Healing with a Handful of Dirt and a Marlboro
Article by Freya Ray
“Hey, we’ve got a healing crisis on our hands!”
“Well, she went into the sweat lodge just fine. When she came out, she started spontaneously expelling a demon, speaking in tongues — that sort of thing. You should hear the spooky growling voice she’s using.”
“Has she puked yet?”
“Yup – kinda nasty dribbly stuff. While rocking back and forth on all fours.”
“Got it. Let’s see … I’ve got a bottle of Evian, a bunch of dirt and twigs and a pack of Marlboros. Yes. We can do this. Let the healing begin.”
I’m not really kidding. Of course, in the moment I don’t think it’s funny, as I am honestly scrounging around for what I can use to help someone desperately in need of help. Later, though, I can’t seem to resist the urge to find my entire spiritual practice hilarious.
Kitchen witching, pulling a McGyver, using mundane tools for sacred pagan purposes – whatever you want to call it, it works and sometimes it’s all you’ve got.
Some Situations Just Require Improvising
I have a Portable Witch Kit.™ Who doesn’t? It’s full of all the cool things I might want should I find myself in a Situation. A Situation could be any of the following:
· Sweat lodge, healing circle, or ritual fallout
· Someone’s living life a little too intensely and is frying on the energy
· Someone went and got themselves a demon, or a demon-ette (crud, guck, negative energy, that gray spot on their heart chakra)
· A breakup
· Psychic attack (see breakup)
· “Stuff” is up (childhood abuse issues, abandonment stuff, addictive patterns)
· There’s a sudden opening — a sweet spot, a softening in someone’s armor — that would allow some healing work to be done
· Past lives are rearing their ugly heads
· “Look! It’s an implant! Quick, let’s get it!”
I’d love to say I have my Witch Kit with me at all times, but it’s just not possible. I mean, first of all, it’s sort of unwieldy. It’s a small canvas bag, and an entire fishing tackle box of crystals. And even though the canvas bag by itself is fairly small, it’s not sturdy. It’s a precarious concoction including a glass candle; various bottles of things like Florida Water, Rescue Remedy and magickal massage oil; charcoal pellets; dragon’s blood; and a big honkin’ shell with sage in various stages of burnt in it, wrapped in a dish towel. The shell balances on top of the candle, but not well enough to rattle around in my car all the time. Besides, I like to have the shell out on an altar at home, so the whole bag has a tendency to get half-unpacked and then repacked when I need it.
Let’s look again at the list above and consider how many of these Situations would allow me to run home, assemble my kit, and come back. Hmm… that’s not an option. Much of the time, healing is like a first kiss. You seize the moment or the chance moves on and you’re “just friends” forever.
Tools to Consider:
You have the whole world at your disposal. What sorts of things can be turned to your evile witchy purposes?
When I teach healing with energy work, I ask my students in the tools class, “I can think of six ways off the top of my head to heal someone with dirt. How many can you come up with?” They start throwing out ideas, and it goes on for more than six every class. You can use mud to draw out toxins, make a fetish, hold a handful in your hand and put energy you want to get rid of in it and then throw it away, you can bury things in it, you can put your hands or body on it to ground, etc. It’s almost always available to you (even indoors – I’ve grounded out excess energy into a houseplant’s soil). Same thing with rocks and twigs, should you find yourself outside.
My favorite grounding ritual: lay face down on the dirt and give it back to Mama. One time a boyfriend and I were fighting, and he told me later, “I was so mad and I was crying and I went out in the yard and laid on the grass, and then I remembered it was you who taught me that and I was even more pissed at you.” Ha! Useful technique trumps current attitude about teacher. Doesn’t get better than that.
Of course when working with tobacco we’d all prefer to have a nice pouch of Drum or a fine Cuban cigar rolled on the thighs of virgins. All smoke has powerful smudging properties, and tobacco is unique in its flavor. In the right hands, it’s completely different from sage or sweetgrass or dragon’s blood or Epsom salts and rubbing alcohol or cinnamon or any of the other things you might burn for the smoke.
However, when you can’t have the best, any old crap-ass menthol will do. Honest. Just don’t inhale. Pull smoke just into your mouth and then puff it out onto the area you want to clear. For yourself, pull it into your mouth and then puff it out into your cupped hand. Use your hand to pull it where you need it – heart and crown chakras being the most common places.
Use that bottle of Evian! Water need not come from the Glastonbury Spring nor be buried by Rumi-chanting elves under the light of the Full Moon in order to be sacred. Wave a blessing its direction and put it to good use. Water can be used to help flush stuff out of someone’s system — that’s why massage therapists tell you to drink lots after a massage. You can use it to wash things out of your aura — add cider vinegar, sea salt, or Epsom salts, and it’s even more powerful. Water can be used to anoint, to gently bless. You don’t have sage handy? Throw them in the lake, or the bathtub!
Throw Something Away
So one time, at this festival, I had the opportunity to be the recipient of the combined healer energy from a Vicky Noble healing class. She was looking for volunteers for the group to practice on, and I happened to have a very groovy lump growing out of the side of my neck. Turns out the healing circle had zero effect on the lump (that benign cyst required surgery), but it was my ticket to some massive amounts of transformative energy that I desperately needed.
