Life is a living ceremony. I often forget that. However, when I do ceremonial hikes (or walks) I am reminded of the power and magic of living life as a ceremony.
My personal favorite way of doing ceremony is by engaging what I like to refer to as the ceremonial hike. For me a ceremonial hike (or walk) begins with an intention to bless and be blessed by the land and sky where I am. So in that sense every hike or walk I do is ceremonial.
Depending on the situation, I might bring an offering for the land. It might be flower petals, corn meal, food, strands of my hair. Sometimes I make a rock cairn with prayers and intention.
I might simply sing songs of appreciation, or chant, or do an invocation for whatever is in my heart at the moment. There have been many times when I have asked for rain to bless the desert and within a day or two rain has miraculously shown up. It could simply be a powerful synchronicity, but it has happened so often that it seems to be beyond the realm of chance. Though I do confess I ask the universe to send me signs that my intention is being acted upon and again those signs show up in the most amazing ways as I am about to share.
In December of 2013 I went on a ceremonial hike asking for guidance around the Saturn cycle I was experiencing. The short version of the story is that against all probability I unexpectedly found a snake skin that was a profound message for me. I still have it on my altar as I am now in my second Saturn return and the snake skin is a magical reminder of what time it is for me! The longer story is HERE.
In March of 2014 I went on a completely unplanned ceremonial hike on my way home from the dentist. As I was driving home I suddenly felt the Tucson Mountains calling me, so I took the long way home and stopped at one of my favorite trail heads and found myself on an impromptu ceremonial hike to a sacred cave. I was blessed with the miracle of rain and rainbows as I sang songs to the desert and the Circle of Grandmothers. (More about that HERE and note the above Rainbow picture is from that hike)
In 2012, I did a ceremonial hike in honor of the May 20 Annular Solar Eclipse when Venus was with the Pleiades in closest passage in many years. As I hiked I offered prayers and asked for a sign that my prayers were heard as I often do. Then I stopped to be with the land and listen before beginning my return. I had been sitting for a just a few moments when I saw seven women hiking up the trail.
I laughed to myself that the universe would send me such a perfect sign, as of course, the Pleiades are known as the seven sisters. Usually when I hike I see one or two other people. Sometimes I see three or four hiking together.
It is rare to see so many on the trail all together and I couldn’t remember a time when I had seen seven women at the same time. I am not even sure they were all in one group, but there they were coming up the trail, exactly seven of them passing right by me. I knew it was a sign that I was truly connected to the celestial magic of that day.
This past May, 2015, I was with a friend and we had hike to a special sacred spot. While resting and enjoying the beauty of this place, I felt guided to give thanks for the miracle of our lives, the miracle of this sacred place and to claim that we are entitled to miracles.
We began our descent down the mountain and within 10 minutes a huge jackrabbit crossed the trail before us. Hopped a few feet beyond the trail and stopped to listen. It was unusual behavior as this rabbit was only about 20 feet away. We both realized this was an otherworldly kind of message.
As I ponder what the message was for me I was seeing the huge ears twitching as if listening to something that was beyond my range of “normal” hearing. So the question I am being with is how can I hear the messages that are mine to hear?
Rabbits are shamanic messengers and initiators, coming and going from this world into the underworld or lower world where they live. In Alice and Wonderland, she is following the white rabbit. In the first Matrix movie Neo is told to follow the white rabbit. Rabbits are often associated with the Goddess including ones like Artemis, Freya, IxChel and Eostar whose name later became the basis for the name Easter.
Rabbits are also symbols of fertility, abundance and the lunar cycle. The message I am following here is to share this and create this post about ceremonial hiking or walking. As I write this my own sense of connection to magic is heightened and I am grateful for the jackrabbit messenger who blessed us that day with her presence.
A couple of miles later on that same hike, we had the additional great fortune to see a Gila Monster cross the trail in front of us. Both Shari and I have been fortunate to see Gila Monsters on several other occasions and almost always these sightings are when something significant in my life is happening or about to happen.
In 2014 I saw two Gila Monsters during two different ceremonial hikes but usually it has been years between sightings for me. I I had another sighting in May 2015. It was the third sighting in about a year letting me know magic is happening!
Update in 2020 about Gila Monster medicine is I have seen three more Gila monsters in 2017, 2018 and 2019 in response to inquiries around ancestral work I have been doing that has been so amazing I will write about it separately soon.
Gila Monster Facts
To put this in context for those who do not live in the desert southwest – it is very rare to see Gila Monsters because they spend about 97% of their time underground and they are nocturnal so to see them in the daylight at all is rare indeed.
They share the shamanic initiator role as well, connecting us to something very deep, ancient and primal.
Gila Monsters are one of the oldest animals on Earth having survived from the days of dinosaurs. They use their tongue to hunt and to receive information about their environment. They can go up to a year without food or water so are equipped to survive in the desert.
The Navajo view the Gila Monster as so sacred their name for it (Tinilei`) is spoken only as a Prayer. In Navajo mythology the Gila Monster is the one who put all the pieces of the Sun back together so the Gila Monster is a Healer, Protector, and Regenerator who helps us to find Our Own Truth through intuition and divination.Here is a short article with more suggestions on doing Ceremony with specific alignments.
High Ceremonial Hiking Magic at the Solar Return
I have found having an intent for my Solar Return and ceremonially engaging it either through going to magical places through hiking or other means creates a kind of magic that just gets better and better!
One of my first ever more conscious ceremonial hikes that produced profound results was in 2002 on my 46th birthday. I was hiking Mt Wasson saying prayers and offering cornmeal when I had a magical and unusual encounter told in the audio below. I share this story to help inspire you in creating your own Solar Return/Birthday Magic!
Solar Return Hiking Magic - 29 minutes
On my 56th birthday in 2012, I went on a ceremonial hike with my beloved and every time he took a picture of me orbs showed up in the pictures. It was as if they were following me specifically as they didn’t show up in pictures I wasn’t part of that day. I have shared this one before because I love it so much. Maybe one of these days I will remember to track down the others and share them here too.
Here is a short article with more suggestions on doing Ceremony with specific alignments.