Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice Celebrations

For many years, since our children moved through the Santa Claus phase, we have gathered with family and friends to celebrate the Winter Solstice or Yule. Like our ancestors of old, following the rhythms of Mother Earth’s cycles, we gather to celebrate the end of the darkness and the return of the light.

Our ancestors lived in harmony with Mother Earth, Father Sun and Grandmother Moon, recognizing their cycles and living their lives within these rhythms, and celebrating the turning of the year and its cycles. The year's shortest day and longest night, the Winter Solstice, is still celebrated in many traditions around the globe, celebrating the triumph of light over darkness… the return of the Sun.

In the land of our Celtic ancestors, this was the time between Samhain (Halloween) and Yule, the time when we had completed the harvest, the animals were brought in from the summer pasture, our pantries were full, the wood was piled and we had hunkered down for the winter. This is the time when the earth went dormant once more, sleeping until Spring returned. Our ancestors knew that despite the darkness of this night, soon the light would return to the earth, bringing with it life. On this night, the Winter Solstice, they welcomed back the Sun, the ultimate giver of light with giant bonfires on the hilltops. The people sought to keep the darkness at bay with these fires and with the next new dawn, they were again shown that the Sun had triumphed over darkness and was born anew. Some would drum throughout the night, lending their energy to mid-wife the Sun’s birth. The time of growing light had come, and spring would soon be here. However cold and dark the days remained, a glimmer of hope had arrived. Feasting, storytelling and dancing abounded. (Check out this story for the young and young at heart--

Many Native American traditions also honor the winter solstice. The Hopi festival of Soyal honors the Spider Woman and the Hawk Maiden, and celebrates the sun's victory over winter's darkness.

While some of our ancestors celebrated this special time with feasts, for others it was a time of dreaming. Rather than staying up all night to celebrate the dawn, some turned in early, to sleep and to dream. As Mother Night reigned supreme, they walked between the worlds of light and darkness, gathering great meaning from what The Great Mystery illuminated for them. At first light, they would gather and relate what visions they saw on this special night.
Our personal celebration over the years has been a ceremony lighting the Yule candle to welcome the return of the Sun and asking that the seeds of our wishes and dreams be planted so that they may take root in the spring. Our candle is lit on the longest night and remains lit until the next day when the Sun has again returned and Darkness begins to wane. Then in typical pagan tradition, we feast and share gifts. Like so many traditions, this has shifted and changed over the years and this year will again transform as it is just Gary and I sharing our Yule celebration together this year. We will be able to share part of our celebration with our children thanks to technology and Skype.

We invite you to join us for this time of celebration. No matter what your cultural or religious beliefs, you can begin your own Winter Solstice traditions. There are so many ways to celebrate and different forms of ceremonies that I suggest you search to web to find a beginning for a ceremony or ritual that you can create for you alone, or to share with friends and family. Here are a few ideas to get you started on short notice.

Many of us have at least heard of the Yule Log. Decorate a good-sized log (traditionally oak, also traditionally not purchased but found) with a few sprigs of evergreen tied in ribbon (probably red) and place it in your fireplace. For a ritual touch, write wishes for the new year on slips of paper and tuck them under the ribbon. The full tradition requires that the log be lit on Yule (winter solstice or Christmas Eve, or both! your choice) along with a piece of the previous year's Yule log, then extinguished before burning out fully, to save a portion to light with the following year's log, hence completing the cycle of the year.

For those without fireplaces or for a different take on the tradition, you can create a candle version by taking a smallish log, sawing a flattened side as the base, then drilling holes fat enough to hold candles for a tabletop decoration.

If you’re not up to the Yule Log, use a Yule Candle. A Yule Candle is simply a large red or white candle set among seasonal greenery. Anoint the candle with seasonal oils or herbs, focusing your intentions for the new year into the candle as you anoint it. Light the candle at dark on the longest night and allow it to burn through the following morning. (Be sure you have something under it to catch the wax as it burns. I have ruined a heritage table cloth that way.) Wishes can also be written on paper and lit from the candle, then placed in a burning bowl, to release your prayers to the spirit realm.

Another simple tradition is a meditation in the dark, then lighting candles and turning on the lights to symbolize the return of the Sun. Here is a simple meditation courtesy of Zaratyst to help you focus your intention.

The old solar year has run its course and completed its cycle. So to have some of our habits or traits completed their cycles and outlived their usefulness.

This is a time for shedding that which is no longer needed.

Take a few moments now to consider which things you would leave behind as you go into the coming year. (pause)

As the old year dies away so to will these old ways will fade into memory.

In the beginning we came from the darkness of the womb. There we were created, nourished and prepared for our birth into the light. Within us, we still carry that fertile darkness. there we hold the seeds of hopes and dreams to come. There we nourish are hopes for love, joy and peace for all. We shield these tender roots until they are strong enough to come forth and flourish in the light. Spend a little time now tending these creations to come. Name them, nurture them for they will grow with you and bloom in the coming year. (pause)

As the sun strengthens above, so will our new ways grow.

