Women, Shamanism, and BearMedicine

 Seven Day Intensive Experiential Retreat

 Sept 10 – 16, 2007

Blacktail Ranch, Wolf Creek, Montana
(2 hrs. from Great Falls, MT)

With Carol Proudfoot-Edgar
Assisted by Susan Gilliland and Pirkko Miller

As we move into ColdMaker’s season, we brace ourselves for the many ways in which fierce weather can seep into our homes and bones. Just as we create fires to warm our bodies, so too can we meditate on those thoughts or events which can stoke our hearts in the Winter and bring us joy in the seasons following.

In shamanic cultures, Winter gathering ‘round the fires is accompanied by remembrance of beautiful places on Earth in Springtime --- dancing or merging with one’s power animals to increase the heat that needs no fuel to burn --- or following the WinterWays of their Guardian Spirit.,,.and the combination of these creates a joy so profound that Winter is welcome even though it be the hardest of times.

One thread of studies in BearMedicine is how we manifest as seasonal beings on this planet – that is how might we reclaim the wilderness of our own being – the wildness that we are – creatures who change their very beings and bodies in accordance with the changes of their Earth Mother. Knowing how to shed and what to shed,

how to green and be greened,
how to harden, how to soften,
having power to be incredibly hot,
having power to be unbelievably cold;

Having the capacity to withdraw into utter silence
Or to be raucous, loud, seeming end - disappearing into MotherEarth
While in the same moment, something’s born in the Breath that appears….

As we announce this retreat for next September, we pause to acknowledge what this Tutelary Guardian is doing Now. Likewise for those who register, we will have periodic updatings of the seasonal cycles and related spiritual matters between now and when we gather in Montana come next Fall.

By now all Bears in the Northern Hemisphere have responded to their bodies’ yearnings to enter their place of hibernation for the Winter months…. and therein, many females carry the embryo that Earth will welcome as cubs come next Spring. They have completed all preparations necessary to ensure an untroubled DreamingTime……somewhere a cave…tree hollow or mounded snow shelters and holds these beloved Guardians of Earth deep within her dark womb.

Likewise we have completed the necessary preparations for our “Shamanism and Bear Medicine” gathering next year at Blacktail Ranch.

We have signed our contract with Blacktail Ranch and are now urging those of you interested to send in your registration deposit for Shamanism, Women & BearMedicine, September 10 – 16, 2007 (6 nights/7days)

As you make your decision about registering to participate next year, September there are a few things I would like to share with you.

This announcement addresses the following: our focus next year, changes in place and lodging at Blacktail, costs for the retreat, scholarships, homework between now and September, registration and payment schedule, and some concluding remarks.. If you have any questions, let me know or write Pirkko Miller if it concerns registration matters. All contact information will be at the bottom of this announcement.

Our focus: I will not be posting a full description of this retreat until later in the year. What new techniques or ceremonies will be introduced next September will become known over these Winter dreaming months for that is when I, too, hibernate to dream and quest with BearSpirit and her Clan lineage. In addition, conversations among ourselves, in our monthly emails, may surface individual or collective issues that we need to understand how this medicine path approaches or seeks to heal.

If you wish to learn more about ‘what we do’ or share with another sister, then go to follow the links in this website to BearMedicine materials. Anyone reading these previous letters and articles I have written will have a good understanding of how we do ourselves in Circle and the nature of this medicine walk.

Place and Lodging: Blacktail Ranch has raised its lodging cost and I know I was surprised by the hefty increase. We did manage to negotiate some lowering of the cost for our group – but still it is an increase. I spent considerable time after learning of this to discern “should I teach BearMedicine at Blacktail?  Is it worth this cost?” Obviously that is a difficult question but I am extremely sensitive to the issue of affordability for shamanic workshops….or for providing others with the opportunity to gather in Circle for the explicit purpose of furthering the evolution of our souls and prospering our journey on this Planet.

After journeys and reflections, I realized that there is no place in North America where you have the special, embodied spiritual treasures that are at Blacktail coupled with that incredibly beautiful expanse of land, mountains, and river. There is the Cave, the grave of White Buffalo Woman, the Medicine Wheel, the Sun Wheel, and the tools or artifacts that can still be discovered on the land. What are legends or important abstract paradigms in shamanism, e.g. the Sun Wheel and White Buffalo Woman, have lived and are actually present at Blacktail. That makes this a very, very special place to further one’s shamanic walk. And the fact that BearMedicine was a major practice of the Ancestors there, means the Cave and surrounding Spirits provide opportunities we just can’t find elsewhere. In addition, there is the very wilderness and the bears themselves.

Then there is the Hogan, the newly refurbished Lodge, the large Cabin by the Lodge, the 3 new cabins, and the owners (Sandra and Tag) who truly care about us and about this spiritual work.  This simply isn’t available except in this one place.

It is with, and from, these reflections that I decided to have our coordinator, Pirkko, develop a contract with Sandra for our return this next September.

What I can do to keep our cost as low as possible is to keep my tuition charges minimal and to try and curtail related expenses. And I have done this. I continue to keep my tuition fees the same as they have been for the last ten years for BearMedicine.

         Cost: $1, 250  or ($208.33 per day)

I like to point out the daily cost since the overall costs can seem so large; if I think about it on a per day basis that sometimes helps me assess differently.

These fees cover lodging and tuition. They do not include travel to and from the Ranch. If you plan to use the shuttle, you need to let Pirkko know this when you get around to making your travel plans.

