“There is no environment ‘out there’ separate from us. The environment is embedded in us. We are as much a part of our surroundings as as the trees and birds and fish, the sky, water and rocks.” ~ David Suzuki
I was raised in the Deep South, on the land that the Chickasaw once called home.
The trees who brought me up were the Magnolia, Pine, Oak, Sweetgum, Dogwood, Eastern Red Cedar, Tulip Poplar, and Mimosa.
The winds who raised me carry cleansing and tornadoes and change.
The mountain who raised me was Woodall Mountain. The foothills who watched over me were Appalachian.
The waters who nourished me live in Hell Creek.
The great river who nurtured me was the Mississippi. The Red River helped make the way for me and witnessed the birth of my grandmother.
I was brought up by raped land and battlefields and determination and hope.
Mullein, Plantain, Chickweed, Wild Violets, Mint, and Sheepshire were my friends.
The forests who surround me are Tombigbee National Forest in the South, Holly Springs National Forest in the Northwest (who raised my mother), and Tishomingo State Park in the Northeast.
The Natchez Trace currently supports me and surrounds my home.
I was fostered by the fossils and coral and shark teeth of the Cretaceous period.
The land that raised me and supported my bones is composed of loam and clay and selma chalk and petrified wood and agate and carnelian.
I was taught by mud puddles and bees and a quarter horse named Baby.
As I shared recently, I experienced a wonderful healing session with three amazing therapy horses in Moscow, TN, and I asked Jennifer and Shilo to share some interview time with me so that you could learn a bit more about equine therapy and the services they offer our community.
Jennifer and Shilo, I am so thrilled to have spent time with you and your horses. My session was so powerful and relevant, especially after I took the time to process my experience. What kinds of feedback do you get from clients who experience these sessions?
We are so happy you had such a positive and lasting experience. And you’re right! The processing continues well after the session ends. A lot of the feedback we have received has been similar to what you describe. In the moment, working and being with the horses, certain shifts or insights happen, but the processing that occurs after the session always seems to be the most powerful. We have had several people tell us several days to several weeks after their time with the horses that it had lasting impact and they are still continuing to chew on the experience. That being said, the most common feedback we get is about the horses, how the horses in their constant presence and ability to hold space, really made a connection with them, even if it was only for the duration of the session or for just a few moments of the session. Even after the session has ended, the connection with the horses seems to remain present.
What does Equine Therapy mean? What does it NOT mean?
By definition, equine therapy is a type of animal-assisted therapy, which means an animal is included into the therapeutic process to enhance the therapeutic relationship and progress toward treatment goals. Equine therapy does not mean that we conduct a therapy session and a horse (or horses) just happen(s) to be present at the same time. In equine therapy, the horse(s) become(s) part of the treatment team. We consider the horses to be our partners, providing us with information about emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and patterns in our clients that we can use to help deepen the therapeutic process. The horses are not a tool in the approach we use. They are collaborators and they have needs and things to say and express about how they work with our clients. And we listen to them and use their feedback.
I believe it was renowned animal-assisted therapist Rise van Fleet who stated that adding an animal into the therapy process should not be the reason you feel comfortable working with a specific client issue or diagnosis. In fact, if we do not feel comfortable working with a specific presenting issue in a traditional therapy setting, we would not work on that issue in the presence of the horses. Integrating a horse into the therapy process does not automatically mean anyone or anything can be treated, and we have to consider our limitations and scope of practice as professionals.
What do clients usually come to the horses to resolve or to explore? (trust issues, relationships, fears, etc.)
Well, that’s a big question that is going to get a big response, though we will try to make it as succinct as possible. Research in the field of equine therapy has shown equine therapy is helpful for a variety of mental health diagnoses and presenting issues. Briefly, it has been used successfully in treating trauma and PTSD, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, grief and loss, relationship and attachment issues, behavioral and conduct problems, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, addictions, and communication problems. Equine therapy is flexible and can be used in group, individual, or family therapy modalities and can also be applied to many existing counseling theories, like CBT, REBT, ACT, person-centered therapies, and even some alcohol and drug treatment models.
On a more personal level, and moving away from diagnoses, equine therapy can quickly tap into deeper, underlying issues that sustain or create some of the aforementioned disorders. We have seen people come to a session wanting to work on procrastination, self-esteem and self-worth, depression, behavioral problems, and anxiety—and it is amazing how quickly deeper core beliefs and patterns of functioning are brought to the surface through the interactions with the horses. We have also seen equine therapy experiences tap into and further spiritual and personal growth and development.
I remember when I came for a visit, you shared that you have created a day-long “retreat for therapists”. That sounds fantastic. What would that look like?
Oftentimes the healers in our world are ignored. And, a lot of healers put their own needs on the backburner and focus their time, energy, and attention on helping others. We feel strongly that you cannot pour from an empty glass, so our retreat focuses on helping those in the helping professions reconnect with their purpose and passion while also giving them an opportunity to rest and restore. We incorporate time with the horses, yoga, meditation, and art to provide the space for healers to rebalance.
Another thing we have been to do as well is host some informational groups where we invite local mental health providers, such as counselors, social workers, and school counselors, out to learn about equine therapy, how it works, what it can treat, and how to make referrals to our practice. Part of the information group is getting to experience an equine-assisted learning group so the practitioners that attend can experience the magic and power of working with the horses and have an opportunity to see what their clients may be able to experience.
Are people allowed to ride your horses, or is therapy only from interaction on the ground?
There are equine therapy programs and models that allow clients to ride in order to receive a variety of physical, emotional, and psychological benefits. However, all of our therapeutic work with the horses is on the ground. By having the client work with the horses on the ground, a relationship has to be established in a way the horses understand. Ground work and interactions place the client on the horses’ level. It also gives the horses freedom of choice, just as we would want any person to have. Ground work with horses creates plenty of opportunity for learning new ways to interact, gain insight toward modifying existing patterns of interacting that may not be very productive or useful, and allows for more opportunities for mirroring, reflection, projection, and experiential processing.
I was thrilled to find out how close you were to North Mississippi; it takes me about an hour and a half to get to you from Tupelo, MS, so I consider my area part of your “community”. I imagine that you are fairly close to Memphis, Nashville, and Jackson, as well as North MS. Considering you work with a fairly wide community, how would you like to expand your programs to meet the needs of this area?
We would love to be the go-to people for providing equine therapy services to the community at large. Oftentimes, a lot of programs are part of organizations that specifically address unique populations, such as veterans and children with disabilities. And while these programs are so incredibly important to capturing populations that need help, it unfortunately does not leave a lot of room for people who do not fit into those specific populations. We hope that by remaining a private entity we will be able to provide services to people in the community who want to have the experience or feel that equine therapy may help them or someone they love personally achieve goals. To do this we work hard to establish relationships with local providers and try to raise awareness of the benefits of equine therapy as well as how to refer to or contact us. One of our goals for 2017 is to develop more specifically targeted group equine therapy options so that clients can experience equine therapy.
Do your clients ride or groom and care for your horses, or do they only have a session inside the arena?