Another way to plant the seeds for the new year is be creating prayer bundles. Cut small pieces of cloth (usually red) and fill them with tobacco or other herbs as an offering to the spirits. As you fill each bundle, focus your intention on what you need to acknowledge or honor from the dark of your soul that could only have been brought forth in the darkness. Acknowledge them and thank them for their presence and the gifts they have brought into your life. Tie each bundle with a string. Now, repeat the process focusing your intention on what seeds you wish to plant for the next year, your wishes and desire. When you have completed your bundles, take them to the fire with your love and intention for celebrating what is in the dark now, and what is planted for times to come. The fire will take your prayers to spirit.

Yule is a celebration of light, so simply lighting a fire and sitting either by your self or with others to enjoy the dance of the Fire Spirits is a celebration. Share the wassail or egg nog and a cookie or two. Pick up a drum and make some joyous music to help mid-wife the Sun’s birth. Remember, as Gary and I both say, “However you choose to do it is right for you. There is no right or wrong way.” So, go forth and celebrate the Longest Night and Return of the Light.

And don’t forget the Elementals… share some of those wassail and cookies with the Nature Spirits outdoors!

Wishing you a blessed Yule. Having you in our lives is what keeps the Light shining in our hearts. We hope the seeds you plant at Yule grow fields of blessings in the year to come.

Mitakuye Oyasin ( A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),
Gary & Debbie Gent

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Shaman, The Spirit Healer & the Earth

Talk about coincidences (and yes, I know there really aren't any)...On Friday, I was forwarded the video links and this announcement from Global Spirit and asked if I would post it. Then last night we happened to be in Grants Pass and had the honor of attending a screening of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers' movie "For the Next 7 Generations" (more on this next blog). Flordemayo, who is one of the speakers in this event is one of the 13 Grandmothers.

Syncronicity at play!

Hopefully you'll get the opportunity to tune in.

Until next time---

Mitakuye Oyasin (A
Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),



Global Spirit on Link TV Premieres New Show and Live Video Chat

The Shaman, The Spirit Healer & The Earth

Conversation with Flordemayo, a Mayan Spirit Healer and Angaangaq,an Eskimo-Kalaalit Shaman from Greenland

SAN FRANCISCO,CA – November 2, 2010 -- Global Spirit, a unique “internal travel series,” launches a new show and live video chat on Sunday, Nov. 14th at 6pm PST/ 9pm EST.

Join host Phil Cousineau as he engages in conversation and practice with Flordemayo, a Mayan spirit healer and one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and Angaangaq, an Eskimo-Kalaalit Shaman from Greenland. Meeting for the first time, these two indigenous guests share their ancient wisdom and knowledge about the human relationship to nature,as well as the profound sacredness of all life—including sacred healing practices from the world of spirits, animals and plants.

Join us for the premiere of -- The Shaman, The Spirit Healer & the EarthLive Video Chat to Directly Follow Première

a Mayan Spirit Healer and Angaangaq, an Eskimo-Kalaalit Shaman from Greenland

If you could talk directly to these great traditional healers, what wouldyou ask?

What should our true relationship to nature be?

How does healing occur within the world of spirits, animals and plants?

What is the land saying about our current climate conditions? What does she (the earth) need from us?

Please watch the shows online and participate in the live chat by adding your insight, experiences or asking a question at:


· The Shaman, The Spirit Healer & The Earth streaming online and on Satellite at 6pm PST/9pm EST at:

· Live video chat with Angaangaq from Germany at 6:55-7:15 pm PST

· Live video chat with Flordemayo from New Mexico 7:15-7:35 pm PST
Check out these video clips:

About Global Spirit
Global Spirit is a unique “internal travel series,” bringing to light the various practices – spiritual,mental and physical – that help us define who we are as human beings and explore how this affects our relationships to our families, our communities, ourselves and the world at large. Global Spirit examines the relationships between mind and spirit, science and metaphysics, and mental and physical well-being as approached by the world’s ancient wisdom traditions and modern science. Through this series, we aim to foster a global spirit of acceptance and mutual understanding and encourage viewer’s “internal journey” towards personal and social transformation.


Flordemayo is a curandera espirtu, or traditional healer, who was born in Nicaragua and has Mayan ancestors. Flordemayo is a member of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers and co-founder of the Institute of Natural and Traditional Knowledge. She received the Martin de La Cruz Award for Alternative Healer, given by the International Congress of Traditional Medicine.

“Uncle” Angaangaq is an Eskimo-Kalaalit shaman, healer, and carrier of the Qilaut drum. He travels world-wide sharing teachings that are deeply rooted in the oral healing traditions of his people. He has also been a speaker at many international conferences on climate change, environmental and indigenous issues.

Phil Cousineau, the series host, is a writer, teacher, editor, independent scholar, travel leader, and storyteller. He lectures frequently on a wide range of topics—from mythology,film, and writing, to beauty, travel, sports, and creativity. He has more than 25 non-fiction books and 15 scriptwriting credits to his name.

