START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
Nov 13, 2011

I was sitting on a meditation cushion in a musty domed tent in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  There was a raised dais in the front. On it sat a beautiful Native American woman with sparkling eyes, a gracious manner and a melodious speaking voice.  She is called the Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo.  She is Cherokee.  I was entranced by the chanting, visualizations and teachings of peace she offers.  Because the Ven. Dhyani is also recognized as a khandro--the reincarnation of an enlightened teacher in two Tibetan Buddhist lineages, I thought I had come to study Buddhism.

But it was not her teachings on the Buddhist Heart Sutra that captured my heart, it was the prayers to the 6 directions and what she calls the crystal teachings.  Much to my chagrin, I, an American White Anglo Saxon Protestant through and through, had become both New Age and “discovered the Indian.”  Over the next 15 years, I continued to study shamanism and indigenous spirituality and meditated and prayed in private in a Native American way. I divulged my true beliefs rarely and only with trusted confidantes.

Since first meeting Ven. Dhyani in 1993, I have been the lucky and grateful recipient of the teachings of various Native American teachers and their non-Native students. Like many of my sisters and brothers in spirit around the world, I look to the natural world as my sacred text and listen for messages and inspiration from myriad other-than-human, not-in-the-body spiritual teachers and sources.  I pay attention to dreams and visions as teachings and road signs along the spiritual path. I believe in an immanent, un-nameable, universal, creative power that I alternately refer to as Wanka Tanka, from the Oglala Sioux, Great Mystery from the English translation of the latter term and other Native languages, God from my Christian background, or Creator, a gender neutral term now used among many faiths.  I include in my beliefs the Sacred Feminine, Gaia, or the Goddess that is incarnated and expressed, among myriad other forms and emanations, in our Mother Earth.

This growing movement in the West is sometimes called “Native spirituality,” “earth spirituality” or shamanism, depending upon the individual teacher and the cultural source.   Names like Sun Bear and Ed McGaa Eagle Man may be familiar from their extensive publications.  They were the inheritors of the literary and spiritual legacy of Ben Black Elk whose life history and explanation of the seven sacred rites of the Lakota people was recorded and published by Richard Niehardt in Black Elk Speaks in 1929.  It is known as one of the greatest spiritual books of the 20th century.

It has been a long journey to come to the place where I can announce so openly my spiritual beliefs.  I was academically trained as a Soviet Studies scholar and went on to become an anthropologist and folklorist of Slavic cultures.  I had a long and successful career in higher education administration. During those years, while I managed a technology center at a major American university, I parlayed my expertise in the former Soviet Union into studying and teaching about individual, social and cultural violence and systems of oppression. My awareness of my privilege as a white, middle class, educated woman led me to taking more than 10 years to come to terms with this spiritual calling and to emerge from out of the closet.

Finally, in 2007, I left my tenured position as an administrator and faculty member at the University of Virginia to become a shamanic healer in a tradition adapted from the Peruvian Andes and Amazon. As a healer, writer, activist, and educator working to bring greater awareness about how to stem the tide of violence in our world, I am convinced that these teachings and spiritual practices provide us with powerful tools to create a more peaceful future.  Part of my lifelong work has been in dismantling racism and systems of oppression. Therefore, in order to be a shamanic healer and practitioner, this means I must include in my work educating Westerners about their often invisible prejudices against indigenous peoples and non-Native adherents to earth spirituality.  I must also educate my own non-Native sisters and brothers in the faith about the responsibility they carry when they step onto this path.  There are too many people who think they can borrow and steal practices and beliefs from native peoples without considering the impact.  There are also many who play “Indian” without realizing that they are perpetuating insidious and often demeaning stereotypes.  

