Enter the Toltec

Sherrie Locke, written on 5 Kat, January 2014

For many of you who know me personally, you know that I am a very private person, preferring to work in the background or as the support system for friends and clients. Many times I have chosen to live life “under a rock” or in the outback, always on the “Universal Relocation Program” (which I will discuss in a future post).

In my life I have been initiated into many traditions. I found out later that my invitations for these initiations came due to the fact that whichever elder I ran into was interested enough in me to “look into” what I am.

Shortly thereafter I would receive an invitation to accept (or not) the inner initiations of that tribe or culture. Thus I have reached this juncture with an extremely diverse set of skills and knowledge.

On many occasions I have also had the opportunity to share knowledge I have learned from other cultures and to make correlations that have deepened my understanding of each culture and the interconnectedness of it all. This knowledge has allowed me to experience what I term the “golden thread” that connects us all together.

Sometimes names, words or phrases used are different. Within each ceremony, each tradition, lies a commonality, a base, a union, an understanding of who we are and what we want for this planet and the generations to come. So there is a similar “tone” going on. I call it The Prime Directive. All this diversity makes for an interesting life.

It was around 2007 that I came into contact with the Toltec tradition. The ball game changed dramatically at that point. I had been working with an engineer in Florida on a tech project when one night, very late (we used to work until sunrise), he asked me if I knew anything about the Toltec teachings. I said “No, nothing really, other than some references from the Carlos Casteneda books I read many years ago.” I really knew nothing about it.

Charley told me a fascinating story of his life and how he came into contact with a wonderful teacher (which, I now know, was a funny statement) Cheyenne Maloney. The reason I say its a funny statement is that Cheyenne really doesn’t like or use the word “teacher,” so we lovingly call her our Fuda. (It’s a word we made up for our “fearless leader,” who prefers not to label things in general.)

This began a new chapter in my life, a move to Florida and a subsequent relocation to Guatemala. All due to the amazing effects of walking the Toltec path, which is not an easy one and certainly not for everyone.

I will elaborate on the Toltec belief system and adjustment of the human assemblage point in a future blog.

Space Clearing 101

Written by Sherrie Locke, 4 Toj, February 2014

I tend to forget that most people were not raised the way I was, so there are many things I take for granted as just simple general knowledge. It was after a number of years that I discovered that even though these things are in plain sight, very few people ever take the time or energy to really look at their environment and, most especially, at the state of their own character.

Let us begin with just a few simple things to do and some very simple techniques to do them.

Entry and Exit Points
In a home or business there are entry and exit points, there are windows, there are cabinets, drawers, rooms for special things, a kitchen, a bed room and a bathroom. Thinking in terms of the four directions (Air, Fire, Water and Earth), a room, items and things in your home represent each of these and is ruled by these energies.

The kitchen and bedroom are ruled by Venus. The bath is ruled by the moon (Yemaya) and so on. I will write a future post on planetary rulership.

The manner in which this knowledge is implemented is something that I personally am a stickler about.

Do you think about what you are doing? I mean really. Go in your bathroom, what does it look like? Is it clean? Do you realize the plumbing system in your home is an entry and exit point? So, do you really ever clean the energy around the drains? The faucets? And the toilet?
Some of the most meticulous of energy workers will do all the other cleansings (with sage, sea salt, and the like), and yet they never consider these other entry/exit points. So I am gonna give you a hint, a way of fixing it and hopefully spark you to be more mindful about everything you do and the environment you are in.

The Drain Stops Here
Drains collect energy. There are water spirits, and just like any other realm, some are really sweet and some are foul. So once a week or once a month after you have done a space clearing (see my article on general smudging guidelines) you might want to pay attention to the drains and to the other entry/exit points in your home or the environment you are working in. Especially if there has been negative energy or illness in the space.

