Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Sacredness is often mistaken for politeness, kindness and goodness.   I find these days, every time the topic is brought up it’s as a mask used to express Christian and New Age dogma. People use the word “sacredness” to imply anything and everything that they judge as “proper behaviour, proper attitude, proper choice and proper exchange.”

When you leave people to understand “words” through definitions, you’re often left with a medley of perspectives; which don’t have much substance.  I remember watching my grandparents do cross-word puzzles every Sunday morning as I was growing up.  It seemed to be a popular activity amongst the old folks in the 1970’s.  Every time I gave it a try I always gave up because it seemed I lacked the vocabulary.  Until one day, my grandfather assisted me with one of the puzzles and said:  “It’s not about vocabulary: It’s about experience.” 

Like many of the First Nation elders who still speak their mother tongue, my grandfather believed that language wasn’t so much about academic intelligence; but about a deep, empirical connection with the world around us.  In the 1990’s when I chose to walk a “sacred path” I started to dream in a language I knew nothing about at the time. 

My husband would often tell me: “You talk in a weird language in your sleep.” 

It seemed I was fluent in a foreign language we both had no knowledge of.  It was only after taking note of a few dozen words, which repeated in my dreams and synchronically connecting to the right people that I was able to identify the language as Mi’kmaq, Wabanaki.  It didn’t come as a big surprise that somehow I remembered words; which were undoubtedly used by my ancestors. I figured at the cellular level I had access to this language because it translated my connection to ancestral memories.  In some ways it was “my mother tongue” in so much that it revealed how I related to my natural environment: To Mother Earth. 

In one of my dreaming classes last year, we spent close to three evenings learning “how to listen.”  It may sound somewhat demeaning to some; but the fact of the matter is our modern World leaves pretty much every thing to definition; but doesn’t actually take the time and effort to teach basic skills. 

In most cases people will say: “I know what listening means”; but they have very little response to the question: “… but do you know how to listen?”

More and more people are struggling with a lack of basic resources.  We live in a World where we have unlimited access to information; but in comparison, limited access to mentors, teachers, experts, masters etc…
I remember between the age of 10 and 16 years old, spending years while in school at the convent, learning about “posture”.  Today, people would giggle or frown at the idea of teaching our teenagers about such basic skills as table manners and posture; but what is often overlooked is how “sacredness” comes from giving value to the small details in our life.  How does it all come together? Experiencing the irrelevant, the overlooked, the judged and the rejected allows us to grow into awareness and adopt “sacred ways.”

Every Winter at the end of February the sun becomes a hopeful reminder of an approaching Spring.  Since this weekend our dogs have been waking up earlier each morning, sensing the sunrise.   I remember visiting my mother-in-law in the country when the children were infants.  In late February she would always recommend that we take our afternoon naps on lawn chairs, on the back porch; bundled up in warm clothing and a blanket.  

“February sunshine does wonders to increase our Vit.D” she would say. 

Looking back to the 40+ February months of my life what I remember the most is the presence of the sun.  If I were to give this month a name just by the repetitions in my story, it would be called: “Month of Seeking the Sun”.  Sacredness for me implies “associating” each inhale and exhale; each connection and relation; and each moment whatever it may be to a state of inspiration or reverence. 

For the last two years, I’ve been noting how I’m dramatically, physically affected by people’s stories.  90% of the time discussions leave me drained and exhausted.  Plus, I’ve developed the unpleasant attitude of running or hiding away from people.  It was only after sitting still with the experience that I discovered “I was lacking in sacredness.” Somewhere along the way, I stopped setting boundaries; pointing bad habits or even sharing “sacred knowledge.” I convinced myself people wouldn’t listen or would feel insulted.  My own attitudes and behaviours were showing sign of social influence. 

Lately, I’ve been asking people to share the “very best of themselves” with me.  I explain to people that if they take the time to come for a visit or give me a call it’s because I’m worth something to them.  Am I worth enough, for them to give me “the very best of who they are and the very best of their personal, life stories? On several occasions individuals admitted to me that it’s not so much about how much I’m worth to them; but about how little value they find in themselves and their stories.

One thing I learnt through my years at the convent is how to sit still and find sanctity in myself, and the world around me.  Today, young people have a difficult time sitting in silence.  Many of them feel they are stagnating if there’s no movement; or they are wasting time.  They constantly keep themselves busy with text messages and apps etc…  It seems we’ve invented the kind of technology that is mutating our brains and our bodies into small little machines.  The fact of the matter is we’re constantly looking for peace, calm, health, wellness, wholeness and happiness.  These aren’t realities for most people they are unrealistic goals. 

I disagree….

It doesn’t take trips around the World; years of academic studies; big corporate jobs with unbelievable salaries; huge homes overlooking a million dollar view; or cars, motorcycles and all the materialistic gain you can imagine – to be well, whole and happy.  All it takes is a clear, loving and trusting, wise, and grateful inner voice that whispers truth, pride and direction to you every day.

It starts by welcoming your personal story.
·      Affirming it.
·      Expressing it.
·      Giving it value.
·      Empowerment
·      Space and Time
·      Relating to it.
·      Surrendering to it.
·      Acknowledging the myth, the truth and the illusion through it.
·      Reasoning it out.
·      Sitting humbly with it.
·      Transforming it.
·      Letting your personal story challenge you.

If you do it one Moon / Month at a time – in a year from now, you’ll walk in sacredness. 

P.S. Picture: Great Canyon.

Friday, December 5, 2014


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Lisa F. Tardiff

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Living with a Plan.

Last week I had a dentist appointment.  During the examination, the dentist looked at my X-Rays and noticed a considerable jaw deviation that wasn’t there six months ago.  As we brainstormed reasons why this would suddenly occur, he rushed to his office to get a book of anatomy.  What was quite interesting was how this book spoke of “dentistry” through time.  It seems the humans of yesterday were anatomically different in comparison to the people of today.  Of course what is anatomically different often has an influence on what is socially, culturally and spiritually different. 

Dr. D. couldn’t explain why I suddenly had a jaw deviation but as he gave me exercises to do for the next few months, he did say: “… we don’t ever think of showing our children how to chew properly; sleep or dream; but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a proper way of doing it.” 

When I lecture on Indigenous Dreaming I always share pieces of my personal story.  I explain to people that although we all dream we don’t all know how to dream in a healthy and functional way.   If I refer to my upbringing, my parents weren’t different than most parents.  They believed that my dreams were a fabrication of my mind.  They also believed that my emotional reactions to the dreams were over-exaggerated mostly because they concluded that I was too sensitive to people, to events and to my environment.  Unfortunately, they didn't know how to teach me to react differently or to give me ways to better handle my dreams.  

Hypersensitive kids after all do react strongly…

For years, their support took the shape of: "It’s just a dream.  It’s nothing.” 

I grew up believing that there was something emotionally wrong with me.  We believe in the people we love and until we become adults, we also trust these people’s beliefs, expectations and their life teachings.  It took having my own children to finally understand what the Indigenous people of yesterday used to say:  “It takes a village to bring up a child.” 

I’ve always loved anthropology because it allowed me to learn about Indigenous people but also gave me insights on the humans of yesterday: Our ancestors.  We are so wrapped up in our stories that we rarely glance back in time.  Recently, there’s been more and more television shows; which explore the notion of immortality.  Programs like Forever, Bitten, the Vampire Diaries, the Originals and more… give us an understanding of what it would mean to be on the Planet for more than a few hundred years.  What would be the affects on the emotional, psychological and spiritual bodies? 

Strangely enough I find myself relating to these stories mostly because I was born with a vivid and lucid memory of past lives.  It’s not something I’ve ever discussed with school friends or even family members because honestly, I thought at the time that it was pure imagination.  At least, I was told that it was…

I was educated at a Catholic convent for close to 13 years.  During this time, I experienced several events that brought me back to touching and profound ancestral stories.  When you’re 9 years old and living through these kinds of experiences, it can to some degree be quite traumatic.  Luckily, I had guardians on my path because not only were these experiences validated; but I also received advice from wonderful people along the way:  Individuals who guided me to find teachers and experts in due time…

In the last 25 years of working as a shamanic practitioner I’ve come across a good number of children who had past life recollections.  I’ve come to believe that most children between the age of 6 months old and 7 years old actually remember distant stories from the past.   What is unfortunate is that most parents will deny the possibility that their children have walked this Earth before them…

Both my children had vivid and lucid memories of their past lives.  It was quite incredible to hear them tell their stories.  For years, we marvelled over their past because it not only confirmed history; but it took it out of the books and brought it into our lives as reality!

As a Dreamer we believe that every story that catches our attention; or makes us vibrate emotionally, psychologically or spiritually holds a clue towards our purpose on this Planet:  Our learning and healing.  In every story there are characters, events, conflicts, and messages (lessons); which guide us to understand our selves and others as well as gives us reason.  Dreaming in Indigenous Circles isn’t only about what we experience as we sleep; but also about every story that we devote to during the course of our lives, in the waking. 

A student recently asked me:  “How do we work through a dream?”  

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a waking or sleeping dream the method of working through it is actually the same. 

·      At first, I take a moment to jot down the dream.  Ironically, the way your mind formulates or expresses a dream holds the first series of clues.  It’s as if your body is your first guide or teacher.  It is a character in the dream.  After exploring thousands of dreams through the course of my life, I’ve come to understand that my body and my mind was strategically created for me and for my destiny.
·      Once I’ve jotted down a dream I always take a moment to step away from it.  I leave it be for close to 3 days.  During the course of these three days, I continue to life without any kind of intent.  I take 20 mins a day to jot down a journal entry referring to my daily experience.
·      On the 4th day -  I take all of my entries including the dream I jotted down and begin to underline the similarities.  What repeats: Characters perhaps, situations, details, messages, etc…?
·      Sometimes the lesson or message hidden in a dream comes to me quickly.  Other times it demands a bit more work.  I’ve explored dreams; which have affected my life over years.  Some dreams are meant to summarize your whole life story. 
·      To work through a dream you need to be attentive to the dream reality; which means that you have to be ready to follow it wherever it takes you. 

In 2012, I participated in a Blue Moon Ceremony.  I had to cross two out of sixteen gates to reach the Blue Moon dreaming.   This dream was supposed to guide me for three years, and inevitably divulge a personal learning or healing.  One of the gates that I passed was the Dinosaur gate; which refers to the notion of “extinction.”  It took months before I started observing the presence of the dinosaur in my life.  It appeared at first in the form of small clues like gifts from strangers (fossils) or invitations to archaeological sites.  I noticed that I noted the presence of this dream in my life only when it called me out of the ordinary.  It was the extraordinary that guided me to look closer to into my daily living.

In 2015 will be the end of this journey.  It’s not surprising that my latest dentist appointment brought forth yet another clue into the dinosaur gate story.   My own bone structure is trying to tell me a message; it is speaking louder than my ordinary life.  Trough following the exercises that my dentist gave me I’ve been remembering moments in my childhood that were literally forgotten.  It has brought forth some interesting stories; guided me to question family members; and validated that growth is a life long story. 

The reason why I enjoy working with dreams is because it allows me to see, to feel and to touch magic.   My teachers have always told me to look up at the sky on a night where it is filled with millions of stars. 

“What do you see?”  EC once asked me.
“Stars?” I replied almost unimpressed.
“Look again,” she said.
“Deep, eternal darkness,” I finally added noticing that despite the countless flickering lights, the darkness was the canvas that dominated the scene.
EC smiled and expressed almost absentmindedly as if she was repeating a lesson given to her by a teacher, an elder, a grandmother: “Don’t ever forget that it’s not about what we know or what we discover; but about what exists out there:  The unexpected, the unknown, the mystery of it all.” 

If you are interested in walking the path of the Dreamer, you have to realize that it’s not so much about what you discover but about what you are willing to step into.  The great thing about working through dreams is how these stories will magically take out of hiding the characters, the events and clues that are instrumental to your journey (the stars); but it will also give you access to the unfathomable and eternal darkness of your story to seduce you to look further and deeper.  You’ll be called to create stars of your own and to open up a milky way of possibilities.

Traditional First Nation people speak of death as “our journey to the stars.”  They look at their deceased as members of their family and community who walk in the dream reality.  They understand that some may return and some may choose to stay behind for a while.  For them, dreaming is a crucial part of life and if we don’t learn to dream in a healthy and functional way we are traveling without a plan or without a destination. 

I hope I’ve answered some questions and if you have more questions don’t hesitate to leave me a comment.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Geo Dreaming

I spent the afternoon in Montreal.  G was looking for shoes and I was the reluctant tag-along.  Anyone who has been to Montreal knows how busy it can get especially during the week.  Traffic is a constant in the city and if you’re trying to find parking, you better be prepared for a few annoying spins around a maze of one ways.  Some of us who believe in Spirit usually do a few prayers before leaving home.  Quick parking is usually a confirmation that Spirit is on our side… J

G and I usually park near the Cathedral Marie Reine du Monde when we want to go walking in centre town.  It’s a bit of a stroll to reach Ste-Catherine Street, the main shopping strip; but the “Sacred Site vibe” I’ve always gotten from the Cathedral and its surrounding areas is well worth it. 

