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Women, Shamanism and BearMedicine Advanced Workshop/Retreat
Sept. 20 Sept. 26, 2002
Led by Carol Proudfoot-Edgar
Coordinated by Pirkko Miller
Assistants: Pirkko, Susan Gilliland, Laurie Levon
For those of you who have not been in a retreat with me that focuses on Women, Shamanism and Bear Medicine, you can find the basic description of this path by reading the generic letter I wrote several years ago that describes "What is Bear Medicine" and "What we are Called to do when we Circle to learn BearMedicine.".
Each year I send an update about what I have learned since the last BearCircle retreat. These updates indicate what are the new areas we most likely will be exploring for this years gathering. Walking this path is a continuous journey of discovery no retreat is ever the same although each is grounded in the fundamentals of "Women Circling" and learning more and more of the Medicine Ways of BearShamanism. By updating my experiences on this path, you have the opportunity to see if what we will be doing "calls" to you and thus, whether you wish to participate.
So this letter has two essential parts: first, sharing my reflections with you as to how BearMedicine is currently evolving; second, providing you with the specific details for registering if you are interested in participating.
These details include cost, the option to pay by check or credit card, and how to contact Pirkko Miller who does all the coordination on behalf of these BearMedicine Circles. You can go immediately to this information by clinking here (links) or continue reading this letter and click on the links provided at the end of the letter. Please do send any questions you have about this retreat to Pirkko Miller at email@example.com
Also, over the next three months, the "Bear" pages at this web site will be undergoing revision and I will be adding new material. I will continue to do this until the BearCircle retreat in Montana. These pages will have graphics to elicit the "visionary" aspects of BearShamanism, recommended books, and material I have written on this subject. Thus I invite you to visit what I will be calling "MotherBears Cave" later in Spring
Between now and early April, my attention will be on preparing for The International Shamanic Gathering at Oracle, Arizona, April 3 7, which is coordinated by Shamanic Circles. If you do not know about this gathering, I encourage you to visit our nonprofit web site (www.shamaniccircles.org) because this is a rare opportunity to gather with people from around the world who come with the intention to share of their gifts and do healing on behalf of the Whole.
After Oracle, however, I will be focusing more fully on BearMedicine as well as other workshops or teachings that are on the horizon between now and the time of gathering in Montana. Speaking of other workshops I will b doing. As you will see from my calendar, Sandra Ingerman and I plan to be teaching and exploring "new ways of journeying" this coming August. For those of you interested in learning new ways, I wish to reassure you that whatever we learn from our August workshop that seems to be of real benefit in connecting more deeply with the Spirits, we will include such "ways" at the BearMedicine retreat.
Of course, sharing these new ways with you, is different from taking a workshop with the two of us (which I look forward to) yet I always bring to the BearMedicine Circles any new revelations, visions, ceremonies or ways of partnering with Spirit that I perceive to be powerful and efficacious: thats my own commitment to keeping Covenant with SpiritBear and with the Circle of Women with whom I gather.
And, if you are interested in some periodic reflection or meditation regarding BearMedicine, then check into MotherBears Cave at ShamanicVisions from time to time starting late April
..April being the appropriate time since thats when Bear begins roaming the Earth, emerging forth with cubs and all thats been seeded and borne fruit in the deep Wintering time.
Now I want to share some reflections with you that will influence the Advanced Bear Medicine Circle and our activities next September. This is a long letter necessary for updating me and BearMedicine with you. I suggest you print and read, then decide if you wish to participate.
If after reading this letter, you wish to participate, I encourage you to make the initial deposit and let Pirkko Miller (coordinator of these retreats) know as soon as possible. Enrollment is limited and we continue to have waiting lists in the last few years.
Reflections from the Year 2001 My Own Year of Questing
I was on Sabbatical in 2001 and did not do any teaching I wanted time apart to search my own soul and time at home after years of intensive travel.
I planned my year so that I would take myself to Blacktail Ranch (Montana) in late September & early October. My quest was to learn if, after a year apart from teaching, was I to continue Walking with Bear, discovering more and more of Her medicine ways or should I be teaching or doing some other entirely different work. I was completely open to whatever Spirit might reveal to me. I found myself using those months for a deep replenishing of my body, my spirit, and new discoveries in my relationship with my husband and the land upon which we live.
As the months passed, the time was approaching for going to Montana and I realized how deeply was there this question within me:
"Where oh where am I to seek
And where am I to Walk with others
And what, if any, questing remains for me in the Lands of MedicineBear
Or should I place my heart, my focus, my intentions now elsewhere?"
