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“Science and Spirituality go hand-in-hand among Mountain Tribes”

February 24, 2015 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Indigenous Education by Mary Hernandez

“Based on her 30 years of study on indigenous health and practices of the Igorots, a professor from the University of the Philippines Baguio is invoking the power of spiritual healing over diseases covered by the indigenous and spiritual practices in the Cordillera region.
Science and Spirituality Go Hand-in Hand Among Mountain Tribes

 

UP Baguio professor Erlinda Palaganas authored the study, which focused on the traditional practices of various tribes in the region and that mainly contributed to the health and welfare in their communities. It presented health related researches by various health practitioners in the Cordillera from 1980 to 2010.

“Unfortunately, indigenous knowledge has always been perceived as backward, negative and with no positive effect, but what the people don’t look into is its principles and it being a way of life. If it helps in the health of the person, then it has a basis,” Palaganas said.

Palaganas also highlighted the herbal medicines endemic in the communities. While these are being used, spiritual beliefs influence the users’ knowledge of the potency of the medicines.”

 

(An article by Desiree Caluza, as published in www.positivelyfilipino.com)

For the full article, read more here

The Road Ahead for the Indigenous Peoples

November 26, 2014 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Decolonization and Filipino Identity, Events and Conference, In the News, Indigenous Education, Modern Practices, Organization Updates, Reflections and Commentaries by Jen Maramba

by Celeste Ann Castillo Llaneta in UP Forum

For countless years, indigenous peoples (IPs) have lived on the fringes of society, barely mentioned even in the footnotes of history texts. The IPs, if given any attention at all, are often viewed as collateral damage in the march to economic development, as members of a somewhat lesser race of humans, and at best, icons of a romanticized past regularly trotted out and paraded during cultural celebrations. This is the case for many of the 370 million indigenous peoples in some 90 countries around the world.

“[IPs around the world] share common problems—the non-recognition of their rights to their territories and human rights violations—but in different degrees,” said Marissa Cabato of the Philippine Program for the Indigenous People’s Empowerment and Sustainable Development under the Baguio City-based indigenous peoples organization Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education).

Tebtebba (www.tebtebba.org) was one of the participants in the Rio+20 International Conference of Indigenous Peoples on Self-Determination and Sustainable Development held on June 19, 2012 at Rio De Janeiro, participated in by IP organizations, traditional and spirituals leaders and indigenous peoples from seven regions of the world. “During those partner-meetings, representatives from different countries came together and discussed their situations, so we saw that the issues [the IPs] are confronting are not all that different from one another.”

Progress has been made in all areas of development with regard to the world’s indigenous peoples since the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations was designated in 1982 to promote and protect the human rights and basic freedoms of indigenous peoples. This led to the drafting of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 1995 and its eventual approval on September 13, 2007. However, Cabato acknowledges that the issue of the non-recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights remains as pressing as ever, even into the second decade of the 21st century.

To read more, click here.

 

Listen to the Spirits: Review of Song of the Babaylan: Living Voices, Medicines, Spiritualities of Philippine Ritualist-Oralist Healers by Grace Nono

June 24, 2013 in Babaylan and Community Healing

, Books, Talks, Papers, CDs, Websites by geejay langlois

by Luisa A. Igloria

Review of Song of the Babaylan: Living Voices, Medicines, Spiritualities of Philippine Ritualist-Oralist Healers by Grace Nono (Institute of Spirituality in Asia, 2013)

In the “Invocations” chapter of her newest book, Song of the Babaylan: Living Voices, Medicines, Spiritualities of Philippine Ritualist-Oralist Healers (Institute of Spirituality in Asia), singer, scholar, and grassroots cultural worker Grace Nono recollects an episode of illness in childhood. As she lies in an upstairs bedroom of her parents’ home in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, she hears her father calling her name outside in the yard. She writes, “Several times he called, but not to me; he seemed to be addressing the wide, open night sky.” Later, her father tells her that he was calling to her soul to return to her body and restore her to health. It is quietly striking that this anecdote is found so close to the book’s beginning “Methodology” section— for what it accomplishes in an immediate way is the grounding of the text and its curator within a network of relationships where “research” cannot ever be divorced from lived reality and vice versa, where one’s sense of rational reality cannot ever be divorced from a sense of the unknown, the mystical, from dream or spirit.

For the rest of the article, click here.

 

by admin

REFLECTIVE WEAVINGS ON MY INNER BANIG, by Mila Anguluan-Coger

February 16, 2011 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Events and Conference by admin

February 2011

The banigs or hand woven mats said it all. It was Thursday evening, January 27, 2011 and as I spread them out and looked at them, they looked back, crumpled, dirty and forlorn. I carried them, laid them on the tub and tried to scrub them clean. But as the soap and water were flowing, so flowed my tears. The banigs have been in the building basement far too long and have become moldy and badly stained from the rains. How could I have allowed this to happen? As the keeper, I have been remiss in my duty. Now, how could I ever unfold the intricate weavings and the vibrant colors that tell of my people’s tales? They who have lovingly woven these mats in the caves, where the right temperature and amount of moisture helped bring out the best colors, the soft but resilient strands? How was I to help launch Virgil and Lane’s books without the magic of the mats’ stories? I cried, blamed myself, blamed my husband, blamed myself again and cried some more.

The tears were forgotten when the books were launched two days later, on Saturday, Jan 29, at the Silver Lake Center. Three banigs were not so bad after all and were put up on the walls of the center, accompanied by a happy array of indigenous cloth from the Cordillera and Mindanao. The splash of tribal colors and images brightened the center and were reflected on the faces of those who attended. The community came joyfully together to celebrate the books’ L.A. debut. Music, dance, performance and talks flowed and filled everyone. The joy spilled over until the early hours of the morning, when we of CFBS and FilAm Arts celebrated some more – with songs, stories and games, in Roque’s home.

On Sunday, Jan. 30th, the well in my eyes spilled tears again. I heard the news of violent clashes in Egypt and the total communication blackout. My daughter was there, working as an RN and I could not reach her; there was no telephone, no internet, no Skype, nothing. It was just a few days ago that I was looking at her Facebook, how it beamed with pictures of her visit to the pyramids, her childhood dream realized at last. A week after that tour, the Sphinx seemed to have awakened and brought total chaos to the country. It was the most frustrating and stressful time, having to face this dark and ominous wall of silence in Egypt, worried sick about a daughter’s safety. I could not sleep and was glued to the TV and my laptop for news updates. I called the Dept of Foreign Affairs in Manila. Someone said the officials were still assessing the situation. I kept calling them the following days for updates, but no reassurance came. I was on a thin wire, suspended indefinitely, precariously, and the only release were my tears.

Worn out with anxiety, I remembered the last mid-January weekend retreat in Sta. Rosa, the playing like children in Sonoma, the comfort of Leny’s kitchen and couch. I remembered the warmth of bodies and hearts, all 15 of us, settled like birds in a nest, treasuring the home we found in one another. I remembered the sheer bliss of rediscovering deep friendship, the sweetness of laughter shared as a family, the passionate play of being community. We were, as Perla so aptly described it, a bowl. We contained each other, our laughter and our tears, our smiles and even our fears, our bodies, our spirits. We were a bowl yes, but at the same time, we were also a boat on the river, flowing with our dreams, rowing to the rhythm of our vision – for service to our Kapwa – rowing towards liberation, always moving towards freedom.

But what of freedom, a part of me asked, when at any given moment one is clutched by fear and anxiety that grinds unceasingly, unmercifully? If we are to look at the big picture, are we not mere pawns of those in highest authority, those who wield imperial powers and have the resources of the world at their feet, unmindful of the groveling majority, and the wanton destruction of environment and humanity? Is our rowing at CFBS merely a pathetic simulation of movement that cannot get us anywhere anyway? What of the bowl or the boat?

I checked myself and recalled that this time is the same February of our People Power Revolution in EDSA, ignited 25 years ago in 1986. It was this same bloodless revolution that inspired others to bring down the Berlin Wall in 1989, and now, the same people’s revolution that is sweeping Egypt into an unprecedented era of change in 2011.

Buoyed by these thoughts, I again confront the same fears that have shadowed me as a child, even as an adult, assailed by my own and my people’s colonial mentality and the internal oppression that made me feel how painful it was to be “The Other.” I see you, and I accept you as part of me, I tell my fears. But now, I am someone else, I add with conviction.

I am of the same spirit as my ancestors, indestructible and free. It is this same indomitable spirit that connects me to the eternal strand woven into all of creation, animated by its divine Source, regardless of time, matter and space. I am the container of the past, the present and the future. I am part of the tree of transcendence. I live with its roots embracing the earth, I am one with its branches merging with the sky. And together with the rest of my Kapwa, we shall unravel the promise of freedom, whether fighting for it in the streets of EDSA or Egypt, or realizing it in the deepest frontiers of the inner self, and in the realms beyond.

I cry with joy for this life which is a banig of exquisite weavings, of amazing dancing images, imbued with nature’s textures and fragrances, and astounding rainbow hues. I am grateful to be sharing the banig of life with my CFBS family and community, whose nurturing support sustains, and yes, contains as it moves, our personal and collective dreams.

Mabuhay tayo kailanman!

by admin

Virgil Apostol’s “Way of the Ancient Healer”: A Review

January 31, 2011 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Books, Talks, Papers, CDs, Websites by admin

Virgil Mayor Apostol, Way of the Ancient Healer
NORTH ATLANTIC BOOKS, 2010
Reviewed by Leny Mendoza Strobel
January 28, 2011
In a note I sent to Virgil shortly after receiving my copy of his book, I wrote: In a way, my books have been a way station for the arrival of the knowledge that you bring in this book. I said this because I’ve been writing about the need for those of us in the diaspora to have access to Filipino indigenous knowledge and practices as part of our decolonization process. For what is the point of deconstructing our colonized identities if, in the end, we didn’t have an indigenous narrative of our own? In all of my writing about decolonization and indigenization, I have described my own journey, including my desire to know more specifically about my own ancestral roots as a Kapampangan.
While I have the body memory, I didn’t have the ancestral stories to go along with it. Way of the Ancient Healer gave me those stories. Even if they are Virgil’s personal stories, he claims he speaks out of a collective voice as well…and that includes mine.
In reading Virgil’s Way of the Ancient Healer, I felt as if I finally had the empirical evidence or concrete data in the form of his own personal stories and those of others who reveal the encyclopedic knowledge of healing arts of our Filipino ancestors. He also links this knowledge to the traditions and practices of near and far neighbors in Southeast Asia and beyond. Even further, he also weaves these traditions within the realm of the cosmic and mythic. His narrative spans both ancient and contemporary times to show that the past is still alive in the present; in his Epilogue he envisions that our ancient ways of healing will survive into the future as well.
I used to read the Journal of Noetic Sciences  and Parabola and there was always a part of me that felt incredulous about the attempts of western scientists to prove that certain psychic or spiritual phenomena can be proven scientifically in laboratory settings or with measuring instruments. Even then I was already skeptical of the need to validate everything through the scientific method. I muttered to myself often: why do we need science to prove that prayer works? Why do we need science to prove that meditation works?  
And then I was introduced to the term “indigenous science” through the work of Apela Colorado[1] and Jurgen Kremer[2] and Jeremy Narby[3] – all of whom are writing to posit that there needs to be better dialogue between indigenous knowledge holders (shamans) and scientists.  In particular, I appreciate Narby’s contention that what hinders this dialogue is not language but the arrogance of western science.
Well, we must be making some progress towards that dialogue if I take as one indicator the publication of the Way of the Ancient Healer by North Atlantic Books. Blurbed by famous names in the healing arts – Deepak Chopra, Bradford Keeney, Hank Wesselman, and Jean Houston – this book places our Filipino Sacred Teachings and Philippine Ancestral Traditions on the map.  (Whether we admit it or not, the colonized mind tends to be impressed by the authority of the printed word more than the authority of the oral tradition).
But something is changing…
I heard Danny Kalanduyan, the kulintang master, tell the story that when be brought his Filipino American students to Mindanao to learn about kulintang arts, the locals were wondering why Americans are interested in their arts. I hear the same story repeated in various ways: when Filipinos in the Philippines receive the balikbayans who are interested in indigenous cultures and practices, it creates a synergy and it awakens their own consciousness to the importance and relevance of these practices.  In the Philippines, I remember Fr. Alejo’s story of how the indigenous folks on Mt Apo told him: why do you still want to study us, Father, when we don’t have culture anymore? (in reference to their having agreed to allow a geothermal development on their sacred mountain).[4]
Indeed, the timing of Virgil Apostol’s book is perfect.  I sense that we are ready to look back at our ancient ways of knowing and healing because when we do, it returns us to a place of belonging. It makes us feel whole. It makes us joyful to remember, re-member and make whole the fragments of stories that we have silently carried in our cultural genes.
I look at the photographs in this book and the various ways of naming among our ethnolinguistic groups and I am overcome by a soothing feeling, a very comforting feeling. More recently, my grief and sadness over the stories that were not passed on to me by my own ancestors have been assuaged: You may not know our names or our stories, but you know us. Your work honors us. And we know you. What prepared me to hear the voice of my ancestors includes the time I spent with Virgil’s book. 
Let me put it another way: The spoken word is potent. In oral cultures, as in the ancient times of our ancestors, the stories were handed down in all their potency and power. David Abram[5] writes that reading can be an animist experience once we learn how to reconnect with the sensuousness of the world and the word.
The structure of Way of the Ancient Healer lends itself to the potential of reclaiming the power of the oral tradition, of the story, of the spoken word in its literate form. In this way of bridging, of finding the middle path (as Virgil calls his approach to this work), it invites the skeptical, the cynic, the doubter – for whatever reasons – to come hither and listen.  Is your religious belief or scientific belief or your modern consciousness getting in the way of this invitation to imbibe in the wealth of your ancestral Filipino roots? Not to worry. Virgil’s approach in this book is gentle, humorous, compassionate, and non-judgmental. After all, that’s the only way the ancestors would have it.
-30-

[1] http://www.wisn.org/research.html
[2] http://www.sonic.net/~jkremer/Ethnoautobiography.PDF
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cosmic_Serpent
[4] See Fr. Albert Alejo’s book, Creating Energies on Mt. Apo, Ateneo University Press
[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nhqzxHVQm4

by admin

Babaylan Women as Guide to a Life of Justice and Peace

December 25, 2010 in Babaylan and Community Healing by admin

Follow this link to this story featuring Girlie Villariba.

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Babaylan and Psychology

December 18, 2010 in Babaylan and Community Healing by admin

old 1970s article refers to baylan as Philippine shamans and shamans as psychologists:



page 57

…if we take the second sense, i.e., “The Shaman
In His Role or Function of Psychologist,” it seems the task may be easier.
We simply presuppose that the shman is a psychologist, and then proceed
to describe how or when he functions as such. But even this is not quite
simple. There are other questions that crop up: First of all, “What is a
Shaman? Perhaps, for many, this is the first time the word is being
bandied about. Then what do you mean by the clause the shaman plays
the role of a psychologist? A theoretical psychologist? an experimental?
a clinical? a psychiatrist? a therapeutist? etc., etc.

