ceremonies

Book Review – Shamanic Plant Medicine-San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom by Ross Heaven

July, 2019

Book Review
Shamanic Plant Medicine-San Pedro
The Gateway to Wisdom
by Ross Heaven

San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom is one in The Shamanic Plant Medicine series authored by Ross Heaven. Each book introduces a plant medicine teacher and medicine ally. This well-written, accessible book introduces us to the Cactus of Mystery, San Pedro, native to the Andes and used by Andean shamans in healing ceremonies.

Mr. Heaven, who died in 2018, has left us with a practical and nuanced introduction to San Pedro. The book gives us an overview of the plant’s history and the lore relating to its sense of mystery, which certainly drew me in to wanting to know more about it. Here are some of the fascinating bits of lore that Heaven provided: Legend has it that St. Cyprian was instructed by Jesus to hide the keys to Paradise from the Spanish invaders and Inquisition in a cactus under the watchful eye of St. Peter, keeper of the keys to Heaven– hence this entheogen’s name. It also has many nicknames, one of which is punku – doorway or gateway – for its ability to open a doorway beyond the world of illusion, as author Heaven wrote. Its active ingredient is mescaline and its healing and nurturing action has earned it another nickname: Grandfather. As Heaven wrote in a different book: “There is a sort of mystery surrounding San Pedro and a sense that knowledge of the plant must remain secret or at least be earned through preparation, participation and worthiness of those who drink it.”

Heaven provided a detailed chapter on why San Pedro’s medicine is sought after and descriptions of various ceremonies and methods of use by San Pedro shamans. Heaven also discussed various modes of preparation, while urging respect, safety and caution working with this teacher plant. While it is not a how-to, step-by-step manual, the book provides excellent guidance on what to look for when seeking someone to conduct and support a ceremony. The personal accounts of people who experienced San Pedro’s healing effects in ceremony with Heaven and other shamans are engaging, encouraging and worth reading.

The most fascinating and instructive section examines the effects of San Pedro on creativity. There is an overview of the early research with psychedelics in the 1960s, specifically with their effect on artists. Heaven equated the ability of the creative process – to “shift” the brain into perceiving and functioning differently – with the nature of the entheogenic experience. Both processes are “nonrational and nonverbal, the insights coming at an almost cellular level through the remodeling of the self. Trying to capture this experience in words is too limiting for those who have undergone it.” Heaven’s description of these processes is reason alone to read this book! A discussion of shamans as artists as they engage with the creative flow of energy in the healing process is also worth the read. There are also deeply engaging personal accounts of visual and musical artists who described the effects of San Pedro on their work and their search for self-knowledge.

Heaven ended the book with a chapter on working responsibly with San Pedro. There are in-depth recommendations regarding environment, introducing yourself to the plant with respect, what to expect during the work itself and legalities of possession and use of San Pedro.

If you are interested in working with San Pedro, or simply in learning more about entheogenic plant medicine in general, this book is a great place to start. It is an easy to read, well-researched and information beginning. I will keep it on my bookshelf as a good reference and already plan to read the other books in this excellent series from Moon .

Shamanic Plant Medicine – San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom on Amazon

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About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com

Open Channel Astrology: openchannelastrology.com

Book Review: The Smudging and Blessing Book – Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal by Jane Alexander

July, 2018

Book Review

The Smudging and Blessing Book

Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal

by Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander has written a good introductory book for those interested in exploring the basics of working with Spirit on the physical plane. In this accessible little manual, she weaves the concepts of working with the energies of physical allies like planets, crystals and essential oils, meeting and working with spirit energies like the Guardians of the Directions, the elements and totem animals and cleansing and blessing your physical spaces, events and ceremonies.

Alexander starts with the basics: becoming aware of subtle energies in your body and in your physical environment. As she points out, smudging can clear away “spiritual garbage.” It is important to remember that it is not just the physical act of lighting the smudge, though, that creates the cleansing effect and invites in blessing. Intention and reverence are key aspects of all the ceremonies and rituals that she describes. When we light a flame to burn the smudge, we ask the spirit of Fire to transform and transmute that which does not serve us. By lighting the flame, we signal to Spirit that something important is happening here and we ask for assistance. There are many aspects to a “simple” smudging that we begin to sense the more we work with the rituals as Alexander describes them. Her book is a doorway in to this deeper sensing and partnership with plants, crystals and Spirit!

One of the true gifts of this book is the reminder of the many opportunities in our daily lives to work with Spirit to cleanse and bless. Focusing on our homes, Alexander invites us to bless our new homes and to speak to the spirit of your old home as you move into a new. She reminds us to cleanse sick rooms and spaces in which arguments have occurred. She describes one method for shielding your home and a ritual for consecrating your bedroom as a space for rest and retreat. I would add to her suggestions, remove the television or laptop!!

Alexander invites us to work energetically with family occasions: births, birthdays, deaths, divorce and even setting the subtle stage before a party! She reminds us to reclaim the turning points of the wheel of the year, as we release the lessons of the departing season and create intentions for the incoming seasonal energy. We can mark these turnings with our families, too, creating rituals that connect our children with their lineages and traditions! And most importantly, Alexander encourages us to remember our energetic connections to Spirit on a daily basis – on waking up and greeting the day, bathing, and at bedtime. We can invoke our energetic protections and boundaries when leaving the house, traveling and for most human activity.

Alexander provides suggestions for herbs, crystals and essential oils for specific cleansing and blessing uses. If you have ever wanted to learn to make your own smudge stick, she gives detailed instructions. This is a useful and practical book, especially for a child or teenager interested in starting to work with subtle energies in the physical realm.

The Smudging and Blessings Book: Inspirational Rituals to Cleanse and Heal

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About the Author:

Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanism. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. , exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.

Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.

Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com