We stood around the fire under the full moon in a cleared out field of high grasses in New Hampshire. Denise, my Reiki healer and shamanic teacher, placed a stick into the fire and then cleansed the front and back of my hips with it, before blowing Peruvian Agua de Florida, a lavender, rose-water musk, on the same area. Then, a group of us called in the directions, sang, and began ceremony.
Since moving from New Jersey to the farmhouse in New Hampshire in early June, I partook in full moon fires like these. They were based on Denise’s teachings passed down to her from her teacher Alberto Villoldo who had learned from indigenous Peruvian medicine men and women. With every fire, there was a time of release, of throwing out the old, into the fire, and then renewing ourselves and our chakras (energy centers) with the spirit of the fire. This tradition of cleansing and renewal was tied to native traditions that have long believed that the full moon is a time of high energy when the veil between the seen and unseen world is thinnest (and therefore prayers are most powerful).
Partaking in his ritual in a manner I had never done earlier in life was special for me (after all, how many of us in our modern lives take time to consciously let go and cleanse ourselves of the past every month?). It helped me intensify my intentions with my healing process, and to do so in a manner supported by community and spirit. Being in ceremony, and healing with nature on the farm, also opened a space for me to be with God and my life’s call, which had followed me since I was eight years old in Spain.
As the summer rolled on, and I began to heal, I reflected on this life’s call in relationship to my healing journey. I wrote in my journal: “I feel that all of my life the spirit of things, that which is hidden and unseen for many of us, has always been more important to me than the material, than the concrete in front of me. I have felt frustrated with my longing to live on this earth in a manner I have known to be true but have not actualized. I’ve lived this battle within myself, between spirit and matter—as spirit contained within matter.”
My writing continued as I suddenly became aware of a fear that lay within me and my healing process: “I feel a fear and anger at the possibility that I could heal my hips, and yet return to this same hunger that brought me here—this hunger that feels I will be without a place and way to manifest this fire within that needs to dance and be sensual. That the north—the way of the eagle—which has felt suffocating like the tightness in my hips, will have no room for me, when all I want is to be in a culture that dances with fire, that knows and manifests magic and sensuality with ease.”
So, here I was, in New England, finally beginning to heal my hips as I had dreamed of doing for years, and I was afraid…afraid of succeeding.
But, as I read my journal now, almost twenty years later, it makes sense. After all, all of my life I had longed to live the fullness of the spirit I felt inside, yet saw no place for. All of my life, I had felt a different call of spirit, of creative passion, than that which I saw around me. So it seemed natural, there in the northeast, in New England, to suddenly struggle with the idea of healing, if, in healing, I still could not find home.
As I reflect on this today, my earlier words remind me of a comment my teacher, Martin Prechtel, made about healing. He pointed out that there is no use healing ourselves if we just throw ourselves back into the culture that injured us to begin with. So, with my hip, back then, and today, I see that I was afraid, because I had yet to find a culture, a way of being with spirit and life, which I could step into as I became whole. And, I had no understanding of how to become the culture, this container of life, which could one day hold the beauty and fullness of my spirit that I could dance into the world.
Michelle Adam is an experienced writer, teacher, and healer. She recently published her novel, Child of Duende, after twenty-plus years as a magazine and newspaper writer. Her articles have appeared in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine; Hibernia Magazine, an Irish magazine; Vista Magazine, a Hispanic insert of major national newspapers; and multiple other publications.
Michelle has also been a photographer and artist; has taught middle school students Spanish for the past dozen years; and has worked as a healer and shaman. Michelle has created healing and teaching circles of song and sound, assisting others in awakening the spirit of the earth, “duende,” within them, and creating a space for the celebration of life.