After so many years of teaching, I felt that deep soul thirst
That urgency of "I must go to the mountains again
I must find my souls path
.I must find what Calls me now
I must to the mountains go
to my spiritual home at Blacktail Ranch"
Then came September 11---I was to leave in just a few days
..feeling shattered by the events in our country, a part of me wished to stay at home
a voice whispering: "Do not go anywhere Carol; just hunker down with husband, and dog
.be as safe as possible
.pray for those who have died, pray for their families and friends, and for our world----BUT stay home
." Within me the outer world was suddenly exponentially more dangerous and to leave the safety of home seemed reckless
as if I was inviting more danger into my life. Traveling seemed full of actual terrors just waiting to happen to any one of us, at any moment. I couldnt bear the thought of not being with Bob under such circumstances----together facing whatever challenges and held by the strong love between us and being in prayer together, working with our helping Spirits to send peace and compassion as far as the wind could carry.
Yet another Voice within me said "of course, Carol,
the World steps in sometimes and tears us apart,
replacing a previously smaller view of the world
for the potential spacious opening of your soul
let your soul be widened,
and your decision to quest are profoundly related.
And what better time to be going questing
if you wish to serve Spirit and people
what better time???
We humans are in deep trouble go and see what Spirit has to teach you
about these times and how to walk mindfully in a world
So full of fear and trembling
So off I went questing with a very small group of women with whom Ive walked the shamanic path over many years. I had asked them if they wished to join me in questing for each of them, too, seemed at a turning point in their shamanic practice. And I knew from the beginning that if I was to discover some other path, I wanted to share it with those who had committed to supporting each other however and wherever Spirit calls us to serve...
I also know the importance of gathering helpers when any crisis of spirit arises. I was following the ancient way of women being singers at one anothers back rather than the way of the man going alone on his quest. This way of questing I saw was the way for me.
While in Montana, I spent time in Circle and a lot of time alone on the land
searching for new places on the land calling to me.
There at Blacktail Ranch, not only did I find myself in renewed covenant with BearSpirit and Her with me
. but I felt like I had returned to the place from which my walk began when I first met SheBear and her cubs in Colorado years and years ago.
For from that initial meeting with SheBear did I return home to learn again and explore more deeply the meaning of the oldest Native story in North America: the story of how we came to be "part human, part Bear." The essence of the story has to do with "how" to return to right-relationship with all beings with whom we share this Earth home, this jewel of a planet.
And Bear medicine is exactly what that is all about --- whatever specific activities we are doing: the intention is to learn to return home to the wilderness of our own being, share wilderness with all beings, and know how to return to harmony when disharmony ruptures our world or ourselves. And learn how to keep faith, discipline, and practice in being what I call a WalkingPrayer.
During my questing time, new worlds and teachers made themselves known to me and they now become part of the ever widening circle of Bears relatives with whom we are to work and play. When I speak of "Bear" it is important to remember that I am referring to SheBear as the primal female archetypecoming into the World before ever did humans and human female archetypes
and that SheBear carries all qualities, all cycles, and wisdom of the Womans Way of Knowing in shamanism.
Yet Bear too is in a Hoop of other relatives and each has something to teach, some wisdom necessary for us. Whats significant in the old stories is that in the Council of Animals, it is Bear that imparts to each their special powers, assigns their roles, and that is why she is considered the Supreme Keeper of the Wilderness (of nature). That is why we are gifted with being part Bear thats what the old, old story is all about: we are part Bear, we partake in Bears essence. And this is critical for us to know; it is important to awaken that essential part of ourselves for therein may we walk with beauty and wisdom in the world. Through journeys and activities that connect us with Bear, we learn the ways of others and how to live in the Hoop of good relationship.
For example, if we walk with listening ears, observing eyes, sensing skin, and open heart, we will discover what the other beings have to teach for we share in Bears inner wisdom and carry in our bones the Council of Animals as originally created. So say the stories
.so speak our Ancestors. Stories are not truth as such
stories are pointers to what is almost impossible to speak in any form other than story. Yet at the level of story, we also know in the deepest way what is meaningful, wise, and essential to hold in our souls, and behavior to practice.
So now others are joining to lend of their medicine and we will be working with them in Montana come this September.
For me a primary experience during my quest was going to the grave of White Buffalo Woman. Tag (owner and steward of Blacktail Ranch) had mentioned her grave to me through the years that Ive been teaching there. However, for whatever reasons, I was not called to visit her grave
and I listen to be called before I act.
In ceremonial time at the SunWheel on the land, Tag presented me with a Bear skull, thanking me for all I had given (his word). I could hardly speak - feeling the power of the moment, and from the Bears skull itself----then there was a voice like a lighting streak that went through me as I stood there speechless
.I heard the words "come now" and knew this was the woman in the grave. So later that morning I agreed to meet with Tag at the grave side. In the first time of lying beside the grave, I suddenly saw how she walked across the Plains, into this Montana land and I knew in part why I feel so much at home at Blacktail for she is also the spiritual ancestor/teacher of the Lakota Sioux
.it was like discovering your ancestors major spiritual teacher had actually traveled to other lands, was known to other people, and you had previously relegated her only to a specific place (the Dakotas). I had a new respect for her journeys and her commitment to walk far and wide in order to share wisdom with as many as she could. Just as the buffalo roamed, so did White Buffalo woman. I became aware of her as the real historical person she was
(just like Buddha, Jesus, Abraham, Mary/Madonna) all these special people that we come to know as both mythic and historical. And here was I at her grave side with her final historical features: her bones.
That afternoon I go with the group singing to her, calling to her, asking her to come to us as she did in the old times
White Buffalo Woman
Im coming to you
White Buffalo Woman
Im calling to you
Please come and meet us
Please come our way
White Buffalo Woman
Im Calling to You
We need your wisdom..
For we are lost;
The world is in trouble
The hoop is broken
The web torn apart
White Buffalo Woman
Im Calling to You
Please come to us,
I am praying of you"
Thus did I sing walking from the Ranch house up to the Hogan.as we all went to her grave together this time. And by her grave we each had our own profound experience----perhaps to be shared in September.
Then Snow began falling during that night
by morning time, there was both strong wind and snow
blizzard sweeping across the land
..I was absolutely in one of the most ecstatic states I can ever remember----like living in a time of revelation, something Big shifting and arriving with the snow.
Sitting there in the Hogan, I began remembering how She first came to the Lakota with the very first Winter storm
.thats why she is called WhiteBuffaloWoman because in the midst of those forms that swirling snows can take, she appeared as a white calf from the distance but as she drew closer to the two young men, she was clearly a lovely, beautiful woman.
I am sitting on the Hogan floor, telling this story that, along with Jumping Mouse, is one of the oldest stories in my bones, from my childhood
heard, not read, but heard
and I am now re-hearing and sharing with this small group of BearSisters who are questing with me. As I am telling the story, She rises up from the grave, moves across the land, the Hogan changes. Objects on the altar shifting, taking on different light, different relationship with each other. I have us back in the old times and now I know why she is returning and why I had not been called to visit her grave before. I will share more of her in September
we will learn more about, with, and from her for she is calling us NOW. Many of the ancient ones are always available for learning about through reading or hearing from others
.yet there are moments in human history, in our lives, when a Presence steps forth in her or his own true form for it is a time when what that Being knows and holds is essential to be known to the people. Her nature and the essence of what she shared is now needed and so She comes.
And what we need to learn together, practice, and share with others in the world are the ways, the rites, the essential ceremonies that are appropriate for our times. Their principles are eternal; their form can shift over the ages. We are called to understand the principles and to find the forms that embrace them: thus to mend the hoop, the web, and restore harmony. We begin with ourselves, our Circle, and from there we go forth and share as appropriate to each of us in our own expressive uniqueness.
And I am astonished as I write this to remember that in 1996 while lying by the beach in Asilomar, California (my jaw dislocated then), I was in great pain and waiting for Bob, my husband, to come take me home. Falling asleep I was taken deep below into the waters and was shown there were 7 "initiations" involved in learning to be a MedicineBearWoman. I wrote about this to the Circle with which I was working at the time. I assumed (silly me!!) we would then go through these seven initiations in our next couple of years. Not so, not so
..doesnt work that way
..this was a vision seeded for the future
..and since my time in Montana, I understand why three of those steps have been taken
.now we enter the four that have to do with restoring of purity of heart, right relationship, and the making of "all beings as our relatives" to whom we do no harm
.rather learn strong compassionate wisdom that sees and embraces that we are of one large Hoop, rooted and sheltered by one Tree of Life
and we have some marvelous learning to do together.
Here are the images of other relations with whom I think we will be working because they continue to visit me during the day and in my dreams since returning from Montana this last year. They continue also to assist me in working to help the crossing of souls from the violence of Sept 11
.and not just in the USA but the unfolding violence rippling almost everywhere. They teach me also, how very important is the sturdiness of soul and tending of friends or others that also are walking to create a wider vortex of peace. We are definitely faced with choices to make and making the choice of love, for life, in Circle with others creates power too that changes and shapes the world.
There is a future we are being asked to create and a wise, patient urgency being demanded of us
yet joyous work to do together in order to unfold this future one that is fit and honoring of the gift of life, the gift of this Earth, of this Universe.
Other seeds and images (actual details of beings that were seen or revealed in Montana this last September)
.I think of them as seeds from this time of questing
.and for our Circling together
Bear making widening circles in the night Sky
The Moon widens her Circle in response
For one night we must stay awake together and live within the widening
Circles of the Night --- those Circles of the Night widen the Circles of our hearts and stretch us out across the world, the universe
..give ourselves to this widening
learning even more about being Walking Stars in a world that is now often Dark when the Sun is shining.
