Adventure with the Plant Spirits

As shadows lengthened across the saguaros and sunlit clouds gathered above us, six journeyers hiked into Sabino canyon. Herbalist and plant whisperer Darcey Blue led the way. As we traversed a rocky, narrow trail above mature cottonwood trees and willows, we could see and hear the water flowing below. Our recent monsoon rains have brought out perky new growth on shrubs and trees, and everything smelled fresh and lovely. Even the rocky outcroppings seemed to be a more vibrant shade of desert pink.

 As we walked, we discussed the deliciousness of freshly-plucked prickly pear trail snacks. Then, as we rounded a bend in the trail, we spotted a prickly pear fruit loose on the path. Darcey quickly (and valiantly) rolled the fruit on the ground to remove its spines and then skinned it for us. Happily, we each tasted a bit of the succulent red fruit. Smiling, we continued along our way. 

At our lovely gathering place nestled in the canyon, with the sounds of flowing water and rustling cottonwood leaves, and with flying clouds all around us, Darcey invited us to imbibe the scent of the intoxicating Desert Lavender (Hyptis emoryi), which is also amusingly known as “hippopotamus lavender” to a few of us. After several dreamy “oohs” and “ahhs” were uttered, our group gathered in a heart-shaped “circle” and began a special heart meditation. We were invited to connect with the plants by way of our deepest heart knowing, rather than with our thinking minds. We felt very peaceful, and then Darcey instructed us to each choose a plant and to settle in with it for a shamanic journey.

Our group dispersed, some people sitting with trees or herbaceous plants next to the water, others with mesquite or willow. As dusk floated into the canyon on pink clouds, the brilliant red and orange hues of the river rocks intensified. Even the water began to glow. Cottonwood leaves turned a deep green, seemingly lit from their own source of light. As Darcey began to drum, the cicadas immediately began a lively concert. It was a symphony of summer night sounds—the insects, leaves, water, hawk, sky! Darcey drummed and drummed, and the journeyers traveled with the spirits of their chosen plants. When we gathered back in our heart-shaped “circle” to share our experiences, we heard that vivid messages and imagery had been received. Also, Snake and Hummingbird had visited two of us.

 Darcey drummed for us a second time, and this time Nature loudly called out to us! Soon after the drumming began, the winds suddenly raised a wild ruckus of cottonwood leaves, and then Hawk let out a sharp greeting across the sky! During this second journey, the plants themselves made strong requests of at least two of the journeyers. Later, while hiking out, we were a merry little group walking through the night. The temperature was perfect, and the breeze so lovely. After we arrived back down at the trailhead, a few little drops of rain (and three frogs!) blessed our evening, and we all said good night to each other.

In the coming weeks, Darcey Blue and others with the Institute for the Shamanic Arts will be offering more shamanic events in nature. You are invited.                               


–By Alyson Greene



Darcey and Alyson both offer circles through our meetup group. To find out more information please see:


Snake Wisdom and Soft, Strong Light

Our most recent Sunday Journey Circle brought forth meaningful information, as usual.  Over a dozen people gathered in the Grotto to explore their inner realms using the ancient tool of simply listening to a monotonous drum beat while holding an intention.  This day’s journeys focused on the power of Snake, and the state of matter called “Plasma”.

People connected with Snake in many fascinating and important ways.  The photo shown is our circle center for this group.

For the second journey, without much scientific introduction to that which is called Plasma, participants were asked to watch the Plasma light in the center of the circle, listen to the drum, and intend to connect with that which makes the light, as if it were a Being.  The quotes below are thoughts written down by journeyers immediately after the drum stopped.  Two people drew pictures of tehir experience, and they will be posted tomorrow.

“Rely on the raw, constantly changing, creative, infinite option…the feel of it.  You don’t need to do anything. Power, power, power, power inside you.”

“What part of what we “see” is real? Which is illusion? Are they both? Is it a matter of focus and perception?  Shadows dance, Someone chants, off in the distance and perhaps many, many years ago- perhaps in what we call ‘future’.”

“Release resistance. Open. Ask us for what you need. All us to permeate. Soften.”

“Superior technology is NOT “God”. …Let’s get this idea so we can all f&!king move on and join the Intergalactic Federation of Cool People!” (Said while touching the ball of light).”

“The Universe is full of massive Suns producing light.  The Suns collect into Spiral Galaxies.  The enormity of the Universe is so immense that the Earth is only a transparent speck of dust.  The light of the Universe passes through every fiber of our being.”

“The soft, strong energy you perceive as Light is what is between the worlds.  Like oxytocin release after orgasm, like the light that so many see during meaningful spiritual experiences, we are this, and we ride this to communicate. Like orgasm, the light feels good, so you (humans) want it.”

During the sharing after the journey, one participant spoke of his work, and how he uses Plasma light to cut metal. He spoke about its Power, and its Snake-like quality.  We all agreed that the ancient Snake and the mysterious Plasma are doorways into many important teachings for those who seek to know more about our worlds and how we interact with them.

Written by Quynn.

Ravenous Divination

The Way of Raven was pondered and explored this weekend at ISA. On Saturday we gathered for RAVEN SHADOWS, a shamanic circle focused on connecting with, and learning from, our old friend Raven.  Wikipedia says many things about the ‘Common Raven’, including-

The Common Raven evolved in the Old World and crossed the Bering land bridge into North America.[19] Recent genetic studies, which examined the DNA of Common Ravens from across the world, have determined that the birds fall into at least two clades: a California clade, found only in the southwestern United States, and a Holarctic clade, found across the rest of the northern hemisphere. Birds from both clades look alike, but the groups are genetically distinct and began to diverge about two million years ago.[20][21]

The findings indicate that based on mitochondrial DNA, Common Ravens from the rest of the United States are more closely related to those in Europe and Asia than to those in the California clade, and that Common Ravens in the California clade are more closely related to the Chihuahuan Raven(C. cryptoleucus) than to those in the Holarctic clade.[20] Ravens in the Holarctic clade are more closely related to the Pied Crow(C. albus) than they are to the California clade.[22] Thus, the Common Raven species as traditionally delimited is considered to be paraphyletic.[22]

One explanation for these surprising genetic findings is that Common Ravens settled in California at least two million years ago and became separated from their relatives in Europe and Asia during an ice age. One million years ago, a group from the California clade evolved into a new species, the Chihuahuan Raven. Other members of the Holarctic clade arrived later in a separate migration from Asia, perhaps at the same time as humans.[23]

A recent study of raven mitochondrial DNA showed that the isolated population from the Canary Islands is distinct from other populations.[24] The study did not include any individuals from the North African population,[24] and its position is therefore unclear, though its morphology is very close to the population of the Canaries (to the extent that the two are often considered part of a single subspecies).[16]

 Human history is long with Raven, and for those of us in the southwest United States, we have a unique family line of Raven, different than in the northland, as well as across oceans. We are unique it seems.  After meeting with other Arizona Raven people, I must say I am not suprised.  We touched Raven wings, we learned tasty details about Raven, as well as their similarities with we Humans, we journeyed within to Raven Up and ask for Raven Blessings. Many of us even dressed in black. We cackled, we joked, we were serious as a tasty corpse (sorry).  We listened to an audio track of a few of the many vocalizations of our Raven friends to get us in the mood.

On Sunday, for our weekly shamanic journey circle, I asked Raven what it wanted for this new group of people. Raven said “Divination!”.  In the Medicine Card divination deck by Jamie Sams and David Carson, Raven is MAGIC. It’s description says “If you have chosen Raven, magic is in the air. Do not try to figure it out; you cannot.  It is the power of the unknown at work, and something special is about to happen.” (page 102) Ok! We did divination for our circle.

