Thank you, India – Threads of a life time

Haridwar – Festival Day

I really cant believe all the inredibly beautiful, and absolutely chaotic array of beauty that India has chosen to share with me. I have witnessed incredible highs and lows both of society, and personally throughout my travels in India. As I return and process it all I feel blessed, thankful, and so inspired by how green and fresh it is here in America. I am witnessing how my life has changed and shifted, and will never be the same. Throughout all of the ups and downs of the experience it has helped enable me to embody a deeper level of my higher self- to trust that deeply in my capacity to find my way, figure it out, and accept whatever it is that comes my way.

All of the teachings of the sages say one thing; which had become a theme for my journey.

Learn how to be at peace no matter what happens in your life, release your attachment to things being one way, and your aversion to things being another. And learn how to accept that Nature is offering this present experience as a gift for your liberation, growth, and freedom.

This realization (however partial) is the full embodiment and sentiment of what traveling in India was for me. Complete surrender and release and yet actively engaging as the doors would fling open unexpectedly. When I loved the experience and situation I found myself in and became settled, or somewhat familiar, it soon ended. When I was growing tired of the experience, it dragged on just long enough for me to realize my own attachment for whatever particular “it” to be different and release it.

I want to say Thank You!!

Thanks to all that is; Thanks to all of the people in my life who have supported and guided me, especially to my Mom Dad and Christie who totally performed magic healing kungfu to my space here and helped me to have this space to be optimal, clean, and further be a place of service to my inner self and humanity. Id like to thank all of the friends, family, and probably a few complete strangers (if there actually was such a thing-WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS) for donating and believing in the dream I put fourth through the proposal I wrote. It was so touching and life changing to realize that we as a community are able to help each other overcome any obstacle and support great work here on earth as well as hold space for each other to fulfill our visions that we receive from our intuitive sources.

Receiving gifts from others has been a great teaching for me to learn to accept… Through accepting these donations, and accepting the gift of my closest family spending hours to organize and transform my room it enables me to go to a deeper place of recognizing the power of service to open humanities one heart. When I feel all of the generosity that has flowed my way I can only stand astonished and allow my heart to open and say thank you as it becomes a guide of inspiration to live in service in my own life. Through truly accepting gifts we can only see the selfish ones inside.

The universe is providing me/us with an opportunity of service to the Plants, Nature, God, our Soul, and Humanity and help to work these together as one same fabric., i dont yet see the full capacity of how it will fully manifest but i do see a glimpse of the vision and goal, and am seeking through this website and my life to make it manifest. It is the Return to Nature, in all of its power. We can see the deep calling nature has for it, and we can also see the huge disconnection in our society and the craving each person has for this return. With the help of the magic power of meditation, music, and herbalism I know I will be guided to my highest goals and aspirations and thanks to all of you for being instrumental in that experience and the collective awakening of humanity in whichever way it is occurring.

I see the waves forming, the momentum occuring, and the potentials as we realize our creative power and get glimpses of how it will manifest to its full capacity, and I am learning each day to jump (just another step) and that I will be carried by a mysterious force. Touching this source is something that I hope to support within you in whatever way i can, please let me know how! So when I hand you a snake, or put a plant in your hand, or try to feed you kombucha or whatever kind of crazyness gets mustered; remember that it is a potential opening to a doorway, a doorway into the magic of Nature where we are one.

About Writing, Blogging,  and Posting Content in India- 

I tried my best to write and respond to emails. Internet was a huge lesson in patience; getting to a place, finding an internet source, dealing with the internet speed, sitting down and concentrating and writing articles. It had its good deal of spiritual lessons and teaching tools. If I am going to commit to the idea of travel blog teaching I would definitely bring the smalll laptop I have here and get usb prepaid internet there – that’s basically what everyone uses there but has their own system to use it. The reason I didn’t want to bring one is because I want to maintain a balance of intimate experience with the people I meet and not have burdensome technology get in the way of the intimate experiences I could have.  Its like we are learning to wear electronic clothing, and we are putting electronic things in between us. With some help of not having these objects this time I was able to make profound connections which I can now explore. We obviously will have many classes in the future for internet fasts, and technology cleanses =) ALL Living Live and Learning Life Lessons in Love and Liberation and Alchemization.

