Hammonton’s Laurie Miller and about a dozen members of the South Jersey Metaphysical and Shamanic Meetup group will hold a Spring Equinox Despacho tomorrow night.

That’s an Andean ceremony to help participants “go into this rebirth balanced and cleansed,” she said.

Miller has studied the practices of Andean shamans from Machu Picchu in Peru and other places in the Andes mountains with medical anthropologist Alberto Villoldo of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

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The despacho is called Ayni, meaning “right relationship,” she said.

About a dozen people will blow prayers into bundles made of bay leaves (a substitute for Andean cocoa leaves), llama fat and carnation petals. The bundles will be placed on paper in a mandala shape, with items including candies to represent the sweetness of life, gold and silver threads to represent its richness, cotton to represent clouds and a candle to represent the light.

“Everyone will be blessed with it,” Miller said. “Then we will take it out and put it in the fire. Everyone’s prayers will go ... up on the smoke to travel to heaven.”

Miller explored many types of metaphysical and healing energy practices before finding the right fit with the Andean tradition, she said.

After completing a two-year training course, she thought she would “hang out my shaman shingle ... and help people with energetic work. But it didn’t happen,” she said.

Then one day she was describing her work for a health care company as a business consultant, which involves problem-solving for groups of employees. She realized she was already clearing blocked energies in business processing, she said.

“I came to understand energy work and shamanic work is not what I do, but who I am,” she said.

Now people at the health care company tell each other, “Go see Laurie. She’s the project shaman,” she said.

Miller works with clients at Serenity for the Day Spa in Hammonton. For more information, call her at 609-332-5536.

Nurse wins service award

Registered nurse Stephany Britton, who works in the Maternal and Child Health Center at Cape Regional Medical Center, has received the hospital’s January Service Excellence Award.

Nurse Kelly Coulter nominated her, writing that Britton had paid for transportation to and from the hospital for a baby’s primary caregiver, who could not afford bus fare during the December holidays.

Britton lives in Erma, Lower Township, with husband Bruce and their three sons, Chris, Zack and Josh, and has worked at the hospital since 1988, according to Cape Regional.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


Been working with the Press for about 27 years.

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