In Shamanism, a Sacred Site is often another word for a cemetery.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been able to pin point a burial ground just by the impressions I can pick up from the land.  Of course, unless there’s a few tomb stones to validate the actual existence of a cemetery, it’s more a hunch than anything else.  It’s not like I can start digging and prove my case…

I’ve been visiting the Cathedral Marie Reine du Monde ever since I was a child.  My grandparents were actually married there some time in the 1920’s.  It was during my adolescence that I started having phenomenal experiences in and around this Cathedral.  Spirit seemed more abundant there in comparison to other historical and touristic sites.  Even after doing some research, I couldn’t find too many reasons why this area felt more to me like a cemetery.

Today, we couldn’t park the car near the Cathedral because of construction.   Just as we rounded the corner of the Place du Canada where much of the re-vamping was occurring, we noticed a large banner showing archaeological photos of remains discovered under the plaza of the Place du Canada where millions of people cross every year.  According to the data there was an old cemetery exactly where I felt it…

For G and I, this kind of incident is what we call “Geo Dreaming.” Similar to Australian Aborigines we believe that the Earth or the land dreams or sings the stories of the living creatures; who settle on it.  We’ve noticed through the last 15 years of exploring different cities in different countries, that “geology” holds memory.  It’s almost as if the land remembers the wars, the love affairs, the droughts and the great empires; or maybe it inspires them…

While visiting with traditional Wabanaki elders in Northern N.B. almost a decade ago, it was fascinating to hear all kinds of stories where rivers, mountains and valleys were personified with emotions; and the ability to communicate and affect people.  Some rivers were said to be angry enough to kill.   In Hawaii, Pele is not only a Volcano; but the Goddess of Fire: Passionate, volatile and capricious.  People often refer to this Volcano as if it’s a person capable of conveying lessons and reprimand. 

Indigenous people have always believed that landscape holds and shares dreams.  Anyone who has travelled has certainly noticed that every city, village or mountaintop holds a particular impression:  A signature of sorts.  One of the fascinating aspects when traveling across Canada and the U.S. is the perception of invisible borders.  If you are sensitive to the land, a skill most of our ancestors possessed because they were dependent on nature and the stars to survive, you can also be attuned to the memories buried there.

Just as we passed the Cathedral, G brought back a story; which occurred in winter of 2006.  I woke up from a dream that morning where EC, a Passamaquoddy deceased friend and teacher, asked me to go to the Cathedral of Marie Reine du Monde for 11:00 am.  I remember sitting in the Church with no real idea of what to do next.  Suddenly my cell phone rang and I had to step out to take the call.  When I returned my winter gloves had been stolen. 

I was pissed off! 

I couldn’t believe I got robbed in a Church.  There were a few homeless people roaming the aisles that day trying to stay warm.  Since I wasn’t there to witness the robbery I couldn’t accuse anyone.  Plus, I figured these people needed the gloves more so than I.  I gave a gratitude prayer for the abundance and beauty Spirit has granted to my life – and left wondering why EC had sent me there for something seemingly insignificant. 

Today as I read the story behind the cemetery I understood that even in the 1800’s the Cathedral of Marie Reine du Monde attracted countless people dealing with hardships.  Built near the Port of Montreal, the Catholic Church received many immigrants who were leaving famine, illness, and poverty for a new World and a hopeful future.  This Cathedral contributed in helping many Catholic families settle in.  A good amount of the remains found on site were relocated to the Côte des Neiges cemetery and belonged to victims of an outbreak of cholera in the mid-1800’s. 

It’s amazing how we can humanely alter the land we live on but we can’t erase the memories of the past.  Our ancestors ironically left behind a legacy; which ‘til this day still unconsciously affects us.  Our dreams, our thoughts, our emotions are bombarded by memories on a daily basis; sometimes we are the solution or the resolution to old stories and other times, we carry the burden of the land.

Do you have a Geo Dreaming story to share?  If yes, please send me a comment with the details. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shamanism and Western Living: Can they come together?

