Sacred Smudge Wand DIY with Helios + Solene

Sacred Smudge Wand DIY with Helios + Solene

Creating a sacred container for ceremony that provides a fresh palette for spiritual work to take place without the intermingling of outside energies…

This post comes to you from Emily Mikaelah, a Brooklyn-based energetic healer, teacher and spiritual development coach. She carries the ancestral teachings of the curandera women of Venezuela that have been passed down to her from the generations of medicine women in her family. In 2016 she founded Helios + Solene to create safe and sacred spaces throughout her travels to bring the powerful healing medicine of Spirit into the lives of others. She holds workshops sharing her practice with the community through group classes, women’s circles, and one-on-one private sessions. To learn more about her offerings, please visit her online portal.

Clearing the energy of a space has quickly become a common practice throughout many cultures. Traditionally this cleansing ritual was used before ceremony to raise the energetic vibrations of a space and release it of any evil spirits or negativity that may have been lingering.

Growing up I remember seeing my mother cleanse the house at least once a week with white sage, copal and palo santo. We would take sacred baths and smudge ourselves ceremonially. Every time we moved or refreshed a space, after any large gathering, every holiday and, of course, on Sunday mornings to the sounds of salsa music and live drumming.
The act of sacred smudging is a ritual that is easily attainable with just a few simple tools. Sacred herbs, often found in bundles, are typically placed into an abalone shell or a flame resistant vessel. White sage is the most commonly used — it helps to release any negative energy from a space, body or object when burned. You can also use palo santo if you want to cleanse and ground your space, as well as copal and cedar before and after Ceremony. I choose to burn my sage individually. Because it is so powerful, I like to honor each leaf (you can choose to bundle it as well). Traditional tools used in sacred smudging have been used for years to honor the four elements in the natural world: Earth, the sacred herb; Air, the smoke rising and the use of a feather wand; Fire, the lighting of the flame; and Water, the abalone shell.
Today I will teach you how to make a sacred smudging wand for your energy clearing rituals. These wands become close allies and support us in our rituals during their lifetime. It is important to note that, when making your wand, your energetic footprint goes into them… they become an essence of you. It is advised to keep your intentions during the creation process pure and the vibrations high.
Supplies
Ethically sourced feathers
Floral tape
A scrap of surplus leather
Suede cording
Decorative materials of your choice
Scissors

Step 1

After you have sourced your feathers, it’s time for a deep clean. Feathers can contain micro bacteria from their animal carrier, so it is important to cleanse them thoroughly before handling. (I use a blend of water, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol.) Excess debris can be removed with dishwashing soap and water and allow them to soak in the hydrogen peroxide/ alcohol/ water mixture for at least 2 hours. Measurements vary based on the recipe, but I split it evenly three ways. After they have been cleaned, allow the feathers to dry in partial sunlight or near a cool fan. Don’t try to blow dry or apply heat as it may damage the feather and curl the ends. Once fully dried, hold them to your heart and say a prayer of intention. Smudge the feathers with some sage and making process can begin.

Step 2

Arrange the feathers in a way that appears visually pleasing to you. Explore color, height, texture. Once you find an arrangement with which you feel aligned, wrap the stems with floral tape to hold them in place. Floral tape has enough flexibility to hold the feathers in place while still allowing slight adjustment after taping. It is also a gentle adhesive that will not damage the feather if you decide to unwrap and start again.

Step 3

Cut a piece of surplus leather for your base. I source mine from fabric houses in NY’s garment district. Typically these are scraps about to be discarded, so projects like these allow new life to be breathed into them. You can also find wonders at your local thrift store. The height of the leather swatch should be as long as you want the handle, plus one inch. So if you want a 4″ handle, the height will be 5″. The length will vary depending on how thick you want your handle (we will be rolling the leather), but I would say at least 10″.
Align one edge of the leather against the stems, making sure to cover the tape and begin to tightly roll it like a cinnamon bun. It should be tight enough so that the stem won’t glide out and you don’t see air pockets between each layer. You can use rubber bands — or a friend — to hold in place!

Step 4

Cut a long piece of cording of your choice (at least 3 feet) and begin to tightly wrap around the leather base. Begin at the top nearest the feathers and wrap each end of the chord downward evenly until you reach the bottom of the base. Adjust tightness until it feels secure and tie off on the ends. If the end is uneven you can cut it straight. Add beads or bells as decor or leave the cording as is.

Enjoy your new smudge wand! Take care of her and use her often. Thank her and her animal carriers for their offering in this creation. Give gratitude and make an offering to them in a way that feels suitable to you. Your new smudge wand will assist you in clearing energetic debris from your body and surroundings, and will bring sacredness to all spaces in which you use her. Enjoy your new companion!
+What are your thoughts on smudging? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Tuning In with Helios + Solene: Breath Work

Tuning In with Helios + Solene: Breath Work

This is the second post in a series, by Natalie Shukur.

It took attending only one breath work session with Emily Mikaelah to know I had just experienced something transformative — stirring breath, clearing blockages and negative patterns, paving the way for what best serves our truest selves. Grounded by a beautiful sense of ceremony, I left both aware and appreciative of both my newfound inner wisdom and the effect of breath on body, mind and spirit. Without further ado, Emily is here to share more with you about this empowering practice.

How did you first discover breath work?

It was the middle of a transformative summer and I had just quit my job in the fashion industry to prepare for the birth of Helios + Solene. I had been practicing reiki, crystal healing and sound healing, but felt the call to dive deeper into my spiritual practice. I felt something was coming just around the corner but didn’t know what it was at the time. Then one day I was waiting in line for the bathroom after a meditation class and I looked over and there was this tattered, water-stained book on a shelf that was sticking out amongst dozens of others. I picked it up and flipped to a random page, read it, and I knew I had to take it home. I think I finished that book in two days! I felt such a deep connection to the words, the work, even the energy behind it felt familiar. I decided to research the author [David Elliot] and see if he was still around and teaching. That same day he posted on his website an upcoming visit at my local studio in Brooklyn. It was all so aligned. The rest is history. When I met him I knew he was going to be a major teacher for me in this lifetime. I’ve studied and mentored with him ever since.

Why do you think people often neglect their breath, and why is connecting to it so powerful?

The way you breathe is the way you live. I don’t think people necessarily neglect their breath, as much as lose sight of the awareness of it and how it can truly transform you physically, emotionally and mentally. The process of breathing is so natural that it’s easy to shove in a corner and forget about. Especially in a fast-paced world with instant gratification all around us, it tends to take a backseat to our daily routine. The simple act of reconnection to the self through awareness of the breath allows you to reclaim that power of oneness and intimacy with spirit. Then all of a sudden you have this moment of time in your day that’s only yours. It’s a gift that money can’t buy and no one can hand to you but yourself. In that moment of reconnection there is true love — self love, universal love, selfless love for all beings. What a blessing!

What’s the simplest, entry-level way to introduce breath work into our lives?

I always encourage my students to play music that makes them feel powerful or inspired and start dancing. Movement gets the chi in our body swirling and helps to stir up any stagnant energy that may have been sitting in the energetic body for a while. We’ve had some serious fun in some of my classes, dancing to our inner goddesses and letting our freak flags fly. I remember one class I had everyone start dancing like their spirit animal and I looked around and there were seven cats in the room [laughs]. After movement I have everyone lay down and connect with the breath in a way that feels comfortable for them. I like to lead students through slow extended inhales through the nose and into long vocal exhales through the mouth. We release so much through sound: moaning, screaming, laughing, crying — they’re all the most primal things a human can do and I allow my students the space to do it, free of judgment or disapproval, in a space that’s supportive and sacred to their development and healing. Once everyone has formed the connection to their breath and grounded into their body we begin a ceremony.

What immediate benefits can people feel from practicing breath work?

