Although now widely used in many indigenous traditions around the globe, Sand Paintings were originally a North American Navajo tradition.
The practice of building a sand painting aids energy transformation in a symbolic and mythic way. As the sand painting "shifts," so does the energy and the world around us.
Traditionally, a Shaman would create a sand painting by drawing a circle in the sand. Using items from nature (stones, sticks, flowers, leaves etc.) he/she would create a visual representation of the client and their situation.
Once the Shaman felt the sand painting reflected the way things are "today," he/she would then change or rearrange the painting to reflect the situation as the client wanted it to be.
Working at the level of the mythic, the shaman, by changing the painting, was able to change the client's reality.
Create Your Own Sand Painting
Working on your own, you can create understanding and healing by engaging in this beautiful process.
Find a place outside in nature that feels right to you.
Open Sacred Space - you can do this in your own way or by calling on the Four Directions, (South, West, North and East) and the Earth and the Heavens. (You can use the invocation here, or your own words. Your intent is what's most important, not the actual words. Feel free to make it your own.)
Draw or create a circle on the ground. Within the circle, create a "painting" using items from nature (rocks, stones, twigs flowers, leaves, etc.). with each item (and their relationship to each other) reflecting an aspect of the issue or situation you're working on. Do not use words, only images. Words are the language of the mind, images the language of the soul.
When you feel the Sand Painting is complete, leave it. Do not close Sacred Space. Leave the painting open for several days or up to a week. (If you are preparing to have a session, this is your stopping point until after the session).
After a few days, return to your sand painting. Observe and absorb how Spirit has changed the painting for you. As you sit in meditation with your painting, feel free to make changes – add to or remove items, shift things from one place to another – and breath your prayers into the circle or objects…all from a place of the divine rather than your mind.
Once you feel complete and have given everything over to your painting, close sacred space and scatter the elements back to nature. You may also bury or take specific items to the fire in ceremony.
Close Sacred Space by thanking and releasing the Four Directions, the Earth and the Heavens.