The approach we use and were trained in, EAGALA, uses only ground work with the horses. So, in short, there is no riding. However, we work very collaboratively with anyone who wants to engage in our equine therapy services to ensure that the interactions with the horses and the activities or tasks will work toward achieving established goals and addressing identified issues. This may mean that grooming and caring for the horses becomes an integral part of the process, or that sessions can occur in one of the three pastures or in the barn as well as the arena. But it depends on who we are working with and what he or she is wanting to accomplish or address.
Do you schedule post EAP sessions with your clients to assist them in processing their experiences?
Yes and no. There is usually a follow-up conversation a few days following the session in some way, shape, or form. But not all our clients want traditional talk therapy between sessions or even a conversation. Plus, sometimes we have found that giving people space to be with themselves and their process is the best intervention we can provide. Unless we have concerns and want to touch base between sessions or think that would be best for the treatment plan, we usually let our clients make that decision for themselves. Of course, some of our clients see primary therapists in addition to the equine therapy, so processing may occur within the context of those therapy sessions.
How could a licensed therapist collaborate with you in order to make this powerful therapy available to their clients?
Equine therapy is a great supplemental therapy that has been proven to enhance ongoing therapeutic work and helps clients move through potential blocks they may be encountering in therapy currently. We have invited referring therapists to come out for their clients’ sessions if the client and their primary therapist believe it would be helpful to their therapeutic process and their relationship. If someone wants to refer a client, of course they can very easily just have their client contact us whenever they feel the time is right. However, if the therapist wants to discuss their client more specifically and how the services may be beneficial, we would request a signed authorization to release information so that specifics could be discussed.
Jennifer A. Drabowicz, M.S., LPC-MHSP, ACS, EAGALA Certified Practitioner, Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy Provider
I spent the most amazing afternoon with these three beautiful horses in an equine-assisted psychotherapy session.
Jennifer Drabowicz and Shilo Satran have an equine-assisted psychotherapy practice in Moscow, Tennessee; and Jennifer’s three horses, Sam, Red, and Blaze, were powerful mirrors for me when we were in session together.
We began our session with a little “get to know you” time. I walked around the arena with the horses, and we spent a few minutes getting to know each other. Next, Shilo and Jennifer asked me what I wanted to work on. When my intention was set, the session began. (and Boris decided I needed some Cat Medicine in my session)
EAP is not structured like a normal therapy session; it is freeform in style, but this approach is a powerful catalyst for bringing up emotions. Horses can interact directly with the participant, or they can simply “display normal horse behavior”, and the participant can receive insightful messages. This was very true for me as I interacted with the horses, and I found myself thoughtfully observing their behaviors and noticing how they were beautifully acting out my inner struggles and conflicts.
Horses require us to be fully in the present moment when we are interacting with them. They are intelligent, highly sensitive animals, and they know when we are “congruent” or authentic with them. If our external presence doesn’t match our internal presence, horses will mirror that incongruence.
I experienced several powerful moments with these horses, but one moment was confusing for me until several weeks after my session. Two horses spent most of the session interacting with each other, and they were engaged in the same behavior most of the time. In the picture above, I was holding my hands together in a prayer position and watching for the message they were offering me. I had just completed an initiation experience with another horse, and I had been noticing these two “chewing at each other” the entire time. I couldn’t figure out what that meant as I tried to apply it to my process. After several weeks of integration time, the message became clear to me. I also noticed several other therapy moments click into place and make more sense.
I am very grateful to these horses, to Jennifer, to Shilo and to Mr. Boris the barn cat, for my powerful, insightful therapy session. Jennifer’s website is listed below, and she can be reached that way if you would like to schedule your own session.
I have loved this for a long, long time, and I wanted to share this beautiful Thanksgiving Address with you. Let’s go back to honoring prayers, to gratitude prayers for all beings, plant, tree, stone, animal and earth. May we treat them more gently. May we begin to consider many generations forward in all that we do. Sending you all big love as you give thanks in your own way.
THE “WORDS BEFORE ALL ELSE”
—from the Thanksgiving Address, Haudenosaunee tradition
Today we have gathered and have come from many different places. We have all arrived safely at this place to share with each other our gifts from the Creator. So we bring our minds together as one in Thanksgiving and Greetings to one another.
We send greetings and thanksgiving to our Mother the Earth who, like our own mother, continues to give for our well-being. She continues to care for us and has not forgotten her instructions from the beginning of time. We now bring our minds together in Thanksgiving for the Earth.
Now, as one mind, we turn our thoughts to the Waters of the Earth, that continue to flow beneath the ground, in little streams and in rivers, in lakes and wetlands, and in the great seas. They quench our thirst and help us to keep clean. We now bring our minds together in Thanksgiving to all the Waters of the Earth.
With one mind, we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to all the Beings that dwell in the Water which provide for us in many ways.
Now we direct our thoughts to the many kinds of plants that live low upon the Earth—the mosses, the grasses, the herbs, the food plants and the flowers, for they too have not forgotten their Original Instructions. There are many members of this Nation who sustain those who walk upon this Earth and take away the sicknesses of the human family. With one mind we send our thoughts and Thanksgiving to the Plant Nations.
We now gather our minds together and send Greetings and Thanksgiving to all the Animal Life in the world, for they continue to instruct and teach us even today. We are happy that many still walk with us although their natural world has been changed and life has become very difficult for them at times. Sometimes we may see a fox or a deer eye to eye and we are reminded of that feeling of kinship we get when we see the animals. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the Animal Life in the world.
With one mind we now think of the Trees. According to their Original Instructions the Trees still give us shelter, warmth and food, and keep the air clean. When we see the trees we are reminded of the beauty and power of the natural world. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the members of the Tree Nation.
We now bring our minds together to send our Greetings of Thanksgiving to the Birds. At the beginning of time the Birds were given a very special duty to perform. They were instructed to help lift the minds of the Human Family. Many times during the day our minds are lifted by their songs. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the Birds of the world.
We are thankful to the Four Winds who continue to blow and cleanse the air in accordance with their Original Instructions. When we listen to the Winds it is as if we are hearing the Creator’s breath, clearing our minds as it blows through the Trees. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to the Four Winds.
Now we turn our attention to the Thunderbeings. They welcome the springtime with their loud voices. Along with the lightning, they carry the waters of Spring on their backs. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to the Thunderbeings.
Our minds are one as we send our thoughts to our oldest brother the Sun. Each day the Sun continues according to his original instructions, bringing the light of the day, the energy source of all life on Earth. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to our oldest brother the Sun.
We now gather our minds together and give Thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon who holds hands with all of the women of the world, binding all of the cycles and rhythms of the Waters. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to our Grandmother the Moon.
With one mind we send our thoughts to the Star Nations who continue to light our way during times of darkness to guide us home, and who hold the secrets of many forgotten stories. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to the Star Nations.
With our minds as one mind we think of the Four Spirit Beings who live in the Four Directions. We know that they are helping us when we are moving through life and a feeling tells us not to go a certain way, or that we are on the right path. And now we gather our minds together as one and send our special Thanksgiving Greetings to the Four Spirit Beings.
Now we have arrived in a very special place where dwells the Great Spirit that moves through all things. As one mind we turn our thoughts to the Creator with Thanksgiving and Greetings.