page 58

The Hypothesis
The hypothesis is a complex one. It has more than one parts, and
the divisions of this paper will naturally follow after them.
First, the shaman is a psychologist (a) on account of his knowledge
of the mind, and of mental states and processes; or, which amounts to
the same thing, because of his knowledge of human nature; (b) because
he is a person especially sensitive to influences and forces that are extra-
sensory, or, because he is psychic, even a “mystic in the raw,” as Eliade
would characterize him; and (c) because he was the psychiatrist in pre-
literate society, in that he practiced the healing of mental diseases.

page 64

The Initiation Proper: Departure
Shamanic initiation like any initiation on the primitive level con-
sists of at least three stages: departure, transition and incorporation.
Central to the idea of initiation is that of growth or maturity. This in
turn is based on an ancient belief which finds verification not only on the
personal but also on the collective and cosmic levels, that one must die in
order to live again. This is the law that lies at the base of all existence as
we know it in the world. The phenomenon of seizure or “an overpower-
ing mental crisis” which is characteristic of shamanic call documented all
over the world, is actually the beginning of the initiation, and can be
likened to the stage of departure from one’s wonted and accustomed
way of life. It matters not whether this seizure comes spontaneously or
has been deliberately brought about. What is important is that it happens
at all. And still more important, that the shaman candidate is cured
of this mental illness, generally through his own efforts and that of the
spirits. The very name of the shaman in many Philippine tribes, namely,
baylan, balian, ballyan, which is rooted on the Sanskrit word ba-di mean-
ing “a fit of sudden and inexplicable trembling attributed by the peoples
of the Malay peninsula to supernatural agency” (Christie, Subanuns,
p. 2 n. 1) serves notice of this mental seizure as typical of this stage of
shamanic consecration.

page 63

The Call to Shamanism
The call to shamanism by the spirits could come in many ways:
directly, through a sudden fit of trembling and insanity or near insanity,
as in the case of the shamans among the early Bisayans (Eliade, Shaman-
ism, 33 ff ; Alzinas, Historia 122-23 ; 2 16-2 17) ; or during a long period
of sickness or depression, when, they claim, a diwata or anito or spirit
calls on them to become his friend, promising himself to be his familiar
spirit; or by a vision, as in the case of the Goldis and their ayamis, or
of a Subanun who, having been in the forest for a number of days, and
finding himself short of food, suddenly “saw” a diwata riding a boat,
who promised to become his guardian spirit. (Christie, Subanuns, p. 4).
Or through dreams, waking visions, or harrowing experiences like being
hit by lightning and coming through unscathed, or drowning and being
revived; or dying and eventually resuscitating; or physically disappearing
for three or more days and eventually being found either on top of a
tree, usually, a balete, or he is found sitting beneath it, or on tlie rafters
of a house, or in the basement or the cellar, with a stranger and far away
look, usually oblivious of the persons and things around him, and, in
many case with a strength beyond the normal.
The shaman candidate generally gets over this initial onslaught of
madness or psychosis. He gets cured, and then his initiation into the
ranks of shamans begins. (Note well: it is possibie, as in the case of
Eskimos & American Indians, for a man to voluntarily go off into the
desert or woods in search of a vision, and to experiense a call to shaman-
ism which is signalled often by the appearance of a spirit either in human
form or in animal form.)

You can find the full text here:

by admin

Talaanding Seven Element Invocation

June 8, 2010 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Kapwa and Other Indigenous and Filipino Values by admin

On the second day of the First International Babaylan Conference, Jennifer Navarro invoked the seven elements of the Talaanding tradition. The invocation is meant to recognize and honor the presence of the seven elements, and as Jennifer read the prayer, representatives from the conference brought symbols of each element to the Ancestor’s Altar at the entrance of the main conference gathering space. Jennifer has graciously allowed us to reprint the invocation here.

Land – With each step we take we are supported by you. In your arms seeds of life are lovingly nourished.

Water – While in your embrace we are able to dive deep into meditation and reflection. Within your womb we are comforted by the whale’s song.

