The following piece is a recounting of real and true events that happened to me while I was staying with friends who own an inn in rural North Carolina. I wrote about the events within the first couple of hours after they happened.
I participated in an ecstatic posture meditation with five other people on the occasion of the full moon/lunar eclipse of November 28, 2012. The other people participating included T and Te, my hosts at the Inn, and three women I met tonight, M (described to me by T as a “shamaness”), Db, and Da. I had drunk two cups of coffee (with sugar, cocoa powder, and half & half) earlier in the day, but had otherwise consumed no drugs.
We started the evening sitting around an outdoor fire together. A cedar smudge stick was passed around, and we each passed the cedar smoke around our bodies in purification. While we did this, M described a ceremony we could each do with sticks. Each person could choose two sticks. (T showed us where to find sticks under some bushes near the park.) Into one stick, we would “blow” things we wanted to get rid of or to honor lessons we had learned. We would then burn the stick completely to release what we no longer wanted or needed. Into the other stick we would “blow” the things we wanted to replace what we had gotten rid of.
After gathering sticks, T said we should be smudged more seriously/completely. He went around the circle and to each of us in turn, swirled the cedar smoke around us, using large brown feathers to move the smoke. He smudged our front sides first, then we turned around, and he smudged our backs. After T smudged all of us, Da smudged him.
When the smudging was complete, T passed around a glass jar filled with cornmeal and instructed us each to take some of the cornmeal into our hands. Db asked if we should throw it into the fire. T said we would sprinkle some of it onto the ground as we opened the ceremony, invoking the four directions in turn. We started facing east and T said a few words, calling on the spirits of the east (including a mention of creativity) to join us. We then turned south, and T invited the spirits of the south (including mention of the midday sun) to join us. We then turned west, and T called the spirits of the west to join us. Finally we faced north, and T called the spirits of the north to join us. I sprinkled cornmeal on the ground as we faced each direction. (I didn’t realize we were going to invoke spirits of the fire and earth as well, and didn’t have any cornmeal to offer them.) We got on our knees and put our hands on the ground when T invited the spirits of the earth to join us.
Once we were again seated, M poured olive oil on the fire to make it friendly as she spoke words to the anaconda, mother jaguar, and hummingbird (and maybe other animals I don’t remember.) She then showed us the Pachamama stick, and instructed us to think about what we wanted for all of humanity. I thought of generosity, love, and understanding for all people and from all people. She said it took two people to put the Pachamama stick in the fire, so she and Te put it in together. (This was symbolic. Although it was a good size stick, it was not too large for one person to handle)
It was then time for each of us to put our two sticks into the fire. M explained that as each of us knelt before the fire, someone else should watch the kneeler’s back, as being down by the fire put us in a vulnerable position. She got down by the fire while Te stooped behind her and protected her back. M scooped the fire’s smoke toward herself, then blew on her first stick and put it in the fire. After the first stick was in the fire, she blew on her second stick, then put it in the fire. M and Te then switched positions, and Te did as M had done.
I was sitting next to Te, so when she was done, it was my turn. Te protected my back while I knelt by the fire. First I fanned smoke toward my body. Next, I blew on the first stick. With each puff of air, I silently thought of something I wanted to let go of. I thought about letting go of fear and greed. I thought about letting go of all the negativity surrounding the recent end of my long-term relationship. I thought about letting go of pettiness. I thought about letting go of other things. It seems like I was blowing on that stick for a long time, but I can’t remember everything I decided to let go of. After I thought about all the things I wanted to let go of, I put the stick into the fire. I blew on the second stick each time I silently thought of things I wanted to take the place of what I had let go of. I thought about embracing generosity and love, joy, patience and acceptance. Again, I can’t remember everything I thought about as I blew on the stick. When I finished thinking of positives I want in my life, I put the stick in the fire.
T was next, and Te motioned me to go behind him and protect his back. I wasn’t sure she meant me, but she specifically got my attention and motioned for me to go to T. I felt awkward and a little silly doing this, but I stood behind him uncomfortably while he burned his sticks.
