By tatiana de la tierra
There was a time when I was one with the universe. I ate dirt, rolled on the ground, talked to the flowers, hung out with the trees, became entranced with the clouds. Inhaled the crisp oxygenated air of the Colombian Andes. I was all earth and sky. I was safe, living in beauty, connected to the primal source of life. Mother earth had a hold of me. Her vibrant colors and textures were the raw material of my soul. Everything was beautiful, and anything was possible.
I was nine months old.
Fast forward several decades and I find myself living in a metropolitan city where I’ve practically lost my connection to nature. The hills and mountains of Los Angeles exist in the distance, on postcards, far from me. My reality takes place 80 mph on the freeway. I live in Long Beach, just a mile from the Pacific ocean, right by the Los Angeles Harbor. When I hit the 710 freeway, my miniscule Yaris is a little flea on the back of one of the loaded eighteen wheelers heading off to Somewhere, USA. Downwind of the cargo ships and the industrial waste of the bay, and with a picturesque oil refinery just off the shore, going for a walk on the beach is a touch scary.
I don’t want to be scared. I don’t want to focus on the stained sidewalks, trash, or flies swarming on fresh dog feces that I encounter on my morning walks. Yet this is my landscape, an urban etching of concrete paths with people trying to survive, boxed up in homes and apartments, many of us, myself included, without a swath of grass to call our own.
Dear Mother Earth: I miss you. I remember you. I yearn for you. And I promise to watch out for you and to be with you once again.
Earlier this year I joined a few dozen spiritual adventurers and received the Munay-Ki rites. Alberto Villoldo, a visionary who was taken in and trained by Laika shamans of Peru for 25 years describes the Munay-Ki as “nine rites of initiation to become a person of wisdom and power who has accepted the stewardship for all of creation.” It’s probably a good thing I hadn’t read the fine print before going forth with the installation of the rites, as this is a daunting responsibility.
I just went with the flow and said “Yes” to Melinda Allec, a modern medicine woman who studied with Villoldo, Marcela Lobos and others. I invited her into my psyche some time last year and participated in a workshop that involved trance dancing, mythic mapping, metaphorically dying, and stomping out fire with my bare feet. In my first private session with her, she invoked sacred space outside, in nature, beneath black bamboo trees and blue skies. She rattled me into another plane, cleansed my energy field with scented Florida water, did a “decoupling” that sent my internal jaguar back to the jungle, and retrieved pieces of my scattered soul and brought them back to me. After all that, the installation of the Munay-Ki rites was the natural thing to do.
My friend Mario and I went together to receive the Foundation Rites from Melinda Allec at the Goddess Temple of Orange County
There’s a lot of buzz about December 21, 2012, the date that the Mayan calendar ends. The Hopi, Maya and Inka all prophesize that this is indeed a magical moment, a time of deep change. While some people interpret this to refer to the end of the world, others are sensing a new one. According to Alberto Villoldo, the Munay-Ki rites are codes for the next evolution of our species, which, in time, will transform us into “Homo luminous” beings with the ability to “perceive the vibration and light that make up the physical world at a much higher level.” Now that sounds pretty cool to me.
But as Melinda relentlessly reminds me, the rites are seeds that we have to grow. And in shaman-speak, that means that the seeds are nourished with fire ceremonies and breath of fire meditations. We have to work for our luminous bodies.
I’ve come to really dig the shamanic ways of viewing the world. It is a complex view that encompasses various layers of existence all at once. I like the ideas of rainbow bodies, luminous energy fields, and connecting to an ancient healing lineage. I’m particularly enamored with the wiracocha above my head that connects me directly to source energy. It’s like I’m in this world yet simultaneously in another world. That makes being “here” a bit more palatable.
As I go out for my morning walk here in my neighborhood in Long Beach, I take in the whole picture, Styrofoam and all. For sure, it’s not all pretty. Yet I have to acknowledge that despite the drops of dried blood splattered on sidewalks there are trees and little patches of grass here and there. Some of the people with yards have planted flowers and ferns. If I listen, I can hear the birds among the urban clatter. I connect with the cats on the streets and in the windows. Say hello to the people who walk their dogs in the early morning. Walk right into the rising sun, toward the fire. Acknowledge the Pachamama beneath my feet and all around me.
Maybe someday I can roll in the dirt again, and hang out with the clouds. As it is, I’m heading back to being a child of the universe.
For more information on the Munay-Ki rites, and to find someone in your area who can transmit the rites, click into the “Resource List” tab of the Munay-Ki Web site. For those in southern California, Melinda Allec is installing the rites September 11th and 12th. You can find more information about shamanic healing from the Four Winds Society, and you can also order a DVD about the rites from them.