Chameleon Burn

Chameleon Burn

Today we drove into Sidi Ali and had a meeting with one of the traditional bands which was a real treat. It was an honor to be able to be with these people who we would otherwise never have met. We were able to ask them questions and introduce ourselves and to get an idea of what their lives are like and what the music is for. But one of the other girls in the group was assigned to write about that experience so instead I am going to tell you about something I did by myself. After we met with the musicians and we climbed back down the mountain, which was really fun to do, we decided to take half an hour to go shopping because it would be the last time we would be in Sidi Ali while to shops were open. We walked down to the shrine where we lit candles the first night and I bought some dried chameleons. I had decided that I didn’t want to by animals but I did it sort of on a whim. They were very inexpensive and there was a guy set up with a ceremonial fire so you could give them as offerings. I had been told that the chameleons were burned to undo a spell. I have been struggling with anxiety and severe depression my whole life and I would love so desperately for it to be behind me. I think that today‘s spiritual experience was a step in this process to let go and to work through this illness. When I bought the chameleon and told the man I was going to give it as an offering he put some goopy stuff on it. It could have been honey, no it wasn’t honey it looked really disgusting, I don’t know what it was. And then I sat down and though a bit and explained to the man who was minding the fire that I wanted to undo a spell and that I needed a minute to think about it. There were some other people standing around. I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to do, if I was supposed to inhale the smoke. He warned me: He said to lean into the smoke but to be careful of my eyes. I leaned in and it popped and an ember when into my eye but I was fine. I inhaled a little bit and a woman watching me said “no no”, well she didn’t really speak English but she charaded that I should stand over it and let the smoke go up my dress, and as she did it another woman told her off for taking my smoke. So I stood over it and let my dress fill up with smoke and I breathed the smoke out of the collar of my dress and I sat down. The initial part, where I sat and thought about what I was doing was really emotional and made me cry which was the point, I wanted to get out the feeling and the little bit of tears was the beginning of that. I sat down and the guy asked me how I felt and I realized that when I started I had a head ach and a sore shoulder and whatever I had inhaled had cured my head ach and relaxed my shoulder. I didn’t feel anything else, I didn’t feel high or anything. But I felt happy and that I had done something really positive. It was really exciting actually. I walked up to meet every one in the café and showed Ramia my pulse because my heart was racing. I don’t think I have the words to explain it except that it was a healthy spiritual experience. I think it was the beginning of more intentional, whether they are ritual like this or not, but doing physical gestures is healthy for me to show that I want to be well and that I care about myself and that I want to get these bad feeling out because they don’t belong here.


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