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BearShamanism: Healing Ways and Methods

(A Weekend Intensive Retreat)
March 28 – 30
Led by Carol Proudfoot-Edgar
Coordinated and Assisted by Pirkko Miller
Open to all women wishing to learn BearHealing methods
Sequoia Retreat Center, Ben Lomond, (Santa Cruz County) CA

In all shamanic cultures of the Northern Hemisphere, "GreatGrandMother" is considered to be the Supreme Healer and Holder of Wisdom. She is called many names, all of which refer to some aspect of her unique healing powers. Contemporary people call her "Bear" when she wears her Earthly clothing and "BearSpirit" in her ephemeral forms. She is unique in this universal aspect of Healer. There are, of course, many other animal powers and spirit helpers who assist the shaman or the people in doing healing activities; She alone, however, is considered the essential teacher and guardian of healing ways. In many cultures the word for "Bear" and the word for "doctor" are the same. In Lakota and Pueblo tribes, the word for Medicine Woman is the same as for Bear. So we need to learn more about her healing ways if we are to truly be BearMedicineWomen.

She has been considered Healer since the BeforeTime and most likely humans learned of her Gift as Healer to the People through four primary sources:
1) Observing Bear's behavior in the wilderness - how Bears healed their own wounds and displayed behaviors that prevented illness
2) Dreams in which bears showed the shaman how to heal
3) Vision quests or shamanic journeys in which bear taught the shaman how to diagnose and heal the sick
4) Her Spirit appearing during the birthing of infants/emerging of the soul and Her Spirit appearing to accompany the soul of humans as they were crossing from their Earthly home to Elsewhere.

During the last six years while teaching BearMedicine in Montana, the retreats have been largely influenced by both the Land and the Cave. Our healing activities have usually involved times when the whole Circle worked together for those requesting healing, doing remote healing, and/or healing for the Earth.

Prior to teaching once a year in Montana, there were two annual BearMedicine retreats and one of those focused on learning specifically about the ‘medicine’ powers of Bear. During these last two years, I have been nudged, poked, dreamed, and called by GrandMother to devote time to workshops that focus on these healing powers. Thus, this year I will be teaching this workshop as well as the Advanced BearMedicine retreat in Montana. Thus those of us pursuing this path able to both Circle in the Montana Wilderness (Cave & Land) and Circle with the intention of BearSpirit learning healing ways and methods.

This Sequoia retreat will focus exclusively on exploring the healing powers of GrandMother – and, exploring what among these ways are we called individually to learn and practice. Participating in both retreats is preferable as this allows women to learn specific "ways"; to focus on deepening our knowledge of how to Circle; building our network of BearHealers; allowing time for individual growth within the Circle (Montana); and advancing towards that time when those who choose can become part of a larger teaching and healing network of BearMedicineWomen.

Among other activities, the retreat involves learning:
1) Working with plant spirits for Grandmother both uses and teaches humans about the plant people
2) Using our hands/paws as the conductors of healing energy ("My paws are sacred," says Grandmother and teaches us how to gather, hold, and move many different types of healing energy through our paws
3) Working with the StonePeople – "Stones and I are One; within the Stones lay healing vibrations" says GrandMother – and we may focus specifically on using crystals and/or color with regard to the StonePeople
4) Merging with Bear – this was essential to being a BearWomanHealer. It’s important to know how to "be Bear." A great deal of practice and discipline is required learning this and it is taken quite seriously as one is working with the most power-full of Spirits.
5) Medicine kits or pouches – BearHealers always have some type of "kit" or pouch, containing items used in both healing and for protection. What is to go into our individual ‘kit’ or pouch? We shall learn about this and, then make it so that when we are in Montana or working at home, we have this essential kit/pouch when doing BearMedicine
6) GrandMother says "speak of me, share my stories for therein is my healing made manifest too." We will explore the meaning of two or three of the ancient stories teaching of MedicineBear.

Participation in this intensive weekend is open only to those women who have been in prior BearMedicine Circles. If you are interested but have not taken a "BearMedicine Introductory Workshop", please go to the ShamanicVisions website or contact Pirkko Miller to see when these are being offered.
Both the longer retreat in Montana and this weekend will provide us with more extensive knowledge of BearMedicine; deepen our Circle ways; and assist us in moving through the initiations and rites that are essential in Women’s BearMedicine Clans.

Retreat Center
The Sequoia Retreat Center is located in Ben Lomond, California (Santa Cruz County). The Las Alas Lodge (Eagle Lodge) and adjacent Bird Cabins we will be using are nestled within large Redwoods and the coastal ecology of Madrone, Oak, Ferns --- beautiful filtered light during the day, often mist through the woodlands at night – a perfect place for Bears and BearWomen. Each of the carpeted cabins has its own bathroom and deck area. Individuals may have the option of double or single occupancy (for an additional fee) although we cannot guarantee single occupancy. It is located 1 1/2 hours from San Francisco International Airport and 45 minutes from San Jose International Airport. A map and more detailed information will be sent when participants register. Once registrations are received, women might coordinate arrangements to drive with each other and/or to pick up sisters from either SF or SJ airports. We are a Circle so we can learn how to support one another in reaching our destination.

Registration Information:
This retreat is offered through ShamanicVisions and co-sponsored by Shamanic Circles, a nonprofit with which both Carol and Pirkko are affiliated.

Coordinator: Pirkko Miller (Email: coordinates the Advanced BearMedicine workshops/retreats. All transactions should be done with Pirkko.

To Register:
To pay by check, fill out the registration form, send it with your $150 registration deposit made payable to ShamanicVisions and send to:
Pirkko Miller, P.O. Box 1465, Warsaw, Indiana 46581
Phone: (574) 834-3460

To pay by credit card click here, and register online.
(If you pay by credit card, we recommend payments be made in two installments: a deposit of $150 (or more) and then the remaining payment by Feb. 30th. Shamanic Circles is kind enough to provide secure credit card online service for this retreat. However, each transaction involves a cost to this nonprofit; to keep these charges as minimal as possible, we suggest two payments. If unable to do so, however, that is fine also.).

Total Cost: $460
(Lodging/food: = $261; Tuition/expenses = $199

Cancellations and Refund Policy:
We have rented Sequoia Retreat Center and must notify them by January 23rd if there are not enough participants for this workshop. Otherwise we are required to pay the full fee for renting. We would appreciate receiving your deposit as soon as possible and/or notifying us that you do plan to register.
If we receive notice of cancellation by Feb 1st, we will refund your deposits minus a $50 administrative charge (for the rental space).
Cancellations received after Feb 1st will receive no refund.
Unforeseen Events: if this retreat is canceled either by some emergency with the Retreat Center and/or the teacher of this workshop, you will receive a complete refund of what you have paid.

Note: The weekend following the "BearHealing Intensive" workshop, there will be another workshop at Sequoia Retreat Center: "Roots of the Same Tree: Judaic and Native American Shamanism" taught by Carol Proudfoot-Edgar and Ziva Garbi (from Israel). If you wish to participate in both of these, you can make reservations for lodging at Sequoia for the days between them. You can make these arrangements with Pirkko.

Return to 2003 workshop calendar