When everyone had put her/his sticks in the fire, T said he wanted to read aloud something he had read on the internet today. He went inside and got his laptop and then read a piece about the significance of today’s full moon and lunar eclipse. One thing the report mentioned was quartz crystals in Arkansas and Brazil. After he finished reading, I said I just so happened to have a pocket full of Arkansas quartz. (I had filled one of the pockets of my jacket with quartz, knowing I would meet people I hadn’t yet given crystals to.) The women were very excited. M immediately asked if they came from Mt. Ida and was even more excited when I said they had. (She was last there in the late 90s.) I gave pieces to M, Db, and Da. M asked if she could have two pieces, and I of course told her yes. I then told everyone how I had ended up mining quartz with Mr. Carolina and Little T before coming here and how blessed I was to be able to mine quartz with them. I also mentioned the large quartz cluster we got at the mine that I gave to T and Te. (This was the first time I said to them that I was giving it to them.) T said we would be going inside to the room with the large cluster.
We moved inside and sat on couches or in chairs. I sat on a couch facing west with M to my left. I took my jacket and my scarf off and placed them to my right. The smallest dog curled up on top of some throw pillows to my right. Te and T were moving around the house trying to find a book with instructions for different postures, but couldn’t find one (although it seemed as if they own several). Da needed to leave fairly early as she had to get her son to the airport in the morning, and M had time constraints due to work, so T decided he could lead the meditation without a book. He knew a posture we could use, but did not remember the name of it.
We were instructed to sit with our knees and feet hip width apart with our feet flat on the floor. We were told to place our hands on our knees, tilt slightly forward at the waist, keep our heads up, and close our eyes. T had a rattle (possibly made from a gourd) and he said we were to concentrate on the sound of the rattle as he shook it. He said the meditation would last fifteen minutes.
T started shaking the rattle, and I listened to the sound and tried to keep my mind clear of mundane distractions. Immediately, I felt the essential part of me (my spirit/soul/energy/the essential me-ness) grow light and try to separate from my body. I felt my usual fear and resistance, but tried to just relax into the feeling of that essential part leaving and remember that I was safe. My head felt very light, as if my spirit/soul/energy/essential me-ness was lifting out of the top of my head. Then I felt as if I were shrinking, as if the world were very large, vast, and I was shrinking into a mere speck of dust. (I’ve experience this feeling since I was a very little child, at least since I was three or four. This only happened at night, when I was lying in bed in the dark. It was as if first my room, then the whole world was expanding, while at the same time I was shrinking into nothingness. This feeling always scared me very badly, and I always tried my hardest to pull myself out of the feeling as quickly as possible. The feeling was sometimes associated with the shadow the night light in my room cast on the ceiling.)
At first I had a glimmer of being in a tent or a yurt, as if I were a nomadic woman, maybe Mongolian. The color I associated with being inside the tent was purple or lavender. Definitely lavender, lighter than purple. It was if the light or the very air were that color. I had long straight dark hair and brown skin, buy I couldn’t tell what I was wearing or what I was doing. Then I had a sense of mountains, as if I were living near mountains, but I didn’t exactly see them.
Then the sensation changed to one of growing, expanding. I got larger and larger and larger and stronger and stronger and stronger. I was so big! And I knew I was a mountain. I was enormous, massive, solid, part of the earth. I knew I had snow on top of me, and kept paying attention to the top of my head, trying to decide if it felt cold. I could no longer particularly feel my hands on my knees or my feet on the ground or my butt on the couch. I could just feel I was really really big and taking up so much space. I had a fleeting thought that I was Mt. Shasta, but mostly I had no thoughts at all, just the feeling of my vast expansiveness and my heaviness. And again, I got the sense of lavender light everywhere. I couldn’t so much see the lavender light as sense it, just know it was there. I was so happy. I was filled with joy. I had a HUGE smile on my rock face. Intermittently throughout the meditation, surges of energy would course through my body, and my muscles would jerk, mostly my shoulders and arms tensing, then rapidly releasing the tension.
