Cominando: The Walker

I believe, truly, in cosmic intervention–even when said intervention comes in the form of disruption, chaos, deceit and selfishness. Sometimes cosmic intervention–is not kind and circumstances arise that literally force you onto the path The Universe wants you to take. But when The Universe decrees something–it is to be so. The Universe works on its own terms and has its own methods. And even though you know you are going to make a change, The Universe will make the change happen when it is supposed to happen–not when you want it  to happen. So yes, its good to make plans, but not concrete ones, because they are always apt to change.

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One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the past few weeks is that, when you have nothing to lose–it’s often the BEST time for changes. You do not need to hit “rock bottom” or be irresponsible to have nothing to lose. But when you realize that you have exhausted yourself — spiritually, physically and mentally— that’s when you realize that you have nothing to lose.

I realized that I had nothing to lose a few months ago. I was in a job that was going nowhere, not happy  with my living situation, and was feeling spiritually fatigued. My loves and hobbies did not give me the joy that they once had. We were planning on moving in August, but then, The Universe decreed it was time for us to go now. It wasn’t a pleasant, and it left me feeling a lot of anger and hatred toward several people (something I have finally gotten over after realizing you can not change a person–or people–and that sometimes cosmic intervention comes in unpleasant forms). We decided, it was time to go.

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I decided to literally up root myself. After living in the same place for most of my life, I decided that in order for me to reconnect with everything important to me, I needed to move forward–take a leap of faith– close my eyes–and free fall. We packed our stuff in 2 weeks, found an apartment and decided to move cross-country to Flagstaff, Arizona. As most of you know, I had a profoundly deep experience when I went to Sedona, AZ in 2014. It was the first time in my life that I was somewhere where I felt that I belonged. And so here we are….

I am starting a whole new life. Like a flower that has been uprooted, I am being replanted in a bigger space with love, life and the ability to blossom like I have never done before. I am walking a new path, in a new place, filled with new bright adventures. Reinventing myself. Cracking out of the egg. Flying out of the cocoon. I feel–free.

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And of course it doesn’t come without fears. Fear is normal. I am starting from scratch, a whole new life. And it scares me. But of course, I know if it was not meant to be The Universe would not have delivered it right now. But it did.

Taking leaps of faith are scary. But with a leap of faith–only new beginnings can occur.

So if you have nothing to lose–I highly recommend….closing your eyes, free-falling and taking that leap. There is no backward..you can never go back. Only forward.

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The Dark Side of the Shaman

Shamanism is not for the weak. Nor is it something one dabbles in. Shamanism is a spiritual path that one takes because they are called. And once called, and you accept, it’s not always a bright shining path. People see me now and they think “wow you have such great energy” ~ but it took awhile for me to get there. And a LOT of darkness and loss along the way.

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For a very long part of my life, I suffered from severe anxiety and deep depression.  I struggled to “fit in” ~ and not on a social level. On an every day I live level. I always liken it to feeling like I was a visitor on Earth, someone on the outside looking in. An observer. It wasnt until I was in my twenties and started meeting people of like mind that I started to feel “normal.”  In any case, meeting like-minded people, continuing my spiritual studies and finally finding Shamanism….I started to…..unravel.

From December 2011 to March 2014, my depression and anxiety got worse. In fact, I was having frequent panic attacks and my depression was so bad that I would spend days on end sleeping, crying and not eating. Sometimes not going to work for days. I found little joy in things, though I was able to put on a smile when I had to. I eventually ended up seeing a therapist and going on medication. IT was the ONLY way I could function. I am not, against medication when needed to HELP you see clearer. While digging my shoes deeper into the path of the Shaman, I began to loosen the strings and ties that had held me down for so long. It was a dark and scary. I had to acknowledge deep pain — emotional, spiritual, mental and physical. Barriers I set up a long time ago to protect myself. Pain I didn’t want to acknowledge. Past hurts. Present hurts. Things about myself that made me not a good person. It was like standing in front of a bunch of fun house mirrors and seeing myself warp into different people–yet remaining the same. So many layers of skin shed away. Things I thought I wanted and needed—I realized were a lie.