We have now become like one being, with one body, one heart, one mind. We send our Prayers and special Thanksgiving Greetings to all the unborn Children of all the Future Generations. We send our thoughts to the many different Beings we may have missed during our Thanksgiving. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to all of the Nations of the World.
If you are at all familiar with Reiki, you know that it is a beautiful, gentle healing energy that, when sent to a willing recipient, goes exactly where it needs to go in order to bring balance and healing to all aspects of that person’s energy bodies.
In a normal distance healing session, the practitioner and the client determine a time to have their remote treatment; when the session begins, the practitioner sends Reiki while the client sits or rests quietly and receives the treatment. Often, the practitioner may send feedback, sharing what was noticed in the client’s energy body while the treatment was given, and the recipient will share particular experiences and insights that occurred during the session.
My sessions are a bit different.
I combine Usui Reiki with Earth Medicine energy practices in order to address specific needs of your four primary energy bodies, so that these non-physical wisdom bodies can self-correct; when you’re balanced and whole in non-physical reality, your physical reality must shift in response.
When you and I schedule time together, the first thing I will have you do is tell me what is going on in a variety of aspects of your life. What’s happening in your physical body? What emotional challenges are you experiencing? Do you have specific things going through your mind all the time? Any particular worries or concerns? Do you feel numb? Do you feel too much? Do you take on other people’s emotions/problems/energy? These are a few examples of what we may address together in order for me to have a clear picture of how we will be working together.
Next, we will schedule time to meet up on a secure web based platform called Zoom for our session. You will receive confirmation of the time, and a private link for you to meet me in my virtual treatment space. If you’ve never used Zoom before, you will be prompted to do a quick, painless download on your laptop, or an app download on your phone.
When we meet online, you and I will discuss your situation and concerns, determine what areas we will focus on, and have our healing session. If there are any emotions, insights or energetic imbalances that need to be addressed and healed, we will address them. Imbalances may include any personal power loss, scattered energy, feelings of disconnect, lost energetic protection, or unhealthy attachments. Then we will clear your energetic field, restoring your energy bodies to their natural, vibrant state.
As part of the healing treatment, you will be given exercises to cultivate a healthy, strong energy body and energy container so that you can continue to live and interact with others in a good way. Keep in mind that it’s up to you to keep your energy bodies in healthy condition. You will be given simple tools to help you do this, but it’s an ongoing practice that requires commitment in order for you to experience lasting change.
Would you like to work with me?
Here’s how to do it.
Contact me in the form below. Let me know you want to schedule a Reiki/Earth Medicine energy session with me, and I will send you the registration link and intake form so we can get started!
The LGBTQ community in Mississippi (and anywhere that my internet connection can reach) has allies at the Holistic Center in Tupelo, MS.
I have worked closely with this community for many years, and I feel that it’s past time to make my position as an ally very clear to the community that’s so close to my heart.
I am aware that making this statement may cause me to lose some clients, and I am at peace with that; but I know that I will be supported and loved, just as I support and love others, and I know that I have some amazing clients who will be very happy to read this post. I am grateful for my life; I am a married, white female, who is privileged in many ways. Last year, when I expressed a deep sadness for being so privileged when others were so not, one of my teachers said, “Dana, use that privilege. Use your privilege as a financially stable, white female to bring relief to those who are struggling. Look at your world. To whom are you in service?” I have always been an advocate for this population, as well as for women who are unsupported emotionally because of diverse spiritual practices.
A beloved family member reached out publicly recently, sharing that she felt she no longer had a family because of the way her immediate family treated her and her partner. I won’t go into details, but know that my heart was moved. Jack’s heart was moved as well, and we realized that we had not made our love for her and her partner clear. We immediately reached out to her, and we let her know that we not only accept her and her love, but we celebrate her and her love; there is no “tolerance” in this home.
There is also no “tolerance” in my practice. To me, the word tolerance has the connotation, “I don’t approve of what you’re doing, but I will be accepting of you to a point.” It also reminds me of the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” <– I have very strong opinions about that phrase as well, and I will not be using it on you or anyone else.
If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual, and you feel that you are not accepted by others, I am in service to you. If you suffer from stress, anxiety, grief, etc., consider working with me to get relief so that you can feel more whole and supported as you do your great, important work in this world.
If you are an LGBTQIA ally, truly an ally, you know what that means and what it can do to your stress levels and nervous system. Please reach out to me to get information on how you can be supported as you hold space and offer your voice on behalf of our amazing community.
If you are not familiar with my work, here are some ways that I can help support you:
If you have never worked with me before and you are dealing with stress, I suggest you begin with a Compassionate Listening session (linked above). There I provide a gentle, non judgmental space for you to begin to unpack the chaos in your life. Click the link to read more about it.
If any of these offerings interest you, or if you know of someone who needs support, send me a message below. ♡
Resources for LGBTQIA and Allies:
The Icarus Project: Radical Mental Health in a Crazy World
From the website: “The Icarus Project is a support network and education project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness.”
Trauma-informed herbalist, Kirsten Hale, has an amazing website and blog where she works with survivors of trauma. The Crazy Herbalist
Herbalist Kelli Hughart uses Sycamore tree essence for people who “feel like the outside and the inside of them doesn’t match.” Personally, I wonder if Sycamore essence could also assist with conflict between “how you feel internally (emotionally) vs what you present to the world.”
Jon Keyes has a great closed Facebook group called Herbs for Mental Health. He’s an herbalist and counselor based in Oregon and he shares some amazing wisdom over there. Jon’s website is Hearthside Healing.
More resources coming as I find them for you.
At the time of this post, I am not a licensed counselor. I am working toward that goal, but I want you to be very aware that I am not in any way using counseling skills or any kind of mental therapy in my practice at this time. I have amazing colleagues to whom I can refer you if that’s what you need.
Boo and Me: an ongoing saga
January 2013 – May 2016
Me: Uh, Boo, I think you tilled my comfrey up.
Jack: Oh, damn. I’m sorry.
Me: That’s okay. Expect it to be all over the place now.
Me: *blending away at my apothecary space, aka: computer desk*
Jack: “What are you messing with?”
Me: “Oh, hops, valerian, skullcap, oats, passionflower and chamomile. Why?”
Jack: “It smells like nasty socks in here.”
Me: “Yeah. That’s the valerian.” *loopy grin* “Want some?”
Jack: “Uh. No.”
Jack is getting ready to cook a ham for his sister.
Jack: “Did you use all the brandy?” Me: “I guess so.”
Jack: *deep sigh*
Me: “I only stole it that one time. I don’t know why you’re trippin.”
Jack: *cuts eyes at me while diggin into his whisky stash*
I always run out of alcohol on Sunday.
*eyeballs Jack’s whiskey and chews fingernail*
I asked real sweetly, and Jack let me have some of his brandy for my wild roses. My Boo is a good man.
Me *upon arriving home from work*: “Hey Boo. Has Sister made it home yet?”
Jack *smoking a cigarette in the carport*: “Apparently, she never left.”
Me: “What do you mean???”
Jack: “Well, I happened to look into the house through the living room window, and she was staring at me from inside. I went to check on her and she was gone. So either I am hallucinating, or Sister never left the building.”
Me: “Well, where is she?”
