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  • Marya Kazmi

Cultivating in Chaos

“Creating peace is an active pursuit, it is a constant cultivation of presence”

In Pakistani culture there is a spiritual belief that other people’s jealousy of your blessings in life financially, in beauty, in good fortune, etc should be protected. My dear aunt, Chaachi, does this ritual often to ward off anything around me. She places her fingers on my temple and then while blowing on me and saying a prayer she transfers that energy from me to her to remove the evil omens while saying “Nazaar nay lago”. Translated to, “do  not let the jealousy or nazaar of others touch you”. 

This is much like the protection of the evil eye symbol that represents the power to see beyond what is visible to the naked eye and ward off negative energy.  In adulthood I have become more aware of my spirituality and connection to the universe. This awareness has given me a knowing of forces beyond my physical awareness and some who are blatantly present and have created chaos to throw off any semblance of peace in my life. 

At the start of September I was preparing for my first big move since my separation in 2018. Getting to this home was not easy with all the challenges that arose and the shifts that were forced upon me to redirect where I moved to. But the universe had my back and although I was pushed into a corner and had one weekend to find a new place for me and my children to call home, I was guided to the apartment I now reside in. 

Amid some beautiful memories, the last home I was in had been filled with negative energy and bad omens. I had already sold the old furniture determined not to bring any of the energy from that or my detrimental marriage into my new home and was determined that these same occurrences were not going to enter my new home. The Thursday afternoon before the move I made a trip to my local Botanica to prepare for the spiritual aspects of my move. Botánica is Spanish and translates as "botany" or "plant store," that has medicinal herbs and other items to heal both physical and spiritual ailments. This particular one is a place I frequent often for items to add to my altar and cleanse my space.

As I stood at the counter ready to make my purchase of sage and palo santo to cleanse my new home, I realized that these two entities of negative energy or possibly more would require more than some sageing of my space. I looked at the woman at the counter and asked her to add two bracelets with the evil eye symbol. One was for me and the other for my daughter whom I would come home with on Friday and be the only child to begin this move with me. I told her that I was in need of protection from the negative people who kept creating harm for us as we moved into our new home. 

She took  the smaller bracelet and blessed it with a prayer in Spanish while rubbing it with an oil. She placed it in the bag carefully and handed me the parcel. Then she took my wrist placed a few drops of oil and rubbed my hand while again whispering a prayer. It was in that moment that my emotions overtook me. All that I had been carrying from legal issues, financial strain, my fractured relationship with my boys and the man I loved walking away with little explanation came to the surface and as I stood at the cashier I started to cry.  

She held my hand with care and continued to rub the oil while placing the bracelet on my wrist. This moment shook me a little. I had avoided showing these emotions to my friends or family. No one really around me understood the depth of what I had been carrying and how it impacted my every day functioning. Yet, I stood in front of a complete stranger and opened the floodgates of emotions in my final attempt to take back control of my life. I finished crying and made my purchase and she wished me well and told me that she sensed I was protected and everything was going to be ok for us. 

The next day began the move to the new home. It took a few weeks to fully move in and it’s taken four months to settle into living with new furniture. But just a few weeks ago, I celebrated my first New Years Eve with all four of my children. They made it special and showed up for me in the most genuine, thoughtful and considerate ways. We all cooked an elaborate dinner together in our new kitchen, we sat on the new couch and opened up gifts while sharing stories and watching a compilation of home videos I created for them in our fully furnished family room. 

There was a moment where I stepped away and looked at all of them jokingly harassing their baby sister with the love of three big very different brothers. I realized that amid the chaos that life had thrown me, I was protected and cultivated the peace and home I dreamed to have with all my children by my side. They chose to be there with me and show their appreciation for being the constant and consistent adult in their lives. 

There is much still to be figured out and our relationships still have ebbs and flows, but I am immensely grateful for what happened and believe that we were protected by the universe and God to be able to now be at this point. This did not happen by chance. This home is my peace and the only place in the world where all four of them can be together as siblings. That has always been sacred and important for me. My goal was to curate a home that became a protected space from the control and manipulation that attempted to dictate the direction of our lives. With the help of ancestral beliefs in protection from nazaar and my active pursuit, I cultivated this peace in chaos.

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