Part Three: Mother Light Opening Smudge Ceremony
Feminist shamanic workshops, circles, and Intensives are begun with a Mother Light Smudge Ceremony, during which we connect with the feminine energy of the Earth in the specific place in which we’re gathering, by means of shamanic drumming, singing, and chanting. “Stretch Eyes” is a shamanic practice which allows us to “see” past the veils of ego consciousness into the directional landscapes of shamanic reality as the sacred smoke of the smudge is offered to each direction.
As the person conducting the smudge lights the sage wand and offers it to the Four Directions, and to Earth and Sky, she and the other women in the circle practice “stretch eyes” to visualize the shamanic landscapes of the Four Directions. When the person smudging has completed her smudge of the space, the circle, her shamanic tools and herself, she passes the smudge stick or resin bowl on to the person to her left, so that it passes around the circle in a clockwise manner, and begins drumming and singing the shamanic song/chant “Mother Light.” As she does so, she asks that the Earth lend some of her hidden light and energy to the circle, sending it upwards to surround, bless and protect the circle and its work. As each person around the circle finishes smudging herself and her shamanic tools, she passes the smudge to the next person, and joins in the drumming and singing. The music increases in intensity with each person who joins in, and we all enter the kind of light shamanic trance that enables us to “see” the Earth’s light and energy rising in response to our musical request that it do so. We may also see various animal spirits and other shamanic energies that inhabit the particular part of the earth upon which we’re working. The following is a description of my experience of performing a Mother Light Smudge Ceremony to open our Intensive retreat in the Endless Mountains, where Deer medicine abounds.
Singing, drumming, and chanting, we call upon Mother Light, the feminine light energy which lives deep within the earth, to inspire and guide our work. As this pure energy emerges from the earth, revealing its form and shamanic power to us, each of us “sees” the light rising up from the earth in slightly different ways, because of our individual medicines and levels of shamanic consciousness. Because of a shoulder injury I sustained during the past year, I’m unable to drum, but I’ve brought two pair of juvenile buck antlers I received as a gift, which I tap together to set the rhythm for the other’s drums. As I relax into shamanic visionary consciousness in response to the powerful percussion and music we’re making, I see shafts of pale blue light emerging from Earth, spiraling upwards towards Sky as they form a protective circle of power around the farmhouse.
A group of does and bucks emerges from the forest, dancing with the drums and the blue-white spirals of light, the bucks outside the light-circle, the does inside, their hooves stamping to the beat of the drums, moving clockwise as they go. Several Ancient Ones, women, perhaps feminine spirit echoes of original inhabitants of these mountains, now appear, shimmering and transparent, dressed in deerskin, and begin dancing with the deer, weaving in and out among the spiraling towers of light. Now small flocks of birds appear, like those we had seen earlier while walking on the steep hill on which the farm is located. The birds in one flock are brilliant yellow, in the other, black and white. They fly among the light-spirals above the dancing deer and women, filling the air with birdsong. Everything but the shamanic vision I’m witnessing disappears from consciousness. The movements of the deer dancers, the brilliance of the blue-while spirals of light, the sound of the drums and the clicking antlers, and of our voices, overlaid with birdsong, are all I can now see or hear. The light pulses and expands, blessing the earth upon which we will walk for the next few days, bathing us in its healing power, strengthening and preparing us for the work that is to come. Slowly, the vision fades, and I return to my ordinary state of consciousness. We are ready to begin.
A recording of Mother Light is available through my web site store as part of my feminist shamanic journey drumming CD.