I’ve known Mama Donna for several years. She’s an amazing woman, a dynamic spirit, and a powerful force to reckon with. She’s published several books, and you can find her personal essays and articles around the Internet. She’s big on moxy, and firm on the feminine. Her approach to her shamanic path is nothing if not fresh and inspiring. With us she’s sharing her ritual for safe travel, and a lovely giveaway.


Virtual Altar

By Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

Urban Shaman, Queen Mama Donna Henes, part of the Teen Spirit Wise Voice series, by S. Kelley Harrell, Soul Intent ArtsI fly, I soar, I zoom through the skies in my dreams and in my shamanic journeys, but I am not a great flyer on planes. So when I do venture onto an aircraft piloted by someone else, I have a whole series of little protective rituals to help get me from point A to point B in one piece.

Before I leave my house, I bless myself on the back of my neck, a point of great vulnerability. I also bless my home, my animals, and my altar to be safe in my absence. When I get to the airport, I bless myself with a swig of vodka that I carry with me in an antique flask. And upon entering the plane, I bless that, too, with protection oil.

But most critical of all is my travel altar, that is my amulet bag. This is a pink Chinese silk brocade purse filled to absolute capacity with the charms and totems that inspire, calm and empower me wherever I may be. Just feeling its considerable bursting-at-the-seams weight in my purse gives me confidence and a sense of security.

A few years ago, while waiting anxiously for a flight, I reached for my pocketbook altar bag only to discover to my absolute horror that I did not have it with me. Omigoddess! What to do? I was determined to reassemble my amulets and recreate my altar in my mind. That way, I might still connect with and concentrate on its power.

So I removed myself to the cocktail lounge where I sat at a table and summoned up the contents of my travel altar one by one, then listed them in my Guadalupe notebook, each with a little drawing:

  • A crow’s foot. The one I took from a road-kill crow. It represents my mature wisdom.
  • A little tin airplane with a black silk tassel. The one my five-year old niece told me was going to help me fly.
  • A gold pin that says ritual. A gift from my dear friend Tommy (R.I.P).
  • My gramma’s diamond ring that I always loved, but could never wear.
  • My Navaho ring. A gift from Kay that has all the symbols of Spider Woman, my vision quest deity.
  • A piece of polished moose horn. A Ojibway gift from my time in the north woods bush near Thunder Bay, Canada.
  • A city stone. An odd shaped double stone from my then young son Omar who gave it to me because I “like stuff like this.”
  • An Egyptian scarab. From my lover for long life and long love.
  • A lock of my canine companion Bud,’s hair. For love, loyalty, devotion and protection,
  • A crown feather from my fine-feathered cockatiel friend, Ola. A Queenly offering.
  • An amythyst pyramid to focus my intuitive senses.
  • A rainbow crystal to channel light.
  • A citrine crystal to mediate the dark.
  • A peonía seed for power.
  • A cowry shell for creation.
  • A blue ball for purity.
  • A worry doll to take away my troubles.
  • A Yoni Goddess for sexual healing.
  • A Tibetan skull carved from a skull to remind me of impermanence
  • A copper-lidded jar filled with healing soil from Chimayó, New Mexico.
  • And medals of Guadalupe, Mother Cabrini, an angel, and the Venus of Willendorf.

Ah. Putting them on paper made me feel much better. There they were, all present and accounted for. I turned the list over and Inscribed my affirmation on the other side:

“I am safe.
I am calm.
I am centered.”

I lit a bar match to ignite my intentions. And toasted them with another bit of vodka. Then I folded my list into my pocket and went to board my plane. I stepped into the skyway that afternoon with the same sacred calm and sense of cosmic rightness that I always feel after praying at my altar. I was connected and protected. And I actually enjoyed my flight.

About Mama Donna

  • Unofficial Commissioner of Public Spirit of NYC. – The New Yorker
  • For 35 years Ms. Henes has been putting city folk in touch with Mother Earth. – New York Times
  • Part performance artist, part witch, part social director for planet earth. – The Village Voice
  • A-List exorcist!” – NY Post
  • The Original crystal-packing mama. – NY Press

Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, contemporary ceremonialist, spiritual teacher, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books, a CD, an acclaimed Ezine and writes for The Huffington PostBeliefnet and UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. A noted ritual expert, she serves as a ritual consultant for the television and film industry. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she  offers intuitive tarot readings, spiritual counseling and works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.
Mama Donna’s Tea Garden & Healing Haven
PO Box 380403
Exotic Brooklyn, New York, NY 11238-0403
Phone: 718/857-1343
Email: CityShaman@aol.com

Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism by S. Kelley HarrellMama Donna is pleased to offer you a special gift of her empowering affirmation, I AM A DIVINE AND BEAUTIFUL BEING. This lovely inspiration is delightfully designed and suitable for framing.

Available worldwide, Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism.