the roof of the sweat, used as herbal tea drunk before and/or after ceremony, or leaves can be spread out on the floor where they come into contact with the open and receptive skin and, thus, work healing. Herbs are also put directly on the hot stones, which allows for their healing properties to come inside the body through respiration.
The temascal has its navel in the middle and this is where we put the rocks or hot stones. These rocks are our ancestors, coming to share their wisdom to us through the ceremony of the sweat. The stone people have been on earth since creation and carry deep knowledge. It is with great respect that we welcome and listen to them. Inside the temascal, we greet the ancestors with herbs such as copal, cedar or sage and prayers. The sweat lodge is covered in leaves and blankets and when everyone (including the stones) are inside the door is closed. Inside is humid and dark, representing the womb of the Mother as well as the darkness of ignorance we ought to overcome to heal. We enter the womb of Mother Earth to remember where we once came from, to remove the ignorance and, thus, to remember who we truly are. It is a ceremony that is profound, healing and nourishing.
We share the ceremony in darkness and individual introspection, guided by the temascalera/shaman/medicine person. We conduct and create the ceremony together but as in all spiritual work/ceremonies it is crucial to understand the responsibility of the individual. You are in your journey as much as we are in one journey together- just as life itself and in both you are responsible for your own wellbeing. The temascal gets dark and hot and usually cramped. To honor and listen to the body is key to a good experience.
To be able to sit somewhat comfortably, avoid heat on the skin and to wear clothes appropriate for the ceremony, in the Mexica tradition we use long dresses. Preferably, the ceremonial dresses are made of pure cotton and in a beautiful color that doesn’t get transparent when wet. On the pictures you see Abuela Lorena and Abuela Jane in dresses perfect for the temascal (or other ceremonies!). Personally, I prefer having the dress long so that I can curl up inside it if it gets too hot on the legs or feet. An aspect you don’t take into consideration in rituals I’ve encountered in Sweden is the surface underneath the bum. It’s one thing sitting on soft sand, grass or muddy dirt but in Costa Rica the temascal might be in the mountains on hard rocky surface. I like having some fabric between my butt and these sharp rocks! Yet a side of the coin is to create the feeling of ceremony by “dressing up” for the spirits. I know that when I put on my ceremonial dress (may it be for a sweat lodge or other), I am already focusing on doing my spiritual work and I am connected. Some traditions don’t have this policy but (my interpretation is that) focus on the fact that one ought to be comfortable in their nakedness as you are being reborn inside the womb. In the Mexica tradition, we wear clothes and if you’d like to get yourself one of these lovely dresses let me know at Service By Magie or firstname.lastname@example.org! They are 15mil colones or 30 dollars and the money goes to preserving an ancient and very important tradition: Danza de la Luna/the Moon Dance.
The temascal helps you with what you need as long as you enter it with faith, humility, respect and determination to do your work. Personally, I always enter ceremony with the intention and prayer that my heart will expand and be open enough for me to be able to fully receive and listen to the messages brought to me by Great Spirit.
Inside the temascal/sweat lodge we pray through silence, shared words, storytelling, songs and music. The temascalera or medicine person guiding the ceremony intuitively receives messages about the work we need to do and guide us through it as a group as well as individual beings. Remember that you are on your own personal journey inwards towards cleansing and healing the body and mind to find clarity and love.
Please, share your own stories and any questions below!
In love and in harmony
Have you noticed how vibrantly green everything gets after rain?
Weather in the Caribbean has been weird lately with days of endless pouring rain. After two days of waterfalls outside the window, Father Sun came back today. We greeted him down by the ocean; tide was high, the beach empty and the morning early. We sung to him as waves were rolling in. Suddenly, summer’s proper heat was back and the day is only getting hotter! We are spending the warmest hour of the day indoors, taking a siesta, while most tourists just woke up. Biking through town this morning showed us there is still, despite being Tuesday, a big group of backpackers and other tourists in town. They were all headed towards town and the beach as we were on our way back home...
Enjoy the pictures of Masai (dog), Medicinal Plant tour, bugs, the astonishing full moon and the waterfall Dos Vueltas.
