by Florian Birkmayer MD
I wanted to share and express my gratitude for a spontaneous guided ceremony I was guided through for the 2020 summer solstice for letting go of defensiveness. I was looking forward to driving to Las Vegas from Taos because the road there is beautiful, really my favorite road in New Mexico. I heard this quiet voice inside my head saying, “you should leave early and give yourself some extra time,” and that’s just what I did.
On this solstice there also was a solar eclipse at zero degrees Cancer. There was a lunar eclipse two weeks before in Scorpio. It’s been a very intense time period, in which a lot of old issues, deep old unconscious patterns and Shadow issues have been coming to the forefront. The one that has been hurting Cathy and I the most has been my defensiveness, my reactiveness, my sarcasm, which has had a very powerful grip on me. It comes up really fast and, without thinking, I say defensive and sarcastic things based on things Cathy says and things I hear, which aren’t always the same. When she’s trying to be helpful, I hear criticism. When she’s unconsciously expressing her hurt and her judgment, I take it personally. I’m really sick and tired of it and yet couldn’t stop myself. I really felt helpless.
I was thinking about the first step of the 12 step program. I needed to admit I’m powerless over this defensiveness and my life has become unmanageable. Defensiveness can be an addiction. I knew I wanted to do a ritual around this summer solstice and solar eclipse. I wanted to let go of this accumulated baggage of unconscious behavior and thought patterns, that, because of their persistence and perniciousness, seemed to be transgenerational. I prayed that they would be taken away from me and shed. While I had glimpses, these patterns were so deep and so pervasive and always close to the surface ready to interrupt and take over before I could catch them. It had become unmanageable.
There’s a pass at the midpoint of the drive with a beautiful view of the Mora valley. I intuitively knew that was my first stop. Thick clouds were filling the sky and hugging the tops of the nearby mountains. It looked as if it might snow. I sat down and tuned in, opened my heart, meditated. To my left I could see the mysterious and haunted Chacon Valley and ‘God-rays’ coming through the clouds.
These thick clouds were like curtains of the veil. While the world is going through necessary upheaval and transformation, I hope and pray that this transformation happens and proceeds for the benefit of all. I pray that it happens inside of me as it happens in the macrocosm of the world around.
There was a strong, cold wind at the overlook and instead of telling myself I’m cold or letting my muscles tighten to keep the cold out, I opened my body and my heart to the cold. I let it move through me. Grateful to be in this body, grateful to have this moment, grateful to be in the circumstances to be able to listen to my guidance, so I could stop and be at this beautiful place at this perfect time.
To the east I could see the desert planes of the llano estacado, another mythic landscape. When I knew it was time, I got back in my truck. A little further along the road, I was called to make a right turn, down a dirt track I had never taken. I surrendered to being called. After a few curves there were two old beautiful collapsing buildings. One made of stone, the other of Adobe. I thought, “is this what I’ve been called to?”
And guidance said, “No, these two buildings are a portal.” I thought of the people who built these buildings and the natives who lived here before, since time immemorial. I thought of how this land has always invited and welcomed people. It has invited foreigners even though this has led to conflict. It has invited me, and I have really felt so welcome here and thrived.
I acknowledged the two buildings and kept going. The road turned, going deeper into this deep side valley. And all of a sudden, I saw a little two-track heading off up along an even tinier valley with what looked like a minuscule stream. I wasn’t even sure if it was a trail.
I felt called to go up it, not sure how far I could drive. No-one had been there in a while, there were many fallen branches and trees on the road.
The two-track disappeared under a number of fallen trees. But I heard, “good, this is it, keep going” and I got out of the truck, quietly with open heart and open eyes.
After a few steps, I met a vocal squirrel on a very tall fir, welcoming and warning me. I stopped, bowed my head, announced myself and asked the squirrel if I could proceed. The squirrel kept spiraling up the tree, stopping every turn to speak very loudly to me. I was reminded of the squirrel that goes up and down Yggdrasil.
I felt invited to proceed. After a few more steps under fallen trees, quietly, every step mindful, every step a loving touch on this ground, I felt the ancestral natives who roamed and lived here. This was their ‘living room.’ This nurtured them.
I was asking for my defensiveness that was like a cage or barbed wire wrapped around my heart, to be taken from me and that I be freed from what had been weighing me down for so long. After decades of body work, hiking, moving and trying to strengthen my core, meditating, trying to open my heart, the tightness around my heart was more acute, it was getting ready to be released.
I got permission from squirrel to proceed and climbed under a few more fallen trees. A little to my left, two very tall aspen trees were shining brightly in the grey faint light from the overcast sky.
I touched the aspen, full of love and I felt its love. I felt my heart opening. I felt the connection. They me told me that they were suffering and in pain, too. We acknowledged each other’s pain and suffering and that we all want to restore balance and reconnect.
Having followed my intuition every step along the way I felt very empowered, encouraged and loved by these aspen. They told me it was time to proceed. I walked more. Hearing squirrels in the distance. Feeling bear and deer and elk nearby.
I came across some rocky mountain oak. I acknowledged it and I felt acknowledgement. I assumed the little riverbed creek bed was dry because I didn’t see any water. From where the Rocky Mountain oak was standing, I noticed a short stretch of the creek had water in it, which was moving ever so slightly, vibrating. For a brief moment the sun broke through. Warming me, kissing me on the forehead, lighting up the landscape. Everything was so perfect and beautiful.
I was so grateful just to be in that moment at that time. I felt called to get closer to the creek and carefully quietly, each step a loving touch, I proceeded.
I acknowledged this water where deer had just recently quenched their thirst.
Even though it was summer solstice, the plants were just starting to grow. Nothing was flowering yet—the cow parsnip, the osha and all the other plants that are part of this web and sustain us all through the air, we breathe and the soil they transform.
I looked around and saw something pale. I have found many bones in the wild over the years. While I used to collect them, I realized a while ago that it’s not good to have dead bones inside the home unless it’s a very beautiful skull. But those bones had clearly called me. They were glowing. It was five large elk vertebrae.
I used them to cleanse myself. I rubbed myself with them so they could absorb the darkness and negativity that had wrapped itself around my heart. I focused on that sore spot in my upper back, just holding the bones an inch above the skin. Imagining and feeling all the tension I held. All these deep unconscious patterns of defensiveness were being soaked up by the bones. I felt all that tension being swept up by the bones as I kept rubbing them over my body.
In visualizing how they were absorbing it all, I realized this was my gift. This guidance to do this ritual just at this moment. I was being offered an opportunity to let go, to cleanse, to purge. I was guided and followed my intuition every step of the way.
I had to continue my path. I turned around and mindfully started walking back to the truck continuing to visualize how the bones were soaking up all the tension, darkness and old wounds, the defensiveness and sarcasm.
Years ago, during a ceremony with DMT, I felt a snake around my heart and while I love snakes, I’ve asked that snake not to surround and strangle my heart many times. This time I felt a long black tentacle, a black slimy tarry energy – I invited it to leave and felt it unraveling from my heart and proceeding into the bones.
It felt so good to be guided through this gift of cleansing and letting go. I picked up some trash on the way back as an offering honoring the landscape
I put the bones on the floor of the passenger seat and continued visualizing all this darkness, all this tension, all these unconscious patterns being sucked up and transferring from my body—from my physical body, from my emotional body, from my mental body and my spiritual body into the bones.
Further along the way there’s a big lake, I needed to put these bones in the lake so that all the darkness could be returned to water, the universal solvent, so that it could be returned to the cycle of life.
The defensiveness and sarcasm were a spell put on me by my father a long time ago. By several generations, to disempower individuals, including me, and to maintain the secrets and lies of the false family myths.
I realized how deeply those energetic tentacles were still trying to steal my energy. With all my heart I asked the ancestors, the spirits of this place and the elk bones to finally take it away, please.
I found the bones up in the mountains and released them in the plains just outside the mountains. I glimpsed the lake ahead and realized it’s was a big water dragon waiting for me. I had been feeling deep grief, shock and pain at just how disturbed my family is due to transgenerational trauma and how this has been forced onto me, how I’ve carried this unconsciously, how it’s been imprinted on me since I was born.
The ego defense that tries to keep me in this unhealthy pattern is that it’s too late, it’s been too many years. And the water dragon said, “It’s not too late, you’ve worked so hard for so many years. The healing happens, the letting go happens exactly when it needs to.”
Standing by the shore of the lake, I rubbed each bone all over me. I visualized the energy, the darkness from my heart, from my chakras, from my forehead and face flowing into the bones. I threw each bone harder and further into the lake.
As I left there were three beautiful vultures eating some roadkill very nearby. Three, the masculine number was a good sign. The vultures who digest the rotting dead matter of animals were a good sign.
This is just one step in a long, ongoing healing process, but it was a great gift and really gave me hope and made me feel different inside. Ritual is a way of communicating respectfully and harmoniously with the unconscious, I feel my unconscious really heard me and that I can finally let go of this deep-seated pattern.