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HotNews June 2013

“It is an educational system that does not honour children or their crucialexpressions in the world…”

By Emilio Portal
“We don’t sit our kids down to teach them…we just live our lives.”
This phrase has become a kind of proverb for me. An old friend of mine and Dakota holy man, Wanbdi Wakita, said that once, referring to the traditional phenomenon of learning. Children learn what is right and wrong, how to play with others, how to speak the language, how to pick sweetgrass, how to start a Fire through observation, listening, patience and just doing. In this traditional context, which still exists today in many communities around the world, children are not reprimanded, physically abused or stopped from expressing what they need to express. Their expressions are understood as mirrors to the community that carry great healing and lessons for the People. Children are so free and close to the Divine that they often express elements of life that many adults, especially in our Western culture, have forgotten or suppressed completely. A child’s response is so direct and without premeditation that it has the ability to catch us off guard; this is the potency of their teaching, and the potency of  traditional life.
On the other side of the coin, Western culture has devised an immense system of indoctrination that sits children down from the age of 4, or perhaps from the age that they can speak and hear their parents, until they become young indebted adults in the university and college systems. Children are not only reprimanded, but graded, judged and necessary compared to each other by their teachers on almost everything they do, from hand writing, participation, playing, reading, manners, and so on. This does not cover the homogenized curriculum that is taught to children, which creates simplified, blanket concepts and notions in the mind’s of children about the world we live in. It is an educational system that does not honour children or their crucial expressions in the world, but rather a system that glorifies itself, adult and intellectual superiority, and its academic and intellectual ideology, rather than creative, emotional or spiritual growth.

By Karen Aberle
Every month (or almost) for the past 15 or so years, I have had the privilege of doing a fire.
As the day of the vigil approaches, I can feel the anticipation. It rarely feels like “oh good, I get to fast tomorrow.”  More often, I have a little anxiety that it will be hard or that I will get a headache.  The day of the vigil, it seems that every other person in the street is drinking a coffee or eating a sandwich. I long for my morning tea. I spend the day working to slow down and go inside. Sometimes I see clients. Sometimes, if the season’s right, I work in the garden. I try to nap to get myself ready for the long night ahead. Hunger is not so much an issue as a reminder. When my stomach growls I think, “this is my sacrifice to you my gods.” It’s little to give in asking for their wisdom and guidance.
This morning, I was reflecting on what this ritual has given me. It’s hard to put my finger on specifics, as the fire vigil has been only one piece of my practice as a shaman. I have grown in so many ways I can hardly remember who I was 15 years ago. But the day after the vigil life is always more vibrant. I have unpredictable energy. The meals (which we plan as we sit at the fire) are exquisite. So is the first glass of water. The gratitude for my cozy bed is immeasurable. The day after the vigil, my gratitude for everything in my life is expanded. I feel infused with light and peace. And I wonder how I could ever be anxious about a fire vigil again. But then, like a human, I start to forget. And then I get grateful for the opportunity to remember again next month.

By Joshua Cowan, Ritaka organizer for 2013
It is time to join together and share our views of the world. It is time to hear each other. It is time to emerge and shine. It is time to gather around the fire. It is time for Ritaka
Ritaka is an annual weekend gathering organized by young adults for young adults (ages 17-30). Young adulthood can be a very mysterious, uncertain and powerful time in our lives. We are trying to find our role within the world while juggling school, finding jobs, starting families and discovering who we are. Ritaka provides the time and space to experience the power of coming together. It is a time for us to deepen our connection to each other as young adults…a time to freely express ourselves and deeply hear each other. It’s a time to tap into that inner spark of our life’s purpose.
We will join together August 23-25 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. This year, we have the great blessing of having tsaurirrikame (fully initiated senior shaman in the Huichol tradition) Eliot Cowan join us to share his teachings.
Feel the urge to join? Check out the Ritaka page for more information about registration.
As young adults, we are still building our financial status, and greatly appreciate donations. Check out the Ritaka webpage for information about donations.
We hope to See you at Ritaka 2013 – August 23-25, 2013 in Chapel Hill, NC.


Ancient Wisdom Rising 2013 gathers at Blue Deer Center August 16-18. Plan to be there!
We’re excited that two Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Six Nations) elders will share their words with us this year: Oren Lyons (Onondaga) and Tom Porter (Mohawk). This is such an honor. Tom brings the gathering an ancestral grounding as BDC resides in the Mohawk homelands.
Participate in teachings, stories and ceremonies with four additional wisdom keepers including Sobonfu Some’ of the Dagara tribe of Burkina Faso, Eda Zavala of the Wari people of Peru, and Eliot Cowan of the Huichol tradition and Plant Spirit Medicine. (Join the AWR mailing list for elder updates and announcements.)


Sacred Fire Magazine ImageIn these crucial times of change, Sacred Fire shows people what’s cooking. Warm, illuminating, provocative–with a  force of heat and transformation–we shine a brilliant light on the joys and dangers of life. Find out more…


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Robin Lockwood

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Exploring the Mystery of Nature: 9th Annual Plant Spirit Medicine Conference

[This is an announcement for an upcoming conference for our sister group, the Plant Spirit Medicine Association. —Ed.] 

PSM Conference Image

9th Annual Plant Spirit Medicine Conference
Exploring the Mystery of Nature:
Deepening our Connection and Strengthening our Practice
Friday, June 28-Monday, July 1, 2013
Nature is the creative expression of Divine. Reawakening our listening to Nature has brought us to the miracle of Plant Spirit Medicine healing.
This year’s conference experience is designed to deepen our relationship and understanding of the natural world and bring the Plant Spirit Medicine healer into awareness of the tools available for this healing work which brings transformation to our clients. We invite those currently involved in the study of Plant Spirit Medicine, as well as those interested in learning more about Plant Spirit Medicine.
Join us at the 9th Annual Plant Spirit Medicine Conference, as we share, connect and grow deeper into the heart and the practice of this medicine.
Learn more about Plant Spirit Medicine.
Discover the Dance of Deep Community.


SFC Events ImageUpcoming Events

June 1-2, 2013

Clophill Centre, Clophill BedfordshirePeaceful Dying

June 1, 2013

Hurleyville,NY, Hurleyville NY

Ukalai Women’s Retreat

June 5-9, 2013

Blue Deer Centre, Margaretville, NY, USA

Grandfather FireJune 15, 2013

Clophill Centre, Clophill Bedfordshire

July 12-19, 2013

July 27, 2013

Grand Valley Hamlet, Mesa CO

August 10, 2013
Pepperell, Massachusetts, Pepperell

Ukalai Women’s Retreat

August 28-September 1, 2013

Portland Hamlet, Portland, Oregon, USA

August 31, 2013
Greensboro NC, Greensboro NC


Ukalai Women’s RetreatOctober 3-7, 2013

Alice Springs, NT, Australia


Blue Deer Center LogoEvents at the Blue Deer Center

June 22, 2013
June 28-July 1, 2013

July 2-5, 2013Plant Spirit Medicine Healer Training

July 18-25, 2013

July 27-August 1, 2013Ancient Wisdom Rising

August 16–18, 2013

September 27-29, 2013Plant Spirit Medicine Healer Training, Session One

October 28- November 4, 2013

at Gayles Retreat, East Sussex, UK


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