Over a span of 15yrs or so, I have experienced a lot of magic and received some very potent teachings. When I first began to study and apprentice, I often became overwhelmed and anxious about whether or not I could remember and then duplicate what I was being shown or taught. More specifically with regards to participating in traditional ceremony, how would I recall all these precise steps, offer the same meaningful words or carry forth the same structure? It was very nerve racking to say the least. For the life of me, I had no clue how I would remember these teachings when its crucial, while in ceremony?… what if I screw up and forget something?
I learn through observation. I’m not the kind of person who absorbs information and wisdom through books, for me it needs to be more hands on and practical. If I live it, then its within me and not easily forgotten. However there were so many expressions and specific procedure, a format which was precise at each ceremony, that one needed to learn. I was getting it, slowly, practice makes perfect they say. So I practiced, listened, observed and practiced some more. Slowly I found myself beginning to host intentional gatherings and spiritual events, thus putting myself in somewhat of a leadership position and facilitating a lot of ceremony. I was becoming the teacher, gradually witnessing others experience my journey as I aligned more with my destiny. To be fair, being a leader wasn’t the scary part, it was the responsibility of carrying the teachings and sharing them accurately and authentically that was causing me anxiety. Why anxiety, why be so concerned? I was anxious because I hold integrity as a very high value, to me if you don’t have any integrity, your word, actions or intentions really don’t mean much. I do my very best every day to be integral. So when I was eventually struck with the notion of carrying and passing forth such medicine or teachings, I began to question my abilities and intelligence.
The big part for me is respect and that is a major part of integrity itself. Practicing, sharing and teaching traditional medicine ways comes with a great deal of respect towards the culture, the people, the ancestors, the medicine itself and most importantly, the alchemy or magic that has been cultivated over centuries. I went to my teachers and eventually asked “how do I remember all this, how do you recall all these words, this structure, these movements, the tools..” They told me, there is a basic direction and format for each type of ceremony or teaching which has been followed and shared accurately since it came into form, these parts are crucial. Aside from this, what we say, communicate and express during ceremony is not rehearsed or practiced, is from the heart and offered spontaneously, like improv, except we’re not acting.
Wheew! That seemed to have taken a load off, this wasn’t as intense as I perceived it to be. The thing that was very important to recognize, was the alchemy.
After a few years of teaching, I found myself getting a lot of flack from people who were attending ceremony out of curiosity. They’d challenge me and ask, why is conducting the ceremony or ritual so engrained in doing so “traditionally”? They’d ask “as long as we’re operating from a clear place of intention, why can’t we add our own spin, flavor or interpretation, we’re all teachers and healers?”. Partly true. The questions would make me cringe, I would never have thought to ask or challenge my teachers in this way, but I was being challenged about this often, so I needed to formulate a consistent and acceptable response. Eventually, my response was and still is, its all about respect and the alchemy. I say “when medicine people developed these practices and medicine ways, they did so out of the highest honor and prayer, they weren’t putting on an act or show for anyone, they were performing their rites, to create magic and medicine.
They believed their actions would be met by Spirit and those actions would positively benefit others through healing. They offered this so others could enjoy a more balanced life while calling forth the assistance of past ancestors to help. Those same teachings and ways have been given and past down for eons, the same way, with the same methodology, regalia, tools, format, etc. All these factors and practices, shared ritualistically, precisely, the same ways over and over eventually takes a form. That form of energy is magic.
Magic is another word for alchemy. We create form through alchemical process by practicing, repeating and mastering something until the formula is reliable and consistent. The main formula for alchemy is; thought, intention, followed by action. So when we continue with the same practice, approach and consistency that has been shared and built upon for centuries, we continue the alchemy that has been set before us, therefore the magic just keeps getting stronger. When the magic gets stronger, so does the healing and the medicine. At the same time, I explain, if we choose to alter, change or manipulate the tradition into our personal interpretation simply because we’re lazy or don’t want to conform and surrender, we shift the alchemy and innately change or reformulate the magic. It is no longer the same if we change it, therefore it lacks the potency and presence of energy which was created within it.
I have found it both challenging and comical when participants of the younger generations say; “we’re the new generation, the rainbow warriors, we’re all medicine people, as long as we’re operating from the heart, change is OK as long as its done with love.”… I hear this, but I do not compromise.
A big part of learning and practicing traditions is about surrender and allowing. When we share medicine and ceremony, we are only facilitators. We are facilitating a ceremony by directing the flow and format, by injecting the intention and soul we create the magic. When we offer wellness or healing, we are not the “healer”, we are a conduit or medium for allowing the energy and magic to pass through us, for it to be received by the participant if they are open and ready. The recipient is the healer, they will not receive the medicine if they are not ready, nor will they heal if its not within their karma or will to experience it.
Following tradition is important, an important lesson in humility and faith. Building on the magic rather than manipulating it is a benefit to all beings, while changing it only serves the ego. Honor traditions always and do your best to respect them and all of those who preserved them for you to receive.