Woman follows ceremonial path to wisdom

Hua Anwa hosts the Circles of Empowerment in a community room in Arroyo Grande used for ceremony and healing, and filled with many beautiful indigenous objects.

These include colorful blankets, two buffalo skulls (representing abundance), goddesses, eagles (primary totem birds for the East — they fly closest to the Great Spirit), drums and many owls.

In the Chumash language, Hua means “owl” and Anwa means “woman.” Thus, Hua’s name means “woman of the owl.” The Chumash believe that the owl is the “eagle of the night” and can see through darkness.

Hua was born in Fresno and has been on the Central Coast for 30 years. She is of mixed Mayan and Cherokee descent and an adopted Chumash.

She has always sought spiritual expression and studied different modalities, such as Buddhism, metaphysics and the Red Path (the Native American path).

When she came here, she began leading ceremonies and became the spiritual leader of the Circles of Empowerment. The ceremonies and healing take place in the community room.

“Healing through Spirit,” her credo, refers to a personal cleansing that removes anything causing harm.

“Ceremony and healing through ceremony are my life,” she states.

On Tuesday, she held a monthly Full Moon Ceremony. This was a drop-in, open ceremony for women that takes place outside in a circle of stones, representing the elders.

Women were asked to bring a gallon of drinking water and some food to share and to wear skirts. This “connects us to Earth Mother,” she explained, “and helps us stay grounded in an environment where the energy is very high.”

The sweat lodge is another ceremony that takes place monthly. This is a purification ceremony in a domed willow structure covered in blankets to make it dark.

Rocks, representing elders, are heated up and brought into the lodge. This is intended to cleanse and detox participants, like a sauna, but with a sacred element added. White sage is burned to cleanse one from negative energy. Hua is a water pourer for this ceremony.

Hua leads the traditional Long Dance, coming up in September in Arroyo Grande around the time of the autumnal equinox.

This event gathers women into a great circle of drumming, singing, dancing and teaching.

Both men and women prepare the site and communally create the sacred space, making this the highlight of the spiritual calendar. An all-night ceremony involving dance takes place.

“We invite sisters to dance, sing and pray together at the autumn equinox for a weekend of ceremony, celebration and healing under the stars.”

In her practice, Hua performs personal cleansing ceremonies and longer soul retrievals.

Soul retrieval includes returning pieces of oneself that have splintered off, maybe from a past life. She teaches about sacred plants, the medicine wheel, feathers, shamanic journeying, shielding, and opening the throat chakra.

Leadership positions are available for those wishing to learn to become a firekeeper, water pourer and more.

Empowerment, beauty and wisdom are gifts that Hua shares with her community. She also makes and sells beautiful ceremonial jewelry and can make custom designs as well.

To find out more about the Circles of Empowerment, the Full Moon Ceremony, the sweat lodge or the Long Dance, go to www.huaanwa.com; to sign up for the newsletter, go to www.circlesofempowerment.org, or call Hua at 481-0892.