“Mirroring the beauty of Mother Nature has myriad facets. Art, Music, Dance – the pure Being of that human gift we are, reflects the magic of life with all its colours.” by Melinda Nina Garcia
Within connecting to the earth and weaving sacred ways, I found deep peace and purpose in creating altars. Basically, we all live on one. Within rituals and homes, there is always a point of reference found. Be it the vase with flowers on the table, be it the candle or a fire within a circle, be it the space where we put the pictures of our loved ones. The altar serves as a point of reference, as a mere reflection of intention – to beautify, to remember, to pray.
Many years ago, I went to the eco-community Pachamama in Costa Rica, one of my greatest schools of life. Here I found altars, beauty, healing in so many ways and the people of the village, especially Chandani Bakeef and Rasana Bissoli have inspired me to speak and connect to Mother Earth by creating altars.
First, there is a happening – a Sweatlodge, a Ceremony, a Moondance, a Tipi, a Birthday – any kind of celebrating, honoring, remembering life and its cycles.
Then comes the vision. For me it starts 1-2 weeks before the event within the preparation – a feeling comes, images appear, people say something – somehow the main intention and prayer unfolds into exactly that energy that wants to be called in.
Then comes the day of preparation. I used to create the altar on the day of the event and found myself pressured in time. For a while now, I take the day before to really feel, focus and relax into creation.
Based on a Sweatlodge Altar, I’d like to share my process.
Just like the mis-en-place of a chef, I prepare my tools and have the basics – corn, beans, lentils, rice, shells, flowers and leaves ready. First, I give tobacco to the place, say “hello”, introduce myself and ask permission to the 7 directions, as I have been taught through the Red Road Ways, especially the ritual of the Moondance. Then I clean the altar space, loosen the earth, connect and play with it to make an even surface. Next, I get water and clean each of the 13 (sometimes 28) stones around the altar and water the earth, my canvas.
Here I kneel, tune in, connect and start to outline the image. Then I put seed by seed, one after the other, getting into a meditation, a trance that I love so much. In that way, the heart of the Sweatlodge, that this altar on the left side of the entrance facing the east, represents, connects with mine and through that with all participants entering the womb of mother earth. I like to work with the numbers 4, 7, 28 and 52 as Grandmother Moon and her cycles are my inner compass and I pray for guidance and protection of the space and us all. Like that, intention, focus and prayer can melt and I feel supported and held, connected to Mother Earth, Father Sky, all Beings and Spirits.
This Sweatlodge Altar especially, serves to receive all instruments, stones and things that participants wish to charge with that present prayer energy.
Someone once said to me: “From the altar of a person, you can read their story”. In that way, the altar of our body, the altar of our kitchen, home and the altar of the ceremonies we hold, reflect intention, purpose and the relation to ourselves and Spirit.
I give thanks to life, the spirit of Switzerland, mother earth, father sky, grandmother moon, all directions, all elements, my guides, teachers and friends, my ancestors and the wisdom of all grandmothers and grandfathers.
May we all walk in beauty, good thoughts, gratitude and peace, knowing that all is connected.
Melinda Nina Garcia
Melinda Nina Garciais a visionary woman, building bridges between worlds and creating sacred spaces to connect with oneself, each other, Nature and all its Beings.
After over 20 years of corporate world in Switzerland and studying shamanic traditions and prayers within the ECO-VILLAGE PACHAMAMA in Costa Rica and with many elders around the globe, she now, as a Moondancer and Sacred Pipe Carrier, is fully committed to the healing ways of Mother Earth and her people.
She is a co-creator of the PACHAMAMAFESTIVAL and produces spiritual concerts with and for UNIVERSAL SOUNDS. She leads the vision of planting the MOONDANCE Ritual in Switzerland within a to-be found Center, called MAMA QUILLA and serves the community as an experienced Sweat Lodge- and Ceremonyleader.