Five Practices for More Potent Prayer

Five Practices for More Potent Prayer Over the past 30 years I have had the good fortune to participate in many spiritual traditions, including Methodist Christianity, Islamic Sufism, Zen Buddhism, contemporary Paganism, Lakota ways and the Native American Church, Buryat Mongolian shamanism, and West Africa Ifá/Òrìṣà tradition. Despite tremendous diversity among these approaches to the sacred, some practice of prayer has been a strong thread of continuity. In my experience, teachings on the underlying assumptions about prayer are often embedded in communal ritual. Below are [...]

Taboo and Honoring Sacred Difference

Taboo and Honoring Sacred Difference The year is 2016 and tremendous violence continues to be perpetuated by people who seek to impose their reality on others by force. More extreme forms include hate crimes, terrorist attacks, acts of domestic violence, and religious or government policies to stifle cultural difference. Although most people would oppose on principle such overtly hateful forms of “othering”, seemingly minor and often unconscious acts of prejudice and micro-aggression are the ground in which violent extremism germinates and takes root. As [...]

Mountain Speak: On the Restoration of Mt Umunhum, San Jose, CA

Mountain Speak: On the Restoration of Mt Umunhum In early January 2009, I guided a dozen or so practitioners of diverse earth-honoring paths in a year of healing and honoring ceremonies focused in the Guadalupe Watershed. At the far southern end of San Francisco Estuary, the 170-square-mile drainage of the Guadalupe River includes the site of the most productive mercury mine in United States history, a sacred mountain for the Ohlone people (Mt. Umunhum) whose summit is still off limits due to lead and [...]

The Ghosts of Climate Change: Ancestors and the Global Ecosystem

Ghosts of Climate Change: Ancestors and the Global Ecosystem “Climate change is profoundly related to the troubled dead and the growing number of troubled ghosts now on Earth.” When Oya, a Yoruba goddess of storms, transformation, and the ancestors, communicated this to me during ritual, I was taken aback. I’ve related consciously with my own ancestors and guided others in ancestral healing work for over a decade, but I had never imagined a direct link between climate change and work with the dead. The [...]

Animism, Western Psychology, and Clinical Mental Health

Animism, Western Psychology, and Clinical Mental Health As a licensed marriage and family therapist and a doctor of psychology, I’m aware of both the alignment and tension between clinical mental health and traditional approaches to healing that include the ancestors, the natural world, and the unseen.  For those drawn to this subject, I have included the link for my dissertation that focused on the use of shamanic healing methods in a clinical mental health setting. I interviewed different types of clinicians in the United States [...]

Five Ways to Honor Your Ancestors

Five Ways to Honor Your Ancestors En Español: Cinco Maneras de Honorar a Tus Ancestros We all have ancestors, both of blood and of spirit, and each of our lives rests firmly on the foundation of their sacrifice. They are as near to us as our breath and bones, and when related with in conscious ways, they can be a tremendous source of healing, guidance, and companionship. The ancestors we choose to honor may include not only recent and more distant family but also [...]

My Journey with Buryat Shaman Sarangerel (1963-2006)

My Journey with Buryat Shaman Sarangerel Sarangerel and I met in the spring of 1999 in Athens, Ohio over a cold beer. She was in town to lead a weekend intensive hosted by my first teachers in earth spirituality, Bekki and Crow of the Church of Earth Healing. Of mixed Mongolian and European ancestry, Sarangerel was in the United States after spending most of the previous decade living in Russia and Mongolia training in the traditional ways of her Buryat Mongol ancestors. Her workshop [...]