Fall(ing apart)

Fall(ing apart)

Our next journey circle will be the day after the midterm elections in the US, which seems a perfect time to come together to journey. 

To my mind, spirituality isn’t here to “magic” us up and out of the challenges of our lives but functions best when it enables us to meet challenges with clarity, steadfastness–and Goddess willing–humor.

I’ve been thinking a lot about falling apart this past week as I lay in bed watching the leaves fall from the trees. For three days, I was in the grip of a splitting headache. 

In this state of protracted pain, all of the emotional baggage I’ve been carrying around (and apparently suppressing) came out of hiding, demanding to be felt and acknowledged. 

I was reduced by a mild bug (not covid, mind you) to a snotty, tearful, helpless mess. You might say I was brought into unwanted intimacy with the most frightened parts of myself. 

The season of fall, beautiful though it may be, and this season of falling apart in which we find ourselves as a nation, is a time of loss. As the leaves and our illusions drop to the ground, we cannot help but feel frightened and vulnerable. 

We have a choice in this season of fall(ing apart): divide the world into “us” vs “them,” or feel the fear we share in common as the old forms die and drop to the earth from the sky.

On the other side of this brief illness, I feel simpler. Spare. And a hell of a lot more real. 

But more than that, I feel renewed hope.

Like leaves that fall to earth to nourish the soil and roots for the emergence of new life, the losses we face in the coming season hold promise for spurring us to action that we might feed the roots of our nation with lives made simple, spare, and more real.

Such is the wisdom of the fall and of falling apart.


Our free online journey circle this week will be held on Wednesday, November 9, from 4-6 pm PST/7-9 pm EST

Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.

All Souls’ Day

Our journey circle falls on All Souls’ Day or Day of the Dead this week. 

You need not have been raised Catholic to remember your departed family members and ancestors in some special way on All Souls’ Day. Our shared elders, the trees, also remind us that now is the time to remember the dead as they shed their leaves.

For my observance of All Souls’ Day this year, I will be unpacking boxes and creating an ancestral altar in our family room downstairs. My hope is to remember the birthdates and death dates of my son’s ancestors throughout the year by lighting a candle and placing the favorite foods and drinks of the ancestor on the altar. 

Tending our relationships with our dead is a hallmark of traditional shamanic practice. Our ancestors guide us, lend their healing power, and otherwise assist us in meeting life’s challenges. 

The ancestors live in us, still. To have a spiritual practice of honoring and remembering our ancestors helps us to situate ourselves within our family’s larger struggle for survival and fruitfulness over the millennia.

To practice remembering our ancestors is to practice relating to our families, and ultimately ourselves, with greater understanding and compassion.

Perhaps this form of ancestral relational tending sounds sacrilegious, distasteful, or otherwise not for you. Or perhaps it sounds attractive and like something you want to weave into your spiritual practice.

Whatever the case, I invite you to journey with us this All Souls’ Day to explore what arises when you consider tending and mending your family and ancestral relationships as a spiritual practice. This is as good a way of honoring our ancestors as any.


Our free online journey circle this week will be held on Wednesday, November 2, from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT

Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.

Sitting with trees

As Halloween approaches, I have been thinking a lot about ancestors, being rooted in energies larger than ourselves, and the coming political and environmental storms.

One needs a sacred practice, a way of dropping into the heart and connecting to life-giving beings larger than ourselves before the storms arrive.

For all the ways I have learned to pray, meditate, and connect with Spirit, sitting with my elders–the trees–best helps me to remember what it means to root in the ground of the present moment with open-hearted presence, come what may.

If you are searching for a spiritual practice, if you also sense the stirring of oncoming storms, if you hope to become courageous, fierce, rooted, and wise like our elders, then perhaps you will join me in sitting at the feet of a tree or trees for 20 minutes a day.

This week’s journey circle will focus on exploring fruitful darkness, the roots that hold and connect us, and how we might foster life around us by learning to stand firm.

I hope you can join us.


Our next journey circle is Wednesday, October 26, from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT

Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.

Sacred drumbeat

One of the things I appreciate most about the sacred drumbeat that we use in shamanic journey work is how it enables us to descend from the head to the heart to enter into the imaginal realm beyond words, opening the door of communication between us and the more-than-human world.

Animism is the practice of relating well to the living and ensouled beings that we in the West consider to be “inanimate.” Recovering a sense of the animacy of all “things,” learning to communicate and relate consciously to our plant, stone, weather, and animal kin is a skill set vital to the spiritual and political journey before us in these times: remembering how to live in balance with Gaia once again.

When we are surrounded by “things” rather than “beings,” we feel free to take without asking and plunder without limit. It is efficient–liberating, even–to cut, build, mine, fly, and eat whatever we wish without making prayers, offerings, or otherwise observing the limits that flow naturally from being in a reciprocal relationship with the more-than-human world. 

After generations of forgetfulness about old ways which taught us how to relate well to the beings we depend upon for survival, our ability to communicate in the language beyond words has atrophied, as has the health of our peoples and lands.

This is where the sacred drumbeat comes in. With practice, prayer, and intention, the sacred drumbeat can help us open the door to the heart and restore the language beyond words to memory. 

We are connected–family even–to the beings to whom we have presumed ourselves superior for millennia. The sacred center of your heart remains ever in contact with the sacred center alive in each being. This is the basis of our hope for a world remade in beauty.

This week in circle, you are invited to choose a more-than-human being you would like to get to know better: drum, tree, spiritual being, or sacred object.

Before we meet in the circle this week, take some time to formally introduce yourself to this being, perhaps make an offering, and feel-listen for a response. 

In our journey circle this week, we will ask to meet the spirit of these beings, should they wish to meet us, to begin the process of reanimating our world, one being at a time.


I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, October 19, from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT

Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.

Becoming ancestors

It can be hard to keep our eye on the big picture when we’re busy cleaning up the messes of daily life. 

Just 30 minutes after I finished hosting my first journey circle from my office this past Wednesday, I discovered water seeping up from between the planks of our brand-new flooring in the bathroom. 

It seems the toilet wasn’t seated correctly and water has been trickling out, undetected, beneath the new flooring for the past 3 weeks. 

The sound of fans and dehumidifiers roars once again from downstairs as I write from my bedroom, which is once again doubling as my office. The damage appears to be far less than from our last flood, in part because the new flooring is waterproof, but we won’t be certain for several days.

But it’s hard to feel sorry for myself when I recall the challenges our children face due to climate change. 

Reading the Guardian this morning from my office/bed, I came across an article written by Greta Thunberg. In it, she quotes a German oceanographer and climatologist Stefan Rahmstorf: “We have enough ice on Earth to raise sea levels by 65 meters–about the height of a 20-story building–and at the end of the last ice age, sea levels rose by 120 meters as a result of 5C of warming.” Thunberg continues: “Taken together, these figures give us a perspective on the powers we are dealing with. Sea-level rise will not remain a question of centimeters for very long.” 

Cleaning up the mess from Hurricane Ian, or rising sea levels from melting ice sheets and glaciers is the real challenge for which all this water cleanup in my home is but mere preparation. 

Embracing the truth isn’t easy, especially when the truth is as big and overwhelming as the reality of climate chaos. 

And yet, against all odds, you and I are counted among the souls who are alive on this beautiful planet at this decisive moment. 

Surely we are here to act, to witness and speak the truth, and to bring the full force of our ancestral powers to bear in helping to shift the balance of these times. 


I suggest that we journey to our ancestors this week and ask for their assistance in facing hard truths honestly. Maybe there are practices that would help us feel more connected and rooted so we are able to stand in the face of truth. Or maybe your ancestors have other forms of healing, wisdom, or guidance to offer.

How might we become worthy “ancestors” for future generations? Let us begin to answer this question together in the journey circle.

If you are interested in reading the article by Greta, it is here: 



I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, October 12, from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT

Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.


