My Biography and Practice

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oct 2016 dec 2016 017

I combine my skills in psychotherapy, dream analysis, shamanism and education to provide individual sessions in dream work and shamanic counseling, both online and in person.

I enjoy experiencing the magic of helping someone and watching him or her come alive as he or she develops insight into dreaming and communication with the spirit world.

I also teach dream interpretation and various shamanic skills in workshops and online.

I have always believed in helping others help themselves. Furthermore, I know that knowledge is power and that communicating with the dream world and the spirit world  often results in clients’ empowerment.  My other goal is always to help people raise their conscious awareness and connect deeply with their soul and spirit and to mother nature and her creatures.

 BIOGRAPHYunnamed (2)

I was born in Oklahoma in the late sixties and grew up in a medium-size farm town where my dad practiced medicine at the local hospital and my mother,  a full time home maker and former teacher, made a good life for us, including my younger brother.

I was very fortunate to be able to go to an excellent college near Dallas, Texas, where I was able to fully manifest a love of learning and I developed a fascination with the field of psychology. Subsequently I went to graduate school in Pennsylvania and finally finished my Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1999. While at Duquesne University I developed a love for teaching, and I’ve spent the last twenty or so years refining that craft, teaching various psychology courses all around the country, since, it turns out, I have significant wanderlust in my veins.

After graduate school, I decided I wanted to concentrate on creative writing. I had loved writing since I was young, but didn’t think I could make a living at it, and I wanted to be more directly useful to others, so I entered the field of psychology instead; but the call of poetry and story-making would not be silenced, so finally I followed its seductive draw all the way to California. Where better to become a writer?

For the next seven years in the Bay Area in California, I worked in social services with troubled adolescent girls, or in academia teaching psychology, while I taught myself how to write poetry, short stories, and a novel. I also started dabbling in humor writing.

Shamanism introduced itself to me at that time in various ways, and I became totally enamoured with the various practices. The world could talk! Apparently there was a way to systematically connect with the natural world and the spirit world! The magic I had known in childhood, returned to me in another powerful form. After I participated in a vision quest in the Mojave desert, which changed my life, I pursued shamanic teachings and practices. And I began to understand how I had always had these gifts–writing, dancing, talking to nature and having it respond–my habit of always running around any new land or territory I found when I was young, and how I seemed to respond to places as if they were beings in their own right and just as important as human relationships. All of these are characteristic of earth-based, indigenous metaphysics. As an adult, my “territory” increased and I found the lands where I find myself most at home: The Southwest. 

As the years progressed, I found myself firmly on a spiritually-guided sacred path, developing wonderful relationships with various spirit guides, and creating a whole new relationship with the natural and human world, as well as understanding the deeper significance of myself as a writer, and also beginning to comprehend that I had a spiritual calling as a shamanic healer and as a “scribe,” meaning someone who writes in a shamanic way, and uses storytelling and humor as medicine.

Poetry has always been an ecstatic maneuver for me. While composing I would listen for the words as I tried to explore and grasp the space of an experience. I was doing a similar thing while writing a chapter in my novel. I so love it when the words, voice and characters and action just flow through me, so much better than anything I could design. In the middle of writing it a voice said, “Time for your vision quest so you can finish your novel.” Talking to the Spirits is like listening for the word of a poem, and then using the words you find, to communicate back to them. 

Who says that books and beings don’t talk to us? For me, shamanism and writing go hand in hand, and the word “scribe’, that I’ve borrowed from a Mayan tradition, seems very appropriate.

For someone who had been agnostic for a considerable amount of time, this evolution into being a “shamanic scribe,” came as a slow and enduring surprise. I took courses from the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, and continued to do “vision quest style” intensives on my own with peers who were doing the same kinds of exploration. My path is informed by various indigenous peoples of the America’s and a bit from overseas: the Celtic, Hindu, Buddist traditions. In this way I continued an in-depth personal initiation, with many highs and lows and some boring parts, into my shamanic and creative calling.  I was assisted by various teachers, mentors and friends along the way.

However, much of the Jaguar Path is solitary and very demanding. I have changed geographical locations several times at the guidance of The Jaguar House Spirit Guides and also changed my career path. There is nothing traditional about how I have lived my life. However, my life does reflect many aspects that are consistent with shamans, or medicine people. 