It was extremely fulfilling and exciting to hear your responses as I wrote. This feedback is my fuel and made it all worth the effort. I want the teaching and sharing to be based on what you are also seeking to know.  So please know that any feedback of the articles, suggestions on what to explore, connections, emails with health questions, etc.. all helps me to reside in the symbiosis and depth of our connections.

I have also posted many pictures of the journey on my facebook account

The Connections Made Throughout India- 

As no mystical tradition gives its secrets readily, this journey became like mining for gold. I knew before leaving that I cannot expect that these secrets be handed to me without effort. I have seen so many documentaries where people go around with an arrogant sense of privelege and disturb the people they are observing. I want to learn to observe culture close to AS IT IS, not as I manipulate it to be.

Through all of the hard work and dedication of the exploration of the 2.5 months I now have connections with certain spiritual masters, shaman, ayurvedic vaidyas, magical people, and tribal people and these connections will be the fundamental jumping off points for my return to India, hopefully in 2015

I seek to have a developing interactive and documentary type of experience through this website. As I explore these connections I will share footage, audio, question and answer sessions, skillshares, as a teaching and learning system. We will explore Traditional Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom, based on Plants, Nature, and spiritual resources. And soon do group journeys to meet and learn from these sacred resources together. This is the vision I forsee with patience and hopefulness, and I believe that as one puts it out there that collective intention grows seeds.

Some About the Connections I Made and Will Continue to Explore:

L to R – Himalayan Yogi, Praful, Ron, Me, Gangaram

In Rishikesh – Himalayan Foothills I spent 2 weeks in Dayananda ashram studying Vedanta with Swami Dayananda. This gave me a profoundly deep and radical shift in perspective that I carried with me through the rest of the journey. Knowing that I am perfectly fine throughout all changes that happen around me, and be faced with healthy challenges to establish that in my daily life. The schedule there I had was amazing with about 4 classes a day.  I was bathing in the Ganga, meditating on the banks, studying and learning from many plants, and praying to the mountains, which both sides I was able to climb and go on pilgrimage to and wrote about in  Neelkanth Mountain Arduous Hike – and Kunjapuri Journey

Swamiji will be coming to his Pennsylvania Ashram in Sailorsburg, PA during august and september for Vedanta camps. Its a great experience to immerse yourself in a meditative atmosphere, unplug from your game, observe your true nature, and receive deep philosophical and practical wisdom that feeds you. If the article i wrote inspires you it would be really worth going and getting your mind totally blown =) And I will definitely be there to discuss the concepts and transform together.

Top L to R – Bael, Amla, Rudraksha, Pine Resin, unknown, Center-Ayurvedic unknown

I was led by the plants as first I met a man named Praful by going up to the plants and observing; touching, smelling, photographing them. That becomes a universal symbol for HEY IM A PLANT PERSON.  He began to take me all over to tell me about all of the trees and just poured out everything in his inner catalog once he learned of my intent. He went out to the market and bought every new fruit and thing to show me. With him I ate raw amla and identified the tree, ate guavas, and many other exotic and medicinal fruits. things I would have never tried due to my unsureness of what it was. He showed me who the sacred Bael tree was, showed me rudraksha, Banyan, Pipal, and many other heroic trees I had been reading about for years. He had many different levels into these plants from spiritual uses, and pharmacological aspects. My notebook is flooded. (More to come)
He brought me to meet a friend he had known in the area named Gangaram. He must have explained to him that I was seeking sacred plant connections so they both wanted to show me a powerful being that had recently come to the friends house. They showed me a huge recently harvested sheet of the sacred Bhoj Patra (Betula utilis) – A Birch tree that is seen as deeply sacred in India. It is a species which most cultures have used this or another birch for papermaking, basket making, canoes, and it is also the source of salicilic acid, the originator source chemical of anti inflammitory drugs. In India they harvest this sacred paper and collect it to write sacred mantras on and make amulets for protection, known as kavach or kavacham. The kavach is a group of verses dedicated to establishing a Devata (protective energy in the form of a deity) as a protector for that area within the body. Basically focusing attention to connect with aspects of the universe for protection and healing. You can chant it and the meaning of the Sanskrit also explains how to write and produce one to wear physically.