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As the weights slowly came off, the depression lifted. And while there was still a fog around me, I was able to see a bit clearer…..I was finding out WHO I was and WHAT I wanted….Because of that, I started losing people close to me….Phone calls stopped. Emails stopped. Chats stopped. People I considered family simply vanished from my life. I  was okay with that. They were there for whatever time they were meant to be there. I know that now, though at the time, it felt like my world was shattering. I got divorced and realized the things I needed in a relationship were not just things based purely on the idea of love. My perceptions of relationships, love and friendship changed.

I quite literally, became a whole new person.

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Shamanism is not an easy path. It’s a path that forces you to accommodate the LIGHT and THE DARK. I always explain to those interested in the Shamanic path…that you are like an ocean: you have your deep dark parts and your clear sparkling parts–the catch is being able to allow the two parts to flow together not apart–they are not separate. These two worlds, the dark and light, must be constantly fluid. Moving together.

As I began my career as a Shamanic Reiki Practitioner, more things came to “light” — more gifts opened up that once again forced me to look at myself. I had to learn how to deal with my new abilities and deepening intuition. I had to again, deal with the light and darkness that resides not only in the world around me, but in myself. Friends came and went, relationships changed…..But I went with the flow.

Being a Shaman is about becoming a master of the balance of light and dark.

Wrap Yourself in Coils: You Are NOT A Healer

I have been guilty of it myself. I have let it slip in the heat of the moment. “I am a healer.”

 Well, no…I am not actually a healer—and neither is anyone else who uses that phrase. We are conduits for healing energy. Like a giant Tesla coil, we allow the forces (Universal Energy, God Energy whatever you want to call it) to flow through us for the benefits of healing. It’s a gift from The Universe. It was The Universe (or Creator if you will) that is allowing you to be the instrument of healing. Gifts are given and can easily be taken away.

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Maybe it’s my years of practicing Earth based magick and religions. Years of working with various Deities in various forms. Truth is, what is given can be taken away. If The Universe feels you are abusing that what is granted-it can just as easily be abstracted from you.

Sadly, I have met a lot of conduits of healing energy who taught the “I am a healer” phrase—who use it as a means of projecting some form of supremacy over someone else. You are not a healer. You are merely a channel—nothing more.

The Mystical Urban Shaman

I am a bit tired of hearing about people who try the one up card. You know those people: I studied with so and so and therefore I am way better than you will ever be.

Seriously? I hear that a lot in the “healer” community. Which is a bit ironic……..Or the “teacher” who is only out there for selfish reasons- to have groupies and followers- in which breeds the seeds of negative energy which gets passed on and on and on and one………

I get that a lot with “shamans”…..So let me just empty my brain.

Just remember–the further you go–the less you know.

A shaman in essence, is one who walks between the worlds. I journey when I do my intuitive work and during a reiki session. Shamanic reiki consists of doing a shamanic journey in conjunction with the reiki. Anyone can journey—it just takes patience and time…..lots of time….And it doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to practice NATIVE AMERICAN shamanism to be a Shaman.  Work with what connects to you. Ironically, even though I am a quarter Native American—not all aspects of Native American shamanism resonate with me. I take bits of Aboriginal, African and Native American shamanism when I work. I know people who connect with Nordic Shamanism or Celtic Shamanism.

The word shaman is simply Siberian for–“one who sees in the dark.”

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We are just idiot humans with a vision of what a Shaman should look like—A wild lone man living in a cave with no clothes, ratty hair and bones around his neck? Or a head full of feathers tossing animal bones to read……..Humans are narrow minded in the world of words, imagery and symbols.

It’s IMPOSSIBLE now, for people to find a Shamanic teacher.  And classes that offer you the idea of the instantaneous shamanic journey are rolling in money over something that takes years and practice. I was recently speaking to a client who attended a 3 day long Intro to Shamanism class. Of course they “taught” students how to journey—and explained they would be able to journey by the end of the session—and then could “graduate” to the next 3 day long $$$$ workshop. During the 3 day workshop, the teachers asked students what they saw on journeys, etc. All the students had something to say—except him. He didn’t experience anything. After the three day workshop was over and he was speaking to his other classmates, he asked them “did you actually see all those things?”—in which most of them said, “no” or “I just said I did because I didn’t want the teacher to feel bad.”

Shamanic journeying—is liken to meditation. The practitioner needs to be able to pull themselves from this “reality” into another. And like meditation, you can’t learn it in a three day workshop. To be a shamanic practitioner does not require certification. We don’t live in a society where you can study with a Shaman or are “chosen” by the Elders in your tribe. We live in a world of urban shamanism. Every human being has the ability to be a Shaman. It’s about accessing and using all of your senses including your 6th sense. By not using them, we destroy that one gift handed to us by our ancestors—the ability to be able to help others by accessing a Divine Source of Power within us. But with that takes the understanding and the knowledge that to become a shaman doesn’t mean taking a few workshops, classes, etc. I used to think that. I used the think you had to take classes, study with a group, spend a crap load of money, find a “guru”, and go on retreats. Then one day I realized, I have been preparing for where I am at this moment in my life since I was 13.

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I started my journey when I was 13. I studied Witchcraft, Gnosticism, Ceremonial Magick, Egyptian Magick, the Kabbalah, Buddhism — you name it I have studied it at some point in my life. My extensive book collection will show you—and I can point how old I was when I started!  I have also heavily studied ancient mythologies from around the planet as well as the anthropological and historical religious teachings of various tribes from around the world.  I was involved in three esoteric groups and then was in a ceremonial Magick/alternative religion group for 10 years where I got initiated and got my name “Zehara” from. Yes of course I took some classes on the way, got certificates in Metaphysical studies and herbology (even though I had long since been using herbs to make mojo bags, teas, incense) and got my reiki attunements. The nice thing about Shamanism and reiki is that you work with what suits YOU. In essence creating your own version of Shamanism and Reiki. I use almost everything I have learned in the past 20 years since I started my journey into my practice now—from casting a circle to reciting a mantra to banish negative energy. It’s like I have been blessed with a large and extensive kitchen full of ingredients to make the most magical delicious healing work.

And Shamanism is a moment by moment thing. I try explaining that to people who ask me. What was given to you by the Higher Power, which I refer to as The Universe, can just as easily be taken away. You don’t own it. You are allowed to have it to help others but it’s not yours.

I like to refer to myself as a practitioner—not a healer…Clients are the healers—I am just the middle man-the initiator. Clients heal themselves—I just give them a boost. Shamanic journeying is like day dreaming—for me anyway. I don’t like the term of “non ordinary” reality. When I journey I am in reality—I just use all my senses. I am in a different state of mind—I “see” things which exist outside the scope of what we call “normal reality.”

Think of journeying like dreaming—it’s the same thing, but you are awake. You see things in dreams that don’t make much sense, but are meant to be taken symbolically. When I see a deer during a journey-it means a few things.

  1. It’s the clients totem
  2. Deer represent gentleness—hence, perhaps the client needs to be more gentle to themselves

I guess my point here is that, anyone can be a shaman, with respect to the understanding that you realize it’s a special gift The Universe is allowing you to have—and at any moment-take it away. It also requires patience and an understanding that being able to “see in the dark” takes time.

And yes, study. Read whatever you can get your hands on. Network. Meet people. And be open minded. Our world is not the only one. There are multi universes you can access once you are able to journey. And ignore the one uppers……they have a lot of work to do.

Why Weaving Serpent???

I started using “WEAVING SERPENT” when I first started teaching out of my home studio in 2007. It was my “dance studio” name. I picked it because I like the idea of “weaving.” Snakes, of course, are also my totem animal–and they themselves represent change, rebirth and renewal.

At the time, I was a Fusion Belly Dancer. It meant that I took bits and pieces of dance styles (African, hip hop, flamenco, etc.) and “fused” them together into a belly dance performance. Ultimately, it’s what I taught my students and my troupe.

The name just stuck.