It is not easy be so different; however, part of my calling is to help others listen to their own calling and their own souls: every path is unique. Even when we are with others, it is best that we fly like Geese–in a formation that makes sense, but no one is directly in front of another.

I have done my best to follow the shamanic path. I have resisted at times, made compromises, but overall it has become the guiding force in my life. I owe my life, and its terrain, to many forces: my loving parents, family and friends, my cats, the Spirits and my own enduring life-force. It has been a fight to be who I am and to offer my real gifts to others. I have stayed on this path despite the Covid narratives and lockdowns and I have learned how reliable my Spiritual guidance is, how strong my own intuition and wisdom and endurance, and how willing I am to take a stand in all ways for the Sacred Life. 

During these years, I have experienced profound insight and healing, as well as levels of love and community that I had not known were possible. I also came to terms with isolation and the meaning of being alone, or at least being on a path that is often solitary, which I know is an essential part of any medicine practice, especially given the medicine house to which I belong: The House of Jaguar.

I also found out that most modern pathways into being a shamanic practitioner happen the way mine did: I have not been trained by some elder in a particular tradition (which would have been great and I really wanted something like that for a long time). Instead, I stumbled into my shamanic path  accidentally while also learning from various teachers and traditions. Everything I know and do has been hard won and has required commitment and courage. However, it was mostly many personal experiences and an evolving relationship with the Spirits and the living natural world that finally convinced me that this precisely is the shamanic initiation into my true being.

Then I wondered if I could help other people who are on the same kind of track. It is very difficult to embrace this path with any kind of success completely on one’s own, or even with guides from time to time. I began to suspect part of my role in the world is helping people understand the many contemporary forms of shamanic initiation.

I never dreamed I would end up doing what I’m doing, writing being the exception. You never know what might happen to you in life!

There is no place in the world like New Mexico. Even though I haven’t been everywhere in the world, I can say that it is profoundly unlike anywhere else I’ve lived or been, in the U.S., Mexico, South America or Europe.  I lived here for around 9 years, developing and refining a very personal relationship with my Spirit guides, and the profoundly beautiful land, and the spirits of the land.IMG_1320

It is here I envisioned The Jaguar House Shamanic Path. I thought I would build the practice in New Mexico, but the Spirits guided me to leave in 2019.  After a couple of years of adventures and misadventures, I have landed in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I am now building a shamanic practice and a community.

The Jaguar House is the medicine name for my shamanic practice and under its auspices I help people connect more firmly with their own souls and spirit through dream work, shamanic counseling, ritual and ceremony and the use of creative arts, including writing, to help the natural world and themselves. I also use humor and performing extensively since apparently one of my surprising talents is in fact, seeing how things are hilarious, ironic, ridiculous and just plain funny. Such is the human condition. I never dreamed I would end up in Arizona, although I did have a dream before I left New Mexico, where I was riding a horse backwards towards Sacred Mountain. I turned myself around, but then the horse was blindfolded. But the meaning was clear–one way or the other you are going to Sacred Mountain. Flagstaff is built at the foothills of the Sacred Peaks, that in English are called The San Francisco Peaks. You never know quite where you are going until you get there. Dreams are so wonderful and doing dream interpretation practices is something I love doing.

My companion website, or blog is http://www.laughingcoyoteproductions.com. In that blog I have created a character The Laughing Coyote, whose job it is to say all kinds of crazy things in order to create hilarity, and wisdom through the lens of the paradoxical trickster. “Reality,” on that website is up for grabs with different kinds of adult humor. 

I am not affiliated, nor do I claim to be affiliated with any particular set of practices or peoples. I am thankful for those people and those wisdom traditions that have educated me into these earth-based practices, but my practice is eclectic and generic and mostly developed through my own direct experience. 

The Spirit World has told me that my medicine house is that of Jaguar and that I’m the current incarnation of a line of female Jaguar House Shamans: #13 specifically. Thus, I practice under the protection and auspices of the House of the 13th Jaguar.

Currently I reside in Flagstaff, AZ which is where I landed half way through my CovidVacation, as I have come to call it.  I’m building The Jaguar House practice from my home and online. The adventure continues!

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