Archive for July, 2012

A Spirit journey led to a circle of dolphins.

A ceremony to ascend in JOY manifested in form.

The new moon is a time I often create despachos. Traditionally the prayers of a despacho are blown into cocoa leaves, placed with offerings in wrapping paper then tied up like a gift and burned in a ceremonial fire. During the new moon of July I had plans to be on a wild dolphin retreat in Bimini so it was there a despacho would be created.

Spirit had a bigger vision. During our first meeting over lunch I learned that sacred lodge sister Carla Goddard was going to be on the west coast at the same time I would be at the Atlantic. The Ascension to Joy ceremony was born.

Rather than create a traditional despacho in wrapping paper I was inspired to use the natural elements of Bimini to create a despacho in sand. Instead of fire, water would be the element to which our despacho would return washed clean by the tides.

Hundreds of souls joined with prayers and intentions carried to each coast. A finger sponge to the Atlantic, a prayer stick to the Pacific. Other than the sponge, very little went with me to Bimini for our despacho trusting that what I needed would be there. I did however take a bag of Himalayan salt crystals, organic cocoa nibs and gold and silver resin.

View from our Despacho

Bimini abounds in beauty. Grand and gorgeous conch shells are everywhere. Coconuts, with their sweet nectar purified by traveling through palm trees are abundant. These elements were integral to ceremony here.

Finger Sponge in Heart of Despacho

Finger Sponge in Heart of Despacho

Prayers in the finger sponge sat at the heart of our despacho in a coconut shell anchored in a natural sponge from Bimini. These sponges were fed with coconut water nourishing our prayers in pure, sweet nectar.

A piece of coral found the first day reminded me of an antennae and was added to the sponge to amplify the signals of our intentions to the Universe.

Himalayan salt crystals were placed in a counterclockwise direction around the center of our despacho to cleanse and unwind from our systems all that blocks the flow of joy. Offerings of cocoa honor the lineage of this ceremony. Silver and gold resin honor the flow of the sacred masculine and feminine and link our prayers to both Pachamama and Inti Ti Ti, Earth and Sun.

A Spirit song came through as I circled and sang around the center of our despacho in a clockwise direction with the intention of building the energy of JOY. A small well was created to which native flowers were added for beauty.

Blowing prayers into Conch Shell

Blowing prayers into Conch Shell

Eleven of us were on retreat and each was represented by a conch shell that surrounded the perimeter of our despacho. Personal and collective prayers were blown into the shells. I am not a numerologist but the number 11 feels significant as the number 1 reflects oneness, amplified by its repetition in the number 11. Eleven holds us in Unity consciousness where all hearts meet as ONE.

Coconut Love

Coconut Love

Two coconuts were placed at the North end (top) of despacho to feed our prayers from the highest realms and honor our ancestors, our intentions awash in the abundance and nourishment of the bountiful coconuts. The bark of palm trees connected both sides of our despacho ending in a spiral of shells guiding our prayers to the ocean.

The wild and free dolphins of Bimini blessed us profoundly and their sacred medicine of joy, playfulness, community, touch, sensuality, pleasure, telepathy and communication weave deeply into our ceremony. We were graced with two pods of dolphins that swam with us for an hour before our despacho was created. They teach us how to live in two worlds as they dwell in both the world of air and water.

The tides washed clean all elements of our despacho. All that remained were the 11 conch shells. Each of us now carries this shell as a reminder of the magic of our time in Bimini. A sacred object gifted by Spirit for meditation, healing, prayer and JOY.

Tides washed clean our Despacho

Tides washed clean our Despacho

May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings know JOY.
May all beings be held in love.
May all beings,
be free.

AHO my friends!

Watch on full screen by clicking arrows
at bottom right corner of video.

Visit Joe Noonan to find out more about wild dolphin retreats
in Bimini and Hawaii.

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It began with a journey.

Swimming away from the shore. From all that I know. Finding respite. A small island of sand to sit and rest. Swimming around me a circle of dolphins. Held in unwavering joy.

A spirit journey manifested in form. Beyond the realms of what I could have imagined for myself.

A ceremony arose. Ascension to JOY.

I left New York, my home since birth, swimming away from the shore and all that I know. I met Carla Goddard for the first time in Florida. The place I landed, a respite of sand. A sacred lodge of women arose in the ethers. What existed online has began to take form.

