Updated: Dec 9, 2021
We are all reflections of one another. When we see something in another or within a group or circle that raises anxiety and discomfort within ourselves it’s telling us to look inward and work on our own shadow.
Even when one is educated, cultured, and groomed to sit in layered and complicated social dynamics, the discomfort of shadow work emerges. It (shadow) raises anxiety, control, depression, pain, confusion, anger, Flight or Fight, bypassing, shame and judgement. These also happen to be unresolved TRAUMA RESPONSES. Knowing this helps prepare one for what may arise when sitting in a healing ceremony amongst other energies brought to the circle. Everyone has their own shadow and learning how to sit with it will help. The better one prepares and commits to sitting in the experience, the more rewarding it becomes.
This blog shines some light in the darkness of unknowing, assumption, and how to better enjoy group ceremonies and cultivate more lasting connections.
When people speak and step out of boundaries within a community, they disrupt the flow of energy within the tribe. It creates silence, uncertainty, and division. Sometimes it’s warranted and sometimes it is just ego and fear preventing one’s own growth and transformation through their own unresolved "stuff." The only thing we can control in life is how we respond to situations. When expressing ourselves within a group with selfish motivation it stops it from being inclusive and severs flow of the group. Often it isn’t received the way one would hope. It actually creates isolation and loss of interest towards the one who speaks out against the group, and it’s common for the group to lose trust in the connection with that individual, because the other tribe members feel it’s not worth it to further engage.
Sitting in the circle means that everyone is equal and receives the chance to be felt, heard, and expressed no matter what it sounds like, how it looks on the outside, or how long it takes. It’s not for anyone to judge or decide what is appropriate for the circle. That’s the direction and responsibility of the Elder leading the ceremony. They decide what is warranted and what direction it needs to flow. Healing isn’t pretty. It comes in many ways. Shadow work is the most important because it teaches us how to make peace within ourselves. The Elder doesn’t take personally whether someone in the circle likes them or agrees with how they contained the space. They don’t have that luxury, because they are too busy in service fielding others processes and dealing with the clean up of energy from such ego vibes.
LET'S TALK FACILITATION
The reason we have a Grandmother or Elder leading the ceremony is to ensure that each person feels safe and heard at the circle. It prevents narcissism, gaslighting and bullying by those seeking to gain direction of the circle for their own needs. It also allows low energies to emerge and be released also. Just because things may not be unfolding by your logic they are not to be doubted because the Elders are channeling spirit. They are triaging the energy of the container and are gradually moving the vibrations to balance and keep flow. It’s a process in itself. It cannot be quick or abrupt. Elders and medicine team are are also on the same medicine as everyone in the circle and also often empathically also feel the physical and emotional ailments of those in the circle. Sometimes they are feeling a lot of pain or emotion and you have no idea why. That is because they are connected to each process. It helps them see people’s true selves and the motivations behind their intentions. They don’t upset the expression of said bullying or low vibe energies, because those vibes need to be expressed also. They simply reflect on them and cleanse the space and allow it to move forward as it meant to. It’s not their responsibility to absorb and deflect the hurt expressed by others. They need to be able to protect those who received the criticisms also. Their motivations are often beyond normal logic and knowledge at the current time.
Be there to work on you. Showing a need to control the ceremony shows the Elder your true shadow energy is working. They don’t want to disrupt that either as that’s medicine. They would rather keep the space from the silence created from such disruption. Every expression deserves love.
However there is a time and place for someone feeling abandoned or hurt within the circle to reach out to express themselves.
There is a proper and respectful way of doing so. Some might think it’s common sense. But with medicine, again the biggest lesson is never assume you think you know. Instead, call out to the Grandmother or Elder and ask consultation.
HERE IS HOW TO ASK FOR HELP DURING A MEDICINE CEREMONY
Never speak out interrupting the circle addressing your personal situation to the entire circle without the Elder’s permission! EVER!! Ever!! It’s the ultimate sign of disrespect to the Elder, the circle, and the break in energy it creates when it interrupts is so disruptive that it can cause regression of other processes and stops further processing instantaneously. It completely shatters the sanctuary of the container. It’s not the ultimate No No because it’s rude (which it is) but mostly..... because It’s dangerous!! The way or manner in which we speak when we are struggling or unsatisfied with the direction of our process or surroundings or how the circle is being contained can be actively felt and reflected by everyone hearing it and it creates a silence that encourages the low vibrations to come even closer because now everyone in the circle is left hanging on the energy of the individual who spoke out.
If you are in trouble and unable to sit up, raise a hand, tap the ground, ask loudly for Elder or support team to come to you. Just call for them. There is nothing wrong with a cry for help to the one who is listening for it. Express yourself to them. Allow them to HEAR you and FEEL you so they can intuitively guide and transmute the energies without disrupting or hurting others with shadow and ego laced words.
Don’t complain about what you want or what you suggest. Unless it’s a private 1:1 individual ceremony, you are simply one part of the circle and it’s not priority for you to express your needs beyond safety or danger. Surrender, and allow. Trust in the leadership of the medicine.
Note: that in many ceremonies laying down isn’t not permitted. One is expected to be sitting upright and engaged to the fire and circle. Leaving isn’t permitted. That can cause intense emotion and release. It’s important to be grateful when you arrive at a ceremony that allows freedom to leave the circle, move and find solace if needed. That is a luxury in itself. Many elders expect you to be attentive and engaged from ceremony opening to closing.
IF YOU ARE ABLE...
Face the fire and engage with its masculine cleansing energy for a moment.. Focus on the fire. Feel the warmth within your body. Allow the heat to transmute and release your feelings. Focus only on your breath and the fire. Do not listen to anything happening at the circle that you don’t like. Go inward. Take your piece of the circle back actively, by showing your presence and engagement within the circle.
Cleanse these feelings before speaking by going to the fire with tobacco. Ask for forgiveness for your negative reflections, thank yourself for the courage to change the energy in the way of the circle, ask for healing compassion to those who have misaligned your heart. Collect yourself and offer father tobacco to the fire.
Then if you feel the need to still speak, come back to your place at the circle and ask permission to the elder to speak. At that time they will certainly either allow you to speak freely and have the attention of everyone present at the circle. Or they may ask you to come to them.
Speak clearly, directly and don’t take it personally.
This way the elder has the ability to field your energy and also gain the attention of the circle. It also allows others the opportunity to respond or remark and engage.
This method of asking also engages the fire tender who is responsible for energetically cleansing the space. They now begin the process of cleansing the space again to reset and start fresh. It gives them a heads up that there is going to be energy to transmute. There is a protocol the team depends on to act.
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN SHIFT THE ENERGY AROUND YOU IN A GROUP CEREMONY
Ask a team member to cleanse you. (copal, palo santo, sage, tobacco, agua florida)
Ask to share a song.
Ask to share a cleansing breathe together.
Ask to share a word which changes the topic.
Say Thank you while embracing gratitude.
Ask for a hug.
Give a hug to a tree.
Go for a short walk.
Go to the bathroom and release fluid or pressure.
Move your body. Stretch, expand, warm up inside.
Splash your face with water.
Look at the sky.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT???
Well, because what many don’t realize is that the medicine team are also on their own journeys. When energy is highly anxious and laced with fear and ego it’s extra hard for them to play their roles holding space. It’s like working overtime for no reason. This rule is kept so that they are able to engage and prepare for what is coming and hold space fairly. When the circle’s energy is broken or disrupted due to aggressive, or desperate energy the elder ends up having to work harder and loses more ability to guide and recover the circle’s flow. It blindsides them, often for vanity. It’s wasteful and unfair, diminishing their abilities to the rest of the circle.
Group Ceremony is not designed to be a fluffy and luxurious experience that is oriented to your particular ideal concept. It is a space that welcomes all walks of life and all emotions and expressions. It’s common in group ceremony for people to have complete breakthroughs and shift dramatically and that’s because they are affected by the energy of the collective circle.. Some times one or few members of the circle hold the shadow of everyone and if someone has to go beyond they boundaries and release, they are allowed and encouraged to express themselves. It’s necessary to release pressure and gain connection. Stopping the flow of energy or conversation once it has started is dangerous and it detriments the growth of others present and forced them often into their shadows of judgement, criticism, blame, abandonment.
The elder carefully navigates transitions through the ceremony to help the energy of the collective. If it isn’t going the way you like it, either go inward and meditate, walk away and clear your head to another space. Have faith they will shift it to something else. But if you aren’t holding space for positive change and are focusing on what is causing your disconnect, or dis-ease, then that is also holding back the progression of the energy of the entire circle. The elder only can guide what’s presented. It’s not their job to clean up the spiritual classroom once the learning has begun. It’s a magic school bus remember. It is a process to trust.