Upon arrival I (Quynn) pulled a card from the Medicine Card deck to give me guidance for our session to come. I picked Antelope, which is ACTION. Antelope says “Atelope arms you wil the Bow of Authority, and forces you to act on behalf of self, family, clan, nation, and finally Mother Earth. Antelope says “Do it now. Don’t wait any longer.” Antelope knows the way, and so do you. (page 186) So, action it is!
We set up many divination decks of different styles in the center of the circle. After opening our circle, we pulled cards from any deck we were drawn to , asking questions and setting intentions for our lives and our personal issues. We journeyed for guidance about many issues regarding our sacred life.  Raven was still present, as we Ravened Up and took magical action to help us understand ourselves in the context of our Sacred Now.  Thank you Raven!

A Weekend of Posturing.

As I prepared to move some boxes of books recently, I found the book “Where the Spirits Ride the Wind” by Felicitas D. Goodman .  A note card, written maybe 10 years ago, fell out. In my own writing I read,
”Right Hand above Left, standing.
Sounds Came…
A sea of ants was coming toward me, surrounded me.  I knew that feminine energy works well as a group, like ants. Then they began crawling all over me. Massage like. Felt tickly yet nurturing. Then I was lying down and they all came to me and picked me up. COMBINED STRENGTH!

Then I saw a decaying woman- I heard “The soul of woman is dying to change.” “

 I have hosted two “Postures of Flight” circles in the last decade, and I felt called again to host a shamanic journeying circle that explored the ecstatic body postures described in Goodman’s work.  There is much fascinating history and information about this area of research/study. The following is from the website “Ritual body postures found in prehistoric cave paintings and indigenous effigies have their origins with the hunter-gatherer tribes. The oldest posture discovered to date is believed to be approximately 32,000 years old. It was in the horticulturalist societies that followed, however, that the practice of these postures flourished.
Our body is a “universal tool” for insight into the manifold realities we live in and for a direct experience into the living “information network” of consciousness.”

Six journeyers (both experienced and beginners) gathered on Saturday to feel the drumbeat and divine our poses.  We changed our circle procedure so that instead of sharing after each of the two journeys, we wrote our experiences and shared at the end, thereby allowing our inner experiences to be untainted by hearing other’s experiences with the same pose.

We stood, we sat, we lay flat on the ground.  We journeyed together, choosing from the same 6 postures chosen for this circle, yet we traveled on different waves of energy. After experiencing both journeys, we shared.  For the sake of privacy I will not share the details of the journey experiences, yet I will say that people who held the same posture did have significant consistencies with each other.  It happened to the degree that as one person shared excitedly, their sharing prompted another person to share their exploration of the same pose.  Each person noticed how one small change in hand or mouth position, redirected the energy into a whole new experience, bringing more energy, a different direction, or more calm. Two people consistently heard a rattle, even though we were traveling to my single drum.

It felt so fruitful that I decided to use the postures as our focus for the Sunday Circle as well.  For that circle 5 experienced journeyers explored the postures chosen. The words “vibration, relaxed/safe, protection, recognition, remembering, honoring, burying, dancing, and unfolding” were shared over the weekend’s circles.  All had meaningful journeys that held needed guidance for our personal lives.

At the end of Sunday Circle, I asked for a statement that could be shared with you, those reading about these circles, something that wanted to come through. Here is what was shared from our experiences…
”Dropping from mind, into body, letting movement rise, loosening to allow GREATER MIND to flow- images come, images go, swaying body, help me know.”
”Birthing and Metamorphosis- These postures illuminated aspects of my journey experience that were completely new to me…both a birth and a metamorphosis in this work. Thank you.”

“Let yourself float calmly upon the waters of life.
Accept the gifts of the abyss.”
”The body is an instrument that can and will attune energy, facilitate amazing journeys and show us where we need to go.”

“Beyond right and wrong, there is an ocean. I will meet you there.” Rumi

As I think about this enlivening experience, I think about the power of our minds with intention and rhythm, and that our body is truly our sacred vehicle.  As I have come to believe, “Let your mind wander, you never know what it might bring back.”

Images from “Where the Spirits Ride the Wind” by Felicitas Goodman.

Quynn Elizabeth Red Mountain is a shamanic practitioner and founder of ISA (Institute for the Shamanic Arts) in Tucson, Arizona. Her website is .