I carried a vial of water from the creek that runs through my backyard and poured the water on the top of the Jorba castle in Catalunya with the prayer that the colonial mind be quenched of its desire to dominate and take more than it’s share. Within minutes, like a house of cards, my ego structure crumbled as I headed for the most intense Shadow Work of my life.
Since the day I was eight-years-old and discovered that my ancestors owned the first land grant in Orange County, I revered my family legacy. I spent hours in libraries reading diaries of land and sea captains or at the local museum gazing at my ancestors’ artifacts: lace gloves, steamer trunks, ostrich fans, silver spurs, ornate horseback riding saddles, and a portable writing desk with a golden plate engraved with the name Jose Antonio Yorba, the young soldier who left Catalunya for the New World in 1767. I romanticized Yorba as a renegade explorer, a hero, who left his beloved Catalunya, which had recently lost its sovereignty to Spain, and made a new home in California, establishing the bucolic Ranchero period. I would have been a daughter like Catherine Zeta Jones in Zorro.
But as soon as I descended this family castle, I understood that I had cast that spell over myself. With a clap of understanding, I realized Yorba had named his Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana after the Patron saint of Spain, not Catalunya. He was not a renegade, but a colonizer. He had really helped destroy the Indigenous cultures of Native Spirituality that feeds my soul. I felt nauseous and confused. I had just asked to come face to face with my inner colonizer.
The next day, my last day in Catalunya, I took the empty vial to Monserrat, where the Black Madonna rests. I put one hand on the orb she holds and with the other hand I held open the bottle for her to pour in Espiritu Santo. The Child held out his blessing for me to receive blessings for my “regalo,” my gift of writing. I sprinkled sacred cannabis on the grounds as my offering.
My healing crisis began within 24 hours.
Fever of 102, a pounding headache, diarrhea, and chills overtook me as I drove home for six hours the day after my flight. Once in bed, I drifted to the in-between place where Magick resides, and felt the identity of pride and superiority leave me with the black smoke of an exorcism. All through the weekend of Mabon, I lit the Witches’ Brew candle made by my cousin for protection and healing and turned on the aromatherapy, breathing in rose water. During a drumming journey, I was so overcome by the anguish of Yorba’s first wife who accosted him for abandoning their sons that I became wracked with dry heaves. With a little research I discovered Yorba had named his son after Xavier Frances, the clergy who led the Goya Inquisition. I shivered with the knowledge.
I burned dried Mugwort leaves and let the smoke wash over my wounded spirit. I took a bath with lavender for cleansing, rose petals for compassion, hydrogen peroxide and Epsom salts for purification, and grated ginger for release. I oiled myself with Calendula so that I could relax into the timing of this healing that was beyond my control. I returned to the drumming, the writing, sleeping, and dreaming until the sickness left my body.
I am so grateful for my healing crisis. I am humbled by this release of pride prior to The Book of Spells going on sale. I feel cleansed of the ugliness in thinking that I am different or in any way better. I am also free of the shame that hid with thoughts of superiority. I am more connected to Mother Earth and everyone upon it. I am deeply appreciative for the Spirits who guided me. Release what no longer serves you. True Shadow Work brings you to your knees. But it also leaves you open to receive blessings, especially with the power of a New Moon and the season of Mabon.
The soft warm Catalan breezes are as familiar to me as the breath of my own children.
I know this zephyr that welcomes me as a pilgrim returned to my homeland. It caresses my cheeks, my arms, my thighs, like a playful lover.
It is tender like a grandmother’s butterfly kisses.
The radiating sunlight has warmed my skin and bones for millennia.
I am filled with such immense joy and the absolute assurance of belonging.
Between a whisper and a howl, the wind carries the prayers of my ancestors and the land that knows one of her own has returned.