Just like so many components of our modern societies that are undergoing change in these days of turmoil, how we look to heal ourselves is a sea of change for many. As masses of people are awakening to the fact that science and modern medicine do not hold all the cards to health, some of the old ways of healing are resurfacing. And the doctors many of us now seek for this healing do not wear white coats and carry a prescription pad. So why is this road opening to so many now? And who do we seek and how to we go about exploring other alternatives to our healing? This is a huge topic, with many answers from very different people, each based on their experience and life walk. I will begin sharing some of my experience and understanding of a spiritual, nature-based road to healing as I have been gifted by indigenous teachers from many cultures in many parts of our world. And some ways I have combined these healing practices to allow for powerful spirit healing to flow through myself and others.
Spirit healing is??? Many things, my friends. But, at the base of it, it is allowing for the connecting with your personal spirit – your life force, soul…whatever term you chose – in order to begin to effect changes in your mind – body – spirit and emotions as one. Not piecemeal, but as the integrated being that we are. As I have been taught by many; this connection can be achieved through practice and trust in many different ways. But all of my teachers – Native American, Mayan, Australian aborigine, Celtic and Garifuna (African) – have all taught me (and shown me) the most effective way is through the forces of nature.
Notice as I write I speak about being ready for spirit healing – being open to spirit healing – beginning to effect change in ourselves, but you will not hear me say "in order to heal ourselves." This may seem like a subtle difference, but I assure you it is not. Any healing we see in ourselves or others we work with comes directly from Creator – the spiritual essence of the universe. Whatever name we again chose to use is immaterial, the understanding that any true healing comes from the spiritual circle of energy of Creation is important. Once we have this understanding, it opens many doors for us and those who seek our help.
It took me some time to accept this role of being used as a hollow bone (in the Native American tradition) or hollow reed in the Mayan way, but it was worth all the work it took me to get there. Finally accepting we can not 'heal' anyone, but can be wonderful tools of Creator for healing to occur helps negate our often over-sized human egos and allows us to attach no guilt or sense of failure when the healing we hoped for does not occur. Likewise, we can accept a sense of joy when healing does occur by accepting we were valuable tools in the process.
If you are wondering why I feel I can share these thoughts, I understand that. So let me say a little about my walk so you may judge the value, if any, in my words for yourself. Any of you who have read my first two books, White Man, Red Road, Five Colors or Walking With the Earth Mother, will remember what I now share. Feel free – skip ahead!
I was raised on the East Coast of the U.S. in an Italian-American household. The Catholic Church my family's religion of choice. Always a loner and oddball, I never felt that I fit in. And as I reached my teens, I saw the lack of any real spiritual energy in organized religion. We will save this religion theme for a future blog, but, for now, know I walked away from religion by my early twenties and had no idea a spiritual road even existed. At forty, I moved West with my wife and soon indigenous teachers began finding me. For the full story around this, I welcome you to read my books. Over the next ten years I was honored to sit at the feet of many indigenous teachers of various cultures. As time went on my Lakota 'family' adopted me; as did my Mayan 'family'. My Native American teachers gifted my the teachings of the Chanupa – the sacred pipe – and, over time, the title of Chanupa carrier. Also the title of water pourer, as I run purification lodges – sweat lodges to many. My Mayan circle calls me keeper of medicine, having been trained in spirit healing and the use of natural plant and animal 'medicine' to guide this work.
All of this work with amazing teachers began before my own pain-filled, physical and metal assaults on my being. When these occurred, some old programmed belief had me go back to Western medicine practitioners. For long enough to have medicines given me almost kill me and others make me a zombie as I became addicted to them. All of this while the doctors assured me no one could have all the symptoms and illnesses I was experiencing; even as their own tests told them otherwise. This was not out of a lack of compassion I now see, but by the way they have been taught and a fear that there may be more than their understandings in how we deal with disease. Because of this they treat symptoms and consider someone cured when the symptoms cease. Spirit healing works on causes and considers an aspect healed when the issue causing the pain or disease is addressed and released. Symptoms and curing versus causes and healing.
My primary teacher, a beautiful, wise, caring Lakota elder, Two Bears, guided me in the ways of the Chanupa and using prayer for part of the spirit healing work. He also taught me the value of nature's healing gifts and how to use many, especially the feathers and the sounds of the Earth as called forth by the drum, rattle and flute. As I worked with him I also learned from other Native American elders – male and female – from tribes around the Mountain West and West Coast. Each gave me new nature and spirit-based 'medicine' to put into my bag and take out as needed to work on those asking me. My medicine became the knowledge these elders gifted me. As I began pouring lodges I used different herbs and roots during the healing door – the portion of the ceremony set aside for the healing of all.
While working with my Native American teachers, I was also sent to Central America to work with students as I was with a University at this time. There other teachers appeared to me. And so my training in the plants, herbs, grasses and animal medicine of these regions and these people began finding their way into my medicine bag. There I was shown, over the years, how to ask these natural items for their help and then how to activate their energy for healing. How even to bring their medicine into other plants in whatever part of the world I was in.
From the Mayan teachers I was passed over to some Garifuna friends, who taught me the ways and medicine of the people of Africa. Then the Australian medicine and ceremony and on it went. Never realizing my walk and life were different from most, but always thankful for all I learned.
Over the years I began to unconsciously mix the medicine ways of the different people I had learned from, creating spirit healing help for others that matched their needs without even realizing this was occurring. This is the spirit healing work I have found most effective and useful. Being open – the hollow bone again – to Creator using you in whatever ways are needed. It may be ceremony or plant medicine, healing sounds or natural medicine. The 'mix' varies by the need and, by being open to all, the medicine matches itself to the disease. In the core of someone's being the spirit medicine works to prepare the one who needs it for the healing road before them.
As I share how I accumulated my healing training and knowledge I am not attempting to motivate you all to go running around the globe looking for medicine people to train you so you can use these skills. Certainly anyone called can walk this road and, if you are meant to learn the medicine, the teachers will find you, as thy found me. I am nothing special, just a human wishing to understand more about healing as I sought a spiritual path. But now, in these days of change, other ways are appearing. It is these that now hold the power we all need to tap into and share.
As I share these thoughts here I also share other teachings in many electronic places. In these ways we can share together all the ways of living, healing and advancing as people and as a species. In the legends of many cultures we are told that in these days we are to be sharing as the four colors, meaning all the colors of people. We are to come together and openly share all we have learned so we may manifest a healthier life to pass on to the seven generations – all the children who follow us. What no one foresaw was that this sharing would not just happen around the fires of the elders, but that we would have these new tools of technology to share with people around the globe as one. In this way we can each learn from elders as I did without having to trek through jungles or wade through swamps. And begin to apply what we learn, even as we pass the teachings on to others. These are powerful tools that some people set in the old ways can't accept. But I see we must accept all the tools Creator gives us to share with each other. Not that we can't go and sit around the fire if we feel it important. My wife and I travel around the U.S. and Great Britain teaching these medicine ways in circles – and learning the ways of others. But we do not all have to do this. We can still learn the old ways. This is a blessing at many levels. And just another new facet of spirit healing in today's world.
I welcome any comments or thoughts or teachings and hope to see you all around the virtual fires.