When you think of ‘channeling,’ it may bring up images of an end-of-the-world psychopath wearing a wizard gown in Roswell, or an old frizzy-haired Puerto Rican woman babbling in her hole-in-the-wall Hell’s Kitchen storefront circa 1989. Travel to the village of San Marcos, Guatemala, though, and you might be surprised at what you find.
Could there be a more magical story, or a more extraordinary place, than this otherworldly Avalon? If there is, I’ve not yet found it, and it remains the brightest gem in my mind, even though the name Avalon has been usurped by modern companies selling everything from furniture to cars to prescription drugs.
As I sit here, on the balcony of my room in the Andes Mountains of Peru, America seems very far away. And I don’t just mean physically. I mean within me.
A year after visiting Cassadaga, and many moments of truth later, my next thyroid revelation occurred. My husband and I were planning a trip to Colorado to do some exploring, of the land and the soul both.
After exploring dance and tradition in Part 1 of this series, our second journey into the manifestation of mysticism and community begins on a piece of asphalt in a city park. A circle is formed and dancers enter one at a time to become what an innocent bystander might describe as live catharsis, or angry animals, or a purgative gospel of electric delight.
“Would you like to schedule the surgery to remove your thyroid now?”
Those were the words I heard when I was only 25 years old. I was freshly married to a boy I met in elementary school and had just relocated from New Hampshire to North Carolina in pursuit of adventure.
We, humans, seek form for the formless. We are synthesizers of moments and meaning, inclined toward expression and hardwired for communion within community. We are creatures—social, complex, curious.
“I suppose I just have a knack for it,” said Barbara as she sat in her living room festooned in multi-coloured blankets and an embroidered black shawl befitting her station. Barbara is what’s known as a ‘Curandera’ in southern Spain and people have been coming to her for 63 years with their children, pets, and even plants for her to cure the ‘Mal de Ojo’ or ‘Evil Eye’. “I’ve had doctors, lawyers, and priests come to my house for help, I’ve even had people sending me letters stuffed with locks of hair from Germany.”
Lake Chapala has, for centuries, been a meeting place. In the middle of central Mexico, the largest body of water en route to the ocean from the center of the country, it has seen centuries of people, animals, and goods pass through its shores.
Two years had passed since our first experience with ayahuasca in Peru, and my boyfriend and I were now traveling through Salento, Colombia, when I saw the flier offering an evening with ayahuasca on the bulletin board of our hostel.
Would you choose to unlock the secrets of the universe if you knew it might cause you to shit your pants?
Two years ago I packed up my comfortable life in New York and moved to the remote coast of Cape Three Points in western Ghana. I stayed for eight months, directing Trinity Yard School, a Vermont based NGO aimed at educating the youth of Cape Three Points and surrounding rural villages, where access to education is severely limited. It was a huge emotional and cultural shift for me, and I have never been so pushed, tested and inspired in equal measure. I still think of my students every single day. I remember, too, surfing the point at sunset, late night drumming circles around the bonfire, and exploring the dense jungle and chaotic cities alone. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think of moving back every single day.
Will it ever stop hurting? My feet, pustule and cracked, were screaming. My troubled mind, worn tired from long days under the sun, wanted to give up. Will it ever stop hurting? I frequently asked this to myself as I hiked the timeworn path of the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trail stretching from the French Pyrenees to the interior of northern Spain.