I first practiced this ritual in 2014 after I traveled to Peru, on a Shamanic retreat led by Marcela Lobos, an initiate into the Spiritual Teachings of the Amazon and Andes. She is a Senior Teacher at The Four Winds Society and married to Dr. Alberto Villoldo, its founder. While this practice is not specific to this season, it does create an opportunity for your past selves and ancestors to come through the veil between worlds. So, it feels appropriate to me to share now when people throughout history honored their ancestors at this time of year. Please do share your experience with me!
Adapted by me from the book Shaman, Healer, Sage by Alberto Villoldo PH.D.
Privacy, a chair, a mirror large enough to see your whole face in, and a candle.
30-90 minutes. For me, this typically takes around 45, but allow yourself some space to really sink in and not feel rushed.
In a darkened room, sit two-three feet in front of a mirror and place a lit candle to the side of you.
Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, centering yourself. When you are relaxed, gaze softly into your left eye. Do not stare. Notice the play of light and shadow on your face, and keep focused on your left eye.
Notice your face as you have always seen it, the face you have looked at in the mirror a thousand times. Hold your gaze. Allow whatever feelings come, to come. I usually cry from the intensity of the intimacy with myself.
A few minutes later, your face may change into different forms. You might perceive animal faces superimposed on yours, or your face may disappear altogether except for your eyes. Nothing is only what it appears to be in this stage. Stay with the changes focusing on your breath. Don’t be alarmed by what your perceive. It may be bizarre or quite boring! Simply register the various faces that appear, passing no judgment and making no interpretations. Some of them may be tens of thousands of years old. Our ancestors. Some may be former lives, others are power animals, our guides and allies in nature. Other faces are our spirit guides.
Eventually, a single face appears and becomes dominant. Here everything is as it should be. This is the face that you are looking for. You have noticed every changing, shape-shifting face until you recognize the face that comes to stillness. When the image appears, allow it to inform you. Hold it steady by focusing on your breath, gazing softly into your left eye. Let it reveal its story to you. Who is it? Where did it come from? What does it want from you? Our energy field holds the memories of all of our former selves, including the faces of who we were when we were hurt of wounded, or from a former lifetime. More frequently they are the faces of who we once were, or who we might have become, in this lifetime.
Finally, all images disappear, even your own face. At this stage in the practice you are seeing the luminous nature of reality. There is only Spirit and light.
To finish the practice, bring your hands to prayer pose and take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed.