The Road to Mana: Re-Membering Soul Loss, Restoring Forgotten Gods

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.

–T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (“Little Gidding”), 1942. Section V

Epilogue, Part 1

Chicago, Illinois

Thursday, July 9, 2015

“Anna, my spirit guides told me this: ‘The place where this all started [Hawaii] is what’s going to heal her.'”


The Time That Was Not a Time, At a Place That Was Not a Place

From the orally transmitted Hawaiian Creation Chant, the Kumulipo. This is my own translation into English:

O ke kane huawai, Akua kena                                    The man with a water gourd, he is a God

O kalina a ka wai i ho’oulu ai                                       Water that causes the withered vine to flourish

O ka huli ho’okawowo honua                                       Causes the plant top to develop freely

O paia [‘a] i ke auau ka manawa                                  Multiplying in the passing time

O he’e au loloa ka po                                                   The long night slips along

O piha, o pihapiha                                                         Fruitful, very fruitful

O piha-u, o piha-a                                                         Spreading here, spreading there

O piha-e, o piha-o                                                         Spreading this way, spreading that way

O ke ko’o honua pa’a ka lani                                         Propping up earth, holding up the sky

O lewa ke au, ia Kumulipo ka po                                    The time passes, this night of Kumulipo

Po-no                                                                              Still it is night

Hanau ka i’a, hanau ka Nai’a I ke kai la holo                  Born is the fish, born is the dolphin in the sea there swimming

Hanau ka Mano, hanau ka Moane, i ke kai la holo         Born is the shark, born is the goatfish in the sea there swimming

Hanau ka Pe’a,                                                                Born is the octopus,

Hanau ka Lupe i ke kai la holo                                        Born is the stingray in the sea there swimming

He po uhe’e i ka wawa                                                     Darkness slips into night

He nuku, he kai ka ‘ai a ka i’a                                         Earth and water are the food of the plant

O ke Akua ke komo, ‘a ‘oe komo kanaka                       The Gods enter, man cannot enter


Ho’omalino ke au ia ka po kinikini                                    Tranquil was the time when men multiplied

Ho’ola’ila’i mehe ka po he’enalu mamao                            Calm like the time when men came from afar

I kapaia La’ila’i he wahine                                                  It was called calmness, then was born La’ila’i, a woman

Hanau Ki’i he kane                                                            Born was Ki’i, a man

Hanau Kane he Akua                                                        Born was Kane, a God

Hanau o Kanaloa,                                                              Born was Kanaloa,

O ka he’e-haunawela ia                                                     The hot-striking octopus

A-o                                                                                      A-o

Ua lewa ka Lani                                                                  The Heavens shook

Ua lewa ka Honua                                                              The Earth shook

I ka Nu’u no                                                                         Even to the Sacred Places

Epilogue, Part 2

“I believe you, Lisa. And there’s no coincidence to any of this,” I said, slowly sitting upright from the massage table where I’d received 90 minutes of intense bodywork treatment. I was incredibly dizzy, par for the course. “Your background. Your familiarity with Hawaii. Even the decor here in your healing studio.” I began to look around the gaily painted walls and Indonesian batik prints tacked to some of them, and only just now noticed the massive, leering wooden Polynesian hand-carved mask on the west-facing wall: the mask of a Hawaiian Deity, grimacing. Pugnacious.

“How come I didn’t notice that before?” The eruption of chicken skin on my arms grew stronger as I slowly drew the words out of my mouth. “Which God is He?”

“Oh yeah? That’s weird you didn’t notice that before,” Lisa answered nonchalantly, sipping a glass of water. “That’s Kanaloa.”

“Ka-na-lo-a,” I drew out the syllables slowly, letting my tongue roll them over like bits of unfamiliar food. A God’s name I hadn’t uttered in literally a decade, when my life, my surroundings, my reality–were so different.

“I forget what He’s the God of,” Lisa scratched her chin absentmindedly.

