I was born by a river and have lived by rivers all my life. The realm of my origins encompassed the ‘mouth-waters’ of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and the New York City environs. Early on I traveled nationally and internationally – which in addition to my family origins, provided me a first-hand view of cultural and ethnic diversity.
As a child, I felt sustained by the natural world as it informed, inspired, delighted, frightened and comforted me – and it still does. I lived with a strong sense of a greater hidden reality connected to Nature – and I still do.
The settings of my childhood fostered my bond with the natural world – from the gentle shores of the Chesapeake Bay as it merges with the Atlantic Ocean to family farms in both Virginia and Maryland, to summers on a small island off the coast of Long Island, NY. To this day, my fascination with the Canadian north country is alive and well, thanks to camping and berry-picking adventures with my father and family. A pre-school cross-country trip to Salt Lake City and California initiated my way west later in life, when the Rocky Mountains became my home for twenty-two years.
I owe a great deal to my elders. It was my grandmother who first named me and who, at day’s end, would beckon me to join her at the doorway as sunset unfolded across the river. It was she who introduced me to the moon and the moon’s ability to follow us everywhere. I had a beautiful mother who loved storms and both my father and maternal grandfather were passionate story-tellers. I can still hear their voices recounting ancient Greek myths and well-loved animal tales of the south, including the sometimes outrageous humor and pathos of life lived as a human animal.
As a young woman I worked as a fire lookout for the Forest Service in New Mexico. There I perched upon an isolated steel tower rising almost ninety feet high at an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level, watching over miles and miles of forested hills, canyons, and desert beyond. Vistas of that magnitude irrevocably altered my personal map of reality.
Day after day, as I sat alone at the top of this tower surrounded by the vast, rugged landscape below, I also experienced an intimacy with the living sky as it transformed from brilliant days of magnificent cloud formations, late spring snowstorms, dense fog banks rolling up and over mountain foothills like waterfalls and a towering, gritty dust storm as it ate up the desert below. I felt winds of every sort of temperament, and survived thunderstorms that left me awestruck and sometimes shaken as lightning danced wildly on nearby sky and ground.
Later, I moved to the Snake River country and attended the University of Idaho and Washington State University, to eventually earn a degree in Anthropology at about the same time my son was born. At this point, the course of my life shifted and intensified in a new way, as once again, my personal reality map stretched beyond its former boundaries.
Montana became my next home where I earned another degree in Education and began teaching in a rural school in Manhattan, Montana. A few more years passed and I entered graduate school at Montana State University where halfway through, in a Native American Studies course on religion and philosophy, I discovered Michael Harner’s book, The Way of the Shaman, and his teachings of core shamanism. This was a ‘Eureka!’ moment and circled back to a Big Dream of a year before that presaged this incredible discovery and subsequent unfolding of path.
This path has brought me upheaval, healing, great joy, challenge, and profound learning. Along the way, I have been gifted with fine teachers and friends – both in this ordinary as well as non-ordinary reality. My ongoing explorations and learning continue to reshape my personal reality maps as I experience the great compassion, wisdom, power, and humor of the helping Spirits. Their alliances inspire me and sustain my love of life and desire to be of ‘glad service’ – whenever and however I can.
Today I teach the same Foundation for Shamanic Studies workshops that fostered my own spiritual growth and practice of shamanism – in time bringing me to my calling to Weather Shamanism. It has been, and still is, an exciting time of explorations and ultimately, of sharing good things.