Since I was 13, I have studied most major ancient societal cultures, religions and beliefs, Hinduism, Shamanism, Buddhism, Wicca, Christianity, Vodou, Gnosticism, Metaphysics, etc. You name it and I have had at one point in my life spent months reading about the subject. Over the past 20 years, while I always considered myself “neo-pagan” ~ I began to find that my spirituality started to evolve by taking bits and pieces of what I studied over the past 20 years and creating something of my own. We literally have altars in our home to nearly EVERY spiritual belief system in our home. I always joke with people who if they ever need a prayer answered but are not sure who to go or what to believe, to come to our house–someone will listen!

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With that said, I began to call myself “pan-spiritual” ~ I believe in everything and nothing.

Which brings me to why I kept Weaving Serpent–and why I have used it for my wellness business “Weaving Serpent Wellness.”

I weave together different aspects of my spiritual studies from various spiritual groups to create a healing methodology. Its like having a very large basket with a bunch of stuff to pull out whenever you need it. I am a weaver. I like to weave. And I believe every religion and every form of spirituality has something to offer. And that, it does not mean that you can only believe in ONE thing–or that there is only ONE truth. All spirituality has the same concepts: love, harmony peace, well-being and kindness to others. I pick and choose what works for me and weave it into my spiritual practice.

It’s a nice way to go about evolving, because just when you think you have learned everything—-something new comes along that demands your attention! And its nice to not feel restricted to “one idea” ~ when you can become a giant melting pot-then you can understand the importance weavers have in the way the world works…after all….we are all weaving the same web!

Sacred Sedona Visit

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Ahhh, I finally have the chance to sit down and write about my visit to Sedona, Arizona. Sedona has been on my “spiritual site” visit list for years-so when I finally had the chance to go I was so excited. My partner and I went the first week in November in celebration of my birthday/new year. I have heard a lot of stuff about Sedona-mostly that as a sensitive, I would have to prepare myself for the energy surge I was going to feel.

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As we started getting closer, I felt the all too familiar feeling up my spine that my energy channels were opening up. It’s usually a tingling sensation up my spine, like a tickle. From there I get a tingling in my left hand and on the left side of my head. It’s usually at that point that I get visions or hear voices. Rather this time, I just felt peace. My energy channels were open and everything was settled inside. For the first time in my life, I felt calmness unlike anything I have experienced.

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The peace and vibes I felt repeated itself deep into the night where I would experience sleepless nights and yet still feels refreshed the following morning! It was like being awake—always, yet never feeling fatigued.

We hiked up Bell Rock, one of the places renowned for the vortexes. The energy there was so strong that you didn’t need a map to know where the vortex was. I felt it the instant I stepped into it. And I cried. I cried as I looked out into the horizon. Sedona strips away everything you are. It divests you of whatever you believed you were. I felt like someone had taken away everything that defined me—everything was boundless and limitless. In that moment, I became someone else, my true self.

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The further we hiked the more I felt the energy. When we stopped for a break and I leaned against the rock, I felt my whole body enveloped by hundreds of primordial arms-embracing me like family. I saw images of spirit, and saw a vision of the Venus of Willendorf-a Goddess I have always felt connected to. I felt her embracing me in her bosom. I felt free of worries. I was home. At that moment I completely trusted the Universe.

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As we were walking back to our hotel, I saw all these amazing Totem trees. Ironically of all the photos I took, the Totem trees were my favorites. The sun shining on my back, I heard a voice that said “its ok.” I felt transformed.

It’s funny how life is serendipitous. While in Sedona we met several people who moved from Massachusetts to Sedona. One of the amazing people we met was Jan Sullivan, a painter and tattoo artist. Ironically she was a transplant from Sturbridge, MA and her friend owns a farm near my home that I used to go to as a kid! We became very good friends, and my partner and I both decided we should get tattoos to remember the experience of Sedona.

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I went for the OM sign—the sound that created the Universe; the sound and symbol of the higher frequency chakras. Whenever I feel like I am loosing myself, I look at my tattoo and remind myself of that moment on Bell Rock. Through the course of the week, the healthier and more restored I felt. I was an amazing experience. Made even better because we made so many new friends and connections!

