Traveling has proven to me again and again that it is one of my greatest Medicines and my recent trip to South Africa was no different. I had previously shared my experience with an unexpected Soul Retrieval while traveling to a ranch in Central Washington, and my spontaneous Ceremony on a plane ride to Mexico, but now I want to go a bit deeper into the topic of Traveling as Medicine.
Traveling is, for whatever reason I cannot fully explain yet, very deep Medicine for me. Every trip I take provides me with a new layer of healing for myself and, in turn, a new dimension of healing that I bring back to the people who work with me. This layer of healing may involve a specific plant that I am asked to come to meet in person and harvest, an activation provided to me by the land, or an experience with Ancestors that reside in said place. Sometimes it is simply a shift in perspective of how I view the world. When you visit a physical location on earth, there are portals/doorways (attunements to new energy) that can open up that energy within you, or put in a different way, new dimensions that you now have access to.
This only happens if you are ready to receive it, it is not automatic.
I will write more about portals, dimensions and attunements in a different post, that’s a whole topic in itself.
First, I will define Medicine in my own words and how it applies to me. I feel that Medicine is the true cure to an ailment, the thing that rebalances that which is out of balance, something that can provide truth, clarity or literal healing. Medicine can take on various forms and present in various stages of intensity, but almost anything can be Medicine. This is why we are all Medicine People at our core – we all have a Medicine to offer the world, it’s just about figuring out what your Medicine is and sharing it.
Helping a person find their Medicine and bring it to the world is my goal with everyone I work with and it is the goal of Sacred Heart.
Very recently I have returned from a trip to South Africa, a place that I had planned to visit since I was a kid but anticipated waiting to see until “the time was right”. In other words, never lol. I used to literally dream about Africa as a teen and skipped high school often to drive the three hours to the Bronx Zoo just to sit with the gorillas and be with them. We are all called to do certain things or visit certain places when we are kids, and for me, Africa was my original soul calling. As I have gone deeper into my Shamanic work, I have found that I actually have several ancestors who come from Africa, including a witch doctor who has guided me on how to perform physical healings in Ceremony. I have also found that soul callings are everything – we have to pick up that phone and answer them, even if we don’t yet know how to do that.
There are a few moments in my life that have truly defined me as a human being – where I was one person walking in and a completely different person walking out. Such was the case when I first became a mother or when I sat in my first Medicine Ceremony. This trip to South Africa has now made it on that very short list.
When I booked this trip, I let my intuition completely guide the process. It surprised me with guidance to an area just outside Zimbabwe and Mozambique, situated in NE South Africa. I booked a room at a rustic lodge situated on a reserve in the Greater Kruger area and committed two weeks to experience whatever was calling me here.
From the moment I set foot on the hopper plane that brought me North from Johannesburg, I had inconsolable panic come forward. This is a frequent thing for me on airplanes – and I have come to understand it is because I am about to travel through a new portal, one that leaves me clinging to the doorway that leads me there because I am scared of what is ahead. I am scared to let go of the past and move forward. I felt like I was truly going to die and it resulted in tears, hyperventilation, and frustration. God bless the young man sitting next to me who provided kindness to this flustered stranger.
For my first three days in the lodge, all I was experiencing was fear and panic. I hid in my room trying to hide the turmoil I was feeling inside, disappointed with myself for coming all this way just to be afraid. I could not sleep and I could not get my mind to calm down – I felt like I was disconnected from the world and, as a result, I would certainly die. My phone died and I didn’t have a power converter to charge it. The wind, the monkeys on the roof at night, the lions out in the bush, they were all here to torment me. I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t stop ruminating about all the bad things that were surely going to happen while I was there. I also had prepared meals reserved for me during this time and I found myself angry over them. Here I could not properly exercise and I was being fed more calories than I ever had in my life. I found myself sitting in my room, unable to bring myself to come out for more than meals, and sometimes a crying session with the trees. When I did spend time with my host out in the bush, every moment was spent being afraid that an animal would attack us.
It was the worst lol.
On a similar note, I feel it is really important to be as still and quiet as you can manage when you come to visit a place, even when it feels intense like this. It takes time to hear what the place wants to share with you and the portal you cross through while you are there can often bring up resistance (fear) for several days before you are ready to let go and cross over completely. For me, this resistance often brings on panic, insomnia or sickness, forcing me to a weak state so I will finally stop holding onto whatever I am struggling to let go of. This is a life lesson for sure.
It was on the fourth day that things started to open. I had finally slept a full night, one that was filled with visceral dreams and experiences. My body started to accept the lavish meals and receive the rest and nourishment it had been asking for. Suddenly I knew that these incredible meals and caretaking staff were here to bring me something I had been unknowingly denying myself – rest and surrender. I felt like I woke up with new eyes on that fourth day, seeing so much more clearly about Nadia and this place I found myself in.
It was on that morning that I looked out into the African Bush, and I saw things from a different perspective. I saw, quite clearly, that I work with the energy that is present in that place. Every single time I am in Ceremony, this is the place I go.