The reason I work with the breath so deeply is because it helps to bring clarity and healing to our physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological self. You can go into a session and feel tingles and vibrations through your body, whirling in your stomach while crying for your inner child, working through ancestral trauma, and laughing at the lessons learned once the foggy veil is lifted. There is no limit as to how deep you can go, or where you can take it. As long as your intentions are pure and the timing is aligned, spirit will guide and support your journey lovingly and unconditionally. Immediate results vary per person but overall I will say that all clients feel a deeper connection to their truth. There is a sigh of relief that comes with finding and working through the root of our energetic blockages.

Are there many kinds of breathing techniques?

Yes, so, so many. Each practitioner also brings his/her own expression to the work. I work with the method taught to me by my teacher but I compliment it with my teachings from the medicine women in my family that were passed down to me. We all add the seasoning of our own spiritual experience. We all bring our energy and spirit posse into the room with us. This is the magic of the individual journey! When I perform a ceremony, no session is ever the same because the energy shifts based on how you and I, and your guides and mine interact. They lead us down the path to your best medicine, and it’s our responsibility to just get out of the way and hold space for ourselves and for the work to unfold.

What’s the difference in doing breath work at home or in a yoga class and working with a practitioner/healer?

I would say that, if you are new to working with the breath, there is value in finding a space that is energetically cleansed and purified for this type of work. Spiritual hygiene of an environment is critical to doing good work. You don’t want to open the floodgates to residual energy lingering in an unkempt environment. Additionally, it is natural for the human mind and the ego to try to take control of the situation when we are doing the work ourselves. They try to distract us and take us away from the work because it’s not easy. It’s much more comfortable to go binge-watch that Netflix series, but we have to do the work. Plus, who doesn’t want someone lovingly supporting them on their journey and holding them when things get heavy? We all need that from time to time. That said, I do believe that we are all our own masters, we are all our own healers, so if you have the discipline for a strong personal practice, go for it!

You facilitate a particular type of breath work…

The type of breath that was passed down to me derives from pranayama. It is an active three-step breath that is deeply rooted in love. All of my teachings are rooted in love. It is not a traditional yogic breath that is soft and subtle; in fact, the breath to me has the energy of [the goddess] Gaia, which can be loving and nurturing but also quite fierce when she needs to be. A lot of people compare the breath to holotropic or shamanic breath work, and although there are many similarities, each method is slightly different. In the ceremonies I lead, I combine sound, sacred herbs, essential oils, and spoken mantras with the breath. I also do some live drumming and work with plant spirit essences. I tap into the energy of the room and I lead the student on the journey that their guides are opening up for them. Then I get out of the way, let spirit do the work and I support the journey by staying conscious of all in the room. I relay any messages I receive from their guides and usually they resonate with the blockage or energy the student or client is working through in that moment. The breath allows spirit to move through us, breaking through any energetic blockages that are holding us back from living our highest truth and potential. These blockages can be old–they can be ancestral and karmic wounds. They can be the source of fear, anxiety, trauma, self-inhibition or the inability to protect yourself from outside energy. It is powerful work and I feel blessed and grateful to spread its light.

Our session with you was physically and emotional challenging. Is this a typical response?

The breath can seem challenging especially if it’s new. It can even seem intimidating to some, but that’s when we go back to the root of love. Knowing that this method of healing was brought into your life at a divine time, knowing that there are no coincidences. And hey, no one said working through the old stuff you’ve been carrying around all these years will be easy, right? There’s a reason we shove it way down there. But the liberation of release is priceless, and quite honestly, crucial to our spiritual development. Things come up because they need to come up, their time is past due and they need to be released so we can move on. So release those emotions! Don’t hold back! You are loved and provided for and supported unconditionally by the universe.

Emily is wearing the Sky Fall Embellished Maxi.

Photos by Ash Lynn.

+ For more on Emily and her practices, visit her site. Reading recommendation: “The Reluctant Healer” by David Elliot.

 

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Intro to Helios + Solene: Be The Flame

Intro to Helios + Solene: Be The Flame

Throughout her practice, Emily Mikaelah has trained with industry leaders in the fields of breathwork, reiki, sound healing, and crystal healing, integrating her teachings with her South American roots… Read on to get to know more about her magic.