A simple inexpensive way of clearing out not only dirt and grime but also unwanted energies. I use ammonia, the cheap stuff you buy at the grocery store. So every once in a while, pour some down all drains and also in the toilet and flush it. The ammonia drives away negative energies.
And another thing I always laugh about is the age-old statement, “You left the toilet lid up again.” Well, ladies, let me tell you, a man leaving the seat up is nothing compared to the fact that you leave the lid up exposing the toilet bowl, like a vessel of water awaiting programming, and then broadcasting out into your home (I am not kidding kids).

So here’s the deal. A bowl of water collects energy. The toilet is an entry and exit point into your home. So why do you want to leave it open unless you are using it?
Consider this, and you might start being more mindful about everything you do. And for you germ-o-phobes, it’s like this: you have your sink where you brush your teeth, you have a toilet in the same room, you go in and use the toilet, flush it with the lid up, and the water molecules not only go down the drain but also swirl up into the room and environment, spreading a thin invisible mist in the entire room, oh including your toothbrush and toiletries and your freshly cleaned body. Think about it, really.

So ladies, stop complaining about men not putting the seat down and close the lid on the toilet when you are not using it! Jeez people. Just be mindful about what you are spreading and doing especially in your own home, if you expect to really do a good energetic job that will hold space. It may sound like a simple thing but it can make a world of difference in your home.

Sacred Altars

By Sherrie Locke, written on 12 K’at, February 2014

A sacred altar is the central location or point of focus for meditation, contemplation and/or ritual related to ancestor reverence, meditation or ceremony.

An altar, or “mesa,” can be anything from a lovely cloth that you carry with your sacred objects and ritual offerings, to a very elaborate set up either inside or outside one’s home.

An altar is also called a mesa.

I will use the example of a typical “ancestor altar” for our first point of reference. Ancestor altars are usually placed within the home, in a location where you will be able to “sit with” that altar. Your family, home and traffic in certain areas of the home should all be considered when choosing the location of the altar. Will you have privacy? Will you need privacy for what you plan to use the altar for, or is it a family shrine? Will others use the altar?

Where to Place Your Altar
These are considerations for location. Don’t worry! If at first you don’t know where you will want to maintain it in the long run, you have the option of setting up the space and, after the conclusion of the ritual (or a certain period of time), you can take it all down and recreate it every time you wish to use it.

First and foremost, always cleanse yourself (see my blog on Sacred Smudging), and then cleanse the room and the space you will be using. Of course, be sure to physically clean the space. Would you have your extended clan over to the house with mountains of dust bunnies all over the altar? I think not.

Creating an Ancestor Altar
I learned to do my first ancestor altar from a respected elder, who explained the following things are required:
1. An altar cloth or something like that (in the old days they preferred frayed edges on the fabric, because the connection is better).
2. Pictures, symbols or items that represent things for you, for the day (such as in Mayan astrology) or for the ancestor(s).
3. A candle.
4. A vessel for water or liquid offerings.

Other options are a crystal grid, an item of personal power, or items that belonged to an ancestor.
The idea is to have a point of focus, such as a picture, a symbol or item that represents what you are doing,

Water is a natural conductor, so it is always good to put clean fresh water on the altar, possibly also some flowers.

Ceremonial Candles

The candle is to be lit and used during ritual or ceremony. In most traditions the candles should never be “blown” out, they should ideally be allowed to burn out on their own (be sure you put any candles in a fireproof “candle runner,” or what I use, a small bowl with some sand, which holds the candle firmly, whether you use glass-encased candles or tall taper candles).

You may also want to buy a nice candle snuffer to keep on the altar for this purpose. Some people prefer to use tea lights, since they have a limited duration and can be monitored more closely. Put them on a dish or something.

When choosing candles for an altar, consider what you are using it for and how long you will be able to watch it. Choose the size and color candle(s) that are appropriate for the operation. I will do a blog on ritual uses of candles and the colors and their uses in a future post.

Set your intention, look at everything and see that you like it and that the energies you are working with will be pleased with the offering(s). Light the candle. State your prayers, gratitude and give offerings (I find this is best done “out loud”) just as if you are talking to the person or energy directly.