The whole time I could hear the rattle. I never lost awareness of the rattle.
After some time, I became the slightest bit aware of my usual physical body. I still felt big and mountainous, but I also had an awareness that my usual physical body was growing tired of sitting in the same position for all this time. I wondered how much time had passed, if the 15 minutes were almost over. Not long after that, T stopped shaking the rattle, and the room was silent. I realized I was back in my usual body, that I was no longer a mountain. I opened my eyes and felt at peace and relaxed.
T had each of us in turn say a few words about how we were feeling at the moment. I said I had a new understanding of myself and the earth. I said I felt amazing.
M left the room to change clothes. I hugged Db and Da good-bye. Te and T and I went out on the deck to look at the moon. We could see it to the east, through the trees. T told me that that rattle turns off the left brain. I wanted to tell M good-bye, but I sensed that Te and T wanted me to go, so I said I was going to my room. Terry took me downstairs and gave me some scones. Until I got to my room, I felt normal and fine.
When I got back to my room, I started freaking out. I just wanted to turn on the television or music with words and pretend that I had not just turned into a mountain. I forced myself to focus on what had happened by texting Mr. Carolina. I wrote, “Just did ecstatic posture meditation w/ 5 other people. I was a mountain. Seriously. Please understand this. I think you & L are the only ones who would. Love!” In an immediate second text I wrote, “I was HUGE & solid & purple & had snow on my mountain head. I expanded & got bigger & bigger. & had huge smile on my mountain face. Oh geez, it really happened.”
Mr. Carolina texted back immediately and wrote, “You can be a mountain or what ever you wont [sic] to with out anyone sometimes it helps to have other people but you can do anything by yourself”
I texted him again, “Yes. One person was shaking rattle to turn off right brain [I meant left brain]. Sitting in specific posture to connect w/ ancestors. I’m a little freaked out. [I] was totally gone & I was something else entirely, not even animal, but totally alive. Was not expecting something like this & last time [I] was totally gone, it was so horrible. But this was good! Trying to keep experiences separate & not freak out b/c one thing reminds me of another. I was so strong & solid this time. & snowy.”
He texted again, “I believe you,” then commented on a text I sent him yesterday asking him if he was an angel. “…the way I see it is we can all be angels to someone sometime when they need it.”
I was crying by that time, really overcome by what had happened, but also feeling better that I had connected with someone I care about and love so much and told him about my experience. I texted him again, “You really are the best. Thank you. I think there are bolts of energy shooting out of my head.” [I was not exaggerating or speaking in metaphors. I really felt energy shooting out of my head.] “Most people in my life would think I just went bat shit crazy.”
He texted back, “ Haha I hear ya been called bat shit crazy a few manytimes [sic].” Then he wrote again, “You are the best I wish I was there.”
I sent one more message and said, “Thank you so much for saying that. I wish you were here too. Nothing this wonderful has ever happened to me & I wish you & L were here so we could talk about it.”
At that point, I put on some music with no words and heated some food, then ate, and drank some water. I was really hesitant about writing this down, really resistant, even as I knew I should have started writing the moment I walked in the door. I just wasn’t ready to deal with the experience that quickly.
It’s been over three hours since we finished the meditation, and I can still feel energy rising out of the top of my head. When I stop writing and pay attention to my head, I feel energy rising up and out of me, but can feel it with my hands too when I put them on top of my head. Part of me wants to turn on TV and zone out, but I think I am better off lying down in bed with my meditation stones and seeing what happens.
I wish I had held onto the piece of alabaster Mr. Carolina gave me during the meditation or at least asked my angels for protection and guidance before we started, but I had no expectation of anything like this happening. The best I hoped for was to be able to sit still during the meditation and keep my mind halfway quiet.
To learn more about ecstatic posture meditation, go here: http://www.cuyamungueinstitute.com and here: http://www.ecstatictrance.com/.