DO NOT EVER LEAVE A CEREMONY! When you commit to a ceremony that means you commit to the circle. Start to finish. You make an energetic contract. If you leave completely and break that circle you cause a leak in the positive energy to leave and again welcome low vibes like worry, panic, fear and abandonment. The Elder is responsible for your life while you are in ceremony. If you take it upon yourself to leave and not tell them or just pop it on them during ceremony that you are going, again it shatters the container. If you make the commitment to attend the ceremony, that is on you to do your work and take accountability of why your trip was hard. Shadow work and being in discomfort is medicine. Powerful medicine. If you go into ceremony already thinking you are going to bail, you have already broken the circle. Your intentions aren't pure. Again, that's dangerous. You have no idea your ability to function or what danger you would be putting yourself or others in.
Ceremony is not about control or expectation. It is about surrender, and possibility.
Pay your money. It’s an exchange. It’s energy, it cannot be created nor destroyed. Ensure that the energy you attach to you is what you want to reflect of yourself. So, pay upfront and in full whenever possible. It takes hundreds of hours to organize a ceremony. When you show up prepared it shows respect. It demonstrates your commitment to yourself, the Elders, and the rest of the circle. If you aren’t sure where to pay, ask. Things get busy before a ceremony and let’s be realistic... facilitators are often nervous and going through last minute preparations as well. They may not be on their game. That’s ok. They are human too. If you aren’t able to pay before, at sunrise and or upon the ceremony’s closing go to the facilitator and pay them directly. Again going to them and paying and saying thank you closes the exchange and creates a bond of respect. It closes the circle.
FORGOT YOUR MONEY OR WISH TO PAY ANOTHER METHOD
If you want to pay with another method you need to approach the facilitator well in advance. The medicine world runs on cash. It’s the way it is. Many don’t have phones or computers and need simple easy ways to get around. If it’s advertised or shared that others options of payment are available then great, use them. However, when it’s advertised as a simple peso or dollar price, that’s what it is. Healers need to acquire the medicine in cash because it’s not like The indigenous families of the mountains where the medicine comes from vibe in the Venmo and PayPal world. They need currency that helps their families, so when you add in the digital element, it’s also asking the Elder or Organizer to be offering another service at their inconvenience so you can be more comfortable. It reflects a lot to the elder about someone's willingness to acknowledge other's realm of life and step out of their comfort zone as well. It shouldn’t be assumed by others that special methods and acknowledgement be made for your requests to have a convenient payment. It’s a group, that’s the agreement. That’s the commitment.
Forgot your money??? As soon as you realize, tell the elder and ask them how it’s easiest for you to get the money to them ASAP!!! If you know before ceremony, that’s the time to share this info. That allows you to have clear energy. Elders understand. They know stressful personal things often flare up before sitting in ceremony and that things happen They are people too and they understand. They simply want to be acknowledged and brought up to speed so again the flow is open and there isn’t a control or low vibration of game playing. Be honest.
IT'S NOT ALWAYS EASY TO GET CASH THESE DAYS - That’s part of the process and the work.
The Elders spend hundreds of hours cleansing, praying, cooking, organizing, encouraging, fielding calls and ideas from the circle and team for you, the least you can do is make time to respect them in the way that they ask. It helps them feel seen and appreciated for their time and energy which truly doesn’t ever get remunerated for. Money is the currency we have in this realm to measure and use the energy held, so when we play with the control of that by withholding payment, it creates a power struggle of ones ego to the Elder or Facilitator.
When you don’t pay and aren’t prepared for ceremony, it’s energetically blocking you from receiving the gifts of the medicine. It is setting the tone for your experience to be led by control and expectation. It shows the Elder that you don’t need to follow the expectations of the group or that you are above the conditions set. No one is above. Everyone is equal. Don’t isolate yourself by avoiding the transformation because of a need to control the situation.
UNABLE TO AFFORD THE CEREMONY BUT WANT TO BE A PART???
When you truly feel called to sit with medicine and within the circle you will do what it takes to show up. People who really want the medicine openly say, "Look I can’t afford it right now," and ask if there a way to make another exchange or an instalment plan. Also, when one comes forward and says they can pay a part of it but not all, it allows the Elder to decide if there may also be a way for those people to give the remainder of the value in service for example. Be honest. When you are the universe provides gifts. Elders often leave room for scholarships for those to attend who truly have the heart to be there but can’t afford it. To ask, have heart and intentions to share and support and provide some effort to meet the exchange value. Trades are often welcome and the world of bartering also is possible. Again, show initiative, collaboration and creativity in how you plan to succeed in ceremony, and you shall be rewarded.
