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Celebrate Sustainable Palo Santo This Earth Day

April 17, 2017

Protection for Holy Wood: Palo Santo If you are an aficionado of aromatic Palo Santo incense or essential oil, you are probably aware that although the trees grow in various parts of the dry forests of the Andes, the biggest concentration of trees is found in Ecuador. The time period between planting and harvesting Palo Santo to prepare products is long, very long. It has been reported Palo Santo trees can live for 80 to 90 years. After its death, the tree must remain in its natural habitat for 4 to 10 years to complete the process that disperses the resin throughout the decaying wood and providing the fragrance that we have come to love. That makes them special and dear to their growers and users, not to mention raising sustainability issues. A Plan for Perpetuation Recently the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador completed a project which culminated in granting the sustainable sue of Palo Santo to our long time partner, Dante Bolacto. Known as the Integrated Management Plan, the project unfolded in several stages. The project was created to manage environmental impact and identify the involved growing areas. Zoning this area of 50 hectares came next and the planting […]

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How We Measure Our Ponchos

March 23, 2017

Ponchos are unconstructed garments, meaning they are not fitted to a particular shape: neither do they have arms. The fit of the poncho is meant to be loose, but the garment can be short or long and always meant to completely cover the arms. At Shamans Market we show their length and width dimensions. These dimensions represent the garment shape when measured completely flat with the neck slit in a vertical position, in the middle, in the same orientation as the garment is intended to be worn. We measure width from side to side edge and length from top to bottom edge. Any fringe is not included in these measurements. This image shows the total width but only half the length: How to Determine the Fit As an example a poncho that is 50” long and 69” wide will hang from the shoulders about 22” in the center and due to draping (because it is wider than long) will hang down another 8” or so on the edges with your arms down. It will also cover more of your arms as well. Following are more details on determining fit based on length and width. Length To determine how far down […]

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Ways to Honor Spring Equinox

March 20, 2017

With new growth abound And life all around I embrace the changes in me That Mother Nature has helped me to see The first official moments of Spring will happen today. All over the world we experience equal parts daylight and equal parts night. These sweet moments of balance only happen twice in a year. Ostara, the Spring Equinox, can be a celebration of new beginnings, rebirth, and fertility. We can use these energies of transition and transformation to empower us to truly live in harmony. Go outside If you can, carve out some time and make your way out to nature. Take a walk or just sit, and notice the rebirth pachamama is showing you. Notice the new life popping from the soil or budding in the trees. This life is fragile and vulnerable, yet pulsing with this vital life power from within. I like to bring along some sort of offering for any teachings received from the wisdom that pachamama provides. Burning some sage or leaving an offering mix will do, or creating a mandala from stones or any other parts of nature near your surroundings. Plant some seeds Physically or metaphorically. Taking any seeds of choice, maybe […]

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Tibetan Incense

March 17, 2017

When you hear the phrase “Tibetan Incense,” it could be referring to any number of incense types made mostly in Buddhist communes in the Indian and Chinese Himalayas, Nepal, Bhutan, Japan, Taiwan and parts of Thailand and Sri Lanka. Incense from these places are essentially the same as Tibetan incense, in composition, manufacturing techniques and fragrance quality. A Smokey Past Incense is used extensively in Eastern traditions and has been for years. The Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto religions all burn incense in festivals, processions, purification, meditation and daily rituals. In Tibet incense was used in monasteries from ancient times. Traditional Tibetan medicine (TM) with a view rooted in Buddhism, acknowledges how health and illness result both from the relationship between the mind and the body and people’s connectedness to the natural world and sense of spirituality. TM recognizes the use of incense as a treatment for illness and dis-ease. Recipes are found in ancient Vedic texts that are based on even older Ayurvedic medical texts. Some have remained unchanged for centuries. Authentic Tibetan incense originates either in traditional monastery or medical college / hospital formulations. In fact, one of our incense offerings is called Tibetan Monastery, referring to this […]

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Whistling Vessels – Magical Mysteries

February 27, 2017

Whistling Vessels, Huacos Silbadores. Are they ancient artifacts, magical musical instruments or ritual shamanic tools? According to some, maybe all three.  These dual chambered ceramic vessels are designed to be filled with water and then either blown into or tipped back and forth by a handle fashioned between the chambers. This motion causes a whistling sound from the movement of water between the chambers and the intake of air. This Metropolitan Museum of Art post shows a short demonstration and animation. Ancient Artifact As objets d’art, these vessels are made of fired clay in black, red and other earth tones.  Ana La Rosa, vesselmaker and descendent of Quechua Indians of the Peruvian Andes, uses a “pre-Incan technique of firing the pieces with leaves of mango to render a special color tone.” Typically, these pieces consist of stylized animal, human, and mythological figures, sometimes with added decorative effect like flowers, leaves, circles, swirls, and other designs and effects rendered by engraving or painting. The animals represent totem or power animals, such as jaguars, or birds, such as condors, cormorants, egrets and parrots.  Others include the forms of architectural structures like houses or granaries. Today’s replicas are certainly captivating and varied enough […]

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Altered Space – Change Your World Through Ritual Ceremony

January 24, 2017

Creating a ceremonial altar is not just about transforming the energy of a space, it is a way of creating your reality. The altar can be seen as a microcosmos of your world, and the greater universe. When we commune with the elements of creation and connect with spirit through ceremony, we are able to re-create, and re-arrange our worlds through loving intent and prayer. In Peruvian shamanic practice, the five elements – East/Fire, South/Earth, West/Water, North/Air, and Cosmos/Ether/Center – are called upon, when creating an altar, also called a Mesa. These elements are summoned by choosing objects that represent each direction, and their encompassing energies. The sacred objects are then arranged according to each cardinal direction, in a wheel or spiral-like fashion. In the ancient Quechuan language, hailing from Peru, the North is called upon by the word “Wiracocha”, East by “Inti”, South by “Pachamama”, West “Mamakilla”, and Center by “K’uychi”. East/Fire is most often symbolized by a candle flame, burning Sage, or Palo Santo. South/Earth by a rock, crystal, or a plant. West/Water commonly by a cup of water, or a seashell. North/Air by a feather or another object symbolizing the heavens. Cosmos/Ether/Rainbow is placed in the center, […]

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The Promise of the Amazon

January 24, 2017

It wasn’t the kind of a job path advancement one might expect.  She had a dream:  to work as a wildlife rehabilitator.  She had three choices:  Mexico, Africa or Peru. She chose Peru. This step eventually turned into a job as an adventure tour guide in the Peruvian Amazon. Wild. Exciting. Fun. Maybe even a little bit dangerous. But when one dream fades, another one manifests, because even in the spiritual realm, a vacuum is abhorred. In the early 1990s, by taking the road less traveled, one woman was able to see the sickness and disease in locations not usually included on adventure tour itineraries. Feeling called to help, she started by simply sharing some supplies she had on hand with people in need. This led to more intense medical interventions: stitching wounds by reading “how-to” steps from a first-aid book; boating a dying child down the Amazon River to a faraway medical post. Her path merged into a two way street: when she took ill while working in the jungle, a tea of leaves was served to treat her. She remembers “It worked! The ‘doctor’ became the patient.” Those who study the practices of some native Peruvians recognize this […]

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November Supermoon

November 13, 2016

A rare supermoon will make an appearance early Monday just before dawn. According to NASA, the moon will appear especially bright because it’s the closest it has been to Earth since 1948. We won’t see another supermoon like this one until Nov. 25, 2034. November supermoon is a “Beaver Moon” November’s full moon has a special name: Beaver Moon. The Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us why: “The November’s full Moon was called the Beaver Moon by both the colonists and the Algonquin tribes because this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. It was also called the Full Frost Moon by Native Americans.” Best times to see the supermoon The full moon of November 14, 2016 is not only the biggest, closest and brightest supermoon of this year. It’s the closest supermoon since January 26, 1948. Should you watch for this full moon on the night of November 14? Sure, and, if you do, it’ll be beautiful. But, for us in the Americas the moon is closer to full on the night of November 13. The moon turns precisely full on November 14, 2016 at 13:52 UTC. This full moon instant will […]

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What You Didn’t Know About Smudging