Stephen Olsson, the series creator, is a filmmaker, television producer and spiritual seeker whose work has been screened in festivals and broadcast on national television networks throughout the world. He has won numerous national and international awards including the National Emmy Award for Outstanding Director, the Du-Pont Columbia Award for Excellence in broadcast journalism and the George Foster Peabody Award.

Link TV is available as basic service on DIRECTV channel 375 and DISH Network channel 9410, and on more than 50 urban cable systems, reaching a total of more than 47 million U.S. homes. For complete background information, program schedule and Internet streaming of Link TV’s original programs, music videos, documentary clips and artist interviews, visit

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My ... Animal Guides

Okay, so I'm behind AGAIN... Can I say I've been busy harvesting and preserving the fruits of the summer's labor? Someone at the farmer's market yesterday was buying zucchini... I've been trying to GIVE them away! (Hey... maybe zucchini should be our Fall Harvest Give Away!) I have also been working on developing and acquiring some new product for our website at

And, besides, you don't want to just hear me ramble. I'm sure you all have someone in your life who can fill that role if you need it. I'm not a rambler. Gary and I can ride in the car together for hours and hardley say a word. Just knowing we're together and sharing the time together is heavenly.

Those of you who have worked with Gary and I over the years have heard us constantly referring to “we” when talking about your journeys. It sounds like we’re pregnant or have a mouse in our pocket, right? Well, we’re definitely NOT pregnant, but could possibly have that mouse in our pocket. An animal guide mouse that is.

As shaman, we have a lot of help in the other world. We have helpers, guides and teachers that come in all shapes and forms—human, animal, spirit, energy and some that are indescribable. Some of these guides will be with us as our soul progresses, some are here for this earth walk, and others come and go as they are needed. We have some that help us specifically with shamanic journeys and others who assist us in our personal lives.

Sometimes during journeys we are instructed to retrieve a spirit guide for the individual we are journeying for and some of you have asked to have your guide brought in to help you. Although these guides generally appear in animal form, they may sometimes come in the form of angels, elementals, mythical beings, and faeries.

All societies believe animals have played and do play a special role in our spiritual and physical lives. From the Far East, to Native Americans, a sacred Cow from Hinduism and the Dove of Peace that plays a key role as a guide in Christian literature. People throughout the world believe animals are our spiritual teachers and guides.

When we bring an animal guide back for you as part of a journey, it’s not just a guide that we found hanging around with nothing to do and brought him/her home like a lost puppy. This guide has been waiting for you. We had ‘imaginary friends’ as children who were pretty amazing. We talked and played with them until the age that society told us that it was time to ‘grow up’. It was then that our friend and guide went away. Gary likes to say it’s like they’ve been waiting at the Starbucks in the Meadow all this time for you to come back. This guide has come back to teach you more about the intimate details of your personality, character traits and your spirit and spiritual gifts. It helps guide you along your spiritual path, offers answers to questions, and can even protect you on the spiritual as well as the physical plane. Guides are even helpful with the mundane, every day activities such as finding a parking place in a crowded parking lot, escorting your bags through airline chaos, getting you to the gas station ‘on fumes’ and protecting your gardens from interlopers.

Animal guides are usually a reflection of your deepest self and represent qualities which you need in this world, but which are hidden or to balance more outward characteristics. Just because you really like a certain animal, such as a lion, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will is you guide. Your guide chooses you. Sometimes people seem to be disappointed when they find that their guide isn’t that powerful lion, but is a small animal like a mouse. We tend to think that a mouse is not very powerful - that it is meek and afraid. We forget that spirits are not limited to physical reality and that size is irrelevant. Your guide may be a tiny mouse, like the one in our pockets, but in times of need this mouse can and will “grow” to fit the occasion. There is nothing weak or meek about a 50-foot tall mouse! I personally know a faerie that can be pretty big and scary!

Okay, you have a mouse in your pocket too. It’s been hanging out at Starbucks in the Meadow and you had no clue, so now what? The first thing we tell people when they get their guides is to ask this guide to protect you from ‘this moment forward in this and all lifetimes’. One of the major roles of the guides is to protect you, so why do you need to ask them to do it? Well, before a guide can come back, it has to agree to only do what you ask it to do. In other words, it can’t do anything on its own accord. This keeps you from acquiring some unwanted karma since you are responsible for all action the guide takes. So, you want to ask him/her to protect you, and doing it in one big general statement keeps you from forgetting and getting stuck in a not so nice situation. (Ask us how we know…)

With protection in place, it’s time to get down to developing a relationship with your guide. Like any relationship this takes communication, time and patience. Talk to your guide regularly, even if you don’t hear any replies. Eventually you will begin to understand your guide’s language. Now you may not hear it like you’re talking to Joe next door, but you may possibly ‘hear voices in your head’. (Do not rush to your nearest mental institution and have yourself committed, call us first. It’s probably just your friendly guide saying hello.) Most likely you will begin to sense the responses or see them by being shown something in nature. Sometimes your guides will speak to you during Dreamtime. Just remember, it takes time and patience.