Wood/Trees – Majestic and steadfast. We aspire to be in your likeness, strong roots anchored in the heart of Mother Earth, sturdy trunk that keeps us centered and strong, and beautiful branches and leaves that reach up and receive heaven’s divine energy.

Sun -You are the Divine body that benevolently shares life energy. From your rays all living things grow and thrive.

Air – We are in constant communion with you. You are the breath of life. With each inhale and exhale we integrate your pure energy within our vessel.

Sound – It is upon your tones we ride and bring healing to the self. It is upon your vibrations we soar and become one with the divine.

Divine Spirit – You flow around us and within us. Hope, appreciation, love, bliss, joy, you are all of these things. It is through your eyes and your movements that beauty manifests.

It is Jennifer’s hope that the words of the prayer reach those who resonate with it in their hearts. Thank you, Jennifer, for your generosity.

Posted by Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor with Jennifer Navarro’s permission.

by admin

A Healing at Salmon Creek by Lissa Romero

April 22, 2010 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Events and Conference, Modern Practices by admin

We must’ve looked a sight to the residents of sleepy Salmon Creek, off Highway 1 past Bodega Bay. A motley crew of thirty-odd participants of the Babaylan Conference that had just taken place at Sonoma University, we had come to the quiet beach with Babaylan Reyna Yolanda and five other members of her group to join in a ritual for healing the earth. Malongs of every size and color peppered the sandy landscape as we piled out of our cars parked on the narrow road leading to the beach.

Along the way, most of us took off our shoes. Despite the cold wind, the sand felt warm and comforting under our feet. As we made our way over the dune, I beheld the sea—not calm and pretty like those touted in tropical vacation brochures, but wild, roiling, dangerous and majestic. Spray filled the air as the waves crashed onto the hardy brown sand. It was like being on the edge of a whirlpool, the movement of the water expansive, erratic and unpredictable. One was drawn to the sight of the endless sea, yet mindful about keeping a distance. Also, this was the Pacific Ocean. The water was numbingly cold.

It was my first time to participate in a ritual of this sort, that is, not one of those prescribed by my Catholic upbringing. I suspect this was true for most of us present. And except for Reyna Yolanda and the spirits she seemed to be listening to, no one really knew what was about to happen. I knew at the start that I was about to experience something special, but had no idea that by the end of it, the event will have profoundly changed the very core of my being and my understanding of what it means “to be in the world”.

She began by tracing a sacred space on the ground, an “altar” upon which she and her helpers arranged the fruits and flowers we had brought with us. She walked back and forth swiftly, following the requests being whispered to her by Spirit, and we all patiently watched and followed her subsequent orders like obedient children. She led us in a series of actions whose order I can no longer remember: writing on the ground; running, jumping or walking; tracing circles in the air with a sprig of flowers held in the right hand. We seemed to be outside of Time, completely focused in the moment, the sun hidden behind a thick layer of clouds that covered the entire sky above us. And slowly, with each completed action, Nature seemed to be responding to us. Seagulls, at first in pairs and small groups, began to fly over us from a northern to a southerly direction, from the right side of the beach to the left. They flew right above us, zooming to within ten to fifteen feet above our heads. Our breaths caught, for we all instinctively understood the symbolism of this act: Nature was hearing us, and She was pleased.

I had no expectations at all in coming to the beach to participate in this ritual. I was in “beginner’s mind”, my cognitive self stretched like a blank, white canvas. So what happened at this point in the ritual was completely unexpected. She asked all of us to form a straight line facing the sea, facing west. She told us to offer our own personal petitions to Bathala, to the wind that swirled around us. We all, as though rehearsed, raised both hands up into the air, our faces held skyward as we silently offered our prayers. I asked for the regeneration of life on earth, for the healing of its parts that may have been badly or even irretrievably damaged. I asked that humans may care for the earth, not in this business-like, politically correct manner, but in a deeper way. Just as I was trying to define in my mind what I meant by a “deeper way”, I heard Reyna Yolanda singing out to the sea in spirit language. As I heard her sacred communication, something began to move within me. I looked at Reyna Yolanda’s figure, clad in a green satin dress, miniscule against the backdrop of the wild sea. And I began to feel a Presence speak inside my bones, my muscles, my heart and mind: “I am a part of you, as you are a part of me. We are not separate. Your being is intertwined with mine in ways that twist and turn and dig and reach. I am not Other. You are my Beloved, and I am Yours.”