After this circle, I found myself standing in a doorway. My energy was stirred, shaken, massively bedrock disturbed. I needed to move it, fast, before I imploded. I was dancing at an outdoor performance, barefoot in a dustbowl surrounded by other festivalgoers. It came to me that I had to walk through that doorway naked and alone. Alone was easy — strangers who weren’t paying any attention to me surrounded me. Naked, well, that meant my jewelry.
I was wearing a little goddess in my ear, with a dangling amethyst crystal. I had on a string of rose quartz beads. There were toe rings. There was a silver fairy pendant, a gift from my sister, around my neck. I was wearing my juju! These things were all doing particular magickal jobs: balancing my energy, invoking the other realities I was learning to dance through, giving me rose quartz teddy bear love, and importantly — advertising to other baby witches that I was a proud new member of the clan. Naked. These things were performing functions, but they were also locking me into my previous energetic matrix. They were holding the vibrations of who I had been before Vicky Noble coordinated the energies of forty healers, all pointed at me. Although now, 10 years later, I can still tell you which pretty things I let go of, I can also tell you it was an easy decision. No deep thought was required at all. I just started stripping things off and hurling them into the woods.
The best was the rose quartz. I snapped the string and pulled the beads loose. I dropped them into the dirt. Then I danced them into the dust with my bare feet.
I was free. I walked through the door.
Should you find yourself in a Situation, look at what else is there with you. Is there some talisman that is holding on to what you seek to release? Can you or the person you’re working with be persuaded to throw or give it away?
Bring in a Little Sweetness
A friend brought a friend over to my house, and one thing led to another in the way things do. Next thing you know, I’m deep in energy work with the friend of my friend. After much excitement and an impressive display of our healing talent and her willingness to heal, things were settling into a quiet, wrapping up mood.
My friend and I settled on either side of our healing victim. I felt so strongly that she needed to know the sweetness of sisterhood. She needed to know, all through her, that she was loved and cherished.
I fetched the honey. I put a single drop on her tongue, while my friend and I held her and let her know she was loved. The honey communicated this message to her body on a level we couldn’t reach. I know it made an impression — I got several letters from this woman who had been a stranger a few hours before.
Never underestimate the value of puking. Both for you and for the person you’re helping. I mean, sure, there are nice, controlled Reiki types who make it through their entire healing careers without yakking their guts up on behalf of a client. Bless their hearts; I’m sure it must be wonderful.
I’m a shamanic type, though. I don’t get the luxury of standing off at a distance waving my arms around. I mean, sure, I wave my arms around (and yell and bite and whatever it takes), but I’m also directly involved in the crap coming out of someone. There’s a reason why I don’t do much healing work. I can’t avoid it all the time, though, and puking can be great.
When removing junk from someone, one technique is to suck it out of them. Now this is like siphoning gas from a car. (Anyone tried this recently as the prices keep going up?) You need to start sucking, and then get your mouth off the tube before you get a mouthful of toxic death. Same exact principle with energetic guck. You do a Clinton Inhale™(or a We’re Already Married Swallow™— pick your metaphor). Suck into your mouth, and then spit it out real quick.
If you’re a shamanic, full-body sort of healer like me, sometimes stripping stuff off with your hands isn’t enough. You have to suck it out instead. Two problems: Sometimes you don’t spit quickly enough, and sometimes the guck is extra wily and gloms onto you anyway.
What do you do then? Puke. If you’re lucky, you can do some meaningful dry heaving and call it good. If you’re not, sometimes you just have to use the full physical metaphor to get that crap you just ingested right back out of you.
If you’re dumb enough to add this sucking technique to your repertoire (or are already stuck with it — it’s not really something you choose), please remember one thing: If you have the urge to gak, don’t fight it. You will really regret it if you work to keep someone else’s demon-nasty slime-trail inside you. The short-term pain of throwing up is a thousand times better than the long-term pain of trying to find another sucker (oops! I mean healer) to get it out of you.
On the other side of the healer equation, puking can be good for the one being healed, too. If they’ve got the nasty in them and they’re trying to expel it themselves, encourage them to follow their urge. You’ll see them going green around the edges or perhaps retching a bit. Let them know that this can be an effective way to move energy, and they should go with it rather than fight it.
The body knows. If it can move the energy out with just a little mucous, it will do so. If it needs to go throw up for half an hour, it will do that.
Other Special Techniques
All right, I’m finished being disgusting. What else do you have at your disposal besides your digestive tract? Hands, breath, voice, warmth, the rest of your body. When helping someone move energy, I have wrapped myself around them and rocked them, using that instinctive child-like rhythm to help sort things out to where they needed to be. I have used my breath to blow things away or move them around. The voice is wonderful for toning (you and/or the recipient), doing a kung-fu cry to break up stuck guck, or telling a story about the energy leaving (guided visualization).
The hands are magick. With nothing but your hands, you can pull energy out, put energy in, balance chakras, smooth someone’s brow, or hold their hand. You can fix, heal, support, and love.
What else could you need?