TLDR: Cancer sucks and I want to be a monk
For those that are willing to bear with me and this long post, I wanted to make a powerful statement with my hair and the purposeful choice to sacrifice my hair for a variety of reasons, then gift it to the land so my prayers can be heard.
The first being that, for years, I have been asked by my ancestors to join a monastary. I had no idea what this looked like because I didn’t know much about Thailand and Thai culture until I started researching it as an adult. I ran into a lot of conflicting information, which led me to believe that women couldn’t join a monastary. After being in Thailand in April of this year, I found out there are certain monastaries that allow it! The women monks are just called different names. Since the dead listen to action instead of empty spoken promises, I chose to shave my head as a promise to my ancestors that I will find my way to a monastary and become a female monk. Of course I have to learn Thai and become intimately familiar with Thai Buddhist practices. It might take years, but I’m going to make this happen.
Another reason why I’m shaving my head is for cancer awareness. Some of the most lovely people in my life have had cancer and it has really impacted me lately. I have countless friends and relatives struggle with their cancer diagnosis, and I am happy to report that a majority have pulled through chemo. Cancer is one of those really Not-Fair things that happens in life. So I chose to shave my head in solidarity with them back in May of this year. To share the burden of that pain, and to help them know they’re not alone.
My dear and beloved friend Mati Vargas-Gibson had been diagnosed with late stage cancer and didn’t have the opportunity to be given the choice of chemo. She passed away in February and was such a beautiful person. Her passing moved me so much. Just a few weeks before she went, she literally messaged me and said we should have a chat. I said sure, I would love that. Both of us not knowing she had cancer at the time. You never know when people are going to go, so don’t miss your chance to catch up with loved ones.
Hair is power. In many indigenous cultures, they view that your hair holds your power. It’s one of the reasons why some cultures (such as the Lakota or Seminole) only cut their hair to show their grief for a loved one passing away. I shaved my head for all these reasons above, but also as a statement. It can be hard for people that either have cancer or alopecia to show up comfortably in a world that cares so much about how people look. Many wear wigs or hats to cover up the effects of chemotherapy or the gradual loss of their hairs ability to grow. Sometimes it’s easier to “dress up and play the part” instead of attracting attention to yourself by showing up as you are. My choice to shave my head and show up as I am is to help shift this narrative that no matter how you show up is beautiful, even if it’s not accepted or judged by many in society. I have the luxury of growing my hair back. Some people don’t. I often choose to cover up my tattoos and wear T-Shirts and long pants because there are times when I am tired of the questions or the stares that I get from people. My tattoos are sacred to me, and are meant just for me, just like how attractive women dress down when they don’t feel like they want the attention. When I feel confident about myself, and have the energy to deal with questions, then I will wear a tank top with shorts. Or… post pictures of myself on social media
My prayer with this act of vulnerability by sharing this post is to bring attention to the fact that not everyone has the privilege to show up as they are, either due to illness, out of politeness or maybe because it’s not safe. My prayer is that we stop judging people based on how they look, and instead embrace each other as humans with very real hearts. My prayer is that we can find a way to normalize looking like how we feel inside and be accepted just the way we are without question. My prayer is that I find the discipline needed within myself to have the heart and compassion big enough to anchor this awareness personally, and dedicate it to those who are coming. May our children not have the burden of being judged, and be invited into a loving world that is accepting of a person no matter how they show up.
For those who have known me for quite some time, Eagle Therapies has grown, evolved, and changed as I have grown, evolved, and changed. Eagle Therapies used to be a business that was born out of a way I could use all of the different modalities I was training myself in, to offer services to people. Little did I know when I started this business close to 10 years ago that I was the one most in need of all of those healing forms. It was a perfect expression of some of my shadows, where I hid in my service to others, so that I didn’t have to heal myself.
Now that I’ve been working on that pattern for many years now, Eagle Therapies is still my business, and is still an expression of who I am. I used to use Eagle Therapies as an excuse to travel, but now it is my reason for anchoring to a place. I would like to announce that I am beginning the process of moving from the Northern/Central Virginia area to the Pacific Northwest beginning in late Spring of 2023. I feel called by the volcanoes and mountains of the Pacific Northwest, but that doesn’t mean I won’t travel occasionally to the East Coast to do Ceremony. I have many ties that are here in the East Coast, so as long as I have friends willing to share space, I will be happy to travel when family responsibilities keep me anchored to my obligations here.
In that big decision, I have also begun to move more into the Last Mask Center community, becoming a student teacher of Energy Body Mastery. I would like to specialize in teaching pre-teens and teens, but would love to keep community practice circles going in the east coast. If you are interested in the next round of Energy Body Mastery (hosted by me), then message email@example.com so that I can keep you on a mailing list. Because I am a student teacher, I need to host this class at least 2 more times before I can become a full teacher. I also plan on becoming an Energy Body Clearing instructor, because these skills have been fundamental in my understanding of life and the world.
It also turns out that I have been posting quite a bit of content on Facebook. I have fallen off the Instagram bandwagon and have just been utilizing Facebook because of the time/energy juggling I’ve been challenged with. I’ve posted some pretty powerful content that has sparked curiosity in many individuals not on Facebook, so I have decided to slowly pay more attention to blogging once more. I will be reposting those Facebook posts on this website so that I can be transparent with the things I am learning.
A majority of my focus at this time, has been more on how I’ve been participating in a consumerist model of a business. I’ve been trying to disengage from creating a false sense of scarcity to seduce people to the classes I’m teaching, or rituals that I’m helping conduct. It’s been a lot, and with my most recent bout of family obligations, I have become painfully aware of how I’ve been participating in these systems of injustice. I’ve really dived deep and have explored my culture (from my Mother’s side) a bit more deeply. I wish to share those in my blog posts, so stay tuned! I have enough content that I will just keep them scheduled, and I will write more as I get back from my travels in September.
Life is a balancing act, but at least I am having fun, and nourishing the relationships that have brought so much meaning and depth into my life so I can be present for those who could benefit from what I have to offer.
Lots of blessings from the desert of the South West in America!
This is the essence of Leonurus Cardiaca. Or at least how she presents herself to me. By the common name, she is known as Motherwort. The scientific name actually means “Lion Hearted”, and boy let me tell you what… Yeah, that’s her medicine.
I spent a few nights camping by myself in the woods two weeks ago. The only thing I knew was that I had to go by myself, and I needed to just receive and be quiet. On the last day, I asked yet again what offerings the land wanted in return for what they gifted me. I finally got a response from the pines. They said, “Nothing. You already gave it. You receiving us fully and without question was enough for us.” In shock, and with them finally speaking with me in a language I could understand, I asked them the burning question that was in my heart. Whenever I’m around people, or certain properties/land, I am heavily affected by it. Certain situations leave me super drained and I have to pay very close attention to who I am around, who I interact with, and the land that I’m on. Out there in the wildlife sanctuary where I camped, I felt back to myself with an abundance of energy. I asked what the difference was, and about how I’ve been working on my boundaries so hard, but it’s not helping my sensitivities at all.
It was like the pine trees pat me on the head, and answered with a question, “Would a frog be able to do the same in polluted water since they breathe through their skin?”
I didn’t “get” the message for more then a week, but it’s been bubbling and resurfacing the more I’ve been working with motherwort. I’ve been thinking that me being hypersensitive to my environment has been a flaw that I needed to work on, but that’s a pattern of mine I’ve been working on. Once I tapped into the flip side and let go of my judgement and harsh self criticism, I was able to accept that perhaps it is in my true nature to be this sensitive.
Over 6 months ago, I was in a field full of metal cages harvesting tomatoes. I was muttering to my ancestors about how nice it would be if I wouldn’t be living my mothers patterns. Within moments I was hit by lightning, and that cascaded me down this intense healing journey. My prayer was answered even though it was catastrophic and I didn’t understand it at the time. It took many months before I finally accepted that a lot of my health challenges couldn’t be fixed physically, and it was on other planes I needed to address it. Motherwort had really stepped up to help me address my self nourishment deficiencies and where I was hemorrhaging energy due to the bad habits I was living because I was acting out a lot of my mothers patterns.
And I got it. One of the reasons why I went into the “Miserable Me” pattern was because I was always in the mothering role to my own mother. Living that pattern was the only way I was able to get energy from others, and doing so distracted me from focusing on just one step at a time. Motherwort highlighted that one of my deepest fears was that I was going to become my mother. In growing up with a primary caretaker that has schizophrenia, I took that technique of scattering myself to try and apply it to a way of surviving. Little did I know that following that example was perpetuating a huge pattern of imbalance and I lived the fear I was so afraid of. Another function of schizophrenia is walling off different parts of the self to the point where they seem like different personalities, and I realized I was doing that to my self. One of the reasons why I didn’t have energy was because a lot of my energy was going towards internal walls that prevented me from fluidly accessing vital parts of myself as needed. The walls being self judgement and bullying to try and control my own behavior. I needed so many years of shadow work just to cultivate the amount of self compassion to allow parts of myself just to be, instead of walling them off. The more I fought myself, the more I separated myself into different sections of self to present to others. I had a self that would show up to yoga, show up as a teacher, show up as a student, or in community, and on and on.
Motherwort shared that it’s not the fact that I have shitty boundaries, but the energy I was putting up towards boundaries internally were what was sapping my strength to functioning well in everyday reality. It especially hurts when I found how much I marked off certain parts of me as “dangerous” or how some parts of me were so vulnerable I needed to shelter them from certain people. It takes the courage of a lion and a lions heart to be this hypersensitive in today’s world. Instead of the energy going towards boundaries, it could be going towards supporting the heart that I need in order to endure the constant heartbreak of what is happening in the world.
Yes, I’m a frog in polluted water where I’m currently living. But it’s because I need to face the heartbreak that I live in a county where conventional agriculture is rapidly degrading the topsoil and certain neighbors don’t know the meaning of a healthy ecosystem, and they choose to control it with chemicals and tilling instead. No, I can’t just live in a healthy ecosystem that stretches for miles, untouched by mankind just so I can feel better and breathe easier. Those healthy ecosystems can help me recalibrate my sense of what “true north” feels like in my body so I can steward this land I’m currently on and work on educating neighbors to navigate more towards that.
The question isn’t how I can have boundaries that help me feel numb to the heartbreak around me, but how can I support my big heart to accept the world as it is and still choose to navigate it as best as I can with the level of sensitivity I’ve been gifted with? It takes a lions heart to choose to nurture myself and show up daily to tend this land with community and help restore it to a healthier state. As I tend the land, I tend myself because I feel how intimately we are connected. The pains I feel, the shortness of breath, the tiredness, the fatigue, no wonder I chose to be out of my body for most of my life. Being this sensitive is exhausting because of how much I have to filter and process on a daily level. When the lightning knocked my mothers pattern out of me, it woke me up to the true nature of my own heart. To have a heart big enough to love it all, no matter how much it hurts. To not try the overwhelming feat of changing so many things at once out of distraction for feeling the bigness of the heartbreak, but in relying on Spirit to help me as a tiny human navigate the extreme complexities of how to repair broken ecosystems one step at a time, while feeling deeply. This includes my own inner ecosystem, addressing the walls within my own emotional body.
The beauty of motherwort has shown me that the one step I am on is all that matters. Not two or three steps ahead. Not dwelling on the past. Sure there are times for planning and dreaming, but living is different. The present is meant for holding that space in the now, preventing me from sliding backwards and repeating old patterns I’m trying my hardest not to choose. The more I tried to focus on multiple steps at a time, the more I fragmented and parts of me slid backwards while at the same time other aspects of me moved forward. Perfect example on why I walled off different sections of myself, so I would be blind to my own disorganization. But Motherwort helped me see that I needed this orchestration of getting “all of my parts” to the current moment/current step. Talk about whole hearted.
Another flower that’s been speaking to me in this spring time. Dandelion. They are perfect for degraded ecosystems where the top soil has been eroded. Their deep tap roots dig deep down to bring up nutrients that other plants can’t access because of their superficial roots. In the midst of me learning to be lion hearted, I’m also learning the benefit of being deep rooted so I can be a dandy-lion.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It touches my heart that you got this far. May the blessings of spring be abundant in your own life.
It’s been a week, and I have slowly started to allow this shift in identity to become more public. I have decided to change the name by which I go by. I’m not changing my name, because I’ve actually been going by my middle name – which is Stephanie.
Why? In my preteens and well into my twenties, I was known as Skwerl because I was hyper, full of energy and scatterbrained. I also was so deeply afraid of myself and committing to things that I had so much stuff on my plate to distract myself from what I truly wanted to do. It’s why I decided to go back to my real name, because I knew something was wrong when even my closest friends forgot my name was Stephanie.
It’s been about ten years, but I’m really going back to my roots for my naming identity on this one. My first name is actually Chenchira. I’ve shied away from it, dreading being called it in school because after the teacher did the inevitable pause in roll call, mouthing my name a few times before trying it out and normally butchering it, the most common thing people confused me for was a either a chinchilla or a chia pet. Besides that, Thai is a tonal language and I cringed hearing the American version of my name since I was so ashamed that I didn’t even grow up with Thai in the household because my mom didn’t want to confuse me with being bi-lingual growing up. Heck, half the time I can’t even pronounce my sisters name right (sorry, Sis!), even though it’s one syllable.
I’m processing for a big ceremony coming up in my shamanic community, and one of the things we are asked to do is really ask what part of ourselves is standing in the way of us being this manifestation of us living/expressing our gifts fully in our lives. One aspect of me that I am putting to rest, is this part of me that’s okay with having “enough”. It’s this part of me that’s okay with the status quo and just gets by with contributing and doing “enough” so that it feels like I’m making a difference instead of actually giving it my all and not settling for less until all of my brothers, sisters and siblings have equality. It’s this same part of me that didn’t even want to try and correct people when they mispronounced my first name, giving up by choosing to go by my white presenting name so I can fit in better and not have to deal with what uncomfortability my first name brings. Obviously I have grown a lot from that uncomfortability, so I feel that I can now embrace my first name in a way where I won’t mind if people mispronounce it as they are learning it. In the week of practicing with close friends and family, I find that this transition has brought more smiles as people try to remember the pronunciation, honoring my choices and reclamation of power. I have also felt a significant shift in my relationship with my ancestors, since I’m acknowledging and claiming my half Thai heritage from my moms side, when I’ve been avoiding it practically my whole life.
Names are power, and I feel like skirting around my first name in a weak hearted way for decades was my avoiding stepping into power. So I’m sacrificing “Stephanie” to the fire in exchange of the possibility of who Chenchira can become.
I’m not changing my name. I’m just changing how I identify. Chenchira is my birth name. I’m coming home.
Please call me by Chenchira (pronounced Chen-cheer-ah) from here on out. I’ll hold you with compassion if you slip up and call me Stephanie, I’ll just correct you 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Many blessings to you and your family. May your ancestors be proud as we take new actions in this pivotal time in history.
The remark has been made many times and I wanted to put the big banner somewhere that I am not a self proclaimed Shaman. There’s a difference between being a Shamanic Practitioner and a Shaman. This is currently a hot bed of a debate, and I don’t want to argue with people. That’s not my interest. But I do wish to clarify where I stand with this situation, and also define myself as a practitioner.
There’s this wonderful organization called the Society of Shamanic Practice that is a collection of Shamanic Practitioners. They organize different events, and have a directory of events, teachers, and practitioners organized by State. If you sign up to be a member, you might want to listen to the audio recording they released back in January of 2018 which has Lena Stevens moderating a discussion between Sandra Ingerman, Jose Stephens, and Ben Boomer. This was a very enlightening conversation between three very experienced individuals that are leaders in their field. Sandra Ingerman is world renowned for her leadership in teaching Shamanism for over thirty years. She got her start with Michael Harner and the Foundation of Shamanic Studies, and has since been on her own path of spreading her teachings that she has received through her Guides. Jose Stephens is one of the founders of the Power Path School of Shamanism and is a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practice. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years. Ben Boomer was raised participating in both traditional Diné ceremony with his mother’s family and traveling to California for Christmas with his father’s side of the family. These experiences created a deep recognition of the validity and importance of the ancient ways of knowing from a spectrum of cultures. His life has created natural fusions between the modern western society and indigenous civilization.
The summary that I took away from that interview really helped clarify a lot of things for me. In order to be a Shaman, you must have a community that you belong to. A weekend workshop or a 1-2 year training program does not count. The community recognizes you as the Shaman and the Shaman recognizes the community. To use the word “Shaman” because it’s something cool and fashionable does dishonor to the role of a Shaman. In this contemporary society, there is currently a glamour around the word Shaman. It also breeds ignorance because there can be a superficial context of which to understand what exactly the role of a Shaman is. Traditionally it would take years of apprenticeship, study, and dedication in order to follow that path. And even further still, the role of being a Shaman is gifted by the Spirits. The Spirits choose who the Shaman is, and a community recognizes and feels the vibration of that choice.
Let’s put this into perspective. In a traditional Shamanic culture, everyone would be able to communicate and talk with the Spirits. It was a daily act of cultivation to be able to interact with the sacred. The Diné have the expression to “Walk in Beauty”, because the Sacred is in everything and should be honored. That is the meaning of respect, and cultivating that respect with the world around you. It’s knowing that the world around you is connected in a great web of life, and seeing the hands of Spirit/God/The Universe reflected in all things.
However, in our culture, those who can talk to Spirits and communicate with them regularly are marginalized. We have lost that point of connection where everyone in community can do those tasks, and it’s only a percentage of the population who are sensitive enough to explore and hone their gifts. There is an emergence of psychics, mediums, and other varieties that are becoming more common. Nothing is wrong with them, and they do have gifts. This should be more commonplace, to recognize the people that have true gifts. We should celebrate this instead of shame them. This would be considered “normal” and a functioning part of a Shamanic culture, because divination is still practiced in active Shamanic Cultures today. This is one of the reasons why I teach Shamanic Journeying (and have been for years now), because it’s a way to begin having these experiences of interacting with a trusted Helping Spirit. We as humans need help from the world around us to begin to see things from a different perspective. To project what we feel is “right” or “wrong” is actually imposing our will on our outside world, and is not taking into account that everything has its own Spirit.
Have you ever walked into someones house and felt nice and calm? Just started relaxing as soon as you walk in the door? And then what happens when you walk into an office building and you feel your shoulders start tensing up because of all of the stress that’s in the environment? Buildings have spirits too, and so does the land that the buildings are on. No one needs to be a Shaman to tap into that.
To be a Shamanic Practitioner means to be able to use Shamanic skills in your everyday life to interact in a healthy and respectful way with the world around you. It’s about constantly improving our language with Spirit and understand the messages we are being given. To Journey to the Spirit of the Land and give respect to the stream in your backyard by tossing some tobacco or cornmeal outside is a great way to begin cultivating the relationship with the world around us. You can honor the Ancestors by setting aside a little tiny plate of food at each meal to give gratitude for the food you are about to eat. These are things that (in my opinion) should be normalized to help us feel more connected to the great web of life. So many of my clients suffer because they feel the strain of loneliness, feeding into the story of separation – that they are separated from God/The Universe/Spirit. In an indigenous culture, everyone would be expected to maintain this relationship with the divine by honoring the Sacred in all things.
So in short: No, I am not a Shaman. I am a shamanic practitioner and shamanic healer. I have not studied or trained with an Indigenous culture for 20+ years. Yes, I’ve had a near death experience and have learned the shamanic healing forms like soul retrieval, curse unraveling, and compassionate depossession. Yes, I’ve talked to Spirits since I was a kid and have been immersed in other books about Shamanism, following a Shamanic Path without realizing it since 2006. But I didn’t really find my path until I found Mary Tyrtle Rooker and picked up Sandra Ingermans journeying book back in 2013. I find myself a beginner on this path of Shamanism. Constantly going back to the basics and spreading the truth of what I have experienced and the wisdom that I have cultivated into the world. If someone calls me a Shaman, I won’t correct them because if they happen to be at one of the events I’m leading, then they are part of the community that’s there. The community has the right to call me a Shaman, but I myself will not call myself a Shaman. I’m just here to do my part in community and to spread ease, joy, love, and laughter into the world.
Hey guys! I sure have been busy this past month, with my recovering from deaths doorstep and heading out to Standing Rock and all. I somehow managed to write up a Journey Track outline for beginner journeyers because my inbox was becoming full with people who had questions about doing it by themselves at home. With all of that being said and done, the next few months are probably going to blow by fast for me. I’ve taken up training with an indigenous teacher, as well as going out on my first retreat with Christina Pratt in June (I’m in her four year training program and starting year 1 this year). So that means that we are going to move a little bit quicker in the journey group.
The last two months we have been working on the topic of earth as an element, and exploring that relationship as a metaphor of our physical body. The rest will be as follows on this big medicine wheel we will be taking a dive into 😉
- Main Post: Purity and the Elements – Exploring the four element system, what it means, and the inter-connectedness/inter-related aspects of it all
- February and March: Earth – getting the grounding, boundaries, and centering under wraps. This is a crucial part to understanding the element of earth
- April: Element of Air – Exploring the mental wisdom body and how to bring about the clarity of the mind
- May: Element of Fire (post coming soon) – Exploring the spiritual wisdom body and how we can use passion to fuel our drive in the world
- June: Element of Water (post coming soon) – Exploring the emotional wisdom body and how we can use our emotions as a useful processing tool instead of drowning or being numbed by them.
Along with the basic journey group meetups, there is also a Shamanic Journeying Basics class on April 8th, as well as the Open Heart Path class on April 18th. Hooray for fun events this month!
Event listings for Eagle Therapies:
April 2nd – Heart Centered Sound Circle
This is the extended version of the 5-10 minutes of singing/chanting we do before we journey. It’s a ceremony that lasts for an hour. Begins at 1pm.
April 6th – Element of Air: Shamanic Journey Group
Today we will find the inter-connectedness and inter-relatedness of the element of air, and see how it fits in with the element of earth. Earth helps us cultivate a sense of wellbeing, as well as a sense of place, presence, and grounding. Earth helps us ask the question, “What do I stand for, and why do I stand for it?”. As earth helped pave the ground work, now we can step into the realm of air and be able to take on responsibility and power. The element of air helps us connect to vision as well as clarity, clear sight, and truth.
