Sacred Anatomy – The Seven Pulses (Part 2) the Waters

The second of the seven hearts is commonly called the sacral. In Sanskrit it is Svadisthana. This is the orange watery heart. The sacral governs our sexual fluids, which are the source of our personal light, vitality, creativity, and empathy. It also governs our blood, lymph, and cerebrospinal fluid. This space links us with the people of Water and the emotional realms of empathic cleansing and connection. This is where we begin to differentiate from the ancestral group-mind and make links with others through energetic bonds. We learn the arts of connection, empathy, and cleansing. This heart pulses with all our inner waters (and recall we are 80% water). Water is the messenger molecule of the body and it carries emotional imprints through the entire system.3 The sacral connects with the endocrine system at the gonads, which regulates sex hormones, and with the sacral nerve plexus, which innervates the repro- ductive system and the genitourinary system, which literally cleanses our watery waste out of the body through urination. 

Today I bless my inner waters and dip myself in the cleansing seas of our Mother…

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Cleansing (Part 7) Inner spaces

External cleansing is only part of the equation. We must also occasionally cleanse our inner physical workings. A fast is an appropriate traditional way of detoxification in which we allow our physical body to slow down, reserve its energy to heal rather than digest, and purify ourselves of toxins regularly consumed. How often and how long you choose to fast is wholly individual however there are traditional times that lend themselves to sacred fasts. Fasts do not have to be long and I’ve found brief 24 hour fasts to be the most effective. When we exceed our body’s reserves we take the risk of damaging our personal light.

For women the time around the moon cycle, the menses, is particularly powerful. The body sheds the endometrial lining of the past month, the mind and emotions are highly sensitive, and for many women not on artificial birth control the moon is either new or full. The word menses is connected to the word moon and the word month, which linguistically leads us to a natural understanding of our inner cyclic workings. The giving of blood is traditionally associated with connecting to the other realms and women do this naturally. Bloodletting, although I do not recommend it, was used for centuries to purify the “bad blood” of patients and to draw up the healing vital essence of the patient. This practice hearkens back
to the idea of purification by bleeding and calling the gods and ancestors by making an offering of blood. When we bleed we are connected to the spirit realms and our own vital essence.  Men may not have the obvious physiological reminders but they are also on a moon cycle. They must pay attention to when personal energy is most broad and when it is quieter. In those quieter times of the monthly cycle it is appropriate to consider a gentle fast. And whenever we “accidentally” cut ourselves it is appropriate to stop and take the time to connect with those primal forces that call us to purification through the sacrifice of our own blood.

At the dark of the moon just before the new moon shows herself in the sky we have an opportunity to go into the dark and clear out the old. This is a good time to stay close to home, fast by drinking herbal teas and pure water, eat little and only non-stimulating fresh foods. Remove caf- feine, alcohol, meat, rich foods, and heavy spices during the fast. Spend extra time meditating, reading, resting, and dreaming. This is an extremely powerful time.

Another traditional time for fasting is at the turning of each season. Just as we spring clean our homes we spring cleanse our bodies with a fast and seasonal dietary adjustment. Green things feed us in the spring, fruit fuels the summer, squashes and grains in the fall, and denser roots in the winter align us physically with the season cycles easing our transi- tions. Eating foods that are available locally helps us to stay attuned with the Earth’s cycles.

Finally it is appropriate to fast or undertake a physical cleanse whenever we feel toxic. Toxicity causes physical illness, fatigue, depression, pain, and emotional turbulence. When we are suddenly loaded with symptoms it is time to learn curative healing methods. Most naturopathic healers, myself included, start each guest with a detoxification cleanse customized to their specific symptoms and constitutional portrait. Sometimes this is all that is needed to stimulate the personal light of the guest and stimulate authentic healing. Please consult an herbalist, health coach, or naturopathic practitioner for specifics. There is no one size fits all for cleansing fasts.

Cleansing and detoxification should be undertaken with the natural cycles (moon and seasonal) and when personally needed. Be gentle with yourself during a fasting time. Do not overexert your body with vigorous exercise. Take plenty of time to rest and meditate. You may find yourself going into a slightly altered state in which the body slows down and the senses open. Make certain your body can sustain a small fast but do not make it excessive. We need food to sustain our light and depriving the body of that nourishment is against life, although small breaks in which we realign are appropriate for those who are physically and energetically able.

