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Healing Through Sacred Music

April, 2019

(Our Lady Sings A Lullaby To The Endangered Species by Shiloh Sophia McCloud)

You are the universe, expressing itself as a human for a little while.

-Eckhart Tolle

When
I was a kid nature was my friend, my therapist and my inspiration. I
looked forward to the summer months when darkness fell later in the
day so that I could stay outside as long as possible. One of my
favourite places to go when I was troubled was to climb up to the top
of the cedar tree in front of my house. After a while of swaying
along with the wind at the top in silence, I inevitably felt calmer
and would often start hearing music. As a kid, I was always humming
or singing–to the extent that my godmother often joked that I sang
more than I spoke! I experienced more inner peace when I was singing
and during that time, the world made sense to me and was a less scary
place. I felt like I was embraced in those moments by a unifying and
loving force in the universe. I love this quote from J.K. Rowling’s
book Harry
Potter and the Deathly Hallows” because I sometimes wondered if I
was crazy for hearing things other folks didn’t seem to be
noticing: “Of course it is happening in your head, Harry, but why
on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

As
a kid, I thought I was making up these songs I was humming. It wasn’t
until I began my shamanic training in earnest that I started to
realize that these songs were not coming from me at all. People ask
me where these songs originate from and all I can say with any sort
of definitiveness is that they do not come from my own creative
“genius.” These songs are in the ether around us: They come from
Spirit and they belong to Spirit. They are lent to us for healing
purposes. Some of the songs feel like they come from the land and
they have the “feel” of the ancestral territory that I find
myself on when I hear them. I’ve traveled all over the world and
the songs I hear in each of those places tend to be distinct to them.
I would love to learn more about the songlines that indigenous
Australians follow in their tradition. Perhaps someday, I will
receive the honour of this teaching.

I
don’t know why these songs come to me–perhaps simply because I am
listening. However, I do feel that this gift is not exclusive to me.
I remember asking an elder I worked with about this and he said that
everyone has a personal song and they can go into nature to ask for
this song. If this is done with ego, it will backfire so it’s
important to have a clear intent around why this personal song is
needed (i.e. for healing, to help with a life transition, or to
strengthen our sense of self-worth). It is a listening process that
might take a lot of attempts to hear so patience and perseverance is
required. We cannot demand these things from Spirit; we can only open
ourselves up to receive with gratitude and humility. When I sing my
personal song, it helps me connect with my Sacred Dream (my spiritual
mission and the reason I am here). In the hubbub of life, this is an
indispensable tool for me–especially when I need perspective
because I’ve forgotten who I am and what I am about in a given
situation.

I
sang with the Universal Gospel Choir in Vancouver for almost a
decade. It is a glorious experience singing in unison with sixty
other people, creating a wall of sound that bounces off the walls of
the church and into each person in it. We sang sacred music from
traditions all around the world. Though I often found myself on
stage, I was never singing for entertainment, but to increase my
connection to Spirit. It was not uncommon for me to be so moved by
the spirit of the song that I would cry or move my way through a
piece. The audience members often told me that they came to our
concerts for healing and hope. These folks wanted to align with their
spiritual aspect through these songs and it worked for them.

What
is the process of catching a song? This differs from tradition to
tradition around the world. And I qualify what I am about to share by
saying that this is my experience, which is not linked to a
particular tradition but has been happening spontaneously “through”
me since I was young. In Barbara
Tedlock’s book “The Woman in the Shaman’s Body,” she makes a
distinction between hereditary shamans who would pass on songs from
their traditions throughout generations and what she calls
“inspirational” shamans:

In
the mid-80s hereditary shamans in the Soviet Union were almost wiped
out by government persecution (put in gulags or then killed).  An
alternative inspirational shamanic path practiced for generations by
Turkic and Khakass peoples enabled shamanism to survive. Shamans
traveling this path received healing knowledge directly from the
spirits of the earth, water and sky.”