My eyes widened. Full eruption of chicken skin on my arms and thighs. “The Underworld. Whether seen as a man or a great octopus, He guards the entry to the Hawaiian Underworld,” I said, feeling the mana of the mask on the wall pulsate with life. “Some legends say that He was sent to the Lands Below and given that assignment as punishment for His obsessive love of ‘awa. He and his close friend, the God Kane,” I continued, “traveled all over the planet after the night of Kumulipo, the moment of Creation, bringing forth fresh streams of water to not only support life, but to provide the base mixture for drinking powdered ‘awa root.”

The Hawaiian Gods Kane (left) and Kanaloa (right), striking the earth with Their sacred staves in order to bring the blessing of fresh-flowing streams.

The Hawaiian Akua (Gods) Kane (left) and Kanaloa (right), striking the earth with Their sacred staves in order to bring the blessing of fresh-flowing streams.

“Mmmmm, kava does taste pretty amazing when prepared that way!” Lisa purred. “Have you ever had it?”

I nodded, recalling my honeymoon on the Big Island in 2004 and how my husband at the time hated the taste of it, whereas I thought it was utter ambrosia. I appreciated how the mud-hued liquid, served from a particular ceremonial wooden carved drinking bowl with dried gourds for cups, made my tongue go numb after only two hearty sips of it. Like Kanaloa, I craved more. These days, thanks to the wonders of e-commerce, organically grown ‘awa root powder is shipped to me direct from farmers on Vanuatu.

“You look like you’re having a moment, Anna,” Lisa chimed in, snapping me back to the sultry Chicago July evening in which the journey began. “Are you okay? Is the mask of Kanaloa freaking you out? Remember what my guides said: Since your trauma started in Hawaii, turning to the intense energies of the Islands and facing your memories head-on is what’s going to help heal you. It’s going to help you process the tremendous cellular release that you just had–your body is committed to letting go. It’s not going to happen overnight, though, so I want you to look into taking volcanic ash and marshmallow root to help continue with the cleansing process.”

I stared at the massive wooden mask the entire time that she spoke. I then acknowledged her advice with:

“Did I ever tell you about the Kanaloa encounter I had off the coast of Kailua–that He came to me in black squid form while I was snorkeling off the Mokolua Islands? That I was seriously freaking out, thinking that I’d pissed off a giant Moray eel and it was coming out of its reef rock to bite me? Huge, goat-like, yellow-green eyes that scared the shit out of me because they bored into my soul?”

Lisa shook her head. No, I hadn’t ever relayed this anecdote to her before.

“This sinuous, black snaky thing comes within inches of my face,” I continued, “and I’m thinking, ‘Fuck, it’s going to bite me!’ And I’m trying to backpedal underwater and then, SPLOOSH! I see that it’s a squid and not an eel because it splays out all ten of its arms, right in front of me, displaying its majesty before it shoots off beyond the rocks. It happened literally in the blink of an eye,” I said, amazed that I was treated to such an encounter.

Moments before my underwater encounter with the Akua, Kanaloa. Mokolua Islands, Oahu, June 2003.

Moments before my underwater encounter with the Akua, Kanaloa. Mokolua Islands, Oahu, June 2003.

“Did you know that I consciously knew from my wedding day onward that my entire life in Hawaii was one big Underworld initiation? That even on my wedding day, I knew that I was Persephone, that Mike was Hades, and my mom the grieving Demeter mourning my loss throughout all the Worlds?” I asked, feeling sick to my stomach as I recalled my unhappy, largely unacknowledged by family and friends wedding day on what seemed the most desolate stretch of lava/beach anywhere ever.

Photo of my wedding day at Turtle Bay. I knew I was Persephone receiving my initiation as Queen of the Dead in an eerily sunlit, oceanic Underworld. My wedding photographer was the amazing Stefanie Riedel, a German expat who makes Hawaii her home. Book her services at

Photo of my wedding day at Turtle Bay, Oahu. I knew I was Persephone receiving my initiation as Queen of the Dead in an eerily sunlit, oceanic Underworld. My wedding photographer was the amazing Stefanie Riedel, a German expat who makes Hawaii her home. Book her services at

“Oh shit, Anna,” Lisa muttered. “This is an old, old wound crying out for healing.”

