By Cristala Mussato-Allen L.M.T., the Cannabis Curandera
Over the past thirty years, countless people have tried to understand the type of massage I practice. Many are acquainted with mainstream types of bodywork such as shiatsu, sports or Swedish techniques, but are mystified regarding massage to heal spiritual wounds. Although I am a licensed therapist who has worked on more than 30,000 people in thirty years, my practice is that of a traditional Aiutana-Sobadora (a “spiritual helper-bodyworker”); I deal with spiritual, emotional and physical ailments rooted in trauma. Although it appears esoteric to the mainstream public, in the traditional ceremonial community these are normal everyday treatments. I use many plants in my practice Cannabis being one of my most beloved and trustworthy.
While all forms of massage offer some kind of healing the type of treatment varies greatly. Someone who is a veteran of war or a victim of rape has separate issues than a person who is lifting weights. Integration with this type of therapy is important, if a life threatening emergency is at stake such as an organ that can rupture I always suggest seeing a medical physician. People often don’t realize that licensed bodyworkers are also listening therapists and counselors, a natural bi-product of people opening themselves up to healing and vulnerability during our sessions.
Healing the Body, Mind, & Spirit
Body, mind, spirit is a complete way of healing, this doesn’t mean I completely reject all western medicine which has many brilliant applications. However, not all science works to our benefit, as many people who have turned to Cannabis have discovered. The ill effects of prescriptions drugs and other bad medical ideologies have been experienced by millions which is why so many have opted for herbal remedies. Cannabis has saved lives after the doctors have sent people home to die.
Conventional medicine has created a credibility issue for itself in part because they deny the existence of spirit, in either human or plant. Scientific leaders do not acknowledge that the human soul exists either, which creates a conflict for the billions of patients that don’t agree and leaves many with incomplete care. Thousands of years of plant medicine discoveries by advanced humans are dismissed as irrelevant. Science now admits that emotions can lodge in our bodies causing illness but they are at a loss as to how to remove it until it requires a knife.
Cannabis is marvelous for PTSD because it’s a spiritual medicine for a spiritual illness, all ceremonial medicines doctor the human spirit. From traditional viewpoint, the reason PTSD is so difficult for mainstream doctors to treat is because most discount the fact that it is trauma to the spirit, therefore it goes mistreated since they emphatically deny the root issue. This perspective is not new nor does it belong to me, many people worldwide understand that trauma needs spiritual doctoring. In this this type of work we engage with people on every level regardless of their particular religious affiliation or belief system.
What is Spiritual Trauma?
It is essential to understand that the spirit is the casing for the soul. Its job is to protect the soul from life ending trauma, therefore it “takes the hit” so to speak, leaving it torn, full of holes and even shredded over time. Spirit is the ethereal body connected to the physical body, when something violent happens to the physical body it also creates damage to the spiritual body, although the spirit can also be damaged just by witnessing something horrific.
This type of injury is referred to as “spirit flight” and refers to a portion of the spirit that flees during a terrible event. A small example of this is how people with a minor injury can pass out at the sight of their own blood, these fainting spells don’t last long because the spirit realizes it is not serious and the person “re-covers” quickly. This is also known as “regaining consciousness”.
Knowledge of spirit flight is common in cultures worldwide and is embedded in the languages. In Sicilian it’s termed spantu, tromos in Greek, spavento in Italian, espanto or susto in Spanish and in Latin as formido but it is an understanding all people have shared. Conventional medicine refers to it as shock or PTSD but are at a loss to heal the condition.
Old sayings such as “you scared me half to death” or “he’s half the man he used to be”, “you nearly scared the life out of me”, “he’s recovering nicely”, “she’s all torn up” are all indicative of how common this knowledge was in the past.
Terror that causes spirit flight are experiences such as rape, domestic violence, war, the unexpected death of a loved one, car accident, being robbed, seeing a dead body or even a dog bite. Spirit flight in babies and children can be caused by sudden loud noises, witnessing violence, spanking, birth trauma, sexual abuse and abandonment. This kind of trauma requires a special type of session. The sooner the better before it settles into a dis-ease sickness such as depression, anxiety, asthma and addictions. In fact, addictions are the primary result manifested as the person is unconsciously trying to “fill the holes” with something such alcohol, food, drugs, or sex.
Trauma can also produce emotions that become stuck in a person’s physical body, creating pain that must be gently soothed away and removed. Sadness, grief and anger can linger in the body for years, it gets stuck and begins to fester until it’s a tumor or some other malady. Grieving people often cannot take a harsh massage in a brightly lit room; they need softness and compassion.
Not only should PTSD patients be smoking cannabis to manage symptoms but it can be used to heal the spiritual wound causing the symptoms, this is root healing at its finest. The treatment for spirit flight is normally in the comfort of the practitioner’s home but methods may vary depending on his/her background. In my practice I have an altar with water, fire, personal ceremonial items and plants to aid my efforts. Some use a variety of methods including egg cleansings, water blessings, plant or resin smudging, spitting, blowing and sucking (non-sexual) are all used to dislodge and cleanse the illness. In this setting, the patient enters into an “in between place” where they are relaxed, trustful and open.
Ceremonial objects and plants are more than merely tools but also have their own spiritual capabilities and responsibilities. The smoke, water and fire combined with songs make a way for spirits who point to the damage and aid in the removal. Most of my helpers are my relatives. During the massage and limpia I am “reading” the body to locate problems that cannot be seen with the eyes. Afterwards, remedies are created and recommendations are made for treatment they can manage at home. During the session if illness is discovered that the person is unaware exists, it is safest to remind them to see their regular physician. An example of this would be organs that produce heat right before an attack such as gallbladder or appendix.
A practitioner should have traditional ceremonial experience to know how to do this type of bodywork. Knowing how to “go through the motions” or light a sage bundle is not enough. One session will not heal this trauma, an overall plan is required. Other ceremonies not necessarily with me, are needed as it is not an easy process. That is why it is a journey to wellness.
By approaching healing from a body, mind spirit viewpoint, the practitioner adds value and fills a void in conventional treatments. Even when the hospital sets a broken bone, the patient still needs to treat the spiritual trauma. Extremely ill patients are under a lot of stress, massage can help them immensely, it frees up their energy so needed for healing versus draining it away with worries. I am not saying you can pray away every illness but I don’t discount it either, I have seen too many miracles inside ceremonies to “disbelieve”… it’s not a matter of faith when I am a witness not only to others getting well but also myself.
This way of doctoring is an area therapists rarely learn in massage school. Most massage schools focus on conventional science, anatomy, recent forms of massage techniques such as Swedish (established 1813), spa therapies and some alternative medicine. The ancient ways of massage include helping the person’s damaged spirit recover from trauma and requires the practitioner to have an understanding of how the spiritual world works which can take decades to learn properly.
It is not that “special powers” are needed but a deep knowledge base is essential. The Creator is the only real doctor, the rest of us are just helpers but we do have to understand how things work. The most gifted Aiutanas and Sobadoras are grandmas famous only in their local neighborhoods, most barely have any formal education much less massage school followed by government regulated certification. I never discount the “laypersons” skill. Many gifted traditional elders continue to pass on these teachings and I want to formally thank them for sharing their knowledge and patience.
Cristala Mussato-Allen L.M.T., Caddo Nation/Arbereshe-Sicilian, is an Aiutana –Sobadora, practitioner of traditional medicine, ceremonially active in Caddo peyote ways, and Sicilian cannabis ways, a public speaker, and patient advocate.
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