Although
I don’t call myself a shaman, I do see similarities between what
happens to me and what the inspirational shamans of Asia are doing. I
don’t always go looking for these songs. They have often come to me
in my sleeping dreamtime. This is my favourite way of catching songs
from Spirit because I know my ego is not involved in that. I kept a
recorder by bed for many years to remember them when I awoke. I would
then do ceremony to see what the song was to be used for and how to
share it in a good way. So far, I’ve been instructed to share all
of these songs so the people could use them for their own healing. I
have honoured that. If Spirit ever told me to keep a song to myself,
I would respect that too. In fact, I highly recommend learning as
much about the history of scared songs and the protocols around their
use before singing them or sharing them in any way. I’ve included a
link to the Going Shamanic podcast I did on this topic at the foot of
this article in case readers want more in depth information on how to
take care with and of these songs.

When
I travel, the first thing I do when I place my feet on the soil of
this new country is to introduce myself to the ancestors of the place
and I give gratitude to them for allowing me to be there for a while.
One thing I’ve learned is that these songs wouldn’t come through
me at all if I didn’t seek to have a relationship with the spirit
of each song and with the land they come from. It’s a bit like
dating to me where every time I sing a song, I learn a bit more about
it as it touches me in a different way at various junctures in my
life. These songs open the heart and touch a place inside of us that
we don’t always allow ourselves to visit in everyday life. Sacred
songs are designed to shine a light on these spaces. When I am
feeling “off,” singing while playing my frame drum brings me back
to balance quicker than anything else, besides maybe dancing as a
close second.

I
want to point out here that sacred songs are different than popular
songs credited to musicians. These songs are designed for healing and
they often have a very specific intent. For example, some sacred
songs are sung only during funerals, life transitions, or during full
moon ceremonies. It’s good to respect this and to keep the songs as
close to their original version as possible to preserve the
“medicine” that Spirit sent with them. It’s not for us to
understand the ins and outs of this mystery; I love engaging with it.
And I hope that we never unpack the secrets of this magical process
while we are still in human form. Albert Ayler said that “music is
the healing force of the universe.” I am just happy to participate
in that creation while I am in human form.

Resources:

Going Shamanic: Medicine Songs with Jennifer Engracio

Universal Gospel Choir

Featured art by: Shiloh Sophia McCloud “Our Lady Sings a Lullaby to The Endangered Species”

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About
the Author:

Jennifer
Engrácio

has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified
teacher who has worked with children in many different education
settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master,
and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance
Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in
Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio
participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The
Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s
Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming
of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon

Book Review: Mudras – Yoga in your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi

January, 2018

MUDRAS – YOGA IN YOUR HANDS

BY GERTRUD HIRSCHI

Personally, I love mudras; they are such a simple way to heal, both physically and emotionally. The mudra book that I currently own is in pieces, and so this one coming to me is doubly welcome.

Part I explores the “concept” of mudra, which, simply put, is yoga for your hands. Ms. Herschi introduces the mudra, its’ possible origins and how and when to practice them. This includes how the hands themselves correspond to the chakras (energy centers in the body), Ayurveda (the Indian art of healing through food, acupressure, reflexology using the hands instead of the feet and meridians (energy paths).

Part II, which is the bulk of the book, introduces the mudras themselves. The author describes how to hold the hands for each mudra, the issue for which the mudra is being used, how to use the mudra in combination with pranayama (breathwork), asana (posture), plus movement. Each mudra also lists an herbal remedy that can be used for the specific issue being worked on, as well as an affirmation. There are 52 different mudras presented within the book.

There is a short section toward the back of the book which describes different mudras that can be specifically used in easy pose (cross-legged seating) and some that can be used with specific movements.

(Note: My own training would posit that there are many more of these seated and moving mudras than are listed in the book.)

The book closes with several appendices, as follows: Nutrition, Herbs, Chinese Five Element Theory (wood, fire, earth, mental, water), and very basic Chakra information.

If you are looking for an easy way to begin healing or to add meditation to your daily life, this book would be a great way to go about doing so. I can easily see myself reaching for this book when looking for something specific.

Recommended.

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About the Author

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

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