This post comes to you from Emily Mikaelah, a Brooklyn-based energetic healer, teacher and spiritual development coach. She carries the ancestral teachings of the curandera women of Venezuela that have been passed down to her from the generations of medicine women in her family. In 2016 she founded Helios + Solene to create safe and sacred spaces throughout her travels to bring the powerful healing medicine of Spirit into the lives of others. She holds workshops sharing her practice with the community through group classes, women’s circles, and one-on-one private sessions. To learn more about her offerings, please visit her online portal.

As we evolve within our lifetime we shed identities of the past… like a snake shedding its skin, we release what no longer serves our highest purpose. We step into newer, more comfortable shoes, taking one step closer to greater alignment with our truth. Not each step is the same in distance, nor time, nor difficulty. Our path is a winding road with speed bumps and potholes causing unexpected detours and few shortcuts. Yet if we manage to take a moment for reflection, we’ll notice the wild flowers bursting through the cracks in the concrete. It is in this state of awareness that we acknowledge each detour has been gifted to us from the Universe, filled with soul shifting lessons, new adventure, and deep rooted self discovery. It is in this space that we find gratitude.

I like to think of our human identity as fire — the essence of the fire is the flame. It expands and contracts into its surroundings, dancing to fill the space it needs to grow rapidly, wildly, untamed. Yet at the core, the essence is still the flame. On my personal journey with the fire I have allowed it to morph constantly, to grow prosperous, rampant, and unruly. To fill the rooms, and the forests, and the valleys, and when the flames expanded too far past it’s essence it began to burn out. This is where things got interesting, because I could have walked away from the wildfire and lived a life far from the truth. Yet like a moth entranced by the light it drew me back in. I stepped closer and closer to the fire and it was then that I realized I didn’t get burned.

Peeling back the layers of the soul’s onion, I began to unlearn all of the teachings that I was told I needed to be “skillful”, I released all that was expected of me, I began to rewild. I followed the calling of the rose and the drum, I listened to the wind and heard her guide me. The closer I stepped towards the flame the deeper I began to embody my truth. I began to feel whole in ways that felt grander than the third dimension. I allowed myself to be held and nurtured by Spirit and felt such deep rooted love that it made my heart vibrate. I found myself dancing on the subways, singing down the sidewalks, smiling at strangers passing by me. And then they came- from all walks of life they began to gravitate towards the high vibrations emitting from my sacred body temple, ”What is your secret?” they would all ask. The answer was simple, “I woke up.”

Who am I? 

My name is Emily Mikaelah Maria. I come from a lineage of Curandera women from Venezuela. My teachings are a compilation of all of the masters I have ever met, in this lifetime and previous, in the physical world and beyond. Generation by generation the women in my family have carried the sacred knowledge of the light, passing down the torch to those that felt called to work with, through, and on behalf of Spirit.

My grandmother Maria Lourdes Morillo was the matriarch of the family. They called her La Montes, The Mountain. She was a born onto this Earth an intuitive healer carrying all of the psychic gifts the Universe had to offer. She spent her lifetime helping others, traveling the world spreading the sacred medicine of Spirit to thousands of light seekers. During her lifetime she carried nine children, six of them daughters. Each child was born with an intuitive gift, the youngest being my mother Rosalia.

I was my mother’s firstborn and only daughter. I have the honor and privilege to be born into this Goddess tribe, to be surrounded by these magic women, to carry the blood of my ancestors in this body, and to be in service to the light. This is my flame.

So who am I?

I am a manifestation of Divine love. I am a vessel of light, a messenger of truth, and a guardian of the sacred. I am a protector of the Earth, a sister to all. I am here to serve all who feel called to prosper, to love, to live their highest potential. I am a life artist, bird spirit, magic wombman. Daughter of the sun and moon, daughter of the ocean. I am the collection of all the women I have ever been, and all of the women I will become. In sacred service to the light, I am here to support you on your journey to your truth.

Mujer de la luna, Hija del mar.

I am here to share my story, and I thank you for lending your ear.

In love + gratitude,

Emily Mikaelah Maria

+ Check back next Thursday for more from Helios + Solene!

Photos by Ash Lynn.

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