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: