Burning Stick Transformation

A and I met at our favorite vegetarian cafe, Good Karma, to discuss my most recent crystal healing class based out of a small shamanic practice in Santa Monica. She and I have spoken about our spiritual and homeopathic practices many times before, but soon we started discussing use and cleansing methods for crystals. Her father, a practicing shaman, has this habit of infusing problems into stones by blowing on them and cleaning them with fire. We soon learned that our healing traditions were centered in different elements: mine in water, hers in fire. A’s shamanism uses fire heavily as a transformative property.

A: We have this practice that we sometimes use at big gathering rituals, but I think it highlights the major difference between how our groups approach healing and forecasting transformation. Say you want to dispel negative thoughts and attain a better life, we use this practice to affirm and set the foundation that you want. Again, almost all of our practices center around bonfires of some kind. Perhaps we’re just a big group of pyros, haha. Anyways, when you want to set an intention and gain a more positive future we set some time aside to go through the motions of this ritual.

First, you receive two sticks. It doesn’t matter necessarily what kind of wood they are, it’s really at the discretion of the person in charge of hosting the event. When my family does it, we just get some wood we have left over from other bonfires we set up. I don’t think there is anything particularly special about the wood we use, but I could be wrong. Once each person has two sticks, we have a spell of quiet time where people focus their mental energy on any thoughts or desires that could be holding them back from flourishing. They then blow these things into the stick like one would with a flute. Next, people come together and toss their sticks into the fire, dancing about in the smoke and firelight. The more you bathe in the smoke, the more free of your burning trouble you are. Soon this all dies down and we repeat the process, except this time you blow in what you want instead. The fire operates as a transformative property that consumes the bad stuff of your life.

L: Okay, interesting. I went to Joshua Tree about one month ago and we ended up burning different types of flowers. We did not dispel the negative energy from ourselves, but rather we spent the time cleansing the space with palo santo. Again, I’m not really a fire person, but my friend E wanted to set a positive atmosphere for our creative retreat. I did find some serious inspiration for my paintings recently

A: It works like that, but again this is just one small practice for a massive night of rituals. It really isn’t a stand alone thing.

Part of the transformative burning ceremony

Part of the transformative burning ceremony