From our first meeting over lunch a ceremony was born. She carrying a prayer stick to the Pacific. I carrying a finger sponge to Bimini.

We were on opposite coasts at the same time. Monday afternoon we would join in ceremony. She at the Pacific. I at the Atlantic.

On Monday I headed out to the deep waters of the Atlantic with my two sisters, our six kids (ranging in age from 5 to 20), Joe Noonan the dolphin whisperer, his son Mark and our captain Kevin and first mate and wife Candy. Our intent was to find dolphins.

Four hours later still no sign on one of the calmest days ever on the ocean. We had all let go of the expectation of finding dolphins that day. We headed back in. I had a despacho to create to join with Carla in ceremony on the Pacific.

And then we heard the word.


A few hundred feet out a fin above the water. Now?

In moments, the energy that had waned as our boat trip seemed to near its end surged.

We were surrounded by dolphins. Held in unwavering joy.

This was the ceremony.

We were blessed that day to swim with two pods of dolphins, often swimming with as many as 15 to 20 at a time. They stayed with us for an hour. Time eternal in underwater bliss.

We were graced to enter this world for a moment in time. It is difficult to capture in words the power, the beauty and the awe of this experience. I offer this video so you may share in the divine grace for these magnificent beings joined us at this time of ceremony. To ascend in JOY. We could hear their sounds, their echolocations. Downloading frequencies of mystery.

Thank you to the hundreds of souls who joined us in ceremony this past week. Your prayers were heard.

This is your ceremony too.

I invite you to view on full screen by clicking the icon in the lower right hand corner of the video.

AHO my friends! AHO!

To find out more about wild dolphin retreats visit Joe Noonan.

And a final note…more to come on despacho so stay tuned!

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As anyone who does healing work knows…you step on to this path because it is you yourself that needs healing. For me I didn’t just step on to a healing path, I hit the ground running.

I started smoking at 11 years old. Fifteen years later as I entered school for Physical Therapy my habit was up to two packs a day. Although I made many attempts to stop it was stepping into a healing profession that helped me finally call it quits. How could I help others heal their body if I could not help myself? So I started running. A few years later I finished the NYC marathon in 3 1/2 hours. I awoke to the healing wisdom of the body.

My personal healing has intimately intertwined with my work in the world. I shifted beyond the borders of traditional Physical Therapy as my work became strongly influenced by my personal evolution in Thai massage, yoga, meditation, breathwork, shamanism. My work had traversed far from my roots leaving me with an identity crisis of sorts. Most people came to see me through the western medical system. There was some understanding of what to expect when going to see a physical therapist. What I often heard was this is not what I thought physical therapy was going to be like at all. I struggled to define my work through the confines of physical therapy that gave me a license I could rely on to bring me income. A simple equation of risk versus security.

A pivotal question posed by a mentor pushed me further into the unknown. How do you intend to bring your wisdom into the world? Spirit nudged even stronger. I began offering ceremonies online breaking free from the spiritual closet where most of my work remained hidden. The ceremonies caught the attention of Melissa McNair, co-director of Feathered Pipe. The message left on my voicemail one day was nothing short of a divine calling. Would I be interested in weaving ritual and ceremony during the Empowerment Camp at Feathered Pipe? Spirit opened a public portal to step into the role of a medicine woman. All I had to do was walk through.

A sacred assemblage of souls gathered in June. In the deep beauty of Montana our most courageous hearts stretched wide weaving the dark of the New Moon with the light of the Summer Solstice. Held in the incubating elements of Pachamama; water, earth, fire, air, it became very clear we were in a deep process of birthing. As we breathed the holy breath, journeyed to the womb in a consecrated cave, we prayed, we laughed, we screamed, we cried, we sang, we danced, we healed, we birthed.

Through the magic of Feathered Pipe we emerged anew.

Photographer Alison Postighone

Photographer Alison Postighone

A personal pachakuti, or cycle of time, had come to an end. An initiation that began some 25 years earlier. The completion of one cycle meant the start of another. A medicine woman birthed into the world. A birth of the soul pouring forth from the heart. A heart that has lived long enough to have itself torn apart. A heart whose essence holds the power to endure.

