Julia Plevin

Invoking the ancestors

Julia Plevin
Invoking the ancestors

My friend led me through a meditation in January 2018 at her house in Mt. Shasta. I saw fire and cacao and then drew this in my notebook. Interesting. I only met her when she called me out of the blue the year before. She was one of the first people who had found my forest bathing work and invited me to lead forest bathing at her retreat house in Shasta.

Time is collapsing on itself. I’m not even sure I have the dates right. But I think this is how it went down. A few months later I find myself in Guatemala on a journey learning Mayan fire ceremony. It wasn’t until the elders handed us cacao that it clicked. And something else too. As soon as we got to Guatemala, I was fascinated by the women weavers. The goddess Ixchel was so present for me. She’s the Mayan goddess of healing, the moon, child birth, and weaving.

Fire ceremony is one of the main ways the Mayan elders perform healing. I saw some crazy things — like an elder who threw up after removing the bad energy from someone in our group and different faces in the fire.

I had wanted to pick up a rattle while in Guatemala and was having a hard time deciding which one to get. Then I just found one that was mine. No question. It wasn’t until I got back home to California that I realized the rattle had a depiction of Ixchel on it. It wasn’t until I told my friend in Shasta this story that she told me that it was an Ixchel meditation that she led me through.

When I got home, I began to ask the question, “What is my ceremony to offer?” I love learning other ways, but what is so true to my core, my birthright?

Fast forward a year later and my ancestors have been working through me. They led me back to my Jewish roots and into the desert for Passover, where there’s a sacred fire that runs throughout the duration of the festival. This fire is different than the fire ceremony I learned. It’s a prayer fire. But it’s also the same. It’s how we connect to our ancestors. It’s the tongue of Pachamama that we feed with offerings, presence, and prayer.

I took the 2am - 4am shift to tend the fire. I thought I could handle it. The person who was supposed to join me didn’t show up. So it was just me and the fire. At first I lit the broom on fire by accident. And then I might have added a log the wrong way. The fire was going out. All of a sudden nothing else mattered. My entire existence depended on keeping this fire alive — this connection to my ancestors and to all our ancestors. I begged and pleaded with the fire. Teach me. Show me your ways. Please!!! I am here to serve.

Miraculously, a guy showed up who had “just signed up for the shift at the last minute.” He was an expert fire keeper. He got it back going in a good way. We prayed at the fire together.