This week marks a new beginning for me, as I will host the circle from my office for the first time in 6 months. 

Cleaning has been my spiritual practice this week. My only practice, really.

How lucky we are to be alive. 

Do join us this week and bring your own intention (BYOI).


I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, October 5, from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT

Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.


After spending an hour digging through the boxes on our back porch looking for my keyboard, my reflection today is that simplicity is anything but simple to achieve.

I, for one, want less stuff and more life. 

Sorting through our things, cleaning each item, and deciding whether to keep it or let it go is not my idea of living. But of course, this is precisely the way one grows more conscious: sorting, cleaning, deciding. 

No problem here except my thinking. 

And the fact that the folks who packed up our downstairs after the flood labeled every box with the words “living room.”


Bring your own intention to the circle this week.

I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, September 28, from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT


Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.



We are approaching that time of year once again, when light and dark will be perfectly balanced for a short time on Thursday, September 22. Then the days will tilt darker here in North America and grow brighter for our neighbors in the southern hemisphere.

The fundamental principle of the earth-centered shamanist religion is that of balance. Balance, as the seasonal rhythm of light teaches us, is a dynamic and ever-changing state, not a static achievement.

Dynamism is what trips me up in my efforts to achieve balance. I am tempted to think that living in a state of balance is about getting a recipe of activities down and sticking with it: meditation, offerings, working out, journey circle, and so on.

The celestial dance of the earth, sun, and moon suggests otherwise.

To sync up with the dynamic dance of light and season, we are asked to find small ways to change the routine, even for only a few minutes a day. Small changes breathe life into the overall dance of days but also add up to create a very different life, and if practiced on a collective scale, a new world. 

As the sun’s light shifts for just minutes a day every day (except the two days that are equinoxes) we, too, are asked to follow the example of balance as lived by our elders: earth, sun, and moon.

What new thing are you willing to do, or let go of doing, in observation of the equinox this week?

This week, I will be attending an orientation at the time normally reserved for our journey circle. 

We will not have a journey circle this week but will resume our regular Wednesday journey circles next week on Wednesday, September 28 from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT.

And in observance of the equinox itself (if moving back into our house is on track) I will be going on a hike through an old-growth forest that is slated for sale and subsequent clear-cutting in my area. If you live in the Eugene area and are interested, here is more information: 

A blessed Equinox to you all, 


From the ground up

Construction is finally complete in our home some five months after our hot water heater burst in the early morning hours of Easter Monday.

My mate, son, and I have lived in 900 square feet these past months without too much trouble, though our bedroom has had to serve as my office. 

I work and sleep only an arm’s length away from my drum, a box of dried ears of ceremonial corn, my altar piled high with wild turkey feathers, cacao nibs, offering bowls, black copal, juniper, and sage, and a dresser which holds a bottle of rashaan (shamanic holy water), a jaw harp, and an offering spoon with a bright blue khadag ceremonial cloth tied to the end.

My ceremonial tools will no longer line the walls and walkways of my bedroom once I return to my work space–thank goddess!–but when I move back into my “office” the purpose and function of the room will be transformed into one dedicated to ritual, prayer, and healing.

During our time of exile, I’ve been studying the “practical shamanism of the nomads” under an English-speaking shaman from the Darkhad region of Mongolia. The word, “shamanism” as we use it in the West, in fact, hails from this region of the world. Hers is an intact shamanic lineage dating back some 12,000 years.

In this class, among other things, we have been practicing the ancient art of 41-stone divination. I explored questions related to the flood in readings with my classmates ranging from: Why did this happen? What’s the holdup on the insurance settlement? What am I trying to learn?

The readings had many repeating messages and they formed a curriculum of sorts for me over these past several months. One stone that showed up repeatedly in readings for me was the “twisted practice” stone. Twisted practice can refer to several things, but its primary meaning is that of changing religions.

From the Mongolian shamanic perspective, changing religions can cause difficulties in one’s life – health issues, accidents, challenges in one’s work (especially for a spiritual worker like me) – and can kindle the anger of our ancestors. In my case, I left Catholicism 18 years ago and never looked back.