Despite these complexities, it is my fervent belief along with many others, both Native and non-Native, that the indigenous peoples of the world have a great deal to offer our troubled planet.  These perspectives and practices can help us ameliorate violence, address trauma, and develop more psychologically and physically healthy and balanced lives. In short, they can help us end suffering.  I have seen firsthand their transformative power when brought into the undergraduate classroom and into training settings with professionals who deal with problems of violence, trauma and human suffering, no matter what their religion, race, ethnicity, or beliefs.

It is for these reasons and more that I am a dedicated practitioner of Native American spirituality.  This path is an act of true love for me. It is rich with meaning, healing and power.  I hope others will find their way with me. You do not have to give up our own culture and religion to do this. You only have to learn how to honor the powers of nature and the mysterious world beyond what can be seen with your physical eyes.

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Sunday November 13, 2011, 7:08 am
Tags: native spirit american healing spirituality shamanism trauma [add/edit tags]

Group Discussions
Comments
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:

Author

Rachel Mann
female, age 53, single
Batesville, VA, USA
RACHEL'S SHARES
No shares


SHARES FROM RACHEL'S NETWORK
Dec
30
by Mary K.
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\n\\nDear Friends,As you think about New Year’s resolutions; we know that women and children here at Chindwin Home Based Care SLA www.sloansassociation.or in Zambia have just one resolution in mind: To continue reducing the disparities that ridi...
by Mary K.
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\nDear Alexis,\\r\\n\\nAs you think about New Year’s resolutions; we know that women and children here at Chindwin Home Based Care SLA www.sloansassociation.or in Zambia have just one resolution in mind: To continue reducing the disparities that r...
Sep
24
by Mary K.
(0 comments  |  discussions )
Zambia,  a small country in sub-Sarah Africa with a population of 13m has set the bar high to demonstrate to the world that democracy can exist in Africa! A new leader, President Micheal Sata was democratically elected by the people of Zambia and...
Jul
5
by Mary K.
(0 comments  |  discussions )
\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\ \r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\ r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r \\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\ \n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\ n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n \\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\ \r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\nTUESDAY, JULY 5, 2011\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r\\n\\n \\r\\n\\\"No Woman Should Die...\\\"\\r\\n\\r\\n\\r \\n\\r\\nCaroline came by to tell me the sad and sh...


MORE MEMBER BLOGS
Mar 31
Blog: How to Extend the Life of your TRIAD Boilers by Kayleigh L.
(0 comments  |  discussions ) — \\nHow to Extend the Life of your TRIAD Boilers \\r\\n \\r\\nCorlis Engine Review\\r\\nEvery user desires to prolong the life of a unit. TRIAD assists their clients in achieving this important objective by informing them of ways they can avoid problems... more
Feb 27
Blog: Dr Oz Weight Loss - The 100% Natural And Very Efficient Diet Pill by Debra S.
(0 comments  |  discussions ) — \\nYes, Dr. Oz called Garcinia Cambogia Extract (HCA) the Holy Grail of Weight Loss. He went on to say, “Anytime I see a scientist get this excited about something like Garcinia Cambogia Extract and when I looked through some of this research and... more
Blog: My Favorite Websites by krysta I.
(0 comments  |  discussions ) — \\nIFAW: www.ifaw.org\\r\\nOCEANA www.oceana.org\\r\\nPETA: www.peta.org\\r\\nEARTH 911: www.earth911.org\\r\\nANI MALs ASIA: www.animalsasia.org\\r\\n \\r\\n\\r\\n\\n more
Feb 21
Blog: testing one two three by Geoff M.
(0 comments  |  discussions ) — hello world more
Blog: Garcinia Cambogia Reviews From Actual People Garcinia Pure Extract Is A Huge Success February 20 by Dany M.
(0 comments  |  0 discussions ) — \\nGarcinia Cambogia Reviews From Actual People Garcinia Pure Extract Is A Huge Success February 20\\r\\nGarcinia Cambogia System The Dr. Oz Lose Weight Quick Process Without Having Side Effects\\r\\nHe went on to say, “At any time I see a researcher... more
 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.