You may choose to pour a libation, the favorite drink of an ancestor, (I will post a future blog on the subject of “offerings), or choose a bottle of liquor, a perfume, or an item that remains unopened as a part of the permanent altar space. Make it very special when you offer it the first time.
When I have permanent ancestor altars, I like to use a “covering cloth,” so when I am not using the altar it is protected from prying eyes and also in case someone might like to touch something on it, which I personally prefer not to happen.

My suggestion is to keep your altar simple at first so you learn to work with it and then build it up from there. Have fun with it, think of what an ancestor or the ruling nahual of the day might be like and what would be appropriate.

Outdoor Altars
For an outdoor altar, you might gather rocks or build a small shrine that you can use regularly for a myriad of purposes.

Or build a fire pit, which is customary here in the land of the Maya, where our central rituals are all fire ceremonies.

How Often to Use Your Altar
The indoor altar in my house is usually rocking with candles and offerings of the day, most every day. You may use your altar whenever and however often you like, just keep up a steady rhythm or schedule.
If you are only to use it on, say a birthday, just use a portable altar or mesa setup. If you plan on using it more often, then stick to a regular schedule. Don’t let it get dusty, and never use it for a table!

Now go forth and create sacred space and a beautiful altar for your ceremonies of love and gratitude.

General Smudging Guidelines

Written by Sherrie Locke on 2 Ix, February 2014

In most Native American and other indigenous traditions, a clearing or a cleansing is performed as the opening for all ceremony or ritual practice, whether is it a personal ritual or a group ceremony.

Many traditional ceremonies use local plants and herbs. We will begin with a most basic smudging: a ceremony or ritual performed to either clear oneself and aura or to clear a space such as ones home to evacuate stale or negative energy stored in the space or auric field.

You will need three items.

1. White sage (Salvia Officinalis) or a white sage smudge stick (you can purchase these in the incense section at Wholefoods.) For the non-metaphysical properties of sage, see http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Salvia+officinalis.)

2. A fire source (I find the sacred “Bic” works well). I was with an elder at a remote sacred site a very long time ago, and he asked me if I had a light. I looked at him and said, “A light? Like a flashlight?” He said, “No, I was asking if you carry the sacred flame.” I said. “Well, I don’t think I have had that initiation grandfather.” He stood up and proclaimed, “I am the keeper of the sacred flame!” Then he reached in his pocket and pulled out a red Bic lighter, scratched it to life and held it to the sky.

He sat back on the earth, held the lighter in his open palm, looked me in the eyes and said, “My dear Sherrie, you never know when you will need to build a sacred fire, so always carry the sacred flame. This is traditional.” Then he gave me the red Bic lighter. Moral to the story: always be prepared.

3. A fireproof dish, bowl or a pan of some kind so you don’t set the house on fire. This is, of course, not necessary if you are working outside on the earth.

If working with loose sage, you will use the pan to burn the sage in. If you use metal, be sure you consider the heat factor and use an oven mitt or something.

If using a smudge stick, you will be using the pan to hold underneath the smudge stick so that if it pops or gets really hot you can catch the ashes and embers. Trust me you will need this. (Traditionally we use an abalone shell for a smudge bowl and a wing or feather to fan the smoke from the bowl or from a smudge stick. We are well trained in cleaning the aura, place or the like, we can feel it. The wing and the spirit of the bird help us go directly to the “thickness” and remove it like a surgeon.

Practice makes perfect. The tool is only as powerful as the practitioner. These are rules we go by in general. A smudge may be beneficially performed by a novice, but it might not be as powerful as a ceremony performed by a traditional shaman or properly trained practitioner who is tuned in, intentional and heart centered.

I feel it is important to do personal smudging frequently, especially after interacting with others, to re-center yourself in your own energies and clear any negativity. It is required prior to most traditional ceremony. Like we say, leave your shit outside the lodge.

Health and holistic practitioners can benefit greatly by doing smoke cleanses but may need to devote a considerable amount of time to this and also to cleaning the space they have been working in at the end of the day. Note that sage is an antiseptic, so it can also be used in treatment rooms or where people have been ill, not only to clear residual emotional debris but also to clear airborne germs and pathogens.