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Cleansing (Part 6) Ceremonial Fire

Yet another way to cleanse is a ceremonial fire. This is the way of fire and earth. Naturally fallen tree limbs fuel the flames and we meld our light for purification by fire. As we sit by the fire, fanning it with our breath and warming our skin with its touch, the dark places inside are burned away and the resentments and attachments disappear with the smoke. Sitting with fire is a form of communion in which the flames teach his secrets to those willing to listen. You can add aromatic incense to the fire, keep time with a steady drum, and connect deeply to the heartbeat of Earth.

Aromatic Fire incense

Frankincense Tears
Dried Rosemary
Dried sage
Pine needles

Cleansing – Part 5 – Salt bath

Another traditional and very powerful way to cleanse is a salt bath. This is cleansing by earth and water. Salt is the sacred cleansing agent of the Earth who scrubs our wounds clean and when mingled with the waters of the bath pours itself into all the spaces that will welcome it. Sacred baths are ancient and powerful. When we literally wash off the residue of the day with a salt bath we are exfoliating the dead skin of the day to make ourselves fresh and new. Adding fragrant oils, flower petals, candles, and soft music makes the bath more evocative and purifying. Particular oils and herbs are chosen based on the needs of the moment. Lavender carries his precision of healing and balancing. Rose offers her noble purity and Rosemary her brilliant strength and intelligence. Cedar and the trees give their steadfast, unwavering protection. Sage steps in with his gift for stripping away and cleansing. Jasmine holds court with her sensual wisdom while Neroli brings her joy and laughter. The possibilities are endless and present themselves based on need. When we ask for help from an honest space of heartfelt desire Nature conspires to offer it.

A recipe for a salt bath

1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup epsom salt
1/2 cup baking powder
3 drops rose oil
2 drops lavender oil
1 drop sweet orange oil
a handful of rose petals and dried lavender

Cleansing (Part 4) – Floral Waters

Floral waters are cleansing agents directly gifted to us from the flowers of the Earth herself. The official term for these aromatic waters is hydrosols and they are byproducts of the distillation process that gives us the powerful essential oils used in herbalism and aromatherapy. Floral waters are one of my favorite ways to cleanse as they offer a cleansing by water and air. The flowers imprint their fragrant light onto the waters, gently blessing them with soft petal kisses. The main trinity of floral waters are rose, jasmine, and neroli (orange blossom).

Rose (Rosaceae) is the royalty of flowers. With her subtle, deep notes she evokes the magic of movement and the light of the sacred in all she touches. Rose offers transcendent peace and comfort and has been used throughout the centuries for everything from calming to offering to cosmetics. Rose evokes beauty and sacred purity. Many who experience apparitions of the Holy Mother smell roses in Her wake.

Jasmine (Jasminium) is the night blooming flower of mystery, moon- light, and wisdom. She is the full moon in the darkest night who reaches her vining fingers to those who adore her. Jasmine has been engaged for her aphrodisiac qualities and as an element in love tinctures of all kinds. She ever so subtly stimulates those who wish to stay up through the magi- cal night with her to learn her many secrets.

Neroli (Citrus aurantium subsp. amara or Bigaradia) or orange blossom has a musky sweetness evocative of earth and air. The optimism of citrus blends with the magic of florals in Neroli’s soft, sweet breath. Neroli is uplifting; she heals moodiness, and challenges us to brighten our lives. Neroli is kindness in a flower.

You can work with each flower individually or combine these floral waters into a spritzer to spray your space and clear yourself. I’ve found these flowers shift space quickly and with very little fanfare. Gently powerful, these evocative florals purify and bless our inner waters while clearing the clouds from darkened skies.

Cleansing (Part 3)

Each herb has its own character and brings with it a personality rich with flavor and nuance. Just as each human has personal light so does every plant. Sage brings strength, fortitude, and an ability to cut through the nonsense and get to the root. Its adaptability is obvious as it lives in many different climates including the most arid deserts. Sacred sage of- fers this power to clear and survive to those who are willing to share light with it.

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) is also known as holy grass. It is a plant of offering whose smoke carries our prayers and blessings forward. Some say sweetgrass is the blessing breath of the Mother herself and so when she is woven into braids and baskets we weave our blessings with Hers. When paired with sage sweetgrass fills the cleared space with the blessings of the cosmos.

Cedar evokes the protection and power of the ancient trees whose root structures support the great forests. The great trees offer the security of boundaries, protection against the unpredictable winds, and the shelter of their green arms over our fragile heads. The great cedars: sequoia, juniper, cypress, and redwood are among the most ancient living inhabitants of the earth and many have guarded the forests for centuries.

Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) is a beautiful purple plant with incredible cleansing properties. It is antiseptic, antimicrobial, and evoc- ative of a summer day. The word lavender comes from the Latin lavar, which means to wash, and is used effectively in soaps to wash the outer body and teas to wash the inner body. Lavender is a medicinal adaptogen. This means it will adapt to our physiology. If we are in a high stress state it will calm and relax. If we are lethargic and depressed it will uplift us. Lavender works to lovingly balance our physical and energetic systems.

Rosemary (rosmarius officianalis) is a fragrant green shrub that has mythological associations with the goddess Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary, both of whom are evocative images of the sacred feminine in patriarchal traditions. Because of its hardy and resilient nature rosemary offers protection and blessing. My household keeps rosemary plants in front of each door that we may be always protected with the understand- ing that we will extend that protection to others in need and that we may always be blessed that we may share that blessing with others. Rosemary is used clinically to sharpen memory, invigorate, and strengthen weak- ened systems.

Any of the herbs can be engaged individually or combined for smudging. Pre-made smudge sticks can be purchased or you can weave your own. If you do not have an actual stick it is fine to burn the leaves of the dried herbs individually or as loose incense. In smudging you are bathing in the smoke of the herbs who share their blessings. This is a way of communion with the people of the Green places through the elements of fire and air.

Cleansing (Part 2)

The use of aroma to purify and cleanse a space is ancient. The Bible tells of frankincense and myrrh, both aromatic resins, as gifts to Jesus. The tomb of King Tut in Egypt had essential oils and resins buried with- in. The burning of sacred herbs has been used multi-culturally for cleans- ing and medicinal purposes. The Catholic Church uses thuribles filled with aromatic resins such as copal to represent prayers lifting toward God. Moxibustion in Chinese medicine involves the burning of the sacred herb mugwort to clear Chi. The olfactory effect, scent, is the most primal of our senses. It bypasses the conscious mind completely and automati- cally lifts us into another space. In the rituals of purification by fire and air (the burning and breathing of herbs) we honor the Earth from which

the herbs were born, bathe in their fragrant power, and share our light with theirs.

Burning resinous incense is one of the most ancient traditional ways to cleanse. Frankincense (Boswellia thurifera) is a resin that looks like golden tears fallen from the trees. It has a warming quality and is used medicinally as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Frankincense evokes the Sun in splendor and is considered a masculine botanical and as such is

a fitting gift for a newborn king. In the Catholic Church frankincense
is used to purify in much the same way as sage (see below) is in Native American traditions. Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) is a tonic for the female reproductive system and considered a feminine botanical. It is also used for tooth and gum care, in cosmetics, and to calm the energetic and physical systems. It was used in funerary preparations and embalming. When Mary Magdalene went to wash the body of Jesus she was surely carrying myrrh. So while frankincense celebrates the birth of the Sun
so myrrh solemnizes the death. These resins, along with benzoin, copal, and amber, were used by the Hebrew people, the Egyptians, and are still used in the Catholic Church as ceremonial incense. The simplest way
to burn these resins is by lighting a charcoal tablet and letting the resins smoke. Inhale deep breaths of the smoky resin and wash yourself in the fragrance. Send your light and intention into the soft smoke and feel yourself lifted, cleansed, and loved.

The Native American smudge stick is a fabulously elegant way to cleanse. While many different cultures over the centuries have used dried herbs to cleanse and purify when we use the word “smudging” it is a nod to the Native Americans tribes and their sacred herbs. It is of utmost importance that when we learn from other cultures we work from a place of respect and not greedy appropriation. There is much to learn from the practices of others but there is oftentimes a seemingly utilitarian disrespect that sadly goes along with it.

A smudge stick is a bundle of herbs burned to purify and cleanse a person or space. White sage (Salvia apiana) is the most common herb employed in smudging but it is often blended with cedar and sweetgrass for a balanced synergy. Sage (salvia) has a chemical constituent called thujone, the active ingredient in absinthe’s wormwood, which causes heightened clarity and vivid dreams in small doses, and hallucination and even death in higher dosages. The potency of white sage gives the recipient a sense of being stripped and scrubbed clean. Nature abhors a vacuum and so once the sage has cleansed us we must put something in its place or that vacuum will be filled with something else, perhaps not to our liking. Therefore another herb is used to fill the cleansed space with something positive. We cleanse with the sage and then we bless with the cedar, sweetgrass, lavender, or rosemary.