Earth Medicine History, Purpose and Teachers
Back in 2008 I was facilitating small workshops that I called “Earth Ways” short courses. One workshop was called “Connecting with Place”, one was on “Tree Spirit Medicine”, I had a class on “Animal Allies” and a mini workshop called “Listening to Plants”…basic techniques, really, but these classes came from my deep desire for connection, and I may have had two students. One of them was me. LOL
Then in 2010 I had a pretty traumatic emotional experience where I dissociated and struggled for a few years to come back into a place of wellness and connection. I won’t go into the details, and only a few people know the particulars, but I sat in a very painful place, and the only constant connections I had were my spirit allies, my spiritual practice and a few intimate friends.
It took several years of working closely with my spirit allies before I felt whole again; before my joy returned. I still am very protective of my personal space and my connections because I know how it feels to lose my “Place”, both internally and in the world.
This Earth Medicine intensive and ultimately the Earth Medicine Training Center was born from the healing work that I did with my ancestral allies, my animal and plant allies and my land spirits.
I first felt the call to open a training center in August 2014 while I was working in Costa Rica. I had just finished teaching a 2-week CranioSacral class and I was getting ready to head up to Monteverde to be with my shamana sister, Karen. I had just finished a journey with Bear and I was free writing afterwards. All of a sudden, “shamanic training center” was on the page. I burst out laughing.
I began my Earth Medicine online intensive on December 1, 2014, and I thought, “This must be what Bear meant by a ‘training center’; I can do this,” and I put it out of my mind.
Then in March, my friend Pat died, and I had the great honor of being with her and doing ceremony with her and preparing her for transition while she was in Hospice House.
Shortly after Pat left, I experienced a health crisis and had to retire from massage therapy. Bear poked me again during my 5 month healing process and announced that I was going to open a real physical training center. I couldn’t even play a drum for more than a few minutes without pain. The entire idea felt impossible to me.
Ultimately, I trusted the guidance I was receiving in spite of what my physical reality was showing me. I began to dream with Bear; I wrote down my dreams and waited for the symbols to be revealed to me. I asked questions and received clarity. I rested. In the daytime I fleshed out what came to me.
Like many contemporary people, I first became aware of shamanism from books and drumming CDs. While I found them all interesting, and several people who offered their basic teachings online were of great value to my foundational practice, I would look at these wonderful people and their works and, while admiring them greatly, think, “This isn’t my path.”
Something felt wrong.
In my search for culture and place, I began digging around in my family line via Rootsweb and Ancestry.com (and amazing cousins who have done years of personal research). I have 9 nationalities running through my veins, but on the surface I am considered a white woman. However this white girl is French, Cherokee, English, Irish, Dutch, Scot, German, Chinese and Choctaw. And that’s just what I’m aware of. I struggled with my roots for a long time; I still felt that I didn’t have a culture or a place.
I took my feelings to Wolf in journey. It was time for me to find my “pack”. I wanted to show respect to all of the cultures that I had been exposed to through various shamanic teachings and Lakota teachings, but I knew that those ways were not my ways. It wasn’t my medicine. I also knew I didn’t want to call it “shamanism”. I am not a shaman, and I don’t feel called to become a “traditional shaman.” I am a contemporary person with a deep love and reverence for mother earth.
I spent the next 3 years working deeply and intimately with Wolf medicine, and I was shown my own practices, my own earth honoring rituals and my own method of soul retrieval, power restoration and other forms of healing.
In late 2013, Wolf stepped back and Bear came forward to give me deeper teachings. I have been working with her ever since.
When I offer information that I have been taught by others, I am mindful to let my students know where specific information came from, and then show how it became a springboard for me to learn deeper lessons with my allies.
Really, when I considered ethics, integrity and cultural appropriation while creating this intensive (and other Earth Medicine trainings), I came to a few personal conclusions; some things are universal, such as working with the directions and elements, journeying, songs, dance/movement, sonic drivers, spirit allies, etc. And those things that are not “universal”, specific ceremonies and teachings and specific songs, etc. belong to a culture and should absolutely remain with them.
My prayer is that my work is a reflection of my personal experiences, and that the sharing of them inspires my students to rely heavily on their own personal allies instead of me to be their great teachers. Only through diligent practice with our unique spirit allies can we develop and carry our own powerful medicine.