Many have asked me this question, or how did I choose to be involved with plant spirit medicine. As someone who has remained out of the public's eye, and has stayed quietly behind the Ceremonie brand, I am also beginning to become more visible, adding a distinct personal element to my work that didn't exist before. We learn so much from stories, including our own, and so I share it here:
It's has been a long journey that involves evolving through archetypes to develop an ever-increasing understanding of myself and the worlds (seen and unseen) around me. I come from a home where my mother is a devout evangelical Christian and my father, an equally devout atheist. The paradigm I was raised in was black and white - be it if it was rooted in science and the rational, or religious conditioning and tenets. Deep down, I had always connected with spirits and mysticism - my first friends, as a young child, were the great Cedar tree spirits - Grandma Tree and Grandpa Tree, as I had called them (and still do). I also spoke to fruits and vegetables (I even named a doll Celery). The rational world crept in, pressing me and I naturally lost touch with these allies for some time and became well versed and articulate in more widely-accepted world views. It can be easy to look back at those times as conforming, asleep, or a victim of patriarchy, but I also see those decades as preparatory, as many myths and archetypes that exist in the modern Christian world view were taken from older, pagan practices. In my own story, I simply learned them in chronologically reversed order, as many people today do.
After I gave birth to my first son, the Wild Woman stirred within. Some call her Lilith, some Kali, some gave her the generic name of Witch. I called her Jezebel. She frightened me. She asked all the right questions and didn't care that she didn't have a tidy answer. She was raw, brave, wildly intelligent, could smell lies from miles away, was fiercely loyal to her loved ones, and I was scared to death to even entertain a cup of tea with her. I was secretly afraid that she would somehow seduce some sense into me and I would lose full control of who I am. I knew that she, as the Destroyer, would kill me.
Simultaneously, my husband and I were wanting a second child, but had difficulty conceiving and keeping the pregnancies. The timing wasn't right.
The pangs for the shadow and unknown, like contractions, only became stronger. I began re-experiencing manifestations of clair-olfaction, sometimes also known as clair sentience (an intuitive gift I have had since my late teens, but had tried my best to ignore it and suppress it), the ability to smell things that aren't physically there, and then associating them with distinct messages from the spirit world. And it was a dark walk in the desert, for I had no teacher in the form of books or workshops. I searched for teachers who have this gift, but none came on my path. So I had no choice but to listen to Jezebel. She said spend time outdoors everyday. She said look for omens and symbols. She told me about Tarot, and I committed to learning the Tarot language, a visual tongue through which spirit allies can speak to me with clarity and precision. By then, we had stopped attending church, and were promptly ostracized for doing so. We kept two couple friends from that network of well over a hundred. They were the only ones who wanted to remain in our lives. (I later released this disappointment and remarkably, I am filled with so much love - even as I write this portion of my story). And so in many ways, certain things died within me - limiting, outworn beliefs, victimhood, the need to be perfect, and like a snake, I shed and emerged. I begun to understand that the Wild Woman is my greatest protector, advocator, and mother.
Fast forward a bit and I became pregnant again. At week 15, I began hemorrhaging, which only stopped when I reclined in bed. The first day of the bleeding, I heard the doorbell ring. When I opened the door, no one was there, but when I looked up, a large Great Blue Heron flew across me and into the expansive sky. I knew that the baby would live, despite any complications. The midwife sent me for a few medical tests and science couldn't tell me why it was happening. The instruction was to remain in bed rest until the baby reached full term.
I am a very active person, and to ask me to lie in bed for two days with the flu is a monumental task as it is. To be on bed rest for over 5 months was a demand that challenged me in a way that I had never experienced. The idea of being removed from the physical world was enormously difficult for a type A person like me to 'endure', though by week 2, I had sufficiently wrestled with this internally, that I finally said, "Oh, all right!!!! I'll start meditating, again." So meditating I began - longer and longer sessions each day. I would break them up with an online course on aromatics and skin (essential oils, plant extracts, and other natural compounds in the context of skincare), but I did meditate roughly for 5 hours a day on bed rest. It was an immensely productive and transformative use of time. I now see this as the Universe's gift to me.