I came to see how I had shaped my work to be less than in a western model of medicine that had no space for Spirit. What I was shaping was the voice of the Sacred Feminine, diminished by culture, conditioned through belief systems, science, religion, ancestors and wounds in an attempt to thwart her power. The earliest voice of my feminine was manipulated by a masculine determined to keep dominion over a home ruled by alcohol. The light of my truth could not hold a gaze to the blind eye of booze.

This external power play of masculine domination over a suppressed feminine internalized itself twisting my voice in self-doubt. Is what I see real? What I feel true? My body armored itself against her sovereign flow of feeling. The dark, tangled mess of emotions were deemed worthless, abandoned to deep recesses of heart and soul. Mind, steel sharp control and all that was rational served as the hallmark to success.

The voice of my internal masculine thwarted my power, belittled my feelings and abolished my needs. My worth was measured in doing. What certificate or letter I could place next to my name marked my accomplishments as if my very own existence required some stamp of approval from an authority outside of myself.

The ruling tyranny of a masculine dominated inner world has seen its end, within me and around me. It is the sacred feminine that is resurrecting now. There is no diploma to mark this passage. No letters to place after my name. Spirit is the teacher. Life is the initiation. Suffering is the school.

The external voices of oppression still exist. The ones that believe the notion of a medicine woman means I have completely lost my mind. It is not up to me to change those voices but rather to find the courage within so the voice that diminishes has no power over me. The voice that belittles what it cannot understand is no longer relevant in my life.

It is time for both the masculine and feminine to rise, to dance within in ways never before seen thereby shifting the way we move in the world.

AHO my friends! AHO!

Karen Chrappa
Author of A Structure for Spirit

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Carla Goddard, Shaman Medicine Woman and myself are collaborating this month by weaving different traditions in a unique, bi-coastal ceremony between the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As Carla travels to the West coast she will carry with her a sacred prayer stick inscribed with the names of all who have joined ceremony. She will offer this gift to the Pacific Ocean in a ceremony she will hold there. You may join and add your name on our event page on Facebook at ASCENSION TO JOY.

At the same time I will be traveling to Bimini for a wild dolphin retreat where I will create a despacho in sand that will be returned to the Atlantic Ocean through her ebbing tides. Prayers and intentions for calling in more joy to your life, as well as releasing what blocks the flow of joy will be held in a natural finger sponge I will carry with me to Bimini.

To add your prayers and intentions to the sponge and send them to the Atlantic follow the video here. You will need about 20 minutes of uninterrupted time, free from distraction. We open sacred space and create a sacred container for our hearts. You are guided on how to offer your prayers and intentions to carry them to Bimini where the medicine of dolphins awaits to hold us in unwavering JOY.

(Click on the arrows in the bottom right hand corner of the video to watch on full screen.)

Follow What Happens When Two Medicine Woman Meet for Lunch? to learn more about the evolution of this ceremony.

AHO my friends! AHO!

Karen Chrappa
Author of A Structure for Spirit

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Steven Farmer, author, healer and shamanic practitioner notes that animal spirits guide us by appearing repeatedly in the physical world in a short period of time or by showing up in an unusual way. Finding a crowd of vultures may not seem unusual in Florida but since I just landed from a lifetime in New York where the only vultures I knew of were on Wall Street, it sure felt that way to me.

While my niece and I were on our way to the beach we couldn’t help but notice a huge crowd of large, black birds up ahead. Being from Florida, my niece knew right away that something was dead up there. Both compelled and revolted I drove out of our way to find myself in the midst of black vultures. Thirty to forty of them.

We stayed in the car but still were able to get very close. Nothing seemed to intimidate them yet they were not menacing at all. A few seemed to be pulling apart what might have been the remains of  an armadillo. It was certainly not enough for the whole crowd yet those not involved with the slim pickings seemed unperturbed.

Most of my aversion to vultures comes from my own distorted perceptions. Vultures do get a bad rap. Probably because they eat things that are dead and decaying. Enough to turn anyone’s stomach. And to call someone a vulture implies that one is just waiting for someone to fail so they can swoop in for the kill. Not the most enlightened human behaviour.

Since this encounter with vultures seemed unusual to me I decided to probe a bit deeper. Maybe there was something to learn from these enigmatic creatures?