I began to cry. In the grip of such truth whose veracity I felt deep in my bones, something collapsed inside me, not walls, but a belief that had been sold to me, to all of us, as truth: that Nature is something outside of us that we must care for just because it’s a vital part of the planet we live on; that we call or label her “Mother Earth” in a metaphorical sense; that we segregate our trash or engage in other “green” actions in the perfunctory way that we make our morning coffee or pay our bills; that the health of our planet is intrinsically linked to ours as a fact of nature, a function of nature, rather than the essence of our relationship with it.

These beliefs but scratch the surface of what may pass as “reality” or “truth”, and to continue to hold on to them would be to deprive one’s self of the truth of being and reason for existing. It would be akin to living a lie, in the same way I pretended as a child to believe in Santa Claus long after I discovered the truth so I could keep getting the presents. In such a self-serving deception, we deprive ourselves of life-transforming epiphany—the truth of who we are.

Then Reyna Yolanda asked us to crouch down, put our palms flat on the ground and start drumming. As I drummed the wet sand, I could feel Nature rise up to meet me. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” I told her, for the first time as Beloved to another (although there really is no “Other”) Beloved. I felt her saying, “I bask in Your love. I need Your love. When You love me, I begin to heal. I am not Some Thing You need to fix. I am One who also needs to be loved.” The tears that flowed out of my eyes seemed to be drawn straight from my heart. I love you, I love you, I love you. Never again will I forget my Mother, for She is my Kapwa, too.

As if in response, the sun broke through a crack in the clouds. Nature received our offering of love into her heart, and we basked in her warmth.

One action after another. We were doing a series of mini-rituals to complete a whole one. In doing them, I began to understand the importance of ritual as a way to experience the intrinsic sacredness of All That Is. At one point, in the middle of one ritual, we all saw a large, white plastic drum, half filled with water, bobbing slowly towards us from the water. At first it was upright, almost as tall as a man, before it fell on its side and was dragged up to the shore upon Reyna Yolanda’s orders. Was it a mirage? A mass illusion conjured up by the skipped meal and unusual circumstances? It was like we were in the middle of a dream, playing roles in an allegorical tale instead of merely being its passive audience.

The phenomenon of the floating white drum was laden with meaning, Reyna Yolanda explained. “That drum represents our intentions, floating in the sea of hopes and dreams,” she said in Tagalog. “By bringing it onto the shore, we have pulled it in to safety. We have made it possible for the success of our petition to become reality.”

When we finally left the beach, we were euphoric and peaceful. Long goodbyes were said, as some of us would be heading home to wherever we had traveled from: Oakland, Stockton, Los Angeles, Toronto. When I checked the car’s dashboard clock, I was shocked to see that three hours had elapsed since we arrived at the beach. I thought we had just been there an hour. I chuckled at the memory of sci-fi movie episodes that had portrayed similar phenomena. Had Time folded, or did we simply step outside of its confines temporarily, somehow? I suppose that the mysteries of this Universe will unlock slowly, one at a time, dimension by dimension, truth by truth. For now, this is more than enough to ponder on…

I honor and thank the shamans and babaylans of this world, who with courage and perseverance undertake the task of bridging all worlds, bringing healing and helping evolve consciousness. Thank you. Maraming salamat po.

Posted with permission from the author.

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Ritual Gathering of Sacred Music, Dance & Poetry – Pictures II

September 26, 2009 in Babaylan and Community Healing, Creative Expressions, Performances, Art, Poetry, Events and Conference by admin

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