shawnalight@gmail.com

Down, down into the Lava – where fear had no place

Into her Womb

Down, down, down we traversed.  Down into her womb. Into the womb of Mother Earth. Down, down, down we cautiously, quietly walked.  Aware and careful, in reverence we walked down, down, down.

The live volcano, ‘Mama Etna’, is powerful.  She is not a mountain, as our guide Allison Scola told us, but a living, breathing stratovolcano (it’s a type). And she had much to share.

Allison was our collaborator and tour guide during our incredible Spring in Sicily retreat!  I highly recommend getting to know her and her company; hint, she is writing a book! Her company, Experience Sicily, is beyond words and amazing. 

As we slowly entered Mt. Etna, we were walking into what had been hot, molten lava many, many years ago; her eruptive life dates back over 500,000 years!  This is before yoga y’all!  Mount Etna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  She is sacred, special, and, thank goodness, protected.

We wore headlamps due to the pitch black tunnel that allowed for no light to enter.  You cannot see even an inch in front of you.  Typically this would terrify me (hello bottom of the ocean), but yet not here.  

When I reflect back upon this moment, I am surprised that I had no fear.  Perhaps because we had seen where we were and then chose to turn the lights off; nonetheless, it was still the unknown, the unseen, and that yet untouched moment that was being experienced with a fearlessness that Mother Earth was supplying. 

She was holding us. Mother Earth always holds each of us, all the time.

Here we were, inside!  We knew we had to do it!  

Amy Soucy, my trusted co-facilitator/soul-sister and I had planned it months before…

WE OM’d!!!  OMG did we OM!  And, here’s the cool part… there was NO echo!  Lava absorbs sound.  (Read  this article that gives an explanation.)

Pure silence.

Listen to the OM HERE!

Tears began to fall from my eyes.  My hands held the caring “hands” of the Mother.  Her fingers were jagged and sharp from her hard work.  Each time, after little shards of her “fingers” chipped off, there was always something deeper and stronger to hold onto.

Etna, Mama Earth, was holding me, and I was holding her. She had moved; the Earth had moved centuries before my arrival, and now she was moving my soul.

That lava moved the Earth. And somehow it moved itself into leaving a space where we could walk.  These tubes are the shapes of how it cooled.  Read how they are formed here.  

And now, all of its chemical properties in the soil are creating growth of incredible vegetation.

From this destruction, incredible vegetation grows.  From fire, heat, and transformation, incredible landscapes blossomed.  Specialty wines, lemons, and red oranges along with many other products create a beautiful culture of food, wine, and gathering in the community.

Of course I am speaking literally and metaphorically (as I usually do).  It’s just such an incredible, awe inspiring, and heart-cracking-wide-open kind of ‘medicine’ for the soul to be in the midst of such richness and life.

One could think that I could just stop there, but there were more correlations to this one days excursion as I have been teaching from this story in my classes this past week:

Like how each little movement in our body is like its own ‘little eruption’. I am imagining bubbles sparkling up from my lunge poses up to my crown.  Little fire sparks of life crackling from my feet as I step back into Warrior Two.  Roaring flames at my solar plexus as I take my fearless, open-armed pose at the top of Mama Etna (see real life moment in pic!) and my heart radiates its Light of Love upon the whole world for peace.  

In a fun way, it’s like we’re moving just as the tectonic plates do.  As if our bones are the tectonic plates of our bodies and our joints are the meeting grounds (and we crack too! lol).  The African and Eurasian tectonic plates meet in Sicily; and as they move, causing eruptions that form new land, new lava tubes, new destruction, and new blossoms… we are literally moving in the same way.  

When we move our bodies, we are creating new landscapes physically and new landscapes upon our inner worlds of emotions, thoughts, and spirit.

This now reminds me of “Little Earthquakes” , both the song title and album of the same name, by Tori Amos from the ‘90’s.  Listen here.

We are always alive, moving, changing and shifting, and so is Mama Etna.