Jack: “I don’t know. Probably plastered against the ceiling somewhere.”
Jack: What are you doing?
Me: Making pain salve.
Jack: *wrinkles nose*
Me: Wut. You don’t have to be all sour about it.
Jack: I am just concerned about what it will do to the pots.
Me: It’s okay, Boo. I do it all the time, and you’ve never noticed.
Me: *walks carefully through the house with a goblet filled with water and stones in each hand. Headed outside to le full moon.*
Jack: “What are you doing?”
Me: “Making magic. Get the door for me, Boo.”
Jack: “I’ll be back in a minute. I’m going to look for my chainsaw.”
Me *all fluttery*: “Uh. Wait. What are you gonna do?”
Jack looks back at me all confused. “I’m going to cut up that pine and haul it away.”
Me: “Uh. Wait. I need you to save me some branches and needles for medicine.”
Me: “And I need you to leave the dogwood branches.”
Me: “And I need you to leave the cedars.”
Jack gives me that look.
Yeah. That one.
Me: “What?! They’re small.”
Jack *big sigh* “Okay.”
So he gets a hug.
Me: “Thank you for helping me make medicine, Boo.”
Jack: “You’re welcome.”
Jack is trying to move stuff out of the riding lawnmower seat, and a wren flies out of the shopvac filter *you know, the filter that has not been properly cleaned and returned to the shopvac since Memommy’s kitchen flooded over a month ago*.
Jack… Dana. Come here. Look inside that filter over there.
Wren… Screaming at us from the nearby fence.
Me… Did you find her nest? Move away from it. She’s upset.
Wren… Still screaming.
Jack… I’m trying to move this lawn mower. She’s gonna be a lot more upset in a minute.
Wren… Now pissed and screaming. Hopping towards us a bit along the fence.
Me… You better back away, Boo. She’s gonna take you out.
Jack… *muttering* I don’t know why she thinks she needs that filter. There’s a perfectly good coffee can in the corner.
Me (on phone with Jack): “Hey Boo! Happy 11 year anniversary!”
Jack (aka “boo”): “Uh. *silence* Thanks.”
Me: “I just looked at my phone and saw the date. I’m sure you have been waiting for my call all morning.”
Jack: “Yeah. I was so hurt.”
Me: “I’m sure you were, baby. Just so you know, it’s your job to remember the wedding anniversary. It’s my job to remember the dating anniversary.”
Jack: “Okay. Great.”
We’re listening to music. We bought Jack a turntable for his vinyl records. Cuz you know, that’s how we roll. Boz Skaggs is blasting outta the speakers right now and Jack says: “I bought this record in 1973.”
Me (smiling): “I was 2.”
Me: *stares blankly at the computer*
Jack: What are you doing?
Me: *mumbles something about having 8 tabs open and so much to do*
Jack: Here’s some wine. Come out back and stare into the dark for a while.
15 minutes later we’re listening to Dire Straits and laughing like loons.
I love that man.
Me: “Hey Boo. Checkit out.”
(swings freshly shaved legs onto his lap)
Jack: “Mmmm.” (rub)
Me: “I did it Just for You.”
Jack, aka Boo: What is that black stuff on the floor?
Me: oh, that must be some pleather from my chair.
Boo: *raises eyebrow at me*
Me: I sure have enjoyed my chair, Boo.
Boo: I am sure you have; you’ve been living in it for three years.
Me: Hey my Boo.
Jack: What’s up?
Me: Happy 12th anniversary.
Jack: Oh, that’s nice.
Me: I love you.
Jack: Love you too.
Me: “Ermagawd I found my FUZZY PRINCESS SLIPPERS!!!!
Jack: *sighs* “I’m so glad.”
Me: “OMG I am such an amazing wife. You’re so lucky, my Boo.”
Jack: *hugs me* “I’m glad you think so.”
Jack sees me limping in a pitiful manner: “What’s wrong?”
Me: “I just cut a gash in my leg.”
Jack *looking down* “It’s a cut.”
Me: “It’s an enormous GASH.”
Jack: “It’s a scrape.”
Me: “It was awful!!”
Jack: “I’ll send flowers.”
Me, in the carport, getting my smudge on. Jack pulls up.
Me: Hey Boo.
Jack: Hey. What are you doing?
Me: Well, you have to smoke outside, so I am… smoking outside.
Lovely nighttime sounds at the Bailey house:
Jack: “Dammit.” *scuffles at front door* “Willoughby, NO. Dana, come here and catch this frog!”
Me, saying good night to Jack: “Night, Boo. I just want you to know that I’m brilliant.”
Boo: “I already know.”
Me: *fondles and lusts over the huge, amazing, gorgeous malachite stone… then picks up the much less expensive purple fluorite* “I’ll take this fluorite.”
Jack: *walks up to the stones* “I’ll take that green rock.”
We’ve got some severe weather going down in our area.
Me: Now Boo, if you get scared, you just let me know.
Jack: I’m sure you’ll get right on it.
A dead pine fell in today’s storm, knocking down our power lines. I have called the electric company and they’re sending someone out to put the lines back up.
Me: Boo? Can you come home and help me make sure they don’t cut down our native azaleas and dogwoods and whatnot? I have already told them that our yard is “a sanctuary for native plants”.
Jack: Yeah. Don’t cut anything that grows like crazy here.
Me: Boo… *sad voice*
Jack: I’ll see what I can do.
Me: If you’re not here, I may be reduced to begging them to have mercy on my plants. I may even have to run outside without a bra on.
Jack: I know how this works. Your way would be much more effective. If I get home, I’ll stay out of the way.
Jack: What are you doing?
Me: *pulls ear plugs out of my ears* I’m listening to a LCSW talk about being in private practice.
Me: I’m so excited. I want to learn ALL THE THINGS.
Jack: I’ve noticed.
Me: Hey Boo! There are 2 gray snakes in the front yard doing the nasty!
Jack: Huh? Where?
Me: In the front flower bed, right off the porch. I startled one of them when I opened the front door, and he raced behind the corner flower pot. I told him I wasn’t going to hurt him.
Jack: What’d he say?
Me: He wasn’t buying it.
Strong Women: Dana Bailey – Herbalism, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, and Reiki
Let’s talk about earth medicine in the deep South; how the dense, verdant air moves and shifts, how history survives among the living, and the people whose roots hold tight to the soil. Earth medicine in the South, especially herbalism, is practiced at the knees of the ancestors. This practice is the people’s medicine, and those who cultivate it within their communities are seen as leaders and pillars. Dana Bailey is one of these pillars; she is vivacious, fun, carefree, and, especially, non-judgmental…being in her presence instantly puts you at ease. You can trust she has your health and best interest at heart. These qualities combined with her skills in herbalism, Cranio-Sacral therapy, and reiki make her an absolutely amazing practitioner, and she is a true asset to Mississippi and the surrounding areas.
Dana spent the first seven years of her life living in Dwight, Kansas – her father was an army man, stationed at Fort Riley. When he tragically died at the age of 27, her mother, Marie, moved Dana and her baby brother back home to Mississippi. From this point forward, Dana grew up in the heart of the South with her mother and brother, along with her Nanny and her extended family.
It is safe to say Dana’s introduction to plant medicine came from her Nanny. Nanny was a tea maker and grew many of her own plants to brew teas and infusions to cure her family’s ills. At the beginning of our interview, Dana recounted one of her Nanny’s brewing anecdotes: When Dana’s mother was little, she got very constipated and Nanny brewed her up a strong cup of terrible tasting tea. Marie didn’t want to drink it. Papa Jack, who didn’t believe that the tea would work, gave Marie a wink and when Nanny wasn’t looking, downed the cup so Marie wouldn’t have to. He then spent the rest of the afternoon in the bathroom!
When Dana was around 12 years old she told her Nanny she wanted to grow herbs, so Nanny gave her tips on how to grow some of her favorite plants – catnip, spearmint, and chamomile – and offered her a pile of reference books, saying, “Read these and one day you’ll be teaching me about herbs.” Nanny’s prediction more than came true – Dana now teaches MANY people about herbs.
Dana received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Social Science from Blue Mountain College. She is planning on going back to school to complete a master’s degree in Counseling within the next five years.
Dana met her husband, Jack, at Starting Over Coffeehouse in Tupelo. She said she walked into the shop, ordered her coffee, and noticed there was a man in some kind of uniform at “her” table. She kept glancing at him because she thought he looked familiar, but she couldn’t figure out who he was. She got her coffee and realized he looked just like Sam Elliott. So she sat across from him, batted her eyelashes and said hi. He replied in a dry, deadpan tone, “Hey.” Then he took a final drag of his cigarette, drained his coffee, got up and walked out. Dana watched him leave and thought to herself, “He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m gonna get me some of that.” It took her six months to convince him to let her “bag and tag” him. On their first date she asked him why it took him so long to go out with her, and he told her he thought she was only 20, close to his daughter’s age. She was 32.
Dana says, “Jack is so supportive of everything, encouraging of whatever I want to do. Before, people would tell me no and I would just stop – he was so laid back and grounded that I felt safe enough to explore who I was – he was a loving container for my self exploration – my home base.” They have been together since 2003, and they share two beautiful grown children and a daughter-in-law.
Tumbleweed: Can I just say I love your stories–especially how you met Jack and your Nanny’s infamous teas. It seems like you are a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it. Tell us how you started on your path to your current work.
Dana: I was married to someone else before Jack, and when I mercifully ended that marriage in 2000, I was invited to go on a three month trip to Honduras with some friends who were missionaries. I had a lot of time for reflection. What did I want to do? I would be starting my life all over again. One evening I was on my balcony at the cabin overlooking the Caribbean – which sounds much more glamorous than it was; we were in a very poor village – and I thought to myself, “What do I really want to be when I grow up?” Massage therapy kept popping into my mind. I thought, “I can do whatever I want.” I finally realized I was an adult who could make her own decisions. So I told my friend Beverly I wanted to be a massage therapist and she said, “Let’s get you some training while we’re here.” So as we went from village to village we met with Honduran therapists in our free time and got massages, gave massages to each other and just learned as much as we could. Then when I returned to the states I went to massage therapy school in Tupelo, MS, and began working.
Tumbleweed: Now you primarily do CranioSacral therapy. Can you explain how that is different from your typical massage?
Dana: Yes, I worked as a massage therapist for a total of 12 years full time; I started my CranioSacral practice back in 2003. It is a light touch form of therapy that targets the central nervous system and fascial restrictions. Most of my clients are people with high stressed lives. Maybe they have a hard time relaxing or sleeping, or have been in pain for a long time. Their nervous systems get stuck in sympathetic mode. Sometimes they have been in accidents where massage is contraindicated or they are in stressful relationships with emotional problems. All of these types of clients can receive relief with CranioSacral work.
Tumbleweed: Dealing with those kinds of issues can take a toll on the body! And it is also not easy work for a practitioner to help others heal from those problems. What strategy have you developed to help you give your clients the help they need?
Dana: The ways I have blended my skills are often a reflection of the type of people I see; much like a response to a call. Clients come in with specific emotional issues, and releasing restrictions in the body allows emotions to bubble to the surface, and I provide a safe container for them to express, emote, and release what they are holding onto. The central nervous system is not the seat of the emotions – it is “stress response”. Imagine a five year old boy playing in his room and his older brother jumps out and scares him. This engages flight mode and the boy runs through the house, headed for the door. Suddenly his mother grabs his arm, stops him and tells him to stop running in the house. Now his central nervous system is stuck in flight mode; he has been forced to physically stop, but his flight response is still running full blast inside his little body. If he had kept running, he would have gone outside, maybe hidden, looked around, and eventually realized it was his brother and there was nothing to be afraid of, and his nervous system would have been able to discharge naturally. What I have found is I am treating people who are still in fight, flight or freeze mode, often after functioning for years without their nervous systems being discharged. I address those issues and give them a safe space for self-correction.
Tumbleweed: You have a very unique belief structure. Would you mind telling us more about that?
Dana: I will tell you a bit, but let me first say that, when I’m in session with a client, my belief system or cosmology is not important; only theirs is. I adore diversity, and I actively embrace it in my work and in my spiritual practice. I am an Earth-based spiritualist – I call it a form of Animism. To me, all of nature has spirit, animation and intelligence, and that we as humans are a small piece of that. God(dess) (however you see this underlying creative force) designed us (us, meaning all people; not just human people) that way. Trees, rocks, rivers, mountains, plants, animals, insects, fungi, even Mother Earth, have complex intelligence, they just express themselves in a different way from humans. Right relationship with Nature is more important than self gratification. I have my minister’s license from an interfaith school. It was a very diverse program that included Catholics, Protestants, Taoists, Wiccans, Pagans…any religion you can think of really. In completing that program I realized that it doesn’t matter what I claim to believe; it’s all the same (to me) on a fundamental level. I came from the Divine Presence, and when I don’t need this body anymore, I will return to that place from which I came. I don’t need to put a name to it in order for it to be true for me. Acknowledging and embracing the diversity all around me became the focus of my practice. I work with a fabulous lady named Lisa, and we run an online spiritual school that teaches people of all ages and spiritual backgrounds the art of self priestessing. I’ve been teaching with Lisa since 2008.
Tumbleweed: You have mentioned that acceptance has been a personal challenge for you.
Dana: Yes, my biggest challenge has been around diversity, acceptance, and compassion. I always felt different, like my family and friends wouldn’t be able to see past my differences and accept me and love me for who I am. I realized I had to become for other people what I needed most in my life. I have set myself up to be the person with arms wide open saying, “Come here. I will never judge you.” People have asked me, “If you have a pain point, or a need that is not being met, how can you help someone else?” Seriously, though, for me, it was in that action, in embodying and radiating what I needed most, that I found myself. It takes courage to use your dynamic voice; I was so afraid of criticism in the past, but I can honestly say that when the pain of not being myself became stronger than any fear of judgement…that was when I knew I had no other option; I had to become what I needed most.
Tumbleweed: You also practice Reiki and teach a lot of classes. When did all that start?
Dana: I have been a Reiki practioner since November 2002 and started teach all my different classes (as a Reiki Master Teacher) in the spring of 2003. My mother used to say to me, “If it’s not fun you won’t do it.” While that’s not completely true (okay, Mostly True), I do like to have a little fun with my work.