We rent a small casita (house) in Cocles Beach, a few kilometers from town and about 200 meters to the ocean. Thanks to its concrete floor and shady location, we have a cool working space even during mid-day. And, yes, after a few weeks of ceremonies and studies I am now working again. That is to say, combining work with studies- as always the sweetest way of life! Tomorrow starts a Warrior Path’s yoga immersion at the Garden, guided by my magic friend Jerusha, which I’ll be attending. In addition, Wednesday and Saturday mornings I’ll be guiding a Bhakti Flow and a Morning Flow yoga class, and there will be TWO Yin and Drum workshops the coming weeks. Check out Calendar for info!
There you have it guys, a regular day in the Caribbean. Stay updated more frequently on Instagram: @foodbymagie where I share food experiences and new organic and local creations.
Please tell me what you like to read about!
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Stories from shamanic journeys?
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Mucho amor, luz y paz
2014 was not only the year of the Horse but also the year of Love and, WOW! How many great, magical and life altering moments and journeys I got to experience! Here is my attempt to summarise my travels within and without from 2014. Enjoy and please share your stories in the comments below!
1. Around Costa Rica and across Worlds
Starting the year off in one of my favourite countries, and one of the two I currently call “home”, by purging and cleansing and working in various traditional shamanic ceremonies such as the Temazcal (sweat lodge) and the meeting with Ayauaska. Many great journeys within oneself and between worlds are made in traditional ritual and ceremony, personally one of my favorite ways of traveling. I also got the chance to travel around Costa Rica together with my best friend and show him the magic of the country before heading on to the next adventure: Yoga Teacher Training in the desert! The adventures, travels and challenges were overlapping each other these first months of 2014! Thank you all – new and old- friends and family that helped make these voyages MAGICAL!
2. Space of Love
As I got back to Sweden in the start of summer, I was guided to visit a Yoga Festival on an island outside the east coast. Little did I know how those 2 weeks would continue the flow and journeys that started in Costa Rica and, at the same time be a trigger point for what would come next. It truly is a Space of, for and with Love. I met long lost friends and lovers- new to this lifetime, served the fire, encountered Grandfathers from the North and traditions completely new to me, and I experienced Love in ways I never knew of. Love, Connections and Journeys within and without with guidance from the medicines of song, dance, yoga, ceremony and human beings with big hearts. Thank You ALL!
3. Summer Love Tour
I continued the summer by touring Sweden together with my best friend. We had no plans as how to transport ourselves or where to end up on our way to the North and my family house. We packed yoga gear, food, a tent and all the necessities for camping- yes, we carried more than ever before on our backs! – and we hit the road. There is a special beauty and inspiration in traveling only by intuition and bare feet. We found ourselves creating connections on a yoga camp in the forest of Småland, catching up with old friends, and finding Light in the church. I taught yoga in the park and we got on buses and trains not knowing where to end up. We helped a shaman constructing a Shamanic Museum, danced with the drums and walked bare foot around Dalarna in pouring rain. We visited the native people of the North and learnt more about ancient wisdom; we camped with reindeers and created songs. And somewhere on the road we fell in love.
All the meetings and connections that were made during the sunny summer months led me further and towards new adventures. One of them being the Yoga Festival in Dalarna in October where I got to, once again, experience the magic of the deep forest and wild rivers, connect through love and rhythm, and share the wisdom of my drum and the ancient roots. Guiding a Yin and Drum class for about 50 people was incredible beyond words. I am so very grateful. Thank You Thank You.
5. Liverpool & Wales
What seems to have started in July, with our Summer Love Tour, came to somewhat of a peak in early December. Me and my best friend went to visit the fairytales of northern Wales and my dancing soul sister Anahí. We watched a psychedelic Christmas parade, had a chat with the Hatter, followed the White Rabbit and we got engaged on the hills of the Welsh coast where the seals have their playground. Indeed, 2014 was a year filled with Love and magic, guided by the great Horse. Thank you all for participating in the ride!