The circle’s leadership holds intention that is beyond our realm of understanding. Have faith that the conversation being held at the fire is being valued and held by the elder, don’t assume that because they haven’t shifted behaviors to accommodate something logical in your own head, that they aren’t engaged and actively allowing things to unfold. Trust in them. If they play a certain song, or change music and you want something different or don’t like what they are doing, don’t go and make a suggestion or ask them to shift to what you’re suggesting. Although logically in one’s brain you may see something and totally not agree but the spiritual world plays by different rules. Elders are working their own processes too, and sometimes they can’t just play music on command or make everyone happy at once.
Bring something to share. It encourages connection.
Make an effort to talk to someone new and listen to their story. We all have one and making room for someone else’s gives perspective that feeds growth
Never take or play someone’s drum or instrument without permission. The drum is the sacred heartbeat of our soul. We all often share our souls with others but it’s attached to the person who’s energy it’s holding and even when they aren’t present or are resting the activity of that drum can affect their process. When it’s resting by the fire, it may be doing just that... recovering energy. You may certainly ask someone if they would share their drum with you, but please don’t take and play someone’s sacred tool without asking.
Never ever ask someone to stop drumming or singing or making noise in their process, especially if it’s around the circle area. It’s completely disrespectful and is an act of ego and need to control the circle. If you don’t like what you hear, make peace with it. Maybe that’s the medicine you need to sit with.... They have every right to express themselves as you have the same right to be annoyed. It's also at the guidance of the Elder to allow or stop someone's process. It is mostly common for them to simply hold space for the release no matter how violent, disruptive, or demanding.
If you aren’t happy, don’t turn away from the circle to your material comforts! Going into your cocoon on a pile of pillows with your back to the fire shows the group that you would rather be alone than engaged in the flow of banter of the circle’s energy. It isolates individuals. That’s fine but don’t expect to be included or feel the warm fuzzies because others are having fun and you aren’t. Where you are at in your process isn’t the navigational responsibility of the entire group to field for you.
Everyone is on their own journey and that’s ok. Hearing things we don’t like in ceremony is ok. Group Ceremony isn’t about personal attention, it’s about connection and community. It’s gaining reflection and forcing one to choose how they want or deal with their surroundings.
When someone chooses to lay away from the circle it’s known that they are resting and in their own space. That’s their choice. The energy of the fire isn’t governed by holding space for those resting. It’s governed by the life of the fire. It’s energy is what drives the direction. If you aren’t part of the fire’s energy, don’t expect to feel the warmth of the circle. That also means emotionally. Also don’t expect to hear the music or sounds calling to you. Deciphering Sounds and words through medicine is the reflection coming back to us as a report card of our own judgements or self talk. Sit with that instead of deflecting energy outward. Some circles have outer areas where people can go seek solace or walk around.
Accept the flow and conditions of group ceremony. Part of the medicine is how you respond and grow from things not going your way.
The fire is the central energy of the group. It should have noise and energy. If it’s quiet, it’s because the elder commanded it. If you need space, it’s up to you to find a solution that’s peaceful.
If you are connected, enjoying and in another dimension.... Congratulations and enjoy the journey and the sensations. Allow yourself to enjoy all that Spirit is sharing with you. If you are seated, laying or somewhere very safe, totally sink as deep as you like and truly let go, If you are engaged in the circle and connected to the flow, just remember to be mindful and try and keep one baby toe in this world so you are able to abide by the etiquette to flow with the circle and not break the circle. If you feel things shifting, sit on the ground and just breathe and reflect.
FOLLOW THE DIETA! - don’t cheat. IT DOESN'T AFFECT JUST YOU. Do onto others as you would have done onto you
DIETA / Ceremony Preparation
A dieta is a diet or an acknowledgement of living in a certain way to prepare the body to receive the medicine. There are a number of reasons we honor the dieta.
When we drink alcohol, eat meat and take chemical or prescription drugs it lowers the frequency of the medicine, because it also lowers the frequency of our body to receive it. A much greater amount of medicine is needed to feel affects and often those affects felt are truly not as transformational or magic as possible. It’s a bigger expectation of the medicine to do the work you didn’t agree to. It’s completely wasteful. Spirit doesn’t reward abundance to those who are quick to waste the medicine because of the vanity or choice to not do the work or abide the requests upfront.