I must also note that in this day and age many places will not let you burn anything. I have run into this myriad times, especially in California. There are other types of cleansings that can be prepared and used in this situation, which I will address in a future post. We are solely focusing on smoke cleansing or smudging.

Smudging Basics
Basically it works like this. Take a few deep breaths and relax. If you plan to cleanse a room or a house, walk through it first and look at the places that gather energy so you have an idea what to focus on. Set your intention (to clear you and/or the space).

How to Do a Personal Smudging
Always smudge yourself before you smudge another person or start a house clearing or blessing. For a personal smudge: light the sage, get it burning and then blow out the flames. Start at the bottom (feet) and let the smoke kiss your body, bathe in it, thank it for taking away what you do not need, for clearing and letting go of any negativity. It’s that simple.

How to Smudge a Room or House
For a space or house clearing smudge, begin and end at a designated point (you work that out). If you are smudging a house, you might want to start at the front door, move in a steady fashion, clockwise or counterclockwise (your preference or belief system but choose one and stick with it), going in that general direction through each room until you get back to your starting point.

Be sure to watch how the smoke rises in different areas, it will tell you where the negativity hangs out. You might want to spend a bit more time and smoke on those areas. Don’t forget closets, drawers and cabinets. You can expedite this by opening them all on your first walk through, then go back after you have completed the whole project and put everything back the way it was, only now it’s clean and de-cootied. I always open a door or window afterward to let anything out that needs to go out.

Other Notes on Smudging
If you are using a smudge stick, put it out under running water. After it dries you can reuse it, but if you crush it out it will continue to smolder and be a fire hazard.

If you are using loose sage, carry a bag of it around with your bowl so you can add to the fire rather than having it all go up at once.

Go forth and clean that space!

I will post a more advanced cleansing ceremony at a later time, this is intended for newbies and getting used to doing the cleaning rituals.

Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin!

Preparing Space for Divination or Healing

By Sherrie Locke, 8 Kej, February 2014

I am a stickler for “preparing space,” it is the single most important aspect of doing a good reading, a good and productive healing session or anything “meta”-physical. It is the key to things going well or according to the intended plan.

The first thing to do is make sure the space, area or site you are working on or with is cleaned. This means smudging the space, setting an intention, opening a work space, holding that space, and when you are finished, closing that held space and giving thanks to those plants and beings who help in the whole operation.

I have witnessed many a healer/reader with no sense of “boundaries” or space and who are often not even clear on the intention. This will not do! Not only must the facilitator be conscious of these parameters, but they must also be clear with the client so that the intentions for the sessions match.
This is the beginning of a successful interaction for all parties.
The next thing to do is be conscious of your level of understanding and knowledge, first of the intended modality you plan to use, and then and most important, is the knowledge and understanding of the place or location you are working in.

I am also a stickler about not bringing in a tradition that has nothing to do with the area, region or culture on which whose land you stand. So be conscious and reverent, because the spirits of that very place are helping you by interacting with all that is being done there.

As I have said many times before, you are can’t fight a Sumerian demon with a few Christian prayers and by throwing some white light at it (or holy water for that matter). You will wind up dead, only to come back and figure it out next go around. Possibly with collateral damage.

So be aware of your limits and realms of knowledge. If you think something is out of your league, then it probably is and you should call for assistance or just step away. Or keep the session within your realm of expertise. Believe me, I have had to clean these things up many times for others (another specialty in my “tool kit”). That is, if there were any survivors to counsel and they could make it to me.

There are many ways to create space and to hold that space, I will elaborate in a future category of “Working Rituals.” In the meantime, be mindful, conscious and intentional in all you do, for this will serve you well and your interactions even better!