Treat your guide like your best friend. Talk to him/her often and about anything and everything. We differ here than a lot of people who help others work with their guides. Some tend place the guides on a pedestal above us and put us in a position of subservience. We treat our guides with honor and respect, just like we would our best friend or partner. We also play and joke with them, but heed their wisdom, and love and honor them deeply. Remember to play with your guide. They aren’t all about work and wisdom. All work and no play makes for a pretty irritable guide.

Next, learn about the characteristics of your guide. Understanding the physical and behavioral characteristics of your guide can point out strengths or weaknesses in you on your physical, emotional or spiritual levels. The more you study and learn about your guide the easier it will be to call on its energy whenever you need it. There are many books and websites that talk about the physical and spiritual characteristics of animals and plants. One of our favorites happens to be Animal Speak—The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by Ted Andrews.

The last thing to remember is to ask your guide things. He/She has a vast amount wisdom and knowledge to draw on. You may not always like your guide’s answers, but it’s always good advice whether you choose to follow it or not. Remember, you still have free will and your guide will be around to help you out of a mess if he/she needs to. Ask your guide to assist you with projects or to find those parking spots. You have to ask. Remember they guide has agreed to not take any action on its own. So, put him/her to work.

(Don’t know your guide? It can be retrieved for you though a journey, or Debbie is recording a guided meditation for retrieving your guide that will be available through our website at around October 15.)

We have our Fall Harvest Give Away going on now for a the guided journey CD - "Meeting Your Animal Spirit Guide" mentioned above. You can enter through the drawing tab on our Facebook page. In fact, if you send me an e-mail when you become a new fan, I'll even put an extra entry in the basket for you. How about extra opportunity just for joining us on Facebook!
Here’s wishing you and your guide many pleasant journeys.

Until next time – 

Mitakuye Oyasin ( A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),


Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review - Awakening to the Spirit World - The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation

Not long before our move, we were asked by the wonderful folks at Sounds True to review Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman’s new book, AWAKENING TO THE SPIRIT WORLD:The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation. Ingerman and Wesselman have are joined by Tom Cowan, Carol Proudfoot-Edgar, Jose Luis Stevens, and Alberto Villoldo in this book. I’m always interested in hearing what other practitioners have to say about shamanic practice.

The book arrived just in time to find its way into a packing box headed for Oregon. Once the book found its way out of the packing paper, I began reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I have read several books recently purporting to be introductory books on shamanism that left me wondering who their audience was. They were dry, clinical and confusing. Awakening to the Spirit World is an enjoyable and easy read. It’s a great book for those new to the shamanic path, but it is not a “how to book”.

Reading the first three chapters, “What Is Shamanism?”, “The Shamanic Journey” and “Reconnecting with Nature”, I had to pinch myself because the information sounded like Gary and I talking about shamanism. Chapter 1 starts out saying “Shamanism is the most ancient spiritual practice known to humankind. As a method, it is a form of meditation combined with a focused intention. As a spiritual practice, shamanism can become a way of life that may utterly transform the one who practices it.” Gary and I have always explained shamanism as “not just a series of practices, but a way of life, living in connection with Spirit”.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the section on the shaman’s toolbox – gratitude, seeing and blessing. Here is the excerpt from AWAKENING TO THE SPIRIT WORLD: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman Published by Sounds True (Reprinted with Permission)

"Three Tools of the Shaman"
by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman

~ Gratitude ~

The first shamanic tool in your toolbox is gratitude, an attitude and an orientation designed to open the heart. Gratitude is a high-level amplitude that is designed to open portals, windows, and doorways into the spirit world.

Shamanically speaking, in everyday reality (what a shaman considers a consensus dream), Spirit is not apparent to the naked eye. In fact this ordinary world of stone, flesh, and fiber is often quite depressing because it involves frustration, pain, and frightening circumstances and events. The pleasures are more often than not offset by the everyday survival and the constant mind chatter that is enough to drive even the most stable person crazy.

Yet a shaman knows that just behind the movie set that makes up the world, Spirit lies camouflaged, bursting with light and freedom, waiting to be recognized and resourced. Spirit has cleverly arranged portals in strategic places that if opened, lead directly past the everyday outer world into the power of the inner reality where all answers lie and where all problems are revealed to be the illusions that they are.

These portals are literally everywhere, but there are primary ones that are so close to us that they are practically impossible to miss. The one most accessible is the heart, which lies smack in the middle of your chest just below your chin, and it is so accessible that you can easily reach your heart with your hands. When you speak it vibrates, and when you breathe it is massaged all around. It is hard to comprehend how you would miss it, yet we do ignore it every day unless we should have the misfortune of a heart attack.