Chapter 1

The Big Island, Ongoing

The Kahiko Hula chant, “He Mele no Kane” / “The Water of Kane” (my own translation from Hawaiian):

E u’-i aku ana au ia oe,                                                  One question I ask of you:

Aia i-hea ka Wai a Kane?                                              Where flows the water of Kane?

Aia i-lalo, i ka honua, i ka Wai hu,                                 Deep in the ground, in the gushing spring,

I ka wai kau a Kane me Kanaloa—                                In the ducts of Kane and Kanaloa—

He wai-puna, he wai e inu                                              A wellspring of water, to quaff

He wai e mana, he wai e ola                                           A water of magic power,

E ola no, e-a!                                                                  The Water of Life! O give us this life!

Kane was forever searching for places to strike His staff into the earth so He could produce water, water that would make the sacred ‘awa (kava) root drink become infused with mana, with spiritual potency. One of the God’s journeys is beautifully portrayed in this Kahiko Hula (traditional sacred dance meant to narrate the deeds of the Akua, the Gods–not the touristy bullshit you see lithe female dancers do in Waikiki hotels) by a men’s hula halau, or dancing school. This chicken skin-inducing (and I mean that in a very good way) footage was taken at the Merrie Monarch festival on the Big Island last year:

Chapter 2

Chicago, Illinois

Afternoon and Evening of Friday, July 3, 2015

I had the day off work in celebration of the national holiday and it was a very good thing too, as I wasn’t able to function; I awoke at my usual time for a weekday morning, experiencing an acute panic attack. I clutched at my chest and did my best to prevent myself from hyperventilating. Crying, I leaped out of bed and grabbed my cell phone off the nightstand. I knew it was a matter of time before PTSD symptoms manifested. First I called my mother; then I called my therapist. It was crucial that the latter see me today. Mercifully, she had a cancellation at noon and could accommodate me.

After one o’clock as I dejectedly left my therapist’s office, I knew deep down that the healing I needed to do was rooted more in spiritual than psychological reality. So I decided to call my friend Joan–a highly regarded shamanic practitioner whom I’ve turned to for many years now in the aftermath of severe trauma–on a whim, hoping to all the Powers I serve that she could accommodate me in her schedule. I knew I needed a soul retrieval, and that once it was done, my body’s balance would recalibrate itself.

Sometimes when I act spontaneously, I find that things really almost always fall in my favor. Joan was able to see me; she suggested I just head immediately over to the Life Force Arts Center, seat of her nonprofit foundation where she sees clients privately for shamanic work, so I did.

The drive there was harrowing. I narrowly avoided getting into an accident upon seeing the horrific sight of a passenger in a car making a right-hand turn throw a kitten towards the left of the eastbound traffic lane of Irving Park Road near Damen Ave. in Chicago’s gentrified Ravenswood neighborhood. I saw the kitten, a grey striped tabby barely a month old (who looked so much like my very own sweet Hela), get run over by a car. I shrieked and nearly slammed into the large pickup truck immediately in front of me, which itself came to an unexpected, jarring stop in the middle of the block as an old man lurched into Irving Park road out of nowhere at the same time that the kitten was pitched into the street (these actions occurred on opposite sides of the street). In turn, I was nearly rear-ended by the car immediately behind me. The three of us were very fortunate to have not hit each other–and to have avoided hitting the old man–but needless to say, I felt no relief at all. The sight of the kitten roadkill had me burst into tears, and I cried for the remainder of the drive to the Life Force Arts Center. This is an evil, evil day. There’s no getting around it, I thought.