Ironically, the teachings of a Mongolian shaman led me to evaluate what parts of my ancestral religious tradition I can honor and weave back into my life. Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater will enhance, rather than dilute, the power of my work as a shamanic practitioner.  After the learning journey of these past 5 months, I get it.

The stones also taught me that the flood waters were themselves significant, a message in their own right. Naga stones showed up repeatedly in my readings. Naga are nature spirits, guardians of waterways and mountains. Angering them results in a curse. 

Water in the basement of my home, filling and calling attention to the family subconscious, if you will, is a fitting message to come from the water-loving naga, but it was also puzzling. I haven’t done anything (beyond being an overconsuming citizen of the US) that would merit a curse of the nagas. What gives?

One day, reading a book, I came across a description of nagas and how their curses can affect whole bloodlines, even impacting several generations downstream from the original offense.

My maternal grandfather was employed by a construction company that built dams across the continental US, and his grandfather was an engineer who designed tunnels in the Swiss Alps. Obstructing waterways and boring tunnels through mountains? Yikes. Could this be the meaning of the naga stone showing up in the fire at the center of my family’s life?

My classmate asked the stones to show us more about the source of the naga curse. “Man” showed up in my suld or soul position. My soul, it seems, has been impacted by the actions of my grandfathers. These men, sweethearts in their own right, were confirmed as the source of the naga’s curse and the reason behind the floodwaters in my home and my family’s collective subconscious.

Making amends for the transgressions of my forefathers will likely take more than my remaining days, but this is the sort of spiritual work that faces us in the West in the age of climate collapse. 

I have ideas about how I will proceed, starting with a Mongolian fire ritual to cleanse our home and feed the naga. There are prayers I can say, offerings I can make at waterways and on mountains, forest therapy walks I can guide, and spiritual support I can provide to climate activists and victims of forest fires to begin my family’s long-deferred process of generational cleanup.

For each of us, the answers will be different, but to root deeply in spirit, to stand firm in the coming storms, and to help ameliorate those storms at their source is to take time for practices that aim to reweave the tapestry of reciprocal relationships that once existed between us and the ancestors, the land, deities, and the human community. I am cooking up a series of classes to help us practice just that, kicking off with the ancestors later this fall.

In Mongolian culture, the ger, or yurt, is a microcosm of the cosmos. The fire lives in the center of the home, as the sacred center does in each of us. One only walks sunwise within the home, creating a circle within the larger circle that the sun weaves around the ger. Circles within circles, centers within centers, the fire of life is made strong with repeated ritual action and memory.

For the next couple of weeks, my family will be engaged in remediating our belongings for mold, painting rooms, establishing altars, and doing a fire ritual to appease the naga. First, we clean up in here. Then, we can help with the clean-up out there.

As we rebuild our lives and my shamanic practice from the ground up, I am profoundly grateful for each of you and for your participation in the Gaia Shamanism community. Thank you for being on this journey with me.


You are invited to journey on whatever is most alive for you this week. And if you don’t know what that might be, come and find out.

I hope you can join us for the journey circle this Wednesday, September 12, from 4-6 pm PDT/ 7-9 pm EDT.


Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.

First harvest

Here in Rainbow Valley (no joke, that’s the name of the land where I live), the season of the first harvest is upon us. Yesterday, I picked pears with my next-door neighbor and her daughters under a perfect blue sky.

The tang of Autumn now greets us at the start and end of each day, the scent of the golden hayfields fills the air with sweetness, and cars litter the sides of local roadways where blackberry bushes are laden with fruit, free for the picking.

Wherever you are and whatever the season, what might be some of the first fruits of your growing season this year? 

This week’s journey circle is akin to pulling off the busy roadway of life to feast on wild berries among the brambles.

I hope you’ll join us this week for Gaia Shamanism’s free online journey circle this Wednesday, August 31st, from 4-6 pm PDT/7-9 pm EDT.


Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiaanimism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.