I ended my highlights of 2013 by saying: “My intentions for 2014 are to continue deeper into my spiritual journey, wherever in the world it may take me.” Summarizing 2014 showed me that I really did dive deeper into my spiritual journeys and practices and in ways and places I never could have imagine. I am grateful for everything I experienced through feelings, vision(s), hearing, touch, taste and smell. And I am grateful for being guided by the magic flow of life, always taking me to new challenges and journeys - within and without. I set my intentions for 2015 to be even more profound; deepening my spiritual practices and, thus, share the wisdoms with the world(s) even more!
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As I require a special diet of vegan and gluten, sugar, yeast and onion free food, I occasionally have to make exceptions. Especially when travelling and I can't cook for myself. I am aware of this and, therefore, whenever I can I bring my own food, snack and essential herbs to help me digest what ever it is that I don’t normally eat. In the UK, gluten is hard to avoid even though nowadays many cafés have the option of gluten free bread. However, the main issues with bread are the yeast and the refined flour- gluten free or not. And they like their sandwiches, the Brits! Besides gluten and yeast, sugar and onions are vicious and difficult to avoid. We even found sugar in the oatmeal! So, during the week most of my exceptions concerned onions, sugar and yeast. My body required me to do a nice purge when I got back home!
In regards of non-animal food tho, most restaurants and cafés have at least one option of vegetarian food and my general experience is that most of these dishes are possible to make vegan or at least lactose free. Still, sometimes it’s nice to be prepared and know where to be able to eat FROM the menu! Check out my healthy travel tips for Liverpool below.
Look up vegan and vegetarian restaurants and eateries on Scouseveg There are several options around Liverpool center that are vegan friendly. For instance, we tried the vegan menu at Lunya, a Spanish tapas restaurant, and were very pleased! There is also a vegan café on Bold Street - a genuine and cozy bohemian feeling street which we found when walking from the Cathedral and down towards the dock. This street is where you’ll find alternative bookstores, independent businesses, world food stores, fair trade, organic and the like. Needless to say, I enjoyed the visit!
Always carry snacks such as unsalted nuts, seeds and fruit in your daypack in case of sudden hunger and absence of healing nutrition. Bring a thermos of hot water! Refill whenever possible. For instance, ask in cafes or at 7/11, I’ve always gotten positive outcomes! Why do you want a thermos you wonder? 1- to stay warm throughout the day if weather is rough 2- to aid the digestive fire (especially if you’re making food exceptions).
Put your hiking boots on! I love to walk around bigger cities because it offers a genuine way to get to know the city, its neighbourhoods and people. Liverpool is a good-sized city to walk around for the weekend tourist. A huge plus are the signs all over town, encouraging visitors to walk between attractions. Dancing is of course also a terrific way of moving your body and get the prana flowing! As we were alone in The Cavern, in The Beatles Museum, I saw my chance to move the booty and twisted around the dance floor in front of the stage for a good two rounds of the famous Twist and Shout!
The Beatles played remarkably 292 concerts in The Cavern before the place closed down 1973. The museum does a great job in reenacting the settings and atmosphere and when I closed my eyes to let my body move to the dancing rhythms, I traveled back to a time when The Beatles were rocking the stages.
Not only is dancing and walking around museums great for the physical body but also for the overall wellbeing, such as the mental, emotional, and spiritual health. More and more research on Health and Art & Cultural activities show that the two areas are much related. For instance, music and dance have long had social and ritual functions in traditions all over the globe and research has shown that these therapies have positive affects on the mood. In addition, there is science describing how cultural activities can increase the quality of life! My health routines include absorbing art, history, architecture, music, and nature to mention a few. Thus, I make sure to involve my routines wherever I am in the world! In Liverpool, we started our trip with a visit to the world’s largest Anglican Cathedral and ended it with a long stay in The Beatles Story- both deeply spiritual and healing experiences.
The Beatles Story was an emotional roller coaster but we came out with the message of healing the world and bring world peace, so that we can all live together as ONE.
Ps. Before New Years 2014, you can lend your voice to the largest sing-a-long ever! Read more and listen to John Lennon's Imagine here