I arrived raccoon-eyed, my mascara running down my face, and sobbed as Joan extended her arms to me for a hello hug. I told her what happened and she informed me, shamanically, that the kitten’s spirit had latched itself onto my solar plexus–not just because I was a witness to its appallingly cruel demise, but because I’m a Priestess of the Goddess Bast. We absolutely needed to do a ceremony of releasing the kitten’s spirit before we could begin with my own soul retrieval ceremony. I asked if Joan had any items in the Center’s kitchen that would make for suitable offerings for a cat; I would appeal to Bast in a devotional ritual but I needed to have a proper offering. Joan happened to have fresh organic cream so I poured it onto a plate and lifted it high over my head as I prayed aloud to Bast, asking Her to welcome the sweet young kitten into Her golden hall of joy, and for the kitten to detach herself (I decided it was female) from me. I was feeding the kitten’s spirit and I promised her that I would continue to remember and pray for her, and for Bast, Nebet Weret, to forever watch over the kitten. I truly felt a little lighter in my mid-section upon completing the prayer and promptly exiting the Center to pour the saucer of milk onto the roots of a nearby tree. Joan and I both felt Bast’s presence and knew my prayer was answered and the kitten’s spirit welcomed in the Amenti (Abode of the Blessed Dead) especially for cats.

Joan was glad to see that the impromptu ritual helped ground me emotionally and reclaim my power, though she knew the reason why I sought her help was far, far more traumatizing than the shocking death of the kitten I happened to witness en route to her place. She invited me to have tea and water and sit comfortably on the floor; for the second time that day, I narrated how my recent traumatic experience of a natural disaster (the flash flooding at PSG I’ve written about here) was plunging me into PTSD-induced depression and anxiety. Furthermore, my relationship with my fiance had taken an unexpectedly rocky course, largely due to his aberrant behavior from untreated Bipolar II disorder. Not only was he not sympathetic to my distress, he was becoming verbally abusive and even physically violent in my home; when he, in a frightening fit of anger the week prior, kicked my kitchen garbage can in such a way that the flying can slammed into one of my Orisha shrines and actually broke one of my wooden Nigerian statues, that’s when I knew that things were precariously close to Absolutely Ending between us, as shocked and horrified as I was forced to admit to myself. I needed to learn the lesson, long overdue, of putting my needs first, and the soul retrieval would hopefully help out with that also. In the meantime, to ensure my safety, I’d asked Daniel to stay at his mother’s house for the duration of the Fourth of July weekend so I could have my condo to myself. It was essential that whatever healing I undergo have me reclaim my space in a mental space that was devoid of fear.

Joan listened with great empathy; her first husband was bipolar and refused to take the necessary medications, so she could relate to what I was going through. And it was good that I set boundaries for myself; my safety should never be compromised. Let’s see what the spirits had to say about everything.

I went to lie down on the massage table provided for me, and I heard Joan sing her welcoming songs to her various helping spirits. The air was scented with the apotropaic smoke of burning bear root, sage, sweet grass, and cedar twigs and leaves.

A vision came to me right away, and then I felt my body grow increasingly cold as Joan’s drumming tempo increased to a frenzied pitch. It stayed cold for the remainder of the shamanic journey, even when I “saw” and “felt” colors around me that were primarily warm ones–gold in particular.

The vision I had at the outset was of me lying on a funerary bier, very Egyptian-style, with my arms crossed over my chest. I was dead but not dead. Instead of Joan in the room with me, my Patron Goddess, Nephthys, stood at the feet of my bier (as She is often depicted mourning at the feet of Osiris on His bier, with Isis standing behind His head).

Then there was a sensation of being “locked in” as my body underwent changes on the bier. The only way to describe it is to hint at a vague inner knowing of cellular transformation, changes taking place at a very deep level. But the outer “surface” of my body was cold and placid lying on the bier. To quote the Tao Te Ching, “Darkness within darkness.” I wasn’t afraid…I wasn’t feeling anything, actually. A feeling of rightness, perhaps–that this was how things were/are now and I was content with it, with the narrative unfolding. What part I was to play in it (nevermind asking, who’s writing the script?) was yet to be seen. I had the dual consciousness going on of being in this out-of-ordinary/meta-awareness as well as having mundane awareness of where I was in the Middle World, what date it was, that Joan was with me, etc.