One thing I discovered is vultures are masters of their own energy. The greatest energy expenditure for most animals is spent on food. Tracking, hunting, killing. Vultures on the other hand feed off of what has already been killed conserving much energy in the process while providing extreme janitorial services to our ecosystem.

From the same family as the majestic condor, the indigenous counterpart to Eagle, the large wing span of vultures allows them to glide on air currents, harnessing the energy of Earth for effortless flight.

Vultures live and work together, both in cooperation and friendliness which seems to explain why there was no threatening behavior among such a large group with such little food.

I have much to learn from animals I am unaccustomed to encountering. Animals that conserve their energy. Animals that offer themselves in service in ways others find revolting. Animals that are often underappreciated. Animals that live in cooperation and friendliness. Animals that know their own worth, unaffected by others who know so little. Animals able to digest what is rotten and decayed. Yes I have much to learn here in the tropics.

This may be way more information than you care to know about vultures. Maybe you notice your own aversion to vultures just by reading this article. Or maybe there is another animal that holds a message for you.

Receive a free Animal Spirit message from Steve Farmer’s Oracle deck here.

AHO my friends! AHO!

Karen Chrappa
Author of A Structure for Spirit

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Temple at Machu Picchu

Temple at Machu Picchu

A ceremony is born!

Ceremonies that were taught by our grandparents are not the same ceremonies we hold today. With each experience, each reflection, ceremonies transform to become the sacred offerings of the present day. As boundaries and preconceived notions are left behind ceremonies evolve. It is a time for birthing new ceremonies. And so it is how this ceremony came into being. A meeting of two medicine women with the heartfelt desire to share the joy of sacred ritual and ceremony from their own lives with the world around them.

Through evolution we must walk in honor and deep respect of the traditions that have come before us. When any evolution happens, we are cautious to reflect to ensure our approach is deeply respectful and in integrity with each step. A teacher once explained, very long ago, whenever we cling absolutely to something, whether it be tradition, ritual, ceremony, or emotion, we are stepping into the ego. Ego is only one way – my way.

When we evolve and create from the old, we are breathing our own life force into the ceremony. There is no greater honoring than to give life. It is about walking in balance with integrity and honor in all things – including creation.

As we evolve to co-create ceremony, it is also important to understand that the intention of any ceremony is to create a bridge between the world of Spirit both within us and surrounding us. The intention of this ceremony is to balance the water and fire elements with the new beginnings of the new moon. To co-create a prayer stick with a despacho. To use the power of water to carry the fire of passionate joy.

We will be weaving different tradtitons through the waters of both the Atlantic and Pacific in this ceremony. Carla Goddard was gifted a prayer stick during a tropical storm as the rains, winds, and the fire of lightning fused in one moment. During the next week she will take your prayer requests while adding your name to the prayer stick through a daily ceremony. At any time you may blow your intention into the prayer stick picture. As she travels to the West Coast, she will carry this sacred object and release the prayer stick into the Pacific Ocean to be carried by the waters in another ceremony.

Photographer Clark Little

Photographer Clark Little

At the same time, Karen Chrappa will be in Bimini where she will create a despacho on the shores of the Atlantic. A despacho is a prayer bundle from the shamans of Peru that traditionally is made by blowing prayers into cocoa leaves, placing them with offerings in wrapping paper to tie up like a gift before burning in a fire. For this ceremony, prayers will be held in a natural finger sponge into which your prayers and intentions will be blown in with your breath through a short ceremony on video. The sponge will be carried to Bimini and become part of a mandala of natural elements created in sand. Our despacho in sand will return to the waters through the tides of the Atlantic.

Through this unique, bi-coastal ceremony, we call to the waters to cleanse us of all that blocks that flow of JOY in our lives. We call to Pachamama and all her elements to balance our beings to the vibration of JOY. We call to Inti Ti Ti, Father Sun, Mama Killa, Grandmother Moon and all celestial beings above to shine the light of JOY in our hearts. We call to the medicine of dolphins to teach us the ways of unwavering JOY.

Ascension to JOY allows laughter and play into our life. So many times life seems to wear us down into a seriousness that does not allow joy to flow. Ascending to the joy inherent in our Soul brings smiles, laughter and play into our daily life. Doorways open so our moments of joy grow simply by being able to enjoy whatever your journey brings to you.

May you join us in JOY!


To find the event on facebook click here.

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