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Women, Shamanism and Bear Medicine
August 26 Sept 2, 2004 (8days/7nights)
Blacktail Ranch, Wolf Creek, Montana
Led by Carol Proudfoot-Edgar & Coordinated by Pirkko Miller
In Autumn1990 I taught my first workshop on Women and Bear Medicine in the Santa Cruz, California Cruz Mountains. At that time, it was one workshop in a series focused on the Lakota Medicine Wheel. Three years later while questing in the Colorado San Juan Mountains, I encountered a Mother Bear and her two cubs. From that encounter a Covenant I made to learn Her ways and work with Her in Circles with Women. This retreat in September marks 14 years of explorations, research, and foraging with other women as we track and walk with Bear in all her realms: Sky (Ursa Major), Earth (roaming the Land), and Within the Earth (Cave and Interiors). Under her tutelage have I learned how sacred are our paws, our hands; how she holds the souls of those entering and those leaving this earthly plane; and gathers in her healing cave, the lost souls waiting to be retrieved and taken home. There is no place in Wilderness She does not know and so to walk with her, to wilderness within and without one must go. She is known as the Supreme Physician, the Keeper of the Worlds, the Guardian of the Woods, the Mother-who-never-sleeps, the One Whose Fire will Never Die, and the one who Rebirths the World every Spring. All these names for her indicate powers, teachings, and medicine She has imparted and continues to share over the years. My Covenant with Her is to learn how to assist in tending all those activities implied in her many names
including being HoneyPaws or as someone once said, "to fill my hives, my home, with honey and wax thus sharing with others the two noblest of things, which are Sweetness and Light."
Six years ago, I began teaching the BearMedicine retreats at Blacktail Ranch in Wolf Creek, Montana. Now I cannot imagine a finer place for this shamanic path: for both Women and Bears. On this land, we gather with the Ancestral Spirits who have left traces, around an altar in an ancient cave, of their honoring of this Great Spirit. Through eons and still today, Bear is the supreme totemic spirit for shamanic people all across the Northern Hemisphere.
Every year new visions, ceremonies, healing ways, and teachings are revealed to the Circles focused on BearMedicine. In the months between each retreat, I make spiritual field notes called "from the Cave of Bear." These yearly notes are compilations from journeys, scientific research, dreams, remembering my tribal wisdom, stories, ceremonies revealed and enacted, songs, Cave paintings, images drawn or made by women in these Circles, dances, etc. I have such a Bundle of BearMedicine treasures from these 13 years that I pray I shall find the time and way to put all these together and share them with others in addition to the BearCircles with which I gather.
The yearly field notes from previous BearCircles are posted on my web site under the listing and links for those particular retreats The last two years I was ill and unable to do the extensive retreats. However, I did join with our small group of ElderBearWomen who are doing annual quests, guided by BearSpirit, to see how we might be of more service in the world. These notes are focused on what I learned while doing this questing.
When I left home two years ago for this annual visioning, it was two weeks after the terrorist attacks in this country and we were at Blacktail when the US began bombing Afghanistan. From our experiences in the Cave and within the Land, it was quite clear that the Ancestors and Guardians of this world knew that the humans were in deep, deep trouble and had lost their way. Hours we spent in prayer for the people and supplications we made to be shown the way of returning the Light of love to a world now plunged into outer darkness.
Early one morning as a blizzard swept across the land, White Buffalo Woman came out of the Snow; she appeared to sit beside the Madonna that was on our altar. They shared their stories of the history of the Humans. Then they shifted their positions and suddenly both were gazing at a crystal ball that was the Earth. As the Madonna gazed in sorrow upon this world, White Buffalo Woman spoke to us:
"No more sacrifice of life is required
Whats required is a change in your ways
The sacrifice has already been made
Now must you transform yourselves and your world around you
And we shall help you do this."
Then quietly did they leave the Hogan. In subsequent days we searched and journeyed to understand the meaning of this communication and to seek the help that was promised.
The essence of what was revealed in this seeking: we, the Humans need to learn, practice, and share with others the teachings, rites, and essential ceremonies that are appropriate for our times: the ceremonies of purification, forgiveness, making of new relations, and become Makers of Peace ourselves. Long ago, White Buffalo Woman brought to the people the gift of specific ceremonies that, if followed, would restore hope and ensure the prospering of the people and all within the Land a way of living in Holiness and Wholeness. These are not the ceremonies for us today yet the intention and principles held within them are eternal. Our challenge is to find the forms that embrace them. This is how we mend the hoop, restore the web, and nourish the Tree of Life doing the ceremonies required of us and on behalf of the Whole.