I lay in the bosom of the dark/cold/gold light and heard Joan ecstatically cry out, “Hail, Priestess of the Ibis! Hail, Goddess!” And then she sang another song, one whose words made no “sense” to my mundane awareness. And then came the part when Joan approached my inert body and repeatedly “blew” back my stray soul parts into my head and heart, the twin seats of consciousness and ethics. Each time she did so, I felt the cold lessen its grip on me; my arms and legs tingled. I sighed, whether out of pleasure or relief I could not say. She sang another song, petitioning my newly restored soul parts to integrate with the rest of me, to not succumb to the temptation to leave me anymore. She assured them that I would welcome them, that the time for feeling fear was over and peace and power were my lot now.

Then the time came to sing more songs, ones of thanks to Joan’s team of helping spirits, which include Powers such as Owl, Bear, and Eagle as well as Deities like Brigid and Athena and even the Archangel Raphael. Joan gently asked me if I were capable of slowly rising and joining her in the final song of thanks to all the spirits. While slightly lightheaded, I also felt very energized and I was glad to partake in the song and its ritual movements.

We then both stretched, refilled our glasses of water, and I sat on the floor to patiently listen to Joan’s report.

She said she did restore two soul parts of mine–one that disassociated from my psyche/body during the flash floods the night of Monday, June 15, at PSG (it was still stuck in the flooded campground) and one that was lost in my own condo, having disassociated from the trauma of Daniel’s more recent displays of imbalance/violent expressions of bipolar mania-turned-anger. This soul part was sad and aimlessly wandering in my condo’s main east-west axis of a hallway (interestingly, the ghosts that have visited my home tend to linger in that hallway also).

But what really made the soul retrieval journey interesting for Joan was what she described as my being ordained/transformed into what she called a goddess or a priestess “of the Ibis.” First she pointed out that my tie to the Egyptian pantheon “is very strong,” and she saw me lying on a table (what I perceived as a funerary bier) of blazing white light. I looked like I was in a deep sleep and surrounding me were not just the Egyptian Gods that I serve, but spirits of human beings from ancient Egypt–lector priests, temple keepers, the works. They stood around me, singing and chanting, and then suddenly appearing from a crescent moon came a colossal white Ibis bird; It began to fan me with Its wings and then It encircled me, so I became fused with Its energies and when It released me, I was transformed into this goddess/priestess of the Ibis and that’s when Joan hailed me as such.

She wanted to know if there was such a thing as an Ibis Goddess of Ancient Egypt and I shook my head: the ibis was associated with two concepts in Egyptian iconography: the God Thoth, Who is, among other things, a Moon God depicted with an ibis’ head and a man’s body (with a crescent moon surrounding Him); and second, the hieroglyph for an akh, literally a “transfigured spirit,” one of the Blessed Dead. The akhu (plural) are transfigured spirits of the dead, the ones who have favorably passed Judgment at the Weighing of the Heart. As with the neteru, the ba (souls) of the akhu can traverse the worlds and perform amazing feats. They can help–or hinder–their living descendants on earth. They need to be placated on a regular basis with offerings.

The more I described both iconographic associations of the ibis bird to Joan, the more my arms broke out in waves of chicken skin, confirmation that this was a huge green light/cosmic thumbs’ up from the Universe. I saw myself on a bier; Joan saw me turning into an akh. Thoth. The Moon. The “stepping up” of my Priestesshood in response to the restoration of my soul parts.


But there was more: in Joan’s shamanic journey, Egyptian Gods and the beatified spirits of once-living Egyptian people weren’t the only spirits surrounding the transformed me on the table of light. Joan saw Daniel in two forms: the “real world” Daniel whom she called “Sick Daniel”–he was swaying around as if intoxicated; I later learned from his own lips that he had gotten rip-roaring drunk at his mother’s house the same time that I was undergoing the soul retrieval, so this corroborates Joan’s vision–plus a Higher Self of his she called “Priest Daniel.” Priest Daniel was among the Egyptian Gods and spirits, his arms upraised in prayer as he witnessed my transformation into an akh/ordination as a Priestess of the Ibis. Joan said she could see that Daniel and I have been together for many, many lifetimes; we have incarnated together for millennia–family members, lovers, friends, fellow clergy in the Mediterranean world, even Roman soldier drinking buddies!–and are Soul Family, plain and simple. No wonder we have a tremendous connection with each other, and why I am “willing to put up with” his poor choices regarding not having his mental illness treated properly. “It’s not a fluke that you’re together as a couple in this lifetime, and I know that you already know that,” Joan said. “I already know that healing is on its way, not just for you two, but for him individually, and he needs healing now too,” she said.

Before she would explain further, Joan wanted to mention that Panther showed up and announced that it was going to offer Its services as a power animal for me now, to help me regain my equilibrium. “Honor Panther and give It offerings,” Joan emphasized. I nodded.

Joan detailed her vision of the Great Ibis in her journey and wanted me to work on inviting Ibis energy. “Who is Thoth’s consort in the Egyptian pantheon?” she asked.

I grinned. “Seshat: the Goddess of Writing,” I answered.

“Oh Anna, this is a huge deal: This will impact your work on Isis-Seshat magazine. It’s time to really step things up, this is part of a huge leap closer to landing in your true calling. You know that!” she said.

I nodded, feeling very excited and hopeful.

Joan then returned to discussing Daniel’s soul parts in my vision, and how she asked her helping spirits if it was okay for Daniel to stay and witness my transfiguration. They said he needed to stay. They told Joan that Priest Daniel routinely checks out of Sick Daniel’s body when the latter’s behavior is too manic or depressed/out of control. Joan asked if she was required to heal Sick Daniel at all. Daniel’s spirit guides then appeared–he has hundreds of them, as do I, Joan said–and handed Priest Daniel a giant key to present to Sick Daniel, who had stopped swaying drunkenly because an Archangel was bathing Sick Daniel’s energetic being in healing light. So Priest Daniel approaches the Not-As-Sick-As-He-Was Daniel/Real World Daniel and presents him with the giant key from the helping spirits….and then the key transforms into a huge snake that spirals up Real World Daniel and bites him on the left side of his neck. Is this some sort of Kundalini energy? Joan wondered. I thought it could be, but also suggested that the key and the serpent are obvious symbols of Hekate, Daniel’s Patron Goddess, and he is undoubtedly being initiated into deeper levels of Her service right now too.

We wrapped up our discussion and then walked down the street and had a very grounding, post-soul retrieval dinner at Ala Too, one of my favorite Turkish/Central Asian restaurants in Chicago. That was the start of my re-membering, my re-fashioning of my body and spirit.

Chapter 3

Chicago, Illinois

Evening of July 9, 2015

Studio of Synergistic Healing Bodyworker, Lisa G.

I was really looking forward to receiving a combination of healing modalities from the very experienced hands of Lisa, who had come highly recommended to me. Whether I needed cranio-sacral therapy, Reiki, lomi-lomi, Swedish massage, hot stone massage, or reflexology, Lisa would discern it moment by moment and have the bodywork session last an amazing 90 minutes. When we started, I talked about how I knew my recent natural disaster trauma was probably evoking something traumatic that happened to me in Hawaii but I didn’t want to re-experience. She nodded and then turned on her CD player of soothing, mostly Native American-sounding chanting and drumming. I felt myself slip into a light trance almost immediately.

Lisa would later report that she saw me bathed in gold light at the outset; I found it curious as the first vision I’d had as soon as she’d placed her hands on me was that of the Egyptian God Sobek, in full crocodile form with His snout in profile to me, facing left with the setting sun ablaze in gold glory all around Him. His solar disk atop His headdress was made of solid carnelian; His eyes gleamed like amber. It was sunset on the Nile and I was invited to experience it with Him, which delighted me beyond words.

I also had a vision of a mountain lion early on: not looking at me but gazing at a diagonal glance. Serene. Majestic. (The Panther from Joan’s soul retrieval?) Also a sunset background.

Intensity in a negative way began when Lisa grabbed my hands above my back (I was lying on my stomach) and began to press the palms of my hands. I winced and had a surprise encounter with an unpleasant-looking water spirit–conical-headed, squat, bloated lips and sullen eyes–deep in the Pacific, on the ocean floor where I had a near-drowning incident in 2004, off the coast of Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore.