The dieta is meant to stir up discomfort and the shadow and allow us to engage with that energy so we are able be in that space ready to work when we arrive in ceremony ready to move forward.
It’s a commitment to yourself that spirit witnesses and it rewards with the results of the experience.
When you don’t follow the dieta, you also are saying you don’t respect the Elder. The Elder may never know, but it’s an unwritten agreement of energy you make and it’s reflected and delivered in the karma and abundance of your own daily life, and ease of receiving medicine in the future.
When we heal, we heal our lineage before us and our kids. If you drink alcohol on dieta for example, and you have an alcoholic lineage... You are stating to your ancestors that you aren’t willing to make the transformation for the generations to come. It’s saying you are content "vibing" here and letting that gene flow down to your kids. When you disrespect the dieta, you are preventing your kids or future kids from receiving the healing that could have come from the journey. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, because the universe watches the behavior and delivers the constant vibration of that in return.
The elders ask you to clean yourself and make space for yourself so you can have a fair chance at healing. It’s about making peace with the anxiety that comes before and settling into the idea of surrender. When you don’t abide by the dieta you bring shadows in with you that you don’t know and it makes the Elder’s and team’s job twice as hard. They end up fielding more shadow than needed and within a larger group that energy breeds rampantly. It inhibits the support staff to hold space the best they can. It makes them tired and it’s harder to give kinder messages or sing or play music all night long.
It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to remind you to be humble and For example:
if you eat ribs, drink beer and smoke joints all week while taking a couple sleeping pills, and drinking espresso on the day of ceremony thinking that you will just ask for a stronger cup of tea and it will be fine... don’t expect the ceremony to go well. Maybe you will be fine. But the energy of shadow is carried unknowingly. When you don't do the work, you put that energy out with no protection and it's able to be absorbed by others in the circle. That causes the flow for others to be less joyful. It’s dangerous and it’s a weapon.
Elders know when there are those within the circle who haven’t abided by protocol based on the amount of medicine it takes for one to connect, the behavior of the person, the patterns of movement and engagement within the group, and how they interact with those supporting the space. It forces them to grow and get stronger and learn new lessons, but it also prevents them from being as generous with medicine, energy, friendship or community in the future. Energy doesn’t lie. Be honest with yourself. Change takes work. Commit to being present and learning something about yourself.
Not abiding by the dieta is dangerous because it forces the flow to begin with a tainted vibe. It’s human nature to not follow things to the exact T. Fair enough, but in this case, it’s about commitment to one’s growth and healing. Don’t blame the Elders or the Music Team when you don’t get the results you want because you don’t realize they maybe couldn’t play or speak because they were physically having to hold space for those needing to express their low vibrations flowing due to the presence of anxiety brought on by chemical substance, especially alcohol present by those not abstaining.
Energy is transferred. Don’t put others at risk to enter their shadow without preparation because you aren’t willing to face yours.
Ceremony is about growth. It’s about knowing the medicine isn’t what’s in the cup but what’s in your behavior and willingness to be accountable to your own self in the days and weeks following.
Group ceremonies are about how you relate to you community and how your community sees you. If it is a small, private, regulated and controlled psychedelic experience you seek please inquire about one of those. It’s a specialty that has its own purpose. I offer sort of a hybrid which allows elements of spirituality but it also safely grounded with medical support for those requiring that confidence. Also, it allows us to push way deeper into the realms of healing Cancer, HIV, Severe PTSD, Chronic Pain Disorders, Addiction Recovery and so on. That is a service possible, but consider that at a significantly higher investment and time commitment to the dieta but personal healing experiences give you the opportunity to have more input in your release. If you want things your way, pay the price and you earn that right.
Healing isn’t about control and expectation. It’s about surrender and possibilities.
Thank you for your time and consideration in reading and absorbing this information. It's simple really... Respect your Elders, respect others and ask permission before upsetting the flow or compromising the energy of others.
Group ceremonies are amazing integrational experiences for those who have been working hard on trauma release and creating new personal patterns and healthy alternatives. They are also a comfortable less intimidating way to begin working with plant and entheogenic medicines. Group ceremonies are meant to be less about the strength of the medicine and the trip and more about how you can "handle" your medicine amongst the presence of others.
Best wishes on your next group medicine ceremony.