I have been taking a break from daily posting for the last year to gather my energies and process some deep grief and woundings. At last I feel I have something to share. Maybe you have taken my workshops or are a consistent client in my sobadora practice. Either way I feel this blog especially is important to share regarding the direction and altar of the East.
In my training, and in my past workshops, it has been handed down to me that there is no shadow of the East and I have mistakenly handed it to others since then. After I respectfully asked (more than once) about why the people at La Ventana were omitting the shadow of the South Altar (According to the book we read, The Four Altars, the shadow is arrogance) in my trainings, and received vague and sometimes no responses at all, I just laid the questioning down knowing that there was something flawed in the, then current iteration and learning I was receiving. Upon the completion of my year of grief with my oldest son's death, I can safely say that there is a shadow of the East Altar. That shadow is grief.
When my son passed on 12/11/21 and was cremated on the winter solstice, I began the journey of my year of grief. Through every season I was twisted, chewed, tortured, and buried in the agonizing and subtle torture of grief. For without my spiritual practice and gathering of tools thus far, I would have surely been lost. It certainly compacted this grief to be cast from my spiritual community by the very people who instructed me incorrectly, one month from his death for using the word ancestral healing in my business name. This is a whole other blog topic for another time.
That summer, I went kayaking with my youngest son to a special place called Hidden Springs. An indigenous ancestral land where springs come up in the shallow reeds of this small dammed lake. I held tobacco offering right in my kayak and afterward went about my rowing to a place on the opposite side of the spring. I had gathered several bits and pieces of trash on my kayak by my standard of "Leave it better than you found it!!" and saw in the undercarriage of a willow bush a plastic bag. I rowed to it and couldn't quite reach it with the tip of my oar. Every swipe unfortunately pushed the bag further into the barrier of sticks and branches of where I couldn't even swim safely. In that moment a rush of spirit raced through me.This happens to me when I am receiving spiritual guidance. Tears welled up as I realized that this bag was a minor metaphor for my son's life. I just couldn't reach him. I knew in this moment that I had to memorialize him here in this place, and in time I would.
The next December a new acquaintance asked if I would like to go hiking at Hidden Springs and I immediately knew it was time. When she pulled into my driveway to pick me up I went to her and asked if it would be ok if after the hike I leave some of my sons ashes there and she was more than agreeable as a woman of spirit. After the hike I grabbed my basket and the ashes and we walked over to that spot. I lit my popeskomitl and applied the copal calling in directions and asking guidance and protection. It was a beautiful honoring with tears of a grieving mother with a special sister by my side.
As we were returning to the car and talking about how beautiful it is to honor our relations in that way, we are wildly interrupted by the chattering of a woodpecker who was flying to the power line above. It was an immense energy and even my friend felt that this was a big sign. We looked up and the woodpecker dropped something in the leaves below. We dashed over without even talking and began sifting through leaves to find what it was. I located what was an eaten acorn. While many would this was an obvious discard to such a creature, only if you look deeper into my East Altar, you will find that it is riddled with acorns of every species, size, shape and color! In that moment creator spoke to my heart and said, "The shadow of the East is grief."
When I got home my phone chimed at me and gave me a year ago today message. It was 12/18/22, exactly a year from his funeral. I placed that acorn shell on my altar and gave thanks for the best and most truthful teacher of all, nature.
I hope you will listen to nature yourself when looking for your personal shadows of these altars.