It is an intense, base-level primal energy that sometimes feels like hell on earth to me when I navigate it in a Medicine Ceremony. As harsh as it can feel, it is my place, the space where I am most in my power as a healer. It is energetically very dense and where I frequently meet people’s demons. It is a place where I bring those demons into the light to be moved on. It is a place where I “unbirth” creations that should have never been and eat the sins that are being carried by the people in my circle. It is where I meet, witness, and honor the darkness they are ready to release over to me for crossing over. When I looked out into the African Bush, I fully felt my power for the first time in a way that allowed me to accept it as my own.
The bush is a place of extremes – it is so peaceful and also so harsh. It is full of animals that have a healthy respect for one another and yet it is also survival of the fittest. It is a place where the plants start to bloom before the spring rains even begin to fall and the river flows abundantly while the land around it is painfully parched. There can be danger around every corner, yet there can also be endless peace and bird song. I have never experienced so much harmony AND contrast in the same place, yet it felt like home.
What called me to Africa was the land itself, but the timing and location of my travels were divinely orchestrated to bring me to a place that was so deeply nourishing and restful, that I would finally be able to accept this gift into my heart. I was so worn down from travel and fear that I allowed myself to surrender deeply into this space.
I found out later in my trip that the name of the lodge where I stayed actually means “where the lions rest”. It is indeed a sacred place for rest. (It is called Ngalali Lodge and I highly recommend it).
The following weeks were filled with so much more than I could have imagined. I slept for 12+ hours a day, slumbering in the liminal space with the spirits of that land. I was given messages, instructions, activations and downloads about who I am and what I am here to do. I went from feeling full and uncomfortable at every meal to having my body scream out for more nourishment, experiencing my metabolism shift as I reached a state of relaxation that has eluded me my entire life. And lastly, but certainly not least, I was provided with so much clarity about what is coming for me in my work.
Another unexpected aspect of my time at Ngalali was my connection to the woman who prepared my food named Tsidi – a native of Phalaborwa, the area of South Africa I was in. She spoke to me of the witch doctors of her tribe (called Sangomas) and the imagined separation between “my people” and “her people”. She shares with me how we all come from the same place and that there is no difference between us… something I have always felt very deeply in my heart, but our culture really struggles with accepting. She and I talk of racism, shamanic healing, throwing bones, and the imaginary line between people of different skin colors or ethnic backgrounds. Her English isn’t great, but we understand one another on a very deep level. She and her staff ask me for healings while I am there, and share in the excitement of me coming to the place they call home! It felt like such an honor for me. I can feel that imaginary line dissolving within myself, as I know this place is my home as well.
In my final days, my host was kind enough to take me to the eldest Baobab in the area, who was approximately 2,000 years old. This meant a great deal to me, as I have been dieting with this tree for almost four months prior to my trip. The tree connected with me in spirit well before this trip – asking me to work with it prior to coming for my visit, and we had not yet met in person. The joy of meeting the Baobab in the flesh was just beyond what I could’ve hoped for.
My work with plant dieta has been the most surprisingly beautiful part of my Shamanic path – it is something I truly wish to share more deeply with others and will go into further in a different post.
As I sit here at my kitchen table at 3am, not able to sleep due to the extreme time adjustment involved with this travel experience lol, I still can’t believe I went to South Africa by myself. I can’t believe I finally did this thing I have been dreaming of my entire life – and I can’t believe the impact it had on me. The timing of it all was so perfect.
Although I have always known that I am fantastic at what I do, and I experience great joy in doing it, there was always such a big aspect missing for me. I started to lose my sense of compassion and connection to the work. I have known for some time who I am and what was happening in my Ceremonies, but knowing and embodying are two very different things. The plants, my ancestors, and my participants would remind me frequently and reflect back my magic, but it just wasn’t sinking in the way it needed to. I wasn’t able to have respect or gratitude for myself because I still didn’t view my Medicine as me, as a part of who I am. Now that I have begun to recognize this beautiful being as Nadia, and accept what it is that I do as my own, there is so much relief. There is so much confidence, power, and knowing about how to move forward with my life. There is so much grounding in and readying to present myself fully to the world. I can only begin to imagine how that might look and I am so excited about what I feel coming!
On that note, stay tuned to Sacred Heart in the next month, I am readying the calendar and preparing to announce the restructure of Sacred Heart and Ceremony offerings.
A couple of practical notes about South Africa: I highly recommend a holistic route to combat malaria over the medication a doctor will prescribe you. If you get sick, it's best to see a local doctor while you are there because they know how to treat it properly and quickly. The national parks can be overrated and many of the private reserves are filled with auctioned/breeding animals, be cautious about where you go and do your research. No, you don't need a yellow fever vaccine or any other vaccine to travel there. The violence, reverse racism, drugs, and police corruption are real and worse than you can possibly imagine. It is the kind of place that will change your life forever if you do decide to visit.