Here is what I know: everything is sacred, and everything is connected.
This has been my intuitive and visceral knowing since I was a child. I gathered stones, twigs, feathers, broken pieces of colored glass, and prayered them around my small room as if making altars. I spent hours traipsing through the bush across the street from our house, talking to myself and the creatures I found there, at home amidst the wild sapodilla trees, the climbing orange love vine, the soft brown layers of casaurina needles underfoot. The poor man’s orchid in our front yard with its dense trunk and reaching limbs had a perfect nook in which I would perch my small body and sit, telling it my troubles. We were friends, that tree and I, and years later when I returned home from my travels, I would be heartbroken to see it had been cut down, its purple flowers spread like a magic carpet on the ground no more.
In those early years at home in Nassau, an ancient wisdom was emerging, but I had no name, no system through which to understand it consciously. It would be much later, in religion classes at Wesleyan University on the East Coast of the US, that I would encounter writings about shamanism and indigenous Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern, African, and European earth-based religions. When I did, I was enthralled to find there the same essential ideas: Spirit is alive in all things – in rocks, trees, waves, human beings and the stars… we are not separate. Spirit -the Sacred, the Divine- permeates everything and exists in and beyond us at the same time.
This is a knowing that is consistent among first peoples and first religions across the planet. And I have come to believe it is this knowing, and practices related to it, that have the power to shift our present paradigm into one of greater balance, compassion, and wholeness.
My journey from child to woman, from the island of Nassau, Bahamas where I grew up to the Bay Area, California where I now live and work, was always about transformation in some form. I became a fiction writer because I wanted to know how people changed and healed broken lives. I found my way to San Francisco many years ago hoping to heal mine. I found Jungian depth psychology, and healers who guided me on my way. Jane Ferris was one of my most important healers during this time; we worked together for six years and I learned first hand the power and wisdom of Jungian ideas and the psyche, and the importance of healing and restoring the ego before we can begin to break it down.
I studied Tantra with Evalena Rose and discovered the power of sacred presence. Presence with the body, presence with self and others, presence with nature and the spirit realm. I brought this deeply embodied practice with me into what would become a great turning point in my life – my work with Patricia White Buffalo. A long-time teacher and assistant dean at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, Patricia White Buffalo introduced me to energy medicine and shamanic practice in her 3-year personal transformation and training program Walking the Shaman’s Path. With Patricia and in community with other gifted teachers and healers, I studied the human energy field, core wounds and characterology, child developmental psychology, and hands-on healing. I also studied and became adept at shamanic techniques including journeying, soul retrievals, ancestral healings, elemental healings, cellular healings, and energy clearing.
While on that powerful journey, I began teaching classes in myth and symbol, and comparative religion at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. As I was walking Patricia’s Wheel of Awakening and transforming the life stories that developed as a result of childhood wounds, I was teaching ancient myths and fairy tales, Jungian perspectives of the psyche and archetypes, and Joseph Campbell’s understanding of the hero’s journey as initiatory rites. I had already come to know through my own writing the power of story as medicine, but now I understood their archetypal structures as maps for the soul’s transformation. I was elated.
At the same time, I was deepening my research into shamanism and began to see more clearly that it has existed in a variety of forms in cultures across the planet since the paleolithic age – over 100,000 years ago. I learned that ancient Greeks -my ancestors- embodied their own forms of shamanic wisdom and practice and I could access these through the age-old mythos whose symbols and deep structures resonated with the structures and symbols of core shamanic practices. I began to see that both shamanism and myths used the language of symbol, the language of the soul, to guide the ‘hero’ on his or her path toward wholeness and freedom.
Soon after I graduated the program, I became an apprentice to Patricia White Buffalo, and spent another three years studying and supporting participants on their healing journeys. During this time I began yet another shamanic modality, one that took me deeper into my own unconscious places, and into the complex, expansive and profoundly wise realm of plant spirits – and this modality has returned me full circle to the experiences of my childhood. I became acquainted with the shamanic tradition of the Shipibo people of the Amazon in Peru. Through my work with Shipibo shamans, I learned -and am still learning- of the healing power of plants. In the Shipibo spiritual tradition, the plants are our ancestors. They heal us; they teach us; they return us to balance and wholeness and to connection with(in) the cosmos. They remind us that we are a part of the deep and wide and vastly intricate web of life. To be happy and free, we must be in balance and in harmony with life. We must remember that we come from a common source, and knowing this helps us all to survive.
We are living in disturbing and perilous times. Social crises are inseparable from environmental crises and as we lean further and further out of balance with nature and right relationship with each other, I feel an urgency I cannot ignore. I developed The Soul Healing Way out of a deep yearning to help weave back together our connections as human beings to each other and all life. And out of a desire to reconnect us to a way of knowing and healing that is our birthright. I know this is my sacred work on our planet at this time, and I am deeply honored to be able to offer it to all who feel called to walk towards healing, wholeness, connection, and freedom.
I look forward to walking with you.