Shamans "see" through their hearts. Shamanic tribes like the Maori of New Zealand believe that the physical world we experience is actually a projection coming from each individual heart. The Mayans and the Q'ero tribe in the Peruvian Andes have their own versions of this basic understanding. Their shamans know that self-importance, created by the ego, is dedicated to keeping the powerful heart portal closed off enough to prevent Spirit from shining through.

The ego accomplishes this by shutting down the heart to the point where the portal remains closed to the spirit world. The portals pop open only when a certain amplitude is reached, so keeping it below a certain level prevents opening. What keeps amplitude low are all the familiar maladies: fear, hostility, self-importance, depression, self-doubt, cynicism, and frustration. Because of these, most people's hearts are shut down most of the time, which feels bad in the chest and cuts off the main avenue of escape from pain and suffering -- an open heart.

Gratitude counters these ploys by the parasitical false personality and raises the amplitude high enough to begin the heart-opening process.

~ Seeing ~

The second great shamanic tool in your toolbox is seeing. For a shaman, "to see" is to cut through the veils of ignorance, the false appearance of the world, in order to see clearly into the true nature of Spirit as it manifests through all of reality. In other traditions, it is known as forgiveness or compassion. Seeing is the post powerful method of releasing blame, guilt, and shame.

Seeing ends the war within us just as it resolves conflicts with externals and paves the way for our cooperation and extension. The false personality tries to convince you that forgiving or having compassion is a weakness, that you are setting yourself up to be taken advantage of again. It also tries to get you to believe that you and the others have no value and therefore deserve ill treatment or self-loathing. Seeing makes these terrible perceptions impossible. Seeing the truth provides relief from the terrible stress or guilt, and this results in shifting our energy in a way that allows us to open the heart and other portals to the world of spirit.

When shamans speak of "seeing," they are actually talking about clearing away the projections and distorted thoughts of the conscious mind onto the world at large and all its forms.

Shamans and visionaries know that these projections are blinding and the source of endless misunderstandings and assumptions based on fear of the unknown.

Seeing means that we are perceiving the truth, and therefore there is no room for hostility, blame, fear, or set decrees. How does this take place? When we really see in the shamanic or visionary way, we know that we are Spirit and that we have simply become confused and are lost in appearances for awhile. The false personality is only a delusional construct created by the egoic self; in dealing with the world, it tends to create lies in which we and others take refuge.

Shamans say that when people learn to see they are able to access almost limitless power because they realize they are intimately connected to the vast web of life. For the shaman, seeing into the true nature of reality and the self is a great power; it is a required skill for self-realization and ultimately enlightenment.

~ Blessing ~

Now we come to the third great power tool in that shamanic toolbox that everyone has from birth -- the ability to bless.

In general, people do not know their function as human beings, and it never occurs to them that their job is actually to bless the world. Many people have been taught to bless their food; they consider a blessing to be a few words mumbled over a meal that lacks heart and meaning. This is hardly what shamans mean by blessing.

Blessing is the act of recognizing that Spirit is coming through what we are witnessing or experiencing. It is recognizing and acknowledging the grand flow of Beingness that is present as what we eat or what we see as the landscape, through our bodies, through each moment of now and gives it indescribable vitality and life force. Yet the physical plane appears to most as a camouflage universe where Spirit does not appear to exist.

Shamanically speaking, many of us respond to the physical world by assuming a deep hypnosis, a deep sleep where we no longer recognize that Spirit is present. Not only do we go to sleep, but large parts of the world may temporarily go to sleep as well. So it is our job to wake up and to awaken all that is around us. This act of waking up could be called "blessing the world."

Many of us have been taught to believe that only people who have gone to seminary or special training programs to become ministers, rabbis, priests, imams, or shamans have the right to bless. We invite the ordained individuals to come before us and bless ceremonies, fields, businesses, projects, meetings, and banquets, and we bow our heads while they talk to Spirit for us.

This is not a bad practice, but it is extraordinarily limiting. Many of those we invite to do the blessing for us are the most asleep of all, revealing that no one can do the work of blessing for us. Each human comes with that capacity, with that ability, and with the responsibility to bless.

So what happens when we bless, and how do we go about blessing in an effective way?

To bless means that you become conscious that you are alive and that Spirit is flowing through you. This realization allows you to see that Spirit is flowing all around and that what is coming through you is coming through everything and that it is all the same. When you see or feel this you merely say something like, "I am Spirit. Let us awake. Let us awake Spirit in everything I see."

While saying this you can look around and bless with your hands and arms outstretched, waking everything up to the incredible power of Spirit that flows through everything with great passion and peace. In response, everything receives a boost, everything celebrates, everything is grateful, and everything forgives its slumber. There are few practices as powerful as this awakening. If you want to add a little something else to your blessing, you may bestow upon everything that you are experiencing or witnessing the gift of well-being from the bottom of your heart.

You might say, "I give you great happiness and love. May all who come here or pass this way be blessed with joy, abundance, and wellness." What you give is what you get, so make sure you give the best you can imagine.