One day, during a meditation, I traveled somewhere and met some talking creatures. They said some interesting and truthful things. When I came out of the trance, I knew that something remarkable had happened. I met ancient, powerful friends. I didn't yet possess the language, but I had journeyed to the Lower World and spoke with some spirit allies. It was my first shamanic experience, and though I tried, I didn't know how to return to that realm.
My second son, Kyo, was born in the spring of 2015. His name means synergy. The birthing experience was beautiful, and dare I say pleasurable (in the same way that Ina May Gaskin describes birthing can be). It was a Thursday, the day of expansive, benevolent Jupiter’s rule, and I was making eggs at the stove, when I felt a pop and an enormous waterfall rushed out of my body, and immediately following that, the pangs and the accompanying sensations. I knew he was ready, and was wasting no time.
This experience was different than birthing my firstborn. With my firstborn, it was all very new and I hadn’t stepped out of the Maiden archetype into Mother energetically, yet, but this time, I had shed my old skin and was a very different person. From a sensory perspective, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be in my cave and no one to bother me. Any amount of reassuring back rub, loving words, helpful cup of water were all rejected. I was channeling Durga and she was sovereign and self-sufficient, and so was I during those couple of hours. I was rewriting man's definition of "labour". I was birthing, and while it was work, it was magnificent.
At one point, when I was overcame by the pressure of him and my own body, I found myself naturally travelling inwards, into my body, into my very womb. There, I was struck by an illuminating orange disc of light - I understood as the second chakra, the energy centre that governs creativity (including the birth of a child). I found Kyo, and it was apparent that he was having second thoughts about leaving the safety and warmth of my womb. I assured him that my arms would very soon be holding him, as well as my breasts, and that we would remain very close. I also shared that his brother, father, and so many others were very excited to meet him and play. With that, it took another 10 or so minutes before Kyo was born. The shamanic journey is a vehicle to meet spirits from the otherworlds, but also to welcome the transition of a baby into this one.
Back on my feet and enjoying mothering my newborn and 7 year old, I had banked so much energy while off my feet, that I had the momentum to create something that can be best summarized by the Ace of Wands coupled with the Queen (Mother) of Pentacles. I created a toning oil to help rid water retention and toxins from being immobile for so long, and the moms around me noticed, and asked if they could buy bottles to use it as cellulite oil for themselves. And so Ceremonie was born (then called Trimaran Botanicals, renamed last year). I would begin working with essential oils and enter into a conscious trance and basically was channeling their energies and personalities, and coupled it with my own trained knowledge, began formulating. It was truly alchemical. In the certified aromatherapy world, blends are termed 'synergy'. It is wondrous how Kyo helped me birth this.
While this was happening, I asked the Universe, almost as a joke (because I didn't believe it would happen), for a shaman to show up in my life to teach me. I knew it was highly unrealistic to travel extensively to Peru with two babes (and a mortgage) in tow, so I had asked Jezebel to send someone here in greater Vancouver where I live. And she did, one week later. My formal teacher was a female shamanic practitioner, named Leona De Lang Boom. She is a second generation modern shamanic practitioner. She began when she was 18 years old, and her mother is still active in the work. Their specialty is in past life work and have taught me how to work with psychopomps (a spirit/creature/angels that are travel companions to afterlife as well as former lives). What's absolutely incredible is when I met mine for the first time, I fell so in love with him. He's a red crown crane, and is adorable yet strong. I didn't know it at the time, but later learned that many psychopomps are cranes.
What a wild ride, this gift called life, stranger than fiction, and wondrously beautiful.
Love to all,
founder, shamanic medicine teacher + ritualist
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