DR. STEHR’S PHILOSOPHY, PRACTICE and BIOGRAPHY
(My professional credentials are on the Credentials page).
My last name is pronounced ‘stair,’ or ‘stare.’ You are welcome to call me Deborah if you like.)
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 really enjoy interacting personally by phone, face-to-face, or online using Skype. Dream interpretation and shamanic counseling are most effective when I can help the person directly integrate the information into his or her daily life. 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, mostly in the Santa Fe, Northern New Mexico area. I teach these skills privately also, in the role of mentor and teacher, either online or face-to-face.
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.
I was born in Oklahoma in the late sixties and grew up in a small 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 I began a novel. I also started dabbling in humor writing.
Shamanism introduced itself to me at that time as well in various ways and I became totally enamoured. Apparently there was a way to systematically connect with the natural world and the spirit world! After I participated in a vision quest in the Mojave desert, which changed my life, I pursued shamanic teachings and practices.
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, at least part of the time. My emerging novel, Stalking Avalon, is the story of a how a woman finds her real talents, including being a shaman. In fact, it was the novel that sent me on a vision quest to begin with.
Poetry has always been an ecstatic manuever 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 it a voice said, “Time for your vision quest so you can finish your novel.”
Who says that books and being 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. 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, often helped out with a personal mentor and wise woman, Christina Einsminger, who is also a shaman, during key points, or at times when I blundered into trouble. During these years, I 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.
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. 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!
From there, my spirit guides told me to go to Portland, Oregon,where I made great friends, published more writing, did sacred rituals ceremonies in nature, experimented with writing workshops that combined shamanism and writing, participated in writing groups, and built the first iteration of the Jaguar House and began to practice shamanism. After only two years there, I was called to New Mexico, so I moved to the outskirts of Santa Fe and here I remain.
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.
It is here I have been guided and also have decided to build the second iteration of the Jaguar House. This 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 hilariousy funny. 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 lense of the paradoxical trickster. “Reality,” on that website is up for grabs.
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.
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.