(Dana’s beloved Pudge)
Tumbleweed: You are starting an in-person beginning herbalism class. How do you structure your class?
Dana: Well it is three parts. The first part is teaching the student about herself. That means learning what her constitution and temperament is, among other things like looking more deeply at that individual’s energetics, habits, what she eats, where she may be out of balance. Then we move on to part two, which is learning about the energetics of plants and what plants can be matched with this person; what would bring her into a place of balance. For example, bitters are most often cooling, so to someone who is already cool, a warming herb like angelica should be added to bring the bitters into energetic balance for her. The last part is teaching the student how to make tinctures, elixirs, infused oils, salves, shrubs, oxymels, and nourishing infusions. My teaching is all about developing a relationship. What herbs make great friends for you? What plants will nourish you best? Those are things I want to help people discover.
Tumbleweed; You also encourage your students to learn from many teachers, don’t you?
Dana: Absolutely! I always tell people if they want to take an in-depth program, to go to Phyllis [Light], Rosemary [Gladstar], Sam [Coffman], Jim [MacDonald], 7Song, Matt [Wood], Thomas [Easley], etc. These herbalists all have such unique perspectives, and by learning all you can from different teachers, you really get a more thorough education. So I tell people to take classes with everyone they can can; no one can teach you everything.
Tumbleweed: Racheal and I have taken some classes from Sam. We also went to an intensive with him and 7Song at the AHG Symposium in Colorado this year.
Dana: 7Song! I am so in love with that man – I want to climb him like a monkey! (I wouldn’t really do that to you, 7Song). He and Matt Wood. Really, I love everyone.
Wait. No I don’t. Hahahaha.
Tumbleweed: I’m sure there are a lot of people who say the same. So, when did you open the Holistic Center in Tupelo?
Dana: Well, the Holistic Center has been in existence for a long time, but it sat empty for a few years. It began in another location, and the owner of the building asked me to move my practice there. I worked there for six years and I loved that sweet space. One day she called and said that I had to leave because she needed the space for something else. The name wasn’t mine, but she said that I could continue to use it. It has been the name of my business since August of 2013. Now I have a great business partner, Evanna, and we lease a wonderful space on Traceland Drive in Tupelo.
Tumbleweed: What is your favorite herb, and why?
Dana: My first love is Goldenrod; it is just so much like me. When I first learned about it, I was sneezing my head off and someone pointed to goldenrod and said, “That’s what’s making you sneeze,” so I avoided it as much as I could (I am very sorry to admit). Then when Jack and I moved into our current house, there was a big healthy stand of goldenrod. I didn’t notice it until it bloomed that fall, and I thought, “Oh no! That’s goldenrod!” Jack offered to get rid of it, but I couldn’t let him do it. So I did some research. I had, like many others, confused goldenrod with ragweed [which blooms at the same time]. Goldenrod is such a misunderstood plant, and I grew up feeling the same way; and she actually became the medicine for the problems I was experiencing. One year, I studied her throughout the entire year and made all kinds of medicine. I noted the changing flavors based on when it was harvested, when the medicine in the plant was the strongest, etc. She also taught me a lot about myself.
[You can read her blog post about her year with goldenrod here]
Tumbleweed: What has been the most challenging thing about your work?
Dana: Developing Osteoarthritis and having to stop doing massage therapy has been my biggest challenge. This was a huge loss of income, and having to say goodbye to some amazing clients who only wanted massages was very sad for me. Many massage therapists develop arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. It is just not a long term, full-time job. It can be if you take really good care of yourself, but I wasn’t smart when I began this career. I was seeing 8-10 people, 6 days a week. I should have been seeing 4-5 people, 4-5 days a week… that’s a full time career for a massage therapist in my opinion.
Tumbleweed: What makes all the hard work worthwhile?
Dana: The integrative work I do now is very exciting to me. I am meeting so many new people with challenges and I’m finding that working with my clients in this way – seeing the light turn on for them – seeing them step into a place of wellness – can be life changing to witness. It is an honor to observe their process and how strong and resilient they are. Many of my clients are women and it is so amazing to me how strong women really are when they crack open and allow themselves to be vulnerable. I was talking to my shamana sister Karen about this…about being in our communities and walking with integrity. Karen and I are very aware of the subtle instances we may not walk in complete integrity, and we’re willing to explore those dark places in ourselves and continuously align our actions with our hearts. Karen told me, “What we do, Dana, is shine a light on the places within us that aren’t pretty. But once they’re exposed to that light and our acceptance of them, they become treasure.” Women are so strong. When I am hurt, get angry or can’t get past an issue, that is when I turn to my allies and I work though my stuff. It gets messy and ugly and sometimes a bit snotty, but I don’t settle for anything less than wholeness for myself. Each time I heal, I get a bit more whole, and the more whole I am, the more I can be in right relationship with others and walk in this world in a good way.
Tumbleweed: Feminism is a hot topic right now. What does it mean to you?
Dana: Being able to do whatever the fuck I want, whenever I fucking want to do it. However I want to express myself. I love men, whew do I love men, and many men are very supportive of women. It is just as empowering in my opinion to be a stay at home mom and teach the next generation [as it is to have a career outside the home]. If I want to make googly eyes at Jack and wash his undies, I can be a feminist and do that. If I want to split everything down the middle financially with Jack, I can do that as well (please don’t tell him I said that.) Feminism has lots of growing and maturing to do – but I am so glad we have it.
Tumbleweed: We always ask women about their strong female roots. Do you have a woman from your ancestry who has inspired you?
Dana: I get told that I’m like my Nanny in a lot of ways. But she was a much more fragile person than I; I think I am more like my dad in temperament and personlity. Nanny’s softness brought out the softness in me, though, and I am grateful for her impact on my life. However, I would have to say my mother is my inspiration; my mother is such a strong supporter and a place of strength for me. She and I grew up together. She was 18 when I was born. Don’t get me wrong, she was definitely my mother before she was my friend. But when I became an adult, she became my dearest friend. I can call her any time and she will be present and supportive of me. My mom always says, “My mother (Nanny) was my biggest cheerleader,” and I feel the same way about Mom; she is my biggest fan. I learned loyalty and how to have deep, long lasting friendships from her. She raised the bar on what a true friend is. She is my biggest role model around how I want to show up in the world. She is a fierce ally, she loves deeply, and she is loyal. So yeah. My mom is my biggest inspiration.
Dana’s mother’s influence on her daughter is palpable. Dana is the kind of person that you feel is instantly your best friend. She is supportive of those around her, and works to help her community in any way she can. And we are so glad to be part of her circle.
I am so thrilled to begin our Earth Medicine 6-month Online Intensive again! Starting tomorrow, December 1st, we will learn how to connect, honor and develop right relationship with all of our relations; plant, animal, mineral, tree, mountain, etc., and we will also learn how to be in right relationship with ourselves and each other.
This class is so enriching; it’s filled with wonderful information, journey exercises, ceremony examples and lesson teachings that have personally changed my life. This is called an intensive because of the amazing amount of materials that we cover; however you are not required to complete every exercise or journey prompt in this course. It’s a foundational course that is the basis for the advanced mentorship training that I offer both in person and online.
