I closed 2010 with a meditative sunset experience on top of a retreat center in Antipolo where I was asked to document stories and rituals and facilitate art activities during an interfaith peace camp. As I was hiking up the hill in a hurry not to get caught in the dark forest on the way up, I saw the sun setting and realized it was the last sun of the year. Immediately, I left my backpack of fresh new clothes from the city on the ground and walked toward a tree with an awesome view of a cloud formation in the sky that gathered a large circle of light. It was a beautiful experience to see the horizon in orange and red as it blanketed above the urban landscape. Moved by the experience of saying goodbye to my challenging healing year, I just felt I needed to sing to the sun. I offered a spirit song to the sun for having graced me and all with life. It was a good year of healing and love.
That evening, I was spending a great time with the young Filipino and European peace campers singing and playing games for the year ender when I still felt the urge to have space and continue singing. Sneaking out, I went back to the sunset tree and this time sang to the moon, sang with all the fireworks from the city that could never reach the sky. I felt nostaligic saying goodbye to my roller coaster year. While singing, I felt there was something stirring inside me that was not just my own doing. There was this strong weaving experience flowing some hums and hymns with my breath. I knew I was not alone.
This deep connection continued as I took part in a private Talaandig ritual with the young indigenous tribe peace campers while the rest of the youth and the staff headed up the roofdeck to watch the city fireworks at the strike of midnight. The ritual started at 11:45 pm and ended at past 12 to bridge the old year and the new year. I was honored to witness the mandalic offering of betel nuts wrapped in leaves and special paste to Apo Magbabaya (God of the Talaandigs) and the partaking of it afterwards along with voicing out intentions for the year to let Apo and the spirits help manifest them.
The next day, the first day of the year 2011, I spent the day on my own in silence. I decided to make my own ritual. Awake with bright eyes, I was ready to take on the day with a pack of 7 colored candles along with my "vision board" flipbook, art materials, and a good playlist on my mp3 player. It was not long until I disappeared into the beautiful landscaped meditation areas around the retreat center.
I found a bonfire pit where I layed out a simple mandala of flowers and leaves and lighted my rainbow candles around for my intentions (purple for spirit, pink for love, blue for peace, green for money, red for health, yellow for intelligence, and orange for career). I did this meditation and visioning ritual on 11:11 am, 1:11 pm, and 3:33 pm to connect to the good energies of these sacred timings. Oh yes, I also sang with the trees. There again, I felt the moving force of the spirits flowing through me.
Later in the day I did a fruit fast and made a mandala for my new year. It was inspired by my intentions to deepen my understanding and practice of indigenous wisdom and sacred art forms (represented by the local symbols and patterns), to heal and love myself and someone consciously and deeply (the flowers and the open heart and hands), and to polish plans for my backpacking art journey around the world (represented by the four eyes and the directions (North, East, West, South) and four elements (Air, Water, Fire, Earth) of the Earth.)
There was so much beautiful energy in making my intentions for the year that this carried on over the next few days together with the beautiful experiences of interfaith and indigenous rituals and storytelling that took place during the peace camp. Something really opened within me. It was as if I was ready to "to break open or openly break" (a favorite line from a favorite poem entitled This is a Diamond by Em Claire). I started doing my own inner dance meditations at the hidden bamboo groves during workshop breaks and I continued watching the sunsets and the evening stars in my solitude. I believe something greater was at work. It was as if I felt I was my future granddaughter watching myself as I saw my shadow dancing among the smooth rocks around the trees.After about 30 minutes into dancing, I sat down and gave myself a good cry.
As if it was divine timing, I joined the young people with a beautiful Sufi song and dance to close the weeklong camp on January 5. After having a sunset conversation over the phone with my love Russ at the balcony, I had a conversation about living and learning indigenous wisdom with the Talaandigs in Bukidnon with Bae Liza, a woman elder from the Talaandig tribe. It was beautiful watching the sun setting with her in her full traditional garb. The sun and the moon met as I left the retreat center braving the dark forest to send off a surprise gift to Russ at the bus station. I was a little sad I couldn't make it to Sagada on time for his birthday the next day because of practical things. I also honored where I was on my own sacred journey as a woman, an artist, a healer, and a teacher in the making. I am grateful that we have space for each other for these important matters.
I am now writing here in my room at Bahay GINHAWA, a non profit promoting creative and spiritual transformative therapies and workshops, where I have settled as a transient and some sort of resident artist on January 1 last year to undergo healing and transition from unprocessed trauma. Now a year has passed and I can say I am an entirely different woman in some way or another. I am still in that sacred mode from the new year as I continue to do deep meditation, dancing and fruit fasting. I can truly say I have been blessed with the Babaylan spirits and angels that have given me guidance, sacred art, space and opportunities to channel, share, and most of all learn about my evolving purpose on earth.
I look forward to more life enriching experiences this year!