We were told it was important to learn to be WalkingBluePeople and that WalkingBluePeople transform through their bodies chaotic energies. It was important to learn how to be "blueness itself for blue connects all disparate parts and thus creates One-ness or Unity. We painted ourselves blue, mirroring blueness to one another. We breath in blueness from the sky, the waters, the stars, the flowers
and from time to time, I once again paint my face blue - learning to be WalkingBlueWoman. We continue seeking to understand what this means and how to embody.
"Pay attention to the arrival of new helpers in your Circle of Spirits. At this time in human history, new helpers and their companions - with different powers -are appearing to assist you (us) and the stories they share among themselves contain something essential for you to know".
For those of us learning BearMedicine, the new spirit helpers arriving are Turtle, Rattlesnake, Fire, Horse, Madonna, and White Buffalo Woman. As in the original Council of Animals, MotherBear again is calling the Animals and their Powers together, assigning their role in helping the humans. The message, however, was for all of us: pay attention to the arrival of new helpers in your Circle of Spirits
. They share something essential for you to know."
As with the previous year, we left Montana after our second questing, with a clear sense of purpose and service. We know there is a future we are being asked to create and a wise, patient urgency demanded of us. We feel blessed there are so many with whom we can be tending this world together blessed by the Guardian Spirits of this World who are closer than our own breaths to us.
I look forward to this retreat in August 2004. My heart leans into this time at Blacktail knowing I shall arrive with the fullness of Winter, Spring, and Summer into the fullness of Autumn approaching, Bear, and Women Circling together. When I leave from our Circling there, I come away strengthened so I dont crack and break in Winter. I come away having developed more the fire within that does not die through Winter. The Circle of Women walking this path together grows and grows
and we keep finding new ways of supporting one another in our practice and work when we return to our homelands: sharing the wisdom and ways of BearMedicine.
Love and Blessings, Carol Proudfoot-Edgar
Registration Information for Women, Shamanism, and BearMedicine
Workshop Descriptions: For more information about BearMedicine work, please go to prior descriptions of these retreats. These descriptions include photographic material on Blacktail Ranch, Wolf Creek, MT and material developed for previous retreats. Another area, BearCave Writings contains material about various shamanic medicine practices and stories related to BearMedicine. These various web pages will give one a sense for the focus of BearMedicine and the land within which this medicine is learned and taught. I invite you to read the generic article "What is Bear Medicine?" and "What are we called to Do when we Circle to learn BearMedicine?" This material will assist you in deciding if you want to participate in this years Circle.
You can view many images of Blacktail Ranch by clicking here
You can visit the Ranch website by clicking here
Registering: If you have not had a previous Bear workshop, contact Pirkko Miller to let her know of your shamanic background.
Previously we have had waiting lists. If you are interested, I encourage you to contact Pirkko soon.
You can register by mail (sending checks) or by using our secure online credit card payment form. Credit card registration can only be done at the web site. Here is the essential information for registering:
Workshop Costs and Payment Schedule
We have worked hard to keep these retreat costs as affordable as possible. We have managed to keep our costs the same for several years now. This year is slightly more than the last two but thats because another day has been added to the retreat. Given that many of us travel so far and it takes time to dip deep into our souls and deep into Circle it seems wise to give ourselves a full week together.
If for some reason, the following payment schedule presents you with difficulties in meeting the deadlines, please discuss this with Pirkko. Adjustment in payments can be made up to August 1st when complete payment is due.
The fees below do not include airfare, travel, and shuttle service from the airport and to the Ranch. Shuttle service is provided from the Great Falls, Montana airport on a group charter basis at $30 each way or $55 round trip. Pirkko Miller will be coordinating flight arrangements and shuttle service with the Ranch. A month prior to our gathering, more information will be sent about preparation to make and what to bring.
Dates: August 26 Sept 2nd, 2004
$1360 complete fee (no further payments required)
$300 deposit to reserve space
$600 due June 1st
$460 due August 1st
To register by mail fill in the registration form or simply send your deposit by check, made payable to Pirkko Miller and send to:
PO Box 193
North Webster, IN 46555
Phone: (574) 834-3460
To register using a credit card click here
Cancellation and Refund Policy: If you cancel before August 1, 2004, your payments minus a $150 administrative fee shall be completely refunded to you. If you cancel after August 1st, no refund is made. If some emergency arises either with Blacktail Ranch and/or with the workshop leader, causing cancellation of this retreat, your money will be completely refunded.