My Psychic Transformation: A Switch Flipped

One summer on our usual visit to grandma’s house, my cousins and I had been playing in the “forbidden” Fountain Creek (pronounced “crick” in parts of the States) behind her house. We were not allowed to do that due to the risk of flash flooding in the summer rainy season, but we did it anyway, confident that we would be the winners in any potential disaster because the three of us, John, Jeff and I “knew everything” and if it was dangerous, we would know by checking our FM. If it was safe that day, we just “knew.” We always checked the vibe, but usually the only looming scary thing was being caught by grandma, who knew all along exactly where the three of us were. We collected gems, stones and investigated everything, “native” style.

Somewhere that summer, I was bitten by a tick and contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Needless to say I was down for the count and a medical (allopathic) doctor was called.

I was about seven or eight years old. I went down, and my aunts, mom and grandmother put a bed in the middle of the living room and sat with me in a circle for days. I had a fever of 104 degrees plus, so they put ice packs on me and sat and crocheted or watched a program on TV, while I was delirious with fever. I saw every relative that ever was in the tribe…they came and spoke to me while I could barely hear my aunts saying something like, “I wonder who she is talking to now? You think it’s…?”

They all glowed, the people I saw while in this state. I could see the connection between them all and their interactions, both verbal and non-verbal. There were beings all around me with my mom, aunts and grandmother, everyone in perfect harmony. I was not afraid, but I was higher than a kite. The doctor had given me some powerful drugs.

After several days I came back to life, almost literally, and was able to answer certain questions I was asked about my travels, interactions with long gone relatives and what I saw from the “other side.” Everyone in the family kept saying, “Welcome back.”
There was a distinct after effect of this episode: I could not turn it off! I kept waiting for it to fade away or return to being random but no, no way, it was full on, auras on everything, even things. People on whom I turned my attention would glow.

I thought wow, this must be what they are talking about when people take drugs (lots of them) or something. I thought the drugs the doctor gave me had altered me in some way. Now I know my neurotransmitters had shifted because of the fever and the biological shift, never to return to their previous state.

After that, new fun began in earnest.

Honoring Your Lineage and Your Ancestors

By Sherrie Locke, Written on 10 Vulture, January 2014.

Vulture is a day to honor your ancestors, so I find it fitting that I wrote this blog on 10 Vulture without having looked in advance.

Your lineage is your heritage. You are not just living your life for yourself, you are living your life as an extension of where you came from (region) and the ongoing expression of your very DNA lineage. So embrace it in all its richness, diversity, and all its good and bad, for it is a part of who you are and also a clue to the direction you may choose to take your life. All it has offered, all you are proud of, all you are ashamed of, it is all a key to what makes you “tick.”

In this day and age most people, unless raised in an ethnic or indigenous family, don’t think much about our dead relatives. But they have so much to do with our lives, our struggle, our victories. These victories are not simply shared by the living. They are the evolution of the clan, the tribe. Get to know yours, for there is a wealth of understanding (Binah) available to you in your search of your true self.

Sometimes we may not know our lineage, what with adoptions, relocations and in some cases a lack of interest or even suppression of the truth and the like. Some say we have lost our roots, but I say, the “feeling” is in you, the seed lies in the area of your interest.

What the Hopi Elders Say

The Hopi elders have stated that there is a rainbow tribe, that many are born in a different “skin” in this life, and that not all First Nation people are red, not all white people white…the heart is the color of the direction of the driving force. Thus there are “apples” (red on the outside and white on the inside) and “coconuts” (brown on the outside and white on the inside). You get it…and other “acceptable terms” that are used for descriptions.

Grandfather David (a Hopi Elder with whom I spent some time with at New Buffalo when he was 106 years old) told me during lodge at Native American Church that you cannot judge a man by the color of his skin or even his doctrine, that you must look into his Heart, for there lies his connection to the “good red road.” He said, “Many will come, saying they know the way, but the only ‘way’ is through the heart. The red road begins here (pointing to his chest), and if your heart is pure, all knowledge will come to you, the right teacher will appear, and you will know you are on the way, ‘the sacred way’.”

I have had such blessings bestowed on me in this life so far, many of those blessings being the treasure of spending time with beloved elders. I continue to hold space for them.

MUTAKUYE OYASIN! HO!