Each lesson will include the following topics: Journey exercises, Animal Spirit medicine, Plant Spirit medicine, Stone Spirit medicine and creating a working Earth Medicine Altar.
Lesson 1 teaching: Connection, Cleansing and Creating Sacred Space
Medicine of the North: Earth.
Grounding practices and Stillness
Bear and Deer Medicine
Root Medicine, Mushrooms and Elder Medicine
Lesson 2 teaching: Deepening your Relationship with your Spirit Allies
Medicine of the East: Air.
Nervous System Allies
Passiflora, Oat and Kava Medicine
Lesson 3 teaching: Boundaries and Relationships
Medicine of the South: Fire.
Mountain Lion and Wolf Medicine
Hawthorn, Rose, Cacao
Lesson 4 teaching: Emotional Wholeness; Authenticity and Integrity
Medicine of the West: Water.
Cleavers, Chickweed, Violet
Lesson 5 teaching: Connection and Right Relationship
Medicine of the Above: Spirit.
Mountain Medicine: Wisdom
Lesson 6 teaching: Healing the Medicine Carrier
Medicine of the Below: Within
Black Panther Medicine
Healing the non physical: shadow work
River Medicine: Wash it all Away
I am thrilled to be offering these lessons online! Spend 6 months in a deep, restorative experiential with me. We’re going to have a blast!
If you are located outside the United States, then it will probably be easier to send registration via PayPal. Be sure that I have your most used email address so that I can send your welcome letter!
P.S. When you register for this class, I will send you my bonus e-book, “Your Inner Garden” for FREE. Here’s a link to show you what it’s about: http://wp.me/P1kFaB-xY
I’m so excited to send this free e-book out to you when you register early because it’s so helpful in developing a sound journey practice. And we’re going to be doing some journey work in this 6-month program.
I’m really big on authentic conversations. Conversations that can change our perspectives. Conversations that help us expand our awareness. What I’m not big on, however, is using these conversations as a platform for driving another person’s “list” to your website.
I was recently invited by a lady to speak in a podcast with a master coach; the topic was on plants and shamanism. She was looking for a shamanic herbalist to speak with, and the conversation was going to take about an hour.
I was really excited and honored to be asked to represent the plant nation on this podcast, so I visited her website to get a better feel for the work that the master coach was involved in. I’m pretty open minded around the concept of contemporary shamans or universal shamanism; the work I do doesn’t follow any particular tradition. Earth Medicine concepts and practices come directly from my allies and spirit teachers, my ancestors, and trusted teachers, no matter their cultural affiliation. I didn’t see anything on her website that turned me off, even though we do not practice the same way.
When I responded that I would love to have this conversation and that the timing worked for me, this lady who works on behalf of the master coach said that she was in conversation with several herbalists, so she needed to know “the size of my list” to make sure it fits in with their guidelines.
So basically the purpose of this speaking inquiry that I received from this lady was to drive my list over to their website so that you all could not only hear me on this podcast, but also so that you will be on their email list. That way they can talk to you about the work that they do, etc. Their existing list would hear me speak and give them an opportunity to come to my website and learn all about what I do.
It’s called Joint Venture Marketing. Look it up. It’s a thing. Obviously it is also a thing with shamanism now.
To say I had a moment of WTF is an understatement. I don’t have one. single. thing. against JV marketing. In fact, if I totally believe in a product, a concept, a person’s work in the world and so forth, I will more than likely make sure you are exposed to it, either here or via some social platform, and I hope that others would do the same with me and my work. If you want me to promote your work, here’s how you can get me to do that for you:
Let me get to know you a bit before you ask me to tell everyone how wonderful you are.
Invite me to take a class or a workshop with you so that I can give you a testimonial or proper feedback. I need experience with you and your work before I start singing your praises to my “list”.
If we’re going to have a business relationship, let’s establish that from the beginning. I take my work very seriously and I am willing to think with my business hat on.
When it comes to sharing my list with another business and vice versa, (and by the way, I don’t consider y’all my “list”. You’re people who also love and appreciate the work of my heart, and I honor you for that.) I think there may be a better, more authentic way for this exchange to take place.
This made me question how I would like to get my work further out in the world. I want to have these good, healing conversations about our plant and tree nations, our animal allies and the deep personal healing and transformation that comes with reconnecting with nature. I WANT these conversations to happen, whether I am the human who represents these nations or whether it’s someone else. From a business perspective, I would also love to meet and interact with more people who love these Earth Medicine concepts and practices, and who would like to work with me.
It’s a tricky situation when one’s work is of a spiritual nature. Much of my work can be considered spiritual; I practice shamanic healing, energy work and teach spiritual and emotionally empowering workshops, and I also am co director of Sisters in Celebration, which has an online experiential program that teaches people how to develop their spiritual practices, and another program that teaches them how to be in service to others. We charge for these classes. I charge for everything I do. Some people would have issue with that. I don’t.
So the moral of this story is that, yes. I would love to figure out how to have authentic conversations and develop right relationship with more people at the same time. Until then, I will work on creating something for you, my friends, on plant spirit medicine.
Would you like me to address any questions you have around plant spirit medicine? Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to me on Facebook by September 30, 2015, and I will include your questions in my recording. And thanks for being with me. ~D
My work life is changing in a really big way. My body is giving me very clear messages that massage therapy and other very physical forms of bodywork are no longer in my future; I am officially, clearly, extra crispy finished with massage therapy. At this time I am feeling physically weak and in pain, and I begin my therapy regimen to mend my shoulders, neck and hands/wrists next week.
Not only am I healing, but I’m dreaming and shifting and integrating my work in a way that feels big and scary and exciting. Stay tuned my friends. I am removing my Life Rhythm CST (Holistic Center) website and will move it a little at a time over to my Southern Herbalist website.
And through all of this excitement in my life, I have felt deeply supported, loved, affirmed and encouraged. I realized that over the years, I have created a kickass self-care support system. Here’s how I did it.
The back of this book offers a way for you to create your own self-care “first aid kit”. Take a few moments to answer these questions. Keep this list handy and, when you feel like your world has flipped, use it.
1. Who do you call when you are afraid, unsure of yourself or simply need confirmation about something that is distressing to you? Who allows you to have your experience/emotions without telling you what to do? If you can’t think of someone immediately, consider developing a Support Partner (*see part 2 of this post)
2. Who do you need to stay away from? Who makes you feel “triggered” or unsafe, or simply tends to feed negativity?
3. Listen to your body’s signals. What do you need to feel fully supported, nurtured, nourished and strong?
4. What habits do you have that no longer serve you? What nourishing act can you give yourself as a replacement?
5. What spiritual act can you do in order to deepen your connection with the Divine at this time?
6. What commitments can you allow someone else to take over for you so that you can have more time for rest and restoration?
7. How can you best express your needs and feelings so that your loved ones don’t have to wonder how they can best support you?
8. What do you need in order to feel comforted at this time?
9. What small action can you take to bring yourself and your emotions into a place of “neutral”? Breathing techniques? Awareness exercises? Guided meditations? Prayer? Mantras?
