This experience occured in Costa Rica in February 2011 and was facilitated by a Peruvian Shamaness, whose voice sang the Icaros with the utmost purity and beauty, while about 30 of us all lay down in a circle inside of the Maloca.
It started off, slow and gentle, listening to La Maestra’s sweet voice singing what seemed like lullabies. I felt the medicine like a Mother, wrapping me in a warm blanket, cradling and swaddling me tight. I felt the absence of fear, complete and utter trust. This would guide the rest of the evening, in one direction, the most important direction of all: love. True love, the purest love that exists.
I felt this love fully when I was lying on my side, facing Ariana, a fellow journeyor. I could feel waves of love and compassion from her and my heart started to swell as I realized this was all around me. It felt warm and light, and so full. It began to spread from the center of my heart throughout every inch of me until it was bursting out of my fingertips. That’s when I realized, that love has been inside of me all along– that it’s always there, I just wasn’t looking before.
Suddenly, I understood what everyone has been trying to say to me the past year through my healing: Be good to yourself, Love yourself, Love where you’re at now, Love the darkness. I am perfect in my imperfections, beautiful in my darkness. The real me, the one I frantically search for as I struggle with shadows, is there, always, glowing and radiating and so pure. Now, she can shine– her voice has been known, and what has been known cannot be unknown. Then, something profound happened; the love dissolved my fears, melted them away. I was free and understood what freedom is, what happiness is. To be happy is to live, amongst the plants and animals– to stare into the sunset over the ocean, purple mountains lining the distance. That is all we need in life. This is all we need. To be.
I felt the call of the jungle, primal and clean. I felt my connections to the wild in every cell in my body; realized that I am among the trees, the plants, the grass, the sky. The trees know me and I am never alone. We are all one and we exist everywhere. It was like coming home to the greatest welcome back party imaginable. The love and purity of the trees surrounded and dazzled me. I went outside to lie in the grass. I needed to be there, to feel the dirt beneath my feet, the stars above my head and the wet grass in my fingers. The stars were like diamonds in a velvet black sky, their light radiating beams of positivity and love down to us all. How can we forget them so often? They are always there for us, yet we don’t let them love us enough. I reached up to try to touch the stars, to connect and their warm energy filled me, parted my lips into an ear-to-ear grin.
And the sounds, oh the sounds! Chirps and rustles and tweets and hums– the sweetest music to be sung. The truest music of the soul, and it was then the realization hit me that they were all alive. They were talking, calling, their energy grand in their simplicity. The most beautiful thing my ears had ever heard. As I lay in the grass, rolling about, I knew that the cats were coming. I could feel them stealthily coming out of the trees, the thump of their paws with every step, the low growl of strength; and yet, I knew not to be afraid. I was one with them, and they with me. Fear literally did not exist anymore and I welcomed them all, the jaguar, the tigers, the lions, the bears. Yes, I said, you make me feel alive. Come and surround us with your warrior spirit.
It was outside, listening to the rush of the river, sensing the skin of the jaguar, feeling the stars and the earth that I purged. A deep purge that released a piece of vile stink that sits deep within my gut. More fear and darkness went with it. It wasn’t painful; rather, it was perfect and cleansing and made room for more love to come in, come in, come in. At one point, I realized that I mustn’t be so hard on myself for being “unable” to purge often, because my body does purge, in its own way. Purging is no longer something I need to stress over, to feel incomplete without– I am letting go, every time, in my own way. My body simply does not like to bring that stuff back up, but instead pushes it out. I accepted what is and so came amazing peace.
One of the most beautiful moments I remember is being in the bathrooms and hearing La Maestra singing “La Aurora,” one of my favorite songs. The song spoke to my heart, called me in. I immediately knew I had to get back to the mallaca and let the song fill me. So back I went, to my mat in the grass just outside the hut and there was my partner, feeling the call of the song as well. “Está en les auroras, en las montañas, so yo contan.” We both began to sing, and then laugh because we could barely sing– my voice would crackle and cut out in harmony with his, and it was so tender. Then, La Maestra emerged from the maloca and her voice powered me full– we began to sing with her, sitting up straight on my knees, and she heard our call. She stood outside and sang, to us, then the three of us together, flowing live a river of pristine spring water, down the cliffs and into the earth. I felt her love and my soul again was alighted with joy.
I saw so much and so many people. I saw my Mother and realized I don’t let her love me enough. I must build the bridge fully so that we may walk across it freely. I saw my two best friends and realized that I hadn’t hugged them hard enough when I had them. I saw that they are true treasures in my life, as they are true warrior sister spirits, who have always loved me for exactly the way I am, be it good, or bad, happy or sad; they see my beauty through it all. Yet a wall exists that I put up around myself, and even to the two of them, the closest thing I’ve ever had to real love, a thin wall does exist, which prevents our love from flowing fully and freely. I vowed to change this, to love and let myself be loved, and then the wall began to crumble.
The medicine gave me so much that night. It told me to keep taking pictures; that photography is something positive i can put into this world; to see this earth through new eyes and to create images to express what is beyond is my calling, and I must put these things out into the world and spread the knowledge. I heard and felt a love that is the most powerful thing in the world and it all came crashing into my awareness that LOVE is the tool we must use to fight with. Real love transforms everything, even the biggest fear. I no longer have anything to fear– I have been punishing myself for far too long and fear is no longer in the driver’s seat. I felt like a true warrior and knew I had worked and given all of my spirit.
When I went back inside the mallaca, after staring at the outlines of the mountains against the glittering black canvas of sky, joy and unity filled my soul. The collective energy in the room was so powerful and I knew this was it; this was where we must always reside in our hearts and together we can do anything. Robert calls us, “the tribe of the Open Heart” and there is no better way to express what every person in that room was and is to me. I have so much love for them and they do for me and it’s so clear how we are supposed to treat one another, how we are supposed to live together harmoniously and collectively.
The beat of the drum lit my heart on fire and I drummed along on my water bottle, then soon joined in to the singing. People were dancing and moving, swaying and feeling. It was truly exquisite, to feel the celebration flowing amongst all of us, sharing and supporting. I felt Angie next to me and I could sense what was happening to her, so I sent her love, as much as I could respectfully. I was so tired and yet so alive.
So now, everything has changed. I finally know what it is to live; not just to survive, or to be alive, but to live. I know freedom, love and divine, and it’s always in me. I will take it every day and water it like a flower, so that it grows and grows, from me to you and to everyone in between. This is my calling, this is our purpose, and this is what must be forevermore.
For the greatest gift we’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.