April 7th – First Friday in Fairfax – Drum Circle!
This is just a fun get together with drums, rattles, and shaky things 🙂 Come join in community!
April 8th – Shamanic Journeying Basics – The Bare Bones
This is meant for everyone from beginners who know nothing about journeying, all the way to experienced journeyers who want a refresher. This will also include a journey group right after, as well as a question and answer.
Cost: $15 – Please bring cash or paypal ahead of time
April 18th – The Open Heart Path workshop
This is one of my favorite workshops to teach, because the Open Heart Path is very near and dear to my heart (pun intended). Come find out what it means to live in todays world full of courage, and to bring your medicine to the table.
Cost: $15 – Please bring cash or paypal ahead of time
April 20th – Element of Air: Shamanic Journey Group
Whenever there is a light, if the light falls on an object of attention, it casts a shadow. The shadow aspect of the element of air is the tornado. Sometimes in life, we reach a point of hopelessness that it feels like an aspect of ourselves is suffocating. We feel stuck and can sometimes feel like we cannot move forward without being restricted in some ways. The tornado can help breathe a breath of life back into the stagnation that was there.
Fly high, everyone!
To all of my beloveds and family members that supported us as my teacher and I went out to Standing Rock, here is a synopsis of our journey. My teacher and I co-wrote this together, but it’s written in his point of view. I’m not going to bother changing it because I’ve had many other projects that I’ve been working on. Feel free to read, comment, share, and everything else. Based off of my Walk With Buffalo post, I find it very funny that a Buffalo Mother decided to walk up to the car to lick it 😛
Posted on his Facebook page at 7:00pm on March 29th
Greeting my Family, Friends and Earth Companions! I am home from my trip to Standing Rock, N.D, and here is our (Stephanie and my) combined synopsis of the trip and what we found and did there. I traveled there this time with a good friend and shamanic student of mine, Stephanie Seger. She is also a shamanic healer in her own right and runs Eagle Therapies to help others. When we arrived, we found out that all the original camps have been completely destroyed by the government with the approval of the Standing Rock Tribes Chief, Dave Archambault, and the council. You can read more about that here . The work on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is complete and the oil either is or will be flowing through it by the time I get this finished and out to everyone.
The journey started on Sunday, March 12, 2017. We drove for a little over 12 hours to Peoria, IL and stopped for the night to avoid driving in the blizzard that was coming east. It was a good decision, because we missed the snowfall pretty much completely and started driving again Monday morning to complete our trip to Bismarck, ND. We saw many vehicles’ in the ditches and medians that validated Lora and Stephanie’s counsel to stop and got into Bismarck, ND about 2am on Tuesday. A little over 1800 miles with no problems, we were blessed. We spent much of the drive both days exchanging stories while Stephanie worked on her many art projects. She tends to be a very creative person. One of her projects included free hand painting a buffalo on a new drum.
Tuesday morning when we woke up, we rolled out and went to Standing Rock to see what was going on. We were met by a Federal Marshall, who told us that we were not allowed to go into or see the area where the Oceti Sakowin Camp or Sacred Stone camps were. As we had approached Standing Rock, we had seen two small camp areas that had teepees and tents. When we went back to the larger camp, we introduced ourselves to the Four Bands Prayer Camp (Cheyenne River Camp). We met with the leaders (Leon Red Dog and Johnnie Aseron) to find out what they were doing and how we could help. Cheyenne River Lakota Chairman Harold Frazier has authorized the Cheyenne River Camp on the Cannon Ball River. Its purpose will be educational and spiritual. They gave us a copy of their rules for the camp (attached) and said that they need labor, supplies and financial support. So we rolled up our sleeves (figuratively, since it was about 6 degrees out) and help put up tents and clear snow. They didn’t have a general sleeping area yet, so we headed back to Bismarck to sleep since our tent was not going to be warm enough to allow us to stay on site.
It was still light when we left, so we stopped at the second, smaller camp on our way out and found out it was the Wolf’s Den (Sacred Buffalo Prayer Camp). It was an interesting and magical introduction. I stayed in the car while Stephanie walked up and introduced both of us. Stephanie has the gift of working with Spirit Guides, and met the crew outside. They almost turned her away, indicating that this was private property, when somehow her charm and way with words won them over. It also helped that at the same time of explaining her gifts, a Silver Hawk (my Native name and totem) flew in through the middle of camp, catching everyone’s attention. This is a rare occurrence and piqued their interest. It helped us as we introduced ourselves and asked about the camp. The Wolf Den is a smaller, independent camp that is trying to maintain the spirit and purpose of the Standing Rock camps that have been dismantled / destroyed. We went in to their primary tent and listened to their story and then Stephanie was asked to drum on her newly painted Buffalo drum. As Stephanie shared her story of being guided there by a buffalo spirit, the Lakota Song Keeper picked up on the holiness and exchanged song for song. It sealed their acceptance of her and they asked us to come back the next day, since they also didn’t have a general sleeping area yet. They only had one request for supplies to make a good beef stew and maybe some pork chops and bacon. Little did we know, but this camp is home to the “Walking Thunder Buffalo Project”, where they have many buffalo hides available for fleshing/tanning purposes as an educational tool. The hides will be used in sacred ceremony, to teach people about the spirituality that once thrived in these areas before colonialism.
Wednesday morning we rolled out and returned to the Wolf’s Den Camp first and delivered a very large top roast, 20 pounds of potatoes, 20 pounds of carrots, 20 pounds of celery, 20 pounds of onions and several packs of organic beef broth for the stew as well as two large packs of pork chops and two large packs of extra thick bacon. To say the least, it was well received. After catching up, Stephanie was asked if she would like to help with the fleshing of a sacred buffalo hide. She was excited about the opportunity and went out to work in the cold with one of the people. I went on to the Four Bands Prayer Camp (Cheyenne River Camp) to continue to help set up tents and organize supplies and materials. While I was working there, the camp had visits / inspections from the BIA, FBI, and state and local police departments. I believe that the visits were staged to interrupt our efforts, because all of them happened about 2 hours apart and took the better part of an hour. They required we show our ID’s and took photos of our vehicles. Overall it was a good productive day and we were both exhausted by the end of it. Since there still was no general sleeping area available yet, we returned to Bismarck and had dinner with a friend of Stephanie’s who happens to be the lead attorney for the Water Protector Legal Collective. Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) provides on-the-ground legal representation and coordination at Standing Rock, North Dakota in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). Sandra La Huracán went to North Dakota and left her loved ones in Colorado to stand for the people, and is a big reason that many are not still in jail. I truly honor her work and heart. We are all connected.
Thursday was another work day for both of us at the respective camps and I was also asked to go and assist with two PTSD veterans who were having issues with the local authorities and were being moved to the VA Hospital in Fargo. While I did this, Stephanie helped dig out the sweat lodge from a good half foot to a foot of snow. The weather had begun to warm up and it was just a beautiful day to be out doors in nature. It was a beautiful enough day that some of the native plants were peeking up through some of the snow, and the Lakota Song Keeper had decided to share some indigenous knowledge with her. I remember her smile as she shared the splendor of the freshly harvested sage and bison berries. This works agrees with her spirit and energy. But our mission and purpose was about to change. Stephanie had been invited to go to the Rosebud Reservation to talk to a chief and medicine man who runs the Sun Dance there. It was a very exhausting day both mentally and physically for the both of us, and we rested well until we packed up and headed out to the Rosebud reservation about 5 hours south of Cannon Ball, ND. Again, our trip was filled with magic, love, craft projects, and stories exchanged between us.
By the time we arrived, Stephanie was very nervous about meeting a medicine man of such power. She felt him miles out from our destination, and was more reserved then what she normally is. It was a lovely meeting that turned into a deepening kinship between people of a shared purpose. It’s hard to describe, but there’s something special about recognizing who your family members are, and realizing that we are all apart of the same tribe. Once Stephanie got her drum out from the car, the medicine man did an impromptu drum blessing for her newly painted drum. She was moved to tears and couldn’t speak for a little, and we continued conversation – all of us respecting the sacred nature of what had been unfolded before us. There was a lag in conversation when the medicine man turned to look at Stephanie as she held her twice blessed drum, and asked, “So are you going to sing?” Again she was taken aback, but obliged anyway. They asked if they could record her song by video, and she happily responded with a yes. It was another magical moment of a blessing exchange (because the song Stephanie sang was a blessing for the Earth). After her song and in between the discussion, I noticed that Gilly (medicine man) kept moving rather quickly through the background, gathering and collecting certain items and writing things down. Our conversation evolved, and when there was a lull in conversation, Gilly invited us to a ceremony in the Black Hills. We both voiced we were interested in going, and then he hands me a piece of paper with information already written down on it, and informs us that he already told people that we were coming. This adventure seemed to not end as we got another tip in our scavenger hunt of a trip. From this meeting, we drove down to Rapid City, SD where we got a hotel room for the night and got some much needed rest and stretching from being in the car all day.
Saturday was our last day in the Dakotas, and we spent it in prayer, ceremony, and blessing. We made it out to the Black Hills, which is a sacred site for the Lakota Sioux. We were gifted by live visits from buffalo, prairie dogs, antelope, hawks, deer, and many other types of wildlife. The buffalo even walked up to the truck to lick salt off of it! Stephanie felt called at one point to gather rocks from a buffalo wallow (this is where the buffalo roll around in the grass and leave a depression of dirt). We found the perfect wallow in the middle of a field where there were no buffalo (because you know, safety). She took some of the sage seeds that she gathered while she was with the Lakota Medicine Man at Standing Rock, and did a small ceremony to bury the seeds at the four corners of the buffalo wallow. She picked the three most perfect rocks, for her, my wife and I. As she was walking back, she smiled brightly as she found a sprig of sage that was broken off from the root, next to a buffalo hoof print. Funny that she got gifted sage from the earth that was broken off by the very animal she visited the wallow of. It was the perfect ending to our magical journey. From there, we gathered some gifts for our families from a local native gift shop and set our sights on the journey back home.
The journey home was a bit longer than the drive out, since we were over 300 miles farther west than Standing Rock. It was evening and I just put myself in Road Warrior mode and off we went. I drove all night and had the pleasure of meeting an Iowa State Trooper around 5:00am when he pulled me over. I was not speeding, but had a headlight that had burned out. He was polite and helpful and only gave me a repair ticket to keep me legit as I finished the drive home. It shook me to see the flashing blue lights and I was just a little rattled when he let us go. Stephanie suggests that I stop somewhere and get some rest and after consulting with Lora, we stopped and slept for a few hours. We woke and hit the road to finish the journey. I drove for 17 hours straight and we arrived back home at 9:30am for a trip total of 6,200 miles.
We both will be going back.
Thanks for reading this post! And thank you to those that gave donations 🙂
If you have found this page, there is no coincidence that you are on a path of self discovery. Even if that wasn’t your intention, you somehow still wound up finding this page. This post directly deals with the Air as an element, and how we can journey to find out the depth of our relationship with this element. It can be a direct reflection upon us and how we function in this world. We will be going through these journeying topics at the Shamanic Journey Group of Fairfax, however this can also be a “follow along at home” directional for those that wish to take this slowly and in a step-by-step process.
I shall update the table of contents as the blog posts get written.
Table of contents:
Purity and the Elements – Main post, Introduction to four element system and why
Earth – Representation of our Physical Body
Air (this post)
Fire – Representation of our Spiritual Body
Water (coming soon)
As we have found out through previous posts, all of the elements are inter-related and interconnected. Through earth, we have cultivated a sense of who we are, why we are here, what we stand for, and why we stand for it. If we don’t cultivate these things first, then we can get very overwhelmed in the element of air. Many people in this society have an excess of the air element. Because the air element represents our mental wisdom body, that means that we can have an abundance of ideas, but lack of follow through. Have you ever heard of the phrase “air head” or thought of the meaning “building castles in the sky”? That is because without the earth quality in balance, we can become very “ungrounded” and can begin to think with fantasy thinking, allowing our brains to run away with us. Air in excess can be manifested physically as anxiety, migraines, and headaches because we are up in our heads all the time. Air in and of itself physically is made up of smaller, less dense molecules then that of earth. The molecules tend to bounce around a lot faster, and sometimes when they are “heated up”, they move at lightning fast speed, bumping into each other and causing all sorts of chaos. Have you ever noticed that when someone gets excited over new ideas they trip over themselves trying to write them all down, but then they burn out before they begin to enact any of the steps? Excited air energy is great and wonderful, but being grounded and methodical is how we begin to plant these seeds that we get from the air. Right relationship with earth helps remind us to take a step back and breathe.
When working with the element of air, it is a direct engagement of Spirit. If we think about it, the first element that we are introduced to as we are born into this world is the element of air. A baby is not marked as fully alive until they “take their first breath”. Air is the element most taken for granted. The same air that we breathe now is the same air that was once breathed by our deceased relatives, animals, as well as ancient beings – including dinosaurs! When we breathe the breath of our ancestors, we can restore ourselves back to the original dream. We commonly engage in ceremony with words and speaking. Air is the energetic driver for taking a particular vow (which most people don’t take seriously anymore because vows are often broken in this society).
The spoken word does have a lot of power, because many words together begin to tell a story. We often tell ourselves stories about ourselves and can portray others and ourselves in a certain light. This is human nature and happens unconsciously. An example of a “story” that we tell ourselves is the story of being “a good husband/wife”, or “being a good daughter/son”. We often get a perception of what is good/bad from the people and community that raise us, so if we grew up in a very dogmatic household – it can be very difficult to unlearn certain behaviors, and we can have trigger reactions when a story that we are telling ourselves is being challenged. For example, if we keep telling ourselves the story of judging our own self worth, it could restrict our decisions. Because we could have a low opinion of ourselves and we see a dream job, we could potentially restrict ourselves from applying to that open job position. The “story” we tell ourselves often comes as a soft whisper that speaks to us like, “Nah, I’m not going to apply for that job. I don’t have the credentials yet”, or “Well, if I apply for the job, I won’t get it anyway”. In the end, that story boils down to our worthiness. Maybe in the past we were told that we couldn’t amount to anything, and over time if things like that keep being told to us – we believe it. When we begin cultivating a healthy relationship with element of air, we begin to challenge these stories and ask if they are grounded in reality, or based in fantasy thinking.
There is a difference between doubt and critical thinking. Doubt is paralyzing, we lose our sense of connection and we only focus on what is wrong. With critical thinking, we are finding what is valuable in the situation and come at the situation from an open place of curiosity and discovery. When you follow the lead of critical thinking versus doubt, you can begin to discern the difference between delusion and imagination, and then begin to make progress forward on how you can move forward with the resources available to you now and in this moment. With a healthy relationship with air, we can begin to cultivate the qualities of truth telling. How often do we lie to ourselves when we think we can accomplish some grandiose task but don’t realize how much energy we really have in the moment? How often do we overstretch ourselves because of the dreams of others and their projection of how we fit into the picture? How often do we lose our sense of boundaries because we really just want the approval of others and try to make ourselves fit into their dream instead of dreaming our own dream? This is where we begin cultivating a proper relationship with air – by asking ourselves these questions. Many times when a person first journeys to find out their relationship with air, they will either find out that they can’t breathe, or that the air is filled with a thick smog. A healthy relationship with air is one that is crystal clear – like unpolluted mountain air.
Within this same vein, there is a difference between stagnation and suffocation. With earth, things feel very heavy – almost as if you can’t move. This is stagnation, when things are unmoving or you are too unwilling to let go of your own beliefs. With suffocation, you are living in something that is dead. Have your dreams died? Have you lost sense of what your dreams once were? When you feel suffocation, it is because we lose our sense of hope, or we drift away from the things that are aligned with our true path. This often leads to fast paced moving thoughts because we keep “spinning our wheels”. When we connect back to our dreams and our passions, that is how we can “breathe life” into a particular situation – by bringing in new ideas from our mental wisdom body and being able to discern which ideas will really be able to take off with the resources we have available (earth based realization). By flowing into this relationship between air and earth, we must realize the choices that we are making. Every time we say yes to something, we are also saying no to at least 10 other things. Earth can help us realize what is important to us, and how to prioritize, while air can help inspire us to take care of the situations we already have growing. We can ask vital questions such as:
- By doing this particular action, what am I feeding?
- What possible actions can I take in this situation that help feed what drives me?
- How is this aligned with my path and does this stray from who I am?