White Buffalo Womans bones are singing
She wishes to walk in our Circle with us .listening
Madonna keeping her gaze on the Whole World in the center of the altar
The two of them are saying "no more sacrifice of life is required
Whats required is a change in our ways
..the sacrifice has already been made
The Medicine Wheel with fire in the center
Fire in the center of the Earth, fire in the Sky
Learn to be and work with Fire just as we work with water and River Bear
Crystals are being activated----special minerals of the Earth are they
Learning to be CrystalBears
and to do healing with crystals
Ancestors are now wishing to be sung from the Cave
Walk on the Land, share their teachings with those above and on the Earth
We must sing them forth and listen to them
.and pass along the medicine we are given
Rattlesnake and Bear have a special relationship
important for us to know.
Horses are there like Chiron in the Sky
.before ever riding again the horses on the land at Blacktail, we must come to them in a new spiritual way..and we shall have that opportunity if we so choose.
Turtle has now surfaced as an active teacher, story teller. Turtles very nature and structure is going to help us put the pieces of ourselves back together
pieces of our world broken and fragmented
Sun Power enters our Womans Circle
.time to bring more Sun essence
while continuing to Dance with Moon
Within the Cave at Blacktail is Blueness
..all around as is the Sky
Within the Cave is being within the Ocean
I am told we are to learn to be Walking Blue Women
Blue cleanses, heals, transforms, and connects all
..sky, ocean, rivers, lake
Each of us will know what this means
.we shall be shown
Often have we entered the Cave, darkness there like the Night
Now we shall explore the all night Cave
By spending all night within the Dome of the Sky
and the dancing floor of the ground
So there is much shifting in our focus
Just as there is much shifting in our world
We are not being left alone but being called to gather
I was told "you are privileged to live in these times when the disease and the suffering of this world is ever so manifest everywhere
And to see how the paradigms no longer hold and transformation is not an option but a requirement if we choose to prosper, love, and cherish life itself."
And Bear Medicine has been preparing us for the leap in heart and imagination that is required to take the next big steps
Helping to shift our world and ourselves to the great new mythic way seeking to be born
In amazement now, I can track down through the years, the various pieces of this path that have indicated we were to arrive to Here so we could learn This and become Different and become more Whole.
Become more Holy as was intended when first GrandmotherBear of the Great Waters climbed to the Moon and tossed from the Moon the chunks that would become the Earth
ensuring for her children a place to stand, to live, to create, to love and enjoy each other
as was intended and occurred
until somehow we lost our way
Now is the time to Return to our Essence and learn rites and ways beneficial to the Whole
.both in specific acts and in how we Ensoul our World by giving ourselves to the transformation and cherishing of our own souls and all our relations.
I look forward with enduring yearning to September
..and to the promises made last Fall of the Helpers there
..for I have never known any spirit helper to breach a promise. My task and our task together - is keeping an open heart, exploring mind, and respect for others as the requirements made of us for promises to be fulfilled.
May we continue our prayers for our world
And take joy in the delights with which we are gifted
And when we would turn away from another,
remember we turn our back on ourselves
Find some way to take the hand of someone you dont know
and enchant them with the beauty of this world
or listen as they enchant you
We just never know where the gifts will come
Blessings that will keep us strong in spirit and body
May we all walk prayerfully
with feet that hear
the next move to make that keeps us
as strong as needed,
as centered as needed,
and able to connect with the yearning
of so many to know loving human community.
Blessings and my love I send you,
Workshop Costs and Payment Schedule
Dates: Sept 20 26, 2002 (6 night/7days)
Total Cost: $1190 ($170 per day)
$250deposit to reserve place in workshop
$500due May 1st
$440due August 1st
To register by mail click here
To register using a credit card click here
Cancelation Policy: cancellations received before August 1st, 2002: refund of payments made minus $150. No refunds after August 1st, 2002.
Travel recommendation: our refund policy is necessary. Because of this, I recommend that you buy travel insurance when purchasing tickets. Twice in the last year I have had to cancel travel plans for personal reasons. My experience with the first cancellation taught me the wisdom of buying travel insurance which is very reasonable and protects you if you need to cancel.
If the retreat is canceled by Carol, then everyone is refunded their complete funds. I only mention this about travel because for the last two years (fire one year; terrorist attacks this last year), there have been moments of wondering if going to Montana would be possible. Indeed, I have come to think that the journey to Montana itself is full of surprises (that turn out to be spiritual preparation!). I cant imagine not being in Montana come September!! However, I do suggest travel insurance. Remember and be assured that if I have to cancel the workshop, you are completely refunded all your deposit.
To register by mail click here
To register using a credit card click here
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