I'll probably be making constant references to my moon dance experience, but that's what happens when you spend 5 days of dancing, sweat lodging, semi-fasting, and being in constant ceremony; it becomes a part of our being.
In the last year, I've been called to paint these spirit animal mandalas. Since we have a garden full of these and I've often been told I have the energy of one, the next animal I painted was hummingbird. In the Aztec culture, it was believed that dead warriors would reincarnate as hummingbirds, and warrior energy is about having focus and taking action. They, along with the jaguar, are also represented as the protectors of the sacred san pedro cactus.
So as Michael takes me to the airport, he asks me what hummingbird means to me. I share that they remind us to appreciate the sweetness of life through presence and light-heartedness. He then places a rose quartz stone with a silhouette of a this precious little bird in my hand and reminds me to carry the spirit of this beloved creature.
So it was by no accident that when each woman was put in a group which danced for a specific direction, that I was placed to dance in the South which is represented by the hummingbird. As we danced under the full moon as we howled our voices into the night sky, we shout out, "Colibriiiiii!!!!" to remind us of the energy of this fierce yet sweet winged creature.
This bird is a reminder to embody that love and presence, and to appreciate the sweet nectar of life. So just as some wise person once said, "Expect nothing, appreciate everything."
5 days and 4 nights of ceremony with Abuela Malinalli near the pyramids of Teotihuacan, Mexico was an experience that left me both in awe and in a daze. When I first heard about this ceremony where women dance through four nights to celebrate the full moon and be in prayer for peace, love, gratitude and the healing of Pachamama, I was eager to know more and take part, especially considering this craving I've had for a deeper connection to my Mexican roots. As the time approached, my beautiful friend, sister, and now madrina, Guzel, gave me dates and an exact location so I immediately bought my flight. Days later, I excitedly meet up with her to find out more about what to expect. She shares details such as the 5 days of ceremony is mostly without sleep, with the exception of 30-45 minute naps here and there; and not to mention we are semi-fasting and sitting in a temascal (a sweat lodge) before and after each four nights of dancing. The thought of not sleeping and semi-fasting for 5 days leads me to immediate panic and anxiety, but I figured, we're all in it together; and if the abuelas are doing it, then I can do it.
Realizing that this isn't going to be the easiest ceremony I've done, I make sure to go in with the context of receive and surrender. After my first night of dancing, I'm struggling physically and emotionally, being flooded with doubt, regret, and an overactive negative mind, realizing that this was not what I thought it was going to be. As I dance through the first night, I wonder what it even means to surrender. My answer came to me the next day while reading the beautifully written book "San Pedro Huachuma" by Javier Reguiero who states, "Acceptance is one of the deepest expressions of surrender."
The second night of the dance, I have a bit more clarity around accepting the situation for what it is, accepting the fatigue, accepting the physical discomfort, accepting it all, loving and appreciating it for what it is, realizing how much of this is a reflection for life. The third night I felt so much more open to receiving the hypnotic smoky scent of the copal, the beautiful connections with the women, the uplifting beats of the drumming, and the harmonious sounds of the voices. By the 3rd and 4th night I am feeling much more understanding of the intensity of this whole experience, as the dancing experience begins to transform into an act of complete self-expression through voice and movement, where every moment becomes truly a living prayer.
Looking back and reflecting on what I got out of this experience, I realize that the lessons are ever evolving. In the moments when I feel heavy and unmotivated, I put on the songs of Abuela Malinalli, the feeling of strength and power, fuerza, are resurrected. The energy of the moon is a reminder to tap into the feminine energy of love and acceptance, and enjoy the ebb and flow of life and our emotions.
I came out of this experience feeling as if I have been initiated into a sisterhood, a long-lived tradition that I'm sure I've lived many lifetimes before, and remembering that I can tap into this reservoir of life energy at anytime. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity, for it was truly an honor and a blessing to be in community with the elders and sisters from all over the globe.
Painting mandalas has been one of my greatest teachers. It has taught me to takes risks, be forgiving of my mistakes, and love what I create. Even though I've always loved art, I had gone over a decade without feeding the artistic drive. Now that I've started, I don't want to stop. It is a reminder that just like the apple tree, we will continue to create. My artwork reminds me to return to my creative feminine flow!
The meaning of mandala is "sacred circle", which has the power to awaken healing powers. Since mandalas embody geometric shapes, our mind creates symbolic meaning in relation to our universe, which in the Taoist belief, is a reflection of everything within ourselves.
So what significance does the Spirit Quest mandala have?
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About the writer:
Marisa loves hoop dancing, riding her bicycle, playing, hosting gatherings, practicing yoga, traveling, meeting people, eating, and savoring dark chocolate covered strawberries and coconut ice cream. She strives to be fully present, compassionate, and act and connect from a place of love.