- Show me with clarity the choices I have available to me that I can reasonably accomplish
The element of air is very strongly connected to the element of truth telling. Truth can be a double edged sword in the fact that is can cut both ways. The hurt comes in the fact that it cuts, and the wound can hurt very deeply when we find out a truth. However, the blessing is that it’s a clean cut and it heals faster. How many times have we been fed lies, and the lies feed a blister or an abscess that just keeps growing. Many times people try to ignore the sore spot, lying to themselves that this abscess is not really forming underneath the surface. Doesn’t a clean poke hurt in the beginning but drain the abscess, leading to wellness? How many times have we allowed the abscess to pop because we didn’t realize/ignored that it was there. After it bursts on it’s own, note the length of time it takes to heal as opposed to when it was cleanly cut. This is a metaphor of a healthy relationship with air, and being able to have the wisdom of asking what the “spiritual antibiotics” are so that we continue to not get sick from our choices. When we cut with the sword of truth, it can help breathe life into things that were once dead. It can hurt at first, but it helps with the awareness and healing of it in the long run.
To help cultivate a strong relationship with air, we need to focus on truth telling and find out where we are lying to ourselves. Once we have this sense of awareness about the reality of a situation and begin to move from fantasy thinking (imagining that we are some place instead of actually realizing the state we are in) into a grounded sense of who we are, what we are, and the resources we have available – we become so much more productive in this world. This in turn helps us become more grounded and more efficient in fulfilling our lifes purpose. When our mind and heart move through with intention, we can begin to discern where it is we are really going. By cultivating a place to stand with earth, we can step up and grab some of these ideas from the mental wisdom body. It has no power unless we ground it in physical reality.
As with any archetype, the shadow of air is the tornado (if you are confused at what the shadow is and what it represents, scroll down to the bottom of the earth post). The job of the tornado is to dismantle. Perhaps a new perspective is needed because it’s being encumbered by your limitations, expectations, and views. Because of some of the stories we tell ourselves, we can lead ourselves into set patterns of thinking, and sometimes these thoughts swirl in our head so fast that we can challenge ourselves to question our ability to think. When we have such a strong degree of suffocation where we feel like we have no hope in a given situation, we might need a tornado to come in to “wake us up”. What are you feeding? What are you giving life too? How can we be thankful when a new perspective brings to light a huge story that we tell ourselves in regards to how connected we feel to other people, as well as how worthy we are to receive something. Remember that a shadow is neither good nor bad. It is a natural disaster that can have the positive aspects of wisdom once we clear out the debris/rubble.
Some journey questions we can ask ourselves based off of this article:
- What is the quality of my relationship to the air element?
- What shape is my mental wisdom body in?
- Is there a particular area of my life that is suffocating right now?
- Show me an aspect of my life that is in excess, and how do I calm this down?
- Show me what right relationship with the air element looks like
If you are an auditory person and would like to listen to these same ideas in a podcast, feel free to listen to it on the Why Shamanism Now podcast.
If you have stumbled across this page, then that means that you are either curious about the prices of services I offer, or may be in a position where finances are tight. My modalities are available on a sliding scale. I understand what it means to be in a difficult financial position, but cannot give away sessions for free. If of the healing modalities offered resonated with you, then do not let price be a factor. You can’t place a value on your own healing.
I am comfortable knowing that the universe takes care of me, and am confident in the fact that you will find the right price to pay for the services I offer. I am placing my trust in you by asking you to decide what the right price is for you. However, I ask that you please keep in mind that I have to make a living too. Owning a business takes money, and if you do not adequately value the work, that robs me of my abilities to help others.
This boils down to two basics. The first is the willingness to heal yourself, and the second is an acknowledgement that you are ready and committed to healing. If you are committed to healing yourself, then think honestly about “what would this session mean to me?” Money is energy, and based on income, $50 can be a significant sacrifice for some, but not for others. I can accept barter, but it is to be discussed strictly on on a case-by-case basis. We live in a contemporary world, and unfortunately sometimes energy does equate to money. It’s finding the right payment within your budget as well as in your heart. This is the basis for sliding scale payment.
Please know that I do not simply turn away people simply for lack of funds. The only people turned away are those people who are halfhearted about their healing. To clarify, I am speaking of the individuals that are either unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary in order to commit to their healing, or who want me to do all of the work. I am not looking for people who want me to “fix” the same problems week after week.. That is not what I am seeking, and I will refuse your money if I see this pattern occurring.
One of the main goals of Eagle Therapies is to help empower people to want to heal themselves. I give people the tools to be able to handle the problems that arise within their own healing process. What I provide is a basis of a clearing that leads one back to a homeostasis, because sometimes we reach blockages within us that are difficult to remove by ourselves. Sometimes we reach a point where the mountains atop of us are too much for one person to handle alone. To be clear, I will not remove the whole mountain, but I will give you the tools that you need to have in order to climb it. My purpose, and the purpose of Eagle therapies, is to help guide you along the path of your own healing, and to be able to listen to your own heart and guidance that is within you. Sometimes all that is required is a sacred witness. Sometimes when we fall, we don’t need healing – we just need someone to remind us of our strength. And sometimes when a session would greatly benefit the situation, then my purpose is to remove the obstacles to your own healing. The key point that it boils down to is you doing your own healing.
Healing requires that we fundamentally change our story. That we change the life we are living. Those who have had miraculous healing, have walked out of a life that logically resulted in their illness or distress, and allowed it to change. For those that say they are willing to do anything to heal, but then don’t get better – it’s because they do not want to transform in order to change the relationship with their illness. For those who are willing to make the commitment, I am here, and I would be glad to help you.
Thank you everyone for your continued support! I literally just created the Facebook business page last night for Eagle Therapies, so please share and like as you see fit. I plan to use Eagle Therapies as a bridge for people to find communities, receive healing, go to different events, and feel more apart of something. Everyone wants to feel apart of something, and sometimes it takes going to the right events to do that. Eventually I will have the calender synced up to the web page, so then that way anyone can look up what is going on in their area at a particular date.