Maori healing on the Prairie
It’s not your average sight…. seeing people twisted and contorted, sat on like lazy-boys, kneeled on, walked on and elbowed DEEPLY. Together with my awesome friend, event coordinator and cousin Kylie, this is the 4th time I have helped host Maori healers in my town Gainesville Florida. Last week Atarangi, Bill and Manu whipped out 50 healing’s in a day and a half. Their Elders tell them when it is time to tour, their Elders let them know which country needs healing next.
I want to write and share what is like to be present for all this healing (except of course when I was on frozen yogurt duty).
When folks arrive they bring their towel or sheet, their water bottle and they bring their pain; heart pain, soul pain, body pain. Most folks who make it to these sessions have searched for relief for a while, and are willing to step out of the “normal” idea of healing.
When people walked through my garden gate and they heard bellowing laughter, screams from the people who were on the table before them, and tears of gratitude for the gigantic pain that was just lifted off of them (even those who came in “chronically” affected), I sense strong emotions are a’swirling. I smell fear mixed with hope on the face of a small framed woman burdened with consistent panic attacks, humility mixed with awe from the man who had a broken neck who is ready for anything to help his suffering. Excitement, curiosity, and reverence are layered with varying degrees of surrender and resistance.
The Maori work together, in synchronicity. They believe it is the community that needs healing, and so it is community that gives healing. Often with a quick nod or a slight look, they switch healers, or maybe join each other in a double elbow move up the spine. I have been told that at home, in New Zealand, they set up in a cafeteria, or large hall, children and dogs running freely, half of the community starts on the tables, and when they finish they hop up and trade places with the ones who were just offering.
This year, when the Maori arrived we were gifted with sunny, cool, exquisite October days, and were able to work outside. Three people arrive for their healing at once and my Maori friends begin. The prayers they chant as the bottoms of their feet touch the bottoms of the person receiving feet is powerful, sometimes out loud and sometimes silent as they sit for varying times soul to soul, foot to foot, listening, transmitting, releasing.
The thing that happens next looks like some bizarre mixture of bondage/comedy as the 300 pound Manu sits atop women and men, directly on their sacrum (the base of their spine), grabs his guitar and plays! He belts out love songs and jazz ballads, songs about break ups and hope, all sprinkled with jokes and words of wisdom. Ata lifts legs and shoulders in what appears to be extreme angles, digging her elbows deep into closed muscles, soft bellies, and can crack bones like nothing I have ever seen. Bill, Ata’s husband can kneel into thighs, step on calf muscles and dig through the muscles on the throat all while sweetly calming them down to relax, making people laugh, and of course sing along in harmony with Manu and Ata.
People laugh, cry, and they scream, and I do mean blood curdling screams (I wonder how far my neighbors could hear us?). There is much swearing as people get angry, and convulse, shaking out emotions that got wedged deep into their body long, long ago, and now is exiting. One woman who had her heart and throat deeply cleared said she could taste stale bread; old, crusty, moldy energy that she felt kept her from singing was now out, gone. I once had a session with Ata’s son Terrance, where I imagined it looked as if I was cursing Terrance to the depths of darkness (he was standing full weight on my calf), with me flopping around like a fish out of water, but truth be told, I wasn’t even thinking about Terrance, I was letting the full strength of my anger toward my father come ripping out my mouth, and let down a massive heavy guilt for never having made it to Wimbledon, as he had wanted of me.
The Maori don’t ask “Is this is too deep?”, they don’t lighten up if you ask. They tend to find your edge and cross it….just the right amount. When they are done, the smiles on the recipient face speaks louder than their screams. They truly are radiant, glowing, tear streaked and fresh. Afterword, we had them lay on a rug in the lawn, or walk down to the garden, where some people stay for hours, crying, meditating, or sleeping.
I am moved with the level of gratitude people express as they leave, gratitude for the Maori, for the experience, but mostly for their selves; they faced their pain, and made it through to the other side.
I wish to thank you Atarangi, Bill and Manu for blessing this home, this land, and the people here in my village. Thank you to your Elders of your village who sent you, and taught you (since you were three) of these healing arts, thank you for angels of safe travels and protection as you cross oceans again to go home.
Until next time,
Aroha Nui (love big)
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