Blessing is incomprehensibly powerful and is perhaps the greatest tool of all because it is the pathway back to Spirit. Yet it is hard to bless if you have no gratitude and you have not seen the need to forgive. These three tools work together as a powerhouse trio. They are all important characteristics of the physical universe: Truth, Love, and Energy -- or Yachay, Munay, and Llankay, the three Andean shamanic principles of living. Each tool works with all three components. Gratitude recognizes truth, transmits love, and enhances energy. Seeing tells the truth, radiates love, and release phenomenal energy.

Always remember that you have shamanic tools resting in your toolbox. They require deliberate use to become effective. These three tools, when used regularly, are all that is needed to become liberated and self-realized and to gain mastery over life. Why wait?

~ Exercise: For Blessing ~

First thing in the morning, go outside and practice blessing the sky, the Earth, the trees, or whatever elements are most visible. Then go on to bless your family, your colleagues, your students, your teachers, and all of their communities as well. Bless all their relations and on and on until everything and everyone has been included. Bless Spirit and don't forget to bless yourself. Now experience how you feel. Do you feel more expansive, more powerful, more happy, more on the right path? This is the true shamanic way -- and the way of the visionary.

The information in the book was clear and gives the reader a deeper understanding of the shamanic way of life with exercises that invite the reader to join in and experience shamanism. As an added bonus there is a shamanic drumming CD included.

Even after almost twenty years of walking the shamanic path, I found myself drawn into the chapters on dreams, creative art and working with sound and light. I was also drawn deep into the chapters on death and dying. Reading one night, I even had a soul piece return that was holding me back from fully embracing my role as a “death walker”. Although I have done a good piece of psycho pomp work, I knew there was a block holding me back and my reading that evening awoke the soul piece that needed returning. What an unexpected outcome!

I would definitely recommend this book for you if you are interested in shamanism and how to apply in your daily life. It’s a great introductory book, and as you can see, it can be of benefit to a more experienced practitioner.

Until next time – Happy Reading
Mitakuye Oyasin ( A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Greeting from our new Oregon location!


May 1 was moving day. We picked up this 26' Uhaul truck and a trailer for Gary's motorcycle mistress and began packing. Our daughter, Kimberly, arrived early along with Gary's sister, Eileen along with her "Dollie. Then our shamanic family, Keith, Jennifer and Deb showed up. Kimberly called some of her big buff guy friends to help us coercer the hot tub into the Uhaul, and then we really got down to it. Lots of others showed up during the day to lend a hand and say goodbye.

For a while it looked like things were going okay and we'd have plenty of room, until we started packing in the furniture. Now mind you, we don't have much as we live pretty simply, but next thing we knew the truck was full and there were still pieces of furniture and boxes on the lawn! We had even gone to Ikea and bought new desks to assemble and left them in the boxes so they wouldn't take up so much room. We loaded up my truck like the Beverly Hillbillies and donated the brand new cat pole and storage cabinet to Kimberly and her cat as well as leaving some additional things behind for Brian, our son, to move into his apartment. Plus our tenants got to keep our lawn mover (which probably wouldn't have worked here, we're on 1.5 acres and it was electric!) By the time we were done, we were too pooped to pop. We headed to the hotel for a shower and then Kimberly's for our last family dinner for a while. After that, we had to go back and collect our cats who were enjoying the yard one last time and stuffed them in their crates to head north.

Sunday morning bright and early, we hopped in the trucks and headed northwest. We were a good 22 hours on the road over 2 days. We arrived in Medford early Monday evening, got a good meal and a good night's sleep before we began the unpacking process. Gary had the forethought to hire a couple of young men here to help us unload. That was the best investment we made! They had the truck all unloaded, including the hot tub, in about 2 hours! Mother Nature even cooperated with us and gave us lovely days for both packing and unpacking.

We are currently renting a house in Central Point, which is just a few miles north of Medford. We are renting about 1.5 acre of a larger parcel. Our new home is a large double wide mobile home, with plenty of room for our offices. We have a big barn/shop and a greenhouse in the back, and lots of garden space. Debbie is really looking forward playing in the garden once we get settled. There was even a pad right by the back door waiting for our hot tub!

We now have our offices unpacked, computers hooked up, and internet and phones connected. So, we are back in business again after a short break (notice we didn't say "vacation"). For Gary it's business as usual. For Debbie, she is now moving into a full time shamanic practice as well as maintaining our websites (and developing a new one - not quite ready yet).

The only thing that has changed for us is our physical address. All our contact information stays the same. Yes, even our phone numbers, thanks to Vonage. So, no need to change how you contact us. We kept it easy for you (and us... now we don't have to remember new numbers when we have "senior moments").

So, keep in touch. We will begin regluar posts again.
Thanks to all who sent their thoughts, prayers and hard working hands to support our move. This is the first step toward building our retreat.

Mitakuye Oyasin, (a Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related)

Gary & Debbie

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Moving Day at Shamanic Connection

I know I said I wouldn't post until after the move, but I caught a few minutes between boxes, so I thought I would let everyone know how things are progressing for the trek to Oregon.

I just returned from the house hunting trip and have found us a wonderful place in a town called Central Point. It is a suburb of Medford, so we are only about 15 minutes away. Medford is a town of about 75k, so, not too big or too small. We were actually looking a little farther north toward Grants Pass, but I couldn't find a country home there, so we migrated south.

We decided to rent for a while since we love the whole Rogue River Valley. We can now take our time and  find the perfect place for the retreat.

The property we found is about 1.5 acres out of a larger parcel. The whole parcel is about 6 acres and has a creek behind the barn and an orchard. There is a lake within walking distance, and our street dead ends into the Rogue River. Our nearest neighbor is a large city lot away on the side and a good half mile behind us. So we will have quiet. Off to the north east is a large table mesa that overlooks the property.

We have a large 3 bedroom mobile home with lots of space to work and rattle about, since it will be just Gary and I, plus 2 cats. The property has a large barn shaped shop with an office, a huge green house (yes, I'm in heaven), gazebo, lots of garden space, a huge front yard and even a pad already set up for our hot tub.

Before we rented the property, I made an offering to the land spirits. I journeyed to the land to make my offering and was met by 3 spirits. The guardian of the mesa was an ancient male spirit, as was the river spirit. The spirit of the land was an ancient but beautiful female. When I made my request and offering, I was told by each that they would consider my offer. I thanked them and left. The next day the property was ours. I look forward to doing our first ceremony and offering thanks again to the spirits for welcoming us.

While I was gone, we rented our house here in Phoenix and have been finishing up the "I''ll get to that later list". It is now "later" and I'm amazed at how much we left on that list.

So, the next couple of weeks are invested in packing. After 12 years in this house, we have a lot of "stuff". I'm not a collecter, but we have several boxes of drums and back jacks and tons of business stuff to move. Then there is a garage full to tools and garden stuff, besides household things. You don't realize what you have until you try to pack it all!

We will be picking up our truck on May 1 and will be heading north bright and early on May 2. So, if you see a big U-Haul with a yellow motorcycle on a trailer, followed by a silver Tundra heading north, that's us. Gary get's the drive the U-Haul an I get to haul the cats :-(  -- I'm thinking a trip to the vet for something to help them with the ride is in order.

Our next blog will be from Oregon.

Until then -

Mitakuye Oyasin ( A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Everything is Sacred

Well everyone, I know I’m way behind on updating the blog, but life is such a whirlwind right now that it’s hard to keep upright.
We are busy preparing for our big move to Oregon the end of next month, so we are working diligently preparing our house to be rented, including the final piece of remodeling and lots of small repairs that we seem to not notice except when the rental agent is pointing them out.

I will be leaving my part-time job the end of this month and have started training my replacement. Can you imagine trying to pass along 4 ½ years of job experience in two weeks?? I see many margarita nights coming….

And we haven’t even started thinking about packing yet….

So, I hope we have your sympathy and that you’ll bear with us until we are settled and can start writing on a regular routine.

So, on to our story….

Sometimes we tend to get caught up in the trappings of the world and forget that everything is sacred, especially when it comes to spiritual endeavors including ceremony. We have to have the right stone or candle or incense or the ceremony won’t be right. Or we have to craft an item to perfection. “The right tool for the right job.”

I touched on this quite a few blogs back with the Popcorn and M&M ceremony, that even the most mundane item can hold a spiritual purpose. We often employ the “Sacred Bic” that Gary carries in his pocket and the “sacred hair dryer” for tightening up a drum head when the weather is too damp. Like a dear friend use to tell us, “If the Indians would have had a Bic or a glue gun, they’d have used them.” Indigenous people are VERY practical!

This leads to the shiny silver emergency blanket that I have draped over my altar as an altar cloth. Yup, the $2.37 Wal-Mart special that you carry in your trunk for emergencies.

You see, we travel with many Spirit Guides and one of mine happens to be a raven. Well, ravens are known for loving shiny things ... like silver emergency blankets.

For quite some time I have been seeing my dear friend and shamanic practitioner who is also a Chinese Medicine person and acupuncturist. When you are on the table looking like a pin cushion, you can’t very well cover up with a blanket if you’re cold, so she uses these emergency blankets to cover her patients. The first time she covered me, Raven appeared and sat at the top of the table fawning over the blanket. Of course my friend is aware of his presence and we both had a good laugh.

My next treatment brought the same, strange behavior. Again, good for a giggle. Well, Raven began “staying after” to coo at the blanket. Then Raven started showing up to the treatment room before I arrived, sitting outside the cabinet admiring the blanket and telling my friend how pretty it was. She would remind him I wasn’t coming for several hours and he insisted he’d wait, reciting the mantra of “Oh how pretty"  and "Ooh, shiny.”

This went on for months. He was absolutely shameless when it came to that blanket! Finally he and I agreed that maybe an aluminum foil ball would work to keep his attention at home. So off I went to the back closet where I kept the camping gear to find the aluminum foil (I don’t use it to cook at home). I sat and made a nice big foil ball and placed it prominently on my altar.