Bhoj Patra (Betula utilis)

It just so happened that Gangaram had gotten this paper from a yogi that had climbed down from his cave high in the mountains in Gangotri, on that day, to bring it. And through the flow of the universe I ended up there with this beautiful sheet of birch paper in front of me to honor and love it, harvested by someone who walked a huge distance through places that were closed even by car due to its torrential snow season. Truly a blessing!

After some time Gangaram and I developed a good connection, which of course began through plant guidance. In between classes at Dayanada Asrham I was going to see and learn from him for a few hours every day. He is an Acharya, Sanskrit scholar, yogi,  and is actually taking care of 2 orphans and is an incredibly giving person. He was kind enough to painstakingly sit with me and help correct my sanskrit chanting for no other reason other than he felt inspired to do so and was going with the vision of service. It was yet another gift that was for me hard to understand and hard to accept, yet inspired me to practice with more vigour. He was definitely a profound teacher and guide during my journey and answered so many questions I had in accordance with many of the nature based spiritual practices I was learning about in India.

After some time I had learned that he is good friends with an Ayurvedic Alchemist who used to stay there. This alchemist would painstakingly make medicinal bhasma (ayurvedic medicinal ash powders) and administer them to everyone for free, and eventually more and more people would come to him. He eventually wanted peace and quiet and moved to South India – he has his own farm there and is processing out medicines as well as doing his own personal study, meditation, and inner alchemy. Gangaram also showed me a huge chest of books that were left there by this Ayurvedic acharya once he left the Rishikesh house. 

Making Bhasma is a time consuming and ancient practice in which even potentially toxic metals can be rendered as harmless medicines. Mercury bhasma brings up the most instant controversy and fear, for myself included – especially due to the poor quality products that can potentially come from India (but truly every market, eg. hydrogenized oil) . But alchemy has powers and can do things which we cannot do, and these processes scope is so wide that all of the chemical processes we know (such as distillation, fermentation, extractions, tinctures) and are familiar with in the west are but side effects to the entire body of work of Alchemy.  I will be exploring this connection further as well as learning more from Gangaram upon my return.

In Guptakashi – Northern Himalayas – I was informed that there are 2 shaman deep in the mountains, One of them being one who  my informant and plant guide, Mr Bhagat Singh Negi, had gone to and seen in action. He said its several days drive, and you have to wait there a few days until he comes back from house calls. As I was already feeling twisted and turned from the hours and hours of high altitude mountain driving and pressed for time it definitely became a means for exploration when there is a clear set intention to do specifically this. I will be planning to make that happen for next time. This shaman is also the last of his generation and whatever he knows may be gone for good from that area once he passes.

Mr Negi had been learning traditional plant medicine and foraging his whole life, learning bits and pieces allover, it was just natural to him. Together we enjoyed making a broad range of exploration and connections to the plants in new ways for each other. We walked all over the himalayas pointing out plants and discussing uses. He brought me to several farms where they were growing and cultivating medicinal plants, to certain forests, and to meet certain plants in different areas. He is also connected with an NGO (non government organization) called Dev Bhoomi, there they are established and funded by a man named Jack Croucher, They started the NGO to create a link for local village products to become established in the market. They are cultivating organic honey, making shawls from silks they harvest, and packaging spices that they grow locally.

Hopefully I have gathered enough photographs and notes to make a wild food and medicine manual for the upcoming Garhwali generations that right now think that ipods and potato chips are the goldest of gold around. And as a testament to the older generations that the knowledge they are preserving is important.

2 different people told me of 2 different occasions where people, one being a shaman, the other being someones grandfather who was well versed in the Atharva Veda , who once had the vedic mantras (sacred uttering) to take jaundice from the body and transfer it to a sheet, people had claimed that it was possible to observe the yellow moving out of their body and once the ritual was complete the yellow would be completely transferred to the sheet.

The Atharva Veda is loaded with magical spells, amulet mantras for protection, earth and nature praise and prayers for working with the elements, calling down rain, healing, and warfare. Even a fair level of what we would deem “Black magic” and sympathetic magic. The atharva is also the foundation and basis of the traditions of Tantra (very different than what we see in the west) and Ayurveda. This whole book is a carefully guarded aspect of the Vedas, and often shunned due to the magical aspect and the fact that its matters are also very nature (physical) oriented and not just spiritually oriented – Since we are in a culture that is very much working WITH the worldly elements I believe it could be of incredible value to learn to work and harmonize with the force or energy of each physical being, or element we are working with. To create symbiotic harmony with the resources of this planet so that we can generate a karmic reprocussion of positive nature verses trying to pretend this isnt necessary as we watch our estrangement from Nature increase and sicken us. It is my believe that people are performing intentional magic whether they want to be or not, and its better to become conscious of it, then to do it unconsciously.

It is also very common in the Atharva Veda lineage to have people in villages that you go see for poisonous snake bites. They utter mantras and there are so many stories of people not needing any further medical attention for bites with very poisonous snakes. It would be a blessing to catch any of this on video and see for myself what is possible with the human mind and spritual mind linked as one.

In Orissa – Western Jungle – The Adivasi Mela takes place in Bhuvaneswar, Orissa in January. This is where all of the thriving tribes in Orissa come to share their traditions, dances, and rituals. Upon returning I will film and document the story that stands out to me exploring the significance of the primitive rites and customs in relation to ours . 30% of the population in Orissa is Tribal and still living off of the jungle for food, shelter, water, and bush medicine. As i had come to learn, the Government had banned hunting, and has been establishing agricultural means for them; such as wheat and rice production. In which then gets bought from them for extremely cheap, and subsidized in the world market. I seek to discover and document how this paradigm is effecting the tribal culture itself, means have been taken by the Indian government to honor them much more than our government had chosen to do with our native people. Yet i do feel that in my education of the situation here between the government and tribal population i see that i am in the future. Perhaps it wont be too long until these tribal people will also be converted; either by the glitter of progress, the cristian missionaries who are telling them that they are going to hell unless they take only jesus as their savior, or they just get shunted aside for the natural resources they may be living in harmony with (The Culturally Repeated Avatar Story). One of the things that inspired me to come to Orissa was seeing this you tube video after seeing avatar the movie. As i sat there in the theater feeling that finally this voice was expressed in a clear way, yet through the action of the movie, and the unripeness of the modern mind, i felt clearly the messages would be overlooked.

This video helped me to realize that the tribes in Orissa actually had some political influence and won this time, but wont win every time. The tribes are the holders of the ancient wisdom of humanity, they are our elders – we need their guidance and presence to live in harmony. They understand the balance of the forest and how to caretake it.

While in Orissa, I was unable to go to the tribal lands due to the fact that right as I was there there was a negotiation of a hostage situation between the Indian government and the Maoist guerrillas living in the forests which kidnapped an Italian tourist (Click to see the article) that apparently went into restricted areas where he shouldn’t have been. Granted we must remember we aren’t talking about some park, were talking about millions of hectares of sparse jungle. They took him for ransom as “Mr Panda’s message contained a demand for an end to the “repression” of tribes people, who he said were being “exhibited like monkeys and chimpanzees”. Some see the guerrillas as freedom fighters, the governments see them as a menace. It is definitely not a black and white situation but it does seem that the maoists are fighting for the tribal people, and those on their way from tribal to basic villager. All of those who are struggling for a place in the age of western progress. Its hard for any of us to say what the complex nature of the relationship is – and understanding the dynamic is a huge study on its own. It is completely fine and safe for you as long as you don’t go to restricted areas.

This all had its cosmic lesson and I was able to first get a good grasp of so many aspects of the role and honor of tribals by those living in the “civilized” world. Are they being honored and recognized? seen as a burden or embarassment? What was that Italian man doing? How will I be able to walk the front line safety and effectively? A blessed brother and guide to me that I stayed with in Orissa, Khanu will be able to take me safely to the parts I should be in.  He has stayed there with them and will be a perfect medium of interaction; And he is a wonderful magician; I am definitely looking forward to spend more time with him.

I was able to go to the Adivasi museum and there see everything documented in a nice neat package for study as well as the adivasi market where they sell several products that the adivasi hand make, along with several that they don’t make. (advertisement and marketing).  It was really the time to gain a solid foundation and introduction to the tribes, feel which doors open up, and get my act and equipment together to create some multimedia efficiently when the chance does come.

While in Bhubaneswar I also learned of the mindblowingly mystical ritual of Danda Nata, ending on Orissa new year known as Pana Sankranti. Pana is a sweet and refreshing drink they make to celebrate this occasion made from ripe bael fruit, cashews, banana and other sweet things. Danda Nata is one of those tribal rituals that you know early explorers saw, were so dumbfounded that their only reaction was to try to stop it and call them heathens and make the ritual illegal as was similarly done with the Ghost Dance ceremonies here. In this festival people from the villages get together and they invoke Kali and Shiva into their bodies, what occurs after is the most profound thing. They go into trance, lay in fire, pierce through their skin and no bleeding occurs, This ritual being dedicated to mother Kali, and Shiva. 2 deities which span all of life, include touching the mystery that goes beyond birth and death – archetypally and symbolically represented by the dark;the unknown. But it is the darkness of pushing past the unknown into that which is beyond ordinary knowledge. This is the bridge that all mystics and shaman cross to enter into what is called the great mystery by Native Americans, Brahman by the Hindus, or Sunyata (void) by the Buddhists. With awareness and with a knowledge of how to carefully unlock the symbols involved we must view the cultural rituals that are before us.

As cosmic coincidences go, I was told of this festival by the owner of the internet cafe that i was using. And told on the last day of the festival. In a subtle way, the universe had said I needed more preparation to witness this. To expand my capacity, awareness, ability to see intuitively, and observe with clarity. To witness the cultural biases that people hold, and to learn how to break them down in the pursuit of unity and freedom.

I am seeking to perceive these rituals as they are, not as someone with bias of thinking that they should change to become more comfortable to my paradigm of reality. Something i seek to observe and teach is that perhaps our “westernized” paradigm of reality has left out a magical and mystical part of reality that we can no longer see. This is due, in part, to the collective conditioning we have been given  to wear certain glasses. This I believe is not encompassing much of that which makes us feel alive, deathless, inspired, and free.

May the Gates Open.

The Himalayan view from my front door in Guptakashi

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About Dan

Dan De Lion is an earth herbalist, forager, musician, and teacher. He teaches through Return to Nature, providing classes, lectures, and seminars on wild food foraging, mushroom identification, herbal medicine making, as well as primitive and survival skills with a focus on wild foods and forest medicines. He also incorporates the philosophies of yoga, alchemy, meditation, and mysticism into his classes, lectures, and seminars and brings a deep rooted indigenous medicine perspective of practicing intuition with plants, in a systematic and earth-based way – Check out more at
This entry was posted in Blog, India - Seeking the Medicine - Botanical Journey, 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thank you, India – Threads of a life time

  1. Praful.Gosai says:

    what can i do for you friend

    • Dan says:

      Without doing, you do! Blessed to connect with you, and looking forward to coming down south and meeting the special mata there.

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