Surfers in Waimea Bay at sunset. Photo I took from a rich woman friend's front porch in 2005.

Surfers in Waimea Bay at sunset. Photo I took from a rich woman friend’s front porch in 2005.

The spirit seemed angry at me. Had I inadvertently “trespassed” into its domain and it still harbored a grudge, after all of these years? Was it the spirit that nearly drowned me when a riptide pulled me into the open ocean all those years ago? It swam closer towards me and I literally hissed at it to fuck off. It faded away.

Lisa applied hot jasmine-scented massage oil on my back and began to work her lomi-lomi magic. That’s when I had a surprising vision of Ganesha. The Remover of Obstacles was seated on a throne. I saw garnets everywhere. He eyed me with compassion and then he turned His beloved face in profile; I saw His tusk. I saw Him brandish a scepter. The whole encounter surprised me because I’d never expected to see Ganesha in a healing scenario before; up until that point, I’d only ever thought of Him in relation to my prosperity workings. But yes, it was clear He was here to remove my obstacles to wellness, so I prayed to Him and said I would offer His image many candies when I got home. Jai, Ganesha!


The moment of deep cellular release that Lisa would remark upon came at a moment when she’d begun pressing her impressively long fingernails at meridian points between my ribs (I was still lying on my stomach at this point). The pain was triggering a more detailed re-experiencing of my near-drowning event in Waimea Bay in 2004 and other traumatic episodes I’d experienced during my four years in Hawaii. As the memories began to flood me, I felt the room grow incredibly hot and I was uncomfortably dizzy, to the point that I feared I was going to pass out and roll right off the massage table. I felt a whirlwind of energy in the room, one coalescing with intensity and rising from the floor to the ceiling. I wanted to faint. I told Lisa I was dizzy; she was breathing out forcefully–hissing, even. My back suddenly arched itself at a high angle and then I collapsed after a popping sound was heard; Lisa gagged violently and announced that she took on my moment of physical release of the trauma.

She did Shiatsu-style stretches to expand my heart chakra, diaphragm, sinuses, and my colon. They’re all related in Eastern medicine, so the poor health of one creates an adverse domino effect for the others. Lisa then reached for her ocean drum and as its wave-like beads rattled back and forth in its frame, I wept. Giving up another Hawaiian ghost, I reckoned.

The session took 90 minutes but with the discussion we had before and after the session proper, I was in her healing studio a solid two hours. I knew I had to continue my regimen of drinking a lot of water and eating minimally to help continue the process of flushing out toxins. She told me to pay attention to my dreams. Honestly, all weekend I’ve felt like I’ve sunken into a deep pit when I’ve gone to sleep; if I’ve dreamt anything at all, I have zero recall.

Perhaps that’s as it should be. Perhaps it’s time to be a tabula rasa.

Here and Now, And All Times That Ever Were and Will Be Again

‘Awa iku, ‘awa lani

Here is Kava, potent, sacred

Eia ka wai la, he wai e ola.

Here is water, the Water of Life!

E ola no, e-e!

Life, give us life!

Altar with offerings to Kanaloa, Pu'u O Mahuka heiau (ancient Hawaiian temple), Oahu. Photo credit: Mark Czerniec

Altar with offerings to Kanaloa, Pu’u O Mahuka heiau (ancient Hawaiian temple), Oahu. Photo credit: Mark Czerniec

2 thoughts on “The Road to Mana: Re-Membering Soul Loss, Restoring Forgotten Gods

  1. Thank you! The healing effects from both the soul retrieval and the bodywork session have been immediate and I can tell my body and psyche have been gaining momentum in transforming for the better. Sobek, Sekhmet, and Set have been fundamental in facilitating the healing too. But this weekend I will do a proper kava ceremony to honor Kanaloa. Lake Michigan is a poor substitute for the pristine Pacific as I knew it, but it’s what I’ve got to make a connection and I’m sure He will listen and take note of what I’m doing. 🙂


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