There are two private cabins available (one single, one double) but they cost about $45 more per day. If you want to use one of these, let Pirkko know and she will inform you of the complete cost. Otherwise all other lodging cost the same. We will determine how to do denning or rooming arrangements in early September.

Partial Scholarships: Through the generosity of some women in our circles, there are some funds available to assist those who otherwise would not be able to come. If you are in this situation, please contact Pirkko. I am very grateful to those sisters who make such contributions to their other sisters.  Please do not be shy about asking for help if you need it. At the same time, if we use these funds wisely then we can offer scholarship support from $300 to $400 for 3 to 5 sisters. Obviously if individual requests are for more than this, then fewer women will be assisted. In addition, we can reserve these for other bear medicine circles at other times and places.

These gifts of funds are another reminder for us all to share when we can….I have known times of increase and times of decrease in my own life. Times when I needed scholarships; times when I was able to offer them. To live and act from that understanding is a great teaching and really, the way of living both Whole and Holy. If there are others of you who can contribute, I invite you to do so. You can send your contribution to Pirkko and make a tax-deductible donation payable to Shamanic Circles. Shamanic Circles then makes these funds available to the workshop participants.

As with other opportunities for shamanic studies, I am sure there are some women who will not be able to come because they do not have the income; this saddens me considerably. So whatever we can do, let’s do together as Sisters of the Circle Way.

         Activities between now and September

I have decided that one way to maximize our time together is to develop ongoing conversation as a Circle between the time of forming our Circle (through registration) and September.

Beginning in February, I will send a monthly commentary in which I track what is happening in the ‘world of bear’ in the dreaming time and invite us to journey and explore the similarities in our own lives. Thus we will be doing work together---homework if you will.  To me this is as essential in its own way as is our time together in September. I’ll expect all of us to engage, via email, in responding to each month’s focus. In this way, we will be doing both work in the Now and laying the ground work of preparedness for when we come together in Circle at Blacktail.

This is one of the reasons I am asking women to make a deposit as soon as possible and send to Pirkko.

         Registration and Payment Schedule

***Both for reasons of lodging comfort and maximum learning, our circle size will be limited. If you wish to participate, it is essential to let Pirkko know. To ensure your space I recommend a deposit made immediately – we will accept as we receive registration and deposit. You can make partial or complete payment; however, you need to send a deposit of $150.00 to Pirkko.

Make your checks payable to Shamanic Visions and send to Pirkko at:
Pirkko Miller
P.O.Box 193
North Webster, IN  46555

You can also contact Pirkko by phone or email
phone: (574) 834-3460
email: swanwoman@kconline.com

After your initial deposit, we you may wish to send staggered payments between $100 to $200 a month; this is fine. However, the complete $1250 paid by August 1st. We are obligated to pay Blacktail several weeks before our retreat is scheduled and prompt payment on the part of each participant allows us to do so.

On a personal note from me: According to Pirkko, who handles coordination of Shamanic Vision workshops, there have been times in the past when she has needed to keep reminding some participants to send in their payments. This is NOT Pirkko’s job; each of us needs to make timely payments and/or contact Pirkko when for any reason there will be some delay. I take responsibility for not emphasizing this enough in previous announcement or registration letters.

We have to pay Blacktail Ranch whether or not everyone has sent in their deposits and we do not recoup these funds – this is a nonrefundable contract.  So please let us all tend to making these payments without reminders from Pirkko. 

Cancellation: As with previous retreats, if you are unable to come and inform Pirkko 30 days in advance, a complete refund minus the $150 registration fee will be made to you. And if the workshop has to be canceled by me or by the Ranch, your complete funds will be returned including your deposit.

I am aware that next year’s dates for our Circle overlap with significant Jewish honoring days. We tried to find alternative dates but Blacktail had none available in the Fall. I am sorry if this presents difficulty in choice for some of you. As in previous years when this occurred, we will do our own Circle ceremony honoring this time.

In conclusion, every year when I write the first announcement and registration letter, I feel like I’ve just completed some lengthy business tract!! I know that’s because so many specific details need to be covered….at the same time while addressing those, my heart is warm with the anticipation of gathering with other sisters and communing with BearSpirit and our other relations. One of the reasons I want us to be in conversation monthly is so that we can dream together and dream with our spirits together!! So that we make manifest to ourselves this MedicineCircle, which endures in Dreamtime and doesn’t just come into being at Blacktail. So that we might nurture and support one another on our paths through the ColdMaker months and join together in welcoming Spring…….and then grow, even more brightly, the intentions that bring us to Blacktail in the Fall, in the harvesting time……we can sit in the Blacktail Cave and know that we sat in Cave together in the Winter too!

In closing, I wish you to see the fierce golden eye of Bear as you greet this new year unfolding in its wintering phase…..for the old ones say that when we go into the darkness, there in the very center of the darkness her fierce golden eye can be seen and she lights our way through the levels of the Cave of being and becoming….

         With gratitude to our Ancestors who kept faith with the Way

And remembered us into the future..
With the delight that comes with anticipation of September..
I greet you in this Wintering season..
May we each take good care of our fire
Burning in the center of our being
And in the Center of Earth herself..
Make prayer for Bear walking this planet…
As She walks, so do we…


Pirkko’s email: swanwoman@kconline.com
Carol’s email: cedgarbear@aol.com
Susan’s email: susan@gilliland.net
Links to previous BearMedicine Retreats

Return to 2007 Calendar