The Sicilians knew how to read her and she always lets them know what she’s up to.  They would always be in communication with Etna.  They’d always watch and observe.  Each morning as they sipped their espressos in Taormina, the town nearest Etna, they listen to her.  

This way of tuning in, watching, listening, and being still with life is what I invite you, dear reader into right now.  Just as the Sicilians attune to Etna, you can attune to yourself.  

Take a breath and settle a bit.  What can you notice that is alive in your body?  A physical sensation, an emotion, a thought, a desire, a need?  Just notice so you can tune in. 

Sicilians know Mama Etna best, not me…And you know your body best, not me.  What do you need these days dear reader?

Before I close with the offering of the meditation that I channeled on Saturday morning at the end of my Vigorous Vinyasa class, May 11th, 2024, one last musing:

I think Mother Earth DOES get amazed by her own expressions!  I hope she does because I am!

Volcanoes, almonds, pistachios, cannolis from ricotta and sheeps milk (Sicilian famous!), sheep, mountains, seas, oceans, clouds, poppies, orange trees, limestone, rosemary, grapes, wine, wheat, ancient grains, tomatoes, onions, lavender, water falls, and wild fennel!  Thank you Mother Earth!

The next time you are on your mat, I hope you feel amazed about yourself too! Like your hair, toes, breath, arms, knees, eyes, movements, transitions, and those tectonic plates of your bones and “little eruptions” of your joints!  Just have fun with your awe and gratitude is what I’m getting at!

As one person who named all the elements that live in our bodies that also live in the earth said, “We don’t live on the Earth, we ARE the Earth.” -Unknown

Those cool, dark, jagged lava tubes were empty, but it’s really not empty.  It is thick with life.  And you are too. Your energy is powerful. 

The OM’s in the tubes let us know that Mother Earth was holding us, no echo back, all taking it in!  Mother Earth holds you in the fire of her heart!!  She holds each of us in unconditional love. 

Full group on Mt Etna!

Lava Tube Message Meditation:

(Move and wiggle a little first)

As you settle into a Stillness in this new shape of your body after all these beautiful little eruptions, start to focus on your breath.  You might sit or lay down.

Let your muscles soften.

Taking notice for a moment of the after effects of the brief practice for just a moment.

In your mind’s eye and in your imagination, I invite you to join me down, down in the lava tubes.  Into that blackness, into the cool air, just a little bit moist.

Another few steps down, down, safely holding the rope.

Then you step off the last wooden stair and you step onto Lava Earth. 

Breathe a minute here.  Ground.  Get your bearings.

Now, turning off the head lamp, remembering that your Inner Light lights the fire to illuminate the knowing, you reach out into the darkness because you know she’s there holding you. The Earth and you feel, even though it’s a little jagged and some of the points can easefully break off, there’s a deep sturdiness that you grasp onto.

She’s reaching back to you. Holding hands, breathing together, fire in the belly, cool air through your nostrils, alive and awake!  

You breathe together in the darkness. Hearts Illuminating the way singing songs of vibration and color, beauty, fearless, grounded, and free!

Feel the tube under your feet, holding your hands, your hand holding back. 

Nothing’s moving and yet it all feels like it’s vibrating.  Your cells are vibrating.  

Breathe, feeling for a while.  Take all the time you need.

Feel if the mother wants to give you a message in support of where you are today.

Just listen into the silence for a moment, without expecting or needing there to be a message, but just simply listening.  Listen with your heart open.

Notice how your heart and body feel right now still in the lava tube, in the womb of the Earth.

Keeping that open heart, she’s always holding you.

OM if you like!

Breathe and feel.

You turn on your headlamp and you see the wood stairs once again.  As you slowly climb back up one step at a time, right now in your body one breath at a time, notice.

Climbing up, back to the top soil, to the top of the lava, slowly.  You see the light.

As you come out of the meditation, the light at the end of the tube shines on you.

You see grass, little yellow flowers, red poppies, almond trees, and olive trees, and you arrive.

Feel the air and its slight difference outside the tube, so breathe right now and feel what you are feeling.  

Rest a while.

 

All my Love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.