Shortly thereafter I had another acupuncture appointment and guess who preceded my arrival? Yup, there he was, big as day in front of the cabinet in the treatment room!

Okay, so the foil ball didn’t hold his attention. A few days later I pulled into Wal-Mart’s parking lot and there sat Raven with several other smaller black birds in the parking lot! I spoke and when I got out he began singing to me and held his song for quite some time. It wasn’t the usual crow like caw, it was a song. When we were done with our conversation, I followed his marching orders, straight to the sporting goods department and paid my $2.37 to get the shiny silver emergency blanket which is now draped over my altar under my regular altar cloth.

And, every time I have to explain the “unusual altar cloth” to clients, we all get a good laugh and a reminder that even shiny silver emergency blankets are sacred. Remember, it’s all about the “intent”.

So, I’m signing off until sometime in May when we will be home again in Oregon among the trees and mountains and rivers. And I can get my hands and feet in the dirt once again to see my plants (and myself) bloom.

Until then –

Mitakuye Oyasin ( A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),


Sunday, January 31, 2010

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee... and Shamanism.

This delicious email came to me through friends yesterday. They didn’t know where it came from, but that they too had received it by email. I searched the web and have found this posted many places, and some clear back from 2005, but no references or sources. But the Mom that originally coined this wisdom is extremely wise indeed. So, I pass this along to you as food for thought.

“A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

So now; ask yourself: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? “

Okay, so how does this relate to a shamanic blog??? My answer is that in my opinion, this is one of the core tenants of shamanic healing. Through the process of shamanic healing and soul retrieval that we get to CHOOSE how we RESPOND to the hand that life deals us. We are the only ones responsible for the outcome.

Sometimes personal responsibility sucks. It would be so much easier to blame someone or something for our present situation, but it truly comes down to whether we react like we always do or make the choice to respond from a place of strength.

Sometimes people I work with have difficulty understanding the difference between reacting and responding. But the difference is huge and once you get the “aha moment” it becomes perfectly clear. When we react, we are simply following the patterns that we have set up over the years, repeating the same behavior. No thought, just action. How many times have we done the “open mouth, insert foot” scenario? This is reacting… speaking or acting without thinking about it. The patterns are so deeply ingrained that we are on autopilot. The worst part is we are acting the same, but always expect the results to be different. Someone told me somewhere along the line that this is the definition of insanity… and I believe it.

So, let’s talk about “responding”. When you respond to a situation, you are making a CHOICE. You are not being triggered by old wounds and patterns and are choosing what to do to achieve the outcome that is most beneficial at the time. Sounds pretty simple, huh? You are acting from a position of strength or from your center, instead of “having your buttons pushed”. Amazingly these choices can come in an instant when we have done our work and are connected to ourselves. Of course, when we choose, then we are then responsible for the outcome. Yup, back to that being responsible for our choices, actions and their outcomes!

Big deep stuff and I honor those who step up to the plate and choose this path.

But to finish quoting that very wise mother …

“When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.”

May we all learn to be COFFEE!!!!!!!

Until next time….

Mitakuye Oyasin ( A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),


P.S. Don’t forget, March 15 is the drawing for the book Joyce Sequichie Hifler's book, A Cherokee Feast of Days: Daily Meditations.

You can enter the drawing in one of two ways. First you can simply send an email to me at or become a fan on our Facebook Fan page (our Facebook fans are automatically entered in our drawings each quarter.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter Giveaway

It's time to announce the winner of our Fall Harvest Giveaway and ring in the winter drawing.
So, let's begin with our Winter Giveaway...

The Winter Giveaway relates to the North quadrant of the Medicine Wheel (see the Medicine Wheel information in our quarterly newsletters).

One of the major elements of the North quadrant is widsom. So to help access the wisdom of the Ancestors and the North quadrant, we are giving away a copy of Joyce Sequichie Hifler's book, A Cherokee Feast of Days: Daily Meditations.

You can enter the drawing in one of two ways. First you can simply send an email to me at or become a fan on our Facebook Fan page (our Facebook fans are automatically entered in our drawings each quarter.)

The drawing will be held on March 15.

And now.... a drum roll please....

The bear rattle from the Fall Harvest Give Away went to Fabio Fina of Boulder, CO. Fabio was excited to receive the rattle and said that it came at a good time in his life. Only the head of the rattle was completed when Gary drew Fabio's name from the hat, so the rest of the rattle was co-created with my guides for Fabio. The rattle was made of elk hide, with a willow handle (left over from sweat lodge poles we gathered along the Verde River). It was filled with juniper berries that I gathered on a trip to Northern Arizona. Then the rattle was trimmed with bear fur at the base of the rattle.

Congratulations Fabio. We hope your rattle carries your prayers swiftly to Spirit .

Until next time…

Mitakuye Oyasin ( A Lakota prayer as a reminder that we are all related),