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Life has a funny way of leading you on the right path when you need it. I have been looking to leave my current job in health care and work in a more holistic field. I had been applying for various positions since August. Upon my arrival home, I received an email for an interview at a holistic health center! The Universe truly does bring to you what you need when you just let go!!!

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Instantaneous Spiritual Awakenings…..

~*Out of respect for those who have positive experiences or believe in the power of ayahuasca, I am omitting names of both people, groups and shamans from this post. Everyone has their opinion and this is solely mine. I know many people who have had life changing experiences and I respect and honor that.*~

Last year, while I was deep in depression and anxiety issues, I started hearing more and more about the magical plant “ayahuasca.” For those unfamiliar with it, I will sum it up this way: It’s a plant from the nightshade family and contains DMT. Done in small doses by a genuine Shaman, ayahuasca is meant to bring a profound and cathartic spiritual awakening. To quote someone who had taken the trip to Peru to try magical plant “its like psychotherapy on steroids.”

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I really needed something to shake me out of the funk that I was in. Drowning in depression, I began to learn more and more about this magical herb, which, if taken correctly is non-addictive (though illegal in the US). I am a deeply spiritual person, and felt that part of my depression was caused by a lack of spiritual communion. I went from daily routine to nothing. At the time, it felt though someone had taken my soul and left a void. I began to meet more and more people who had taken the ayahuasca journey with great success. I thought about it, sought out retreats (most of which are in the middle of Peru) and started making plans to go on a journey and take this magical plant.

After a few months, I began to notice more and more stories and retreats popping up. I know the idea that when you are aware of something you see it more, so initially I thought that was it. But the more people I met in the spirituality community the more I learned that ayahuasca was and is, becoming a new fad for the Westerners. Primarily because most Westerners think by traveling into the jungles of Peru and drinking a concoction of magical herbs and plants, they will receive instantaneous spiritual awakenings.

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When things become a “fad” its more than likely going to start turning into something that is not what its original intentions were. And that is what I began to see happening. More and more people taking ayahuasca…more and more “shamans” available. When I initially looked into retreats, there were maybe 2 or 3–now there are a dozen. Who is to say that the people you are working with are “genuine” ~ Additionally, there are very small groups who perform ayahuasca rituals in the U.S. – and to become part of the group you need to know someone who knows someone. A completely underground world.

The other thing I had begun to notice were those who were painting or drawing the ayahuasca visions–were all drawing nearly the same exact imagery. If there is supposed to be a personal spiritual experience during the hallucinations-why were all these people creating the same imagery. Additionally, some of the people were already using recreational drugs, so ayahuasca was just another “spirit journey” for them. And some of these people still had pent-up residual psycho-social issues. So their contrary words of the power of ayahuasca had really not changed them, aside from taking them on a trip.

Now, I am not saying that this occurs all the time. I know many people who are in a good state of mind and have had magical and transformative experiences with the drug. And I am also not saying that specific drugs, like peyote, under the guidance of a genuine shaman (one who has spent years studying plants) can not bring about a spiritual experience. I do believe in the proper hands, specific hallucinogens and ritual can create a deeply moving experience.

However, my thoughts are this. I believe most Westerners are looking for instantaneous spiritual awakenings. We live in a world where it is a get in now mentality. You can download music rather than go to store, order items on-line and have them the next day. There is no waiting or working. So rather than spend the years that are involved in spiritual atunement, they turn to a “quick” method of spiritual awakening. I have been working on my spiritual path for 20 years. And I am still learning. Spending thousands of dollars to spend time in a jungle to drink something – or finding an underground group who participates in ayahuasca circles, is not going to bring a lasting spiritual experience.

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A spiritual awakening is something you continually have to work on and maintain. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen by smoking or drinking a hallucinogenic. Sure these may “open your mind,” but you get the same effect from deep meditation and relaxation techniques. Or via ecstatic dance and drumming. I believe the people who do have the instant spiritual awakenings are those who have had near death experiences. Only because they have been to the other side and back. They have a new perspective on life.

If you want to become more spiritual you have to spend years working on it. You have to find your ebb and flow. You have to awaken your souls journey and take the long and arduous steps to get there.

There is no such thing as an instantaneous spiritual awakening,