November 12, 2016

Many come to me with questions and advice about smudging and ways to eliminate the unrest they’re experiencing. So, in addition to smudging basics, let me share a few tidbits about the ancient art of energy clearing that you may just not have known. The word smudge actually refers to the bowl or container used to hold the sacred plants used in a cleansing ritual. It is the ceremonial burning of these sacred materials that purifies a location, object or person. Spiritualists and Native Americans traditionally perform this cleansing in preparation of a rite of passage, but did you know that and that many cultures have used their own form of cleansing for centuries? Outside of spiritual preparation, there are many reasons to smudge. Below are some of the reasons why people smudge to clear their space or person: Sending prayers and offerings to the Heavens Have you ever smelled the incense burning at Easter in certain Christian churches? That’s usually frankincense and it’s burned to purify and send prayers to God. Many practices and cultures send their intentions through smoke as the avenue to the gods. Eliminate unwanted spirits For millennium, cultures have used smoke to rid their space of unwanted […]

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5 Simple Prayers to Use When Cleansing Your Space

October 24, 2016

Wow! Thanks. Help. These are the Three Essential Prayers, according to author Anne Lamott. What I learned in my church-going experience backs that up: there are prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude; of praise, awe, and adoration; and of petitions and requests. To Lamott’s top three, I would also add prayers of forgiveness—a simple I’m sorry or Forgive me. These are just the basics of course.  Some go even further, refining prayers, and accompanying rituals, into ever specific categories.  For example, Edward Hays has prayers for Fingernail Trimming, Lighting Candles and Writing a Difficult Letter.  Actually we can pray for just about anything. Yet to get the whole self into the process of prayer, we need to invite the senses too.  Incense is one of the most ancient ways to invoke the power of smell, as it is able to stir up memories and create moods and shape attitudes.  As Hays says, “…Scents can return us to our childhood faster than the speed of light.” Indeed.  For me the smell of pasta boiling in a stovetop pot transports me to the kitchen of my Italian-influenced childhood home. The queen of all ceremonial cleansing scents is Sage.  Ceremonial sage comes in many […]

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Exploring Shamanic Drumming

October 24, 2016

The drum has been used throughout various indigenous and shamanic cultures as a tool to alter consciousness or to enter a trance state for various reasons. Shamans or healers enter into a trance states to travel to different realms to aid in healing, finding lost items or to find food, and to explore their own inner world/psyche. This ancient, yet, simple tool has aided in self-exploration and healing for thousands of years and for good reason. Why use the drum as a tool for self-exploration and healing?  As Roger Walsh points out, the drum is a tool that acts as a concentration device, and the drum helps to block out any external stimuli that might cause distraction. Practicing mindfulness meditation is great for stress and anxiety reduction, but it is sometimes hard to stay focused if one is a beginner.  A research study by Gingras, Pohler, and Fitch demonstrated that 15 minutes of drumming can help lower cortisol (a stress response hormone) levels in the body.  The study also pointed out that participants experienced a decrease in heart-rate, a feeling of heaviness, and also experienced a dream-like state from shamanic drumming versus drumming with guided relaxation instructions. Shamanic drumming is […]

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Copal – Sacred Tree Resin of Mesoamerica

September 30, 2016

Walking on the streets of Mexico, you can often smell burning Copal.. Copal comes from a healer tree family called Bursera that is sacred to the Maya. This resin has been referred to as the “Mexican Frankincense”, and it is related to both Franckincense and Myrrh. Today, it is often used in Mexico and Central America in sweat lodges and Day of the Dead ceremonies, and burned year round in the churches of Mexico. The history of Copal use dates back to the Mayan and Aztec civilization days. Copal was widely used in ritual offerings and ceremonies, and mass quantities of copal resin were burned atop Aztec and Mayan pyramids. The white smoke produced by burning copal resin was associated with helpful spirits and “White Gods”. It was believed that the white smoke assisted in contacting deities and helpful spirit allies. In Mexico, Copal was associated with the water element, creation and fertility Gods. Black Copal was commonly used as an offering to the Mayan deities, and was considered to be the “food of the Gods”. The Otomi people of Mexico would read the smoke pattern for diagnosing illness, and Copal smudging is still used widely in Mexico to prevent illness. Copal resin is a powerful healer and purifier, with the power to […]

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