10. What is your best healthy distraction when you need a break from a stressful situation?
These questions are inspired from Cheryl’s book. All credit is given to her and I strongly encourage you to get her book. She rocks my Wonder Woman socks. She also has some beautiful Grace Cards and Self Care Cards.
*What is a Support Partner?
Support Partners are people who have earned the right to hear your most private feelings and your most vulnerable stories. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, has taught me a great deal about vulnerability, connection, shame and courage. Her work inspired a blog post that I created a few years ago, and I am sharing it with you now. Get her books. Really. Her research changed the way I see the world and my place in it.
Be very very careful about getting into someone else’s business.
And be very very careful about whom you let into your business.
When we are involved in someone else’s business, we are not living in our own space… we are living and acting and reacting from theirs. When we analyze others’ issues, we are not living in our own business. We are distracting ourselves with their business (many times because we don’t want to deal with what’s in our own lives). *that was tough to say, but I had to both say it and own it.*
What we need (and what we need to become for another) is a “Support Partner“. We don’t need 20 of them; only one or two close friends that we can exchange with in a non-analytical and non-judgmental way. Let me tell you what “support partner” is.
1. A support partner is fully present with you, listens to you objectively and without judgment, and holds supportive emotional space for you.
2. A support partner has an agreement with you around these clear and loving boundaries and roles, and does not deviate from them.
3. A support partner keeps your personal life private. Period. Period.
4. A support partner comforts you and allows you to have your feelings without “fanning emotional flames”. You probably shouldn’t select them as support partners if they tend to say (and mean it), “Hell yeah, let’s go cut his tires!”, okay? Those friends are fun, but they’re not who we are talking about here.
5. A support partner knows that YOU know it is your responsibility to make decisions and changes in your life. Therefore, it is not your support partner’s job to tell you what to do, to tell you that your life sucks and here’s how to fix it, etc.
6. This is not a club to join. This is a relationship with one person. I mean it. The more ain’t merrier with this relationship.
Here’s how to develop an awesome Support Partner relationship:
1. Connect with your friend *you know, the one you trust to be non judgmental, is compassionate, and knows how to keep her mouth shut and her comments to herself. yeah, that one.*
2. Talk to that person about what a Support Partner is and extend an invitation to be in a supportive relationship with you. When your partner is in need, you get the call/text/email asking for a chat time. When you are in need, you send a call/text/email asking for a chat time.
3. Schedule the time… it can be immediately… but it can ONLY be when the support partner is in an emotional space where he or she can be fully present with you. Most often, that will not be immediately. Therefore, a support partner does not have a revolving door. Respect each other’s time and schedules for the best possible relationship.
And, my dear, until you can give this courtesy in return, please don’t initiate this relationship with another.
I have a handful of friends whom I trust so much that, if any one of them called me and said, “I’m at (place), I need you now,” and hung up the phone, I would be there immediately. And I would know that they would never do that to me unless they absolutely needed my physical presence. I could do the same to any of them and the exact same thing would happen. And one of mine lives over 10 hours from me. We have that level of trust in each other.
That is what a Support Partner relationship develops into.
I give the deepest gratitude for my loving relationships, and I encourage you to develop your own beautiful, life enriching relationships. *and honor the ones you already have*
Most of my life, winter was … well … blah. And cold. And tiring. Spring and fall are my seasons; I feel much more energetic when it’s not so-damn-cold or so-damn-hot.
When my spiritual practice began to revolve around the seasons, though, everything changed; I found deep reverence and significance for each gorgeous turn of the wheel, and winter has completely captured my heart.
For me, winter is the time of earth medicine. One of my favorite things to do is gather stones, roots and bones, along with other meaningful trinkets and treasures, to make a unique divination set. These personal and intimate tools help me connect more clearly to my subconscious, allowing me to discover solutions to challenges that are significant to me. And I am going to show you how to make your own lovely set.
First, go outside (okay, stop right here… if you can’t go outside, no problem. Your spirit tools will be in your home. Okay, carry on) and look for anything that speaks to your heart. These pieces should be fairly small so you can handle them along with other small tools. Find as many as speak to you. This can be rocks, stones that are significant for you, cypress balls, pieces of amber, bones, small pieces of wood, feathers and lightweight cones (for decorating your space), etc.
Next, rummage around for a piece of cloth, a scarf, an altar cloth, etc., that can be used to house your medicine. *You may want some ribbon or thread or yarn to tie your bundle together after you have used it; this cloth will double as a foundation for your tools when you “throw” them for your reading.* It can be as simple or as ornate as you like.
When you have all of your goodies assembled, sit with each item and allow thoughts and impressions to come to you. Write them down. These will become your correspondences. You may have more than one correspondence for each item.
Here is an example of my correspondences:
Baltic amber: immunity, protection
Cypress ball: strength, shelter, potential,
Antler tip: awareness, stealth, nourishment
Yellow dock root: minerals, wellness, deep roots, detox, rooted
Smoky quartz: joint/tendon issues, pain relief
River rock: building blocks, softening edges, approachability
Notice that each of these correspondences could be something I feel I need in this moment. You may find that yours speak to you the same way.
Creating your World
The final piece of preparing for your readings is to set your scene.
The directions can hold specific significance. You can use the directions as a formula or you can create your own personal significance (or both). For example, East can represent intelligence, vision, knowledge, renewal, communication and/or flexibility. South can represent passion, power, creativity, intensity, destruction and/or integrity. West can represent emotions, surrender, release, grief, cleansing, relief and/or support. North can represent depth, strength, wisdom, stability, ruts (as in “stuck in a rut”), solid, decay and/or endings. Center can represent spirit, subconscious, the unseen and/or the nonphysical.
If your earth tools land off the cloth, that can hold significance for you.
I begin each reading by spreading out my cloth, setting my earth tools to the side and smudging my space; this brings me comfort. The heady aroma of the smudge, whether it is white sage, cedar, mugwort, rosemary or sweetgrass, puts my mind in “the space.” You know which space I mean. The “We’re getting ready to do some good soul work” space.
Then I take my earth tools into my hands, I ask my question *or if I don’t have a question, I allow my primary emotion to arise fully into my awareness*, I close my eyes and then I toss the pieces gently onto the cloth.
Here are some tips on getting impressions from your spread.
Gently open your eyes, soften your gaze and notice any initial impressions. Does the scene look like anything in particular to you?
Notice any significant patterns and/or shapes in the spread
Interpret based on your directional representations
Interpret based on your correspondences
Feel free to interpret your spread however you choose. Allow your intuition to guide you. Consider recording your impressions either via voice record or a journal; sometimes when I get in the zone, I don’t always have perfect recall after a reading. Okay, okay. I can’t remember chit.
You can get all formal with ceremony… begin by facing a specific direction…feel free to incorporate your own spiritual ceremony into this work and make it your own. I tend to face East out of habit more than anything, but I have been known to be a bit rebellious and face a different direction.
Supplement with a tarot deck or oracle of your choice if you want a more in-depth reading. I love Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot and Mark Ryan/John Matthews’ Wild Wood Tarot.
I love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Leave a message about how this post has inspired you, how you have incorporated your own type of connection with earth medicine with divination or how you would like to add skills you already know to this practice, and I will add you to a drawing to win a free internal landscape journey with me!