In the last month I’ve come across a few people who voiced out a concern toward bringing together Shamanism and Western living.  In two of the cases, the individuals believed that Shamanism was not something you could incorporate at work; or successfully bring home to the family.  Of course I disagree!! What was most surprising was to hear the statement from a student of Shamanism who has walked the path in her Western World, for close to a decade.  

When G and I started teaching the Medicine Wheel and Indigenous Dreaming 15+ years ago, we used to tell our students to “leave their Western thinking at the door.”  We had understood through our personal experience and initiations that it was difficult to receive the most out of these old traditions if we approached them with our Western programs and expectations.  Noted: Everyone filters what they learn and what they heal through their cultural, religious and social indoctrination. 

Yet, leaving what “we know” at the door isn’t as easy as it may sound.  Most of us don’t even realize that programs often dictate our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.  If we don’t see it in action, we believe we are free thinkers.  It was the practice of soul retrieval that got me to understand that it would probably be more beneficial to ask our students to walk in with all of what they are; but with the intent to become aware of their programs.  Through exploring the notion of “personal Medicine Wheels” we were able to acknowledge that wounds, trauma, reactions as well as healing are interwoven with the notion of indoctrination.  You can’t separate Shamanism from Western living:  One evolved from the other. 

25+ years ago, when I chose to walk a shamanistic path, I was fresh out of University and felt like I didn’t quite fit in the Western World.  I wasn’t a scientist, an environmental engineer or even a schoolteacher like many of my friends.  I didn’t feel called as a member of the youth of the ‘80’s (the future politicians and entrepreneurs etc…) to predict the future and attempt to change it.  I was more interested in finding a space to explore all of me, not just what my parents and society approved of.  I felt like there was more to the World than what we perceived it to be through programs, expectations and youthful immaturity.  I wanted experience and growth. 

I wanted to step out of boxes: Mine, and those imposed on me. 

When you begin to explore ancestral stories (what people call past lives), you learn that many of us have collected lifetimes of programs and expectations. They could be our own (belief of reincarnation) or they could be burdens of sorts handed down to us by our ancestors.  DNA also shows us that we are connected to the human specie and that it is hence, possible to be in tune with the stories of others past, present and future through biology.

In fact on a daily basis we trigger countless memories and find ourselves reliving emotions, thoughts, fears and anxiety that could be judged as irrelevant to the Western person that we have come to believe “we are.”  Yet, in Shamanism, nothing is irrelevant.  The notion of “soul retrieval” explores the concept of wholeness by bringing to consciousness every little detail; which creates our personal story, and finding a way to integrate them so that closure and resolution can be reached.

Shamanism made sense to me because it considered nature (my natural, cosmic and human environment) and the stars.  Where the Church often talked about “Heaven and Earth;” Shamanism empirically considered them as daily influences in human life.  Whether you are at work, at home with the kids, or on a date with your boyfriend or girlfriend there’s always natural and cosmological influences at play.  It is impossible for anyone (knowledgeable or not of Shamanism) to separate Shamanism from their daily living. 

In the last decade of teaching Shamanism, the Medicine Wheel and Indigenous Dreaming I’ve noticed more resistance and intolerance to these ancient traditions than ever before.  I have some theories…. Returning to Shamanism in many cases implies having to face the denial and resistance from many of the characters we’ve accumulated to our story (our mates, our family members, friends etc…) through time.  It means doing the work and retrieving those parts of us that have been lost.  It also means facing programs and changing them.   In most cases, it seems simpler to continue living life as Westerners than to incorporate Shamanism to it.

For me it was clear from the start, I wanted to step away from inconsistencies and Shamanism offered me the opportunity to do so.  What was also important to me was the notion of “walking my talk”.  It seemed I spent too much time suffocating under the idea of having to fit and having to please others.  I felt like I was loosing my way just by following …  Shamanism gave me access to the Medicine Wheel; which in turn allowed me to adopt functional, sacred and healthy attitudes and behaviours.  I found that these attitudes brought clarity, consciousness and wisdom to my life. 

I consider myself more “shamanistic” than “western” these days because Shamanism permeates all of what I am and do.  Yet, I still have to be in Western circles and cross the path of Westerners who have no idea of my shamanistic ways.  I don’t find that it demands a shift from me.  I am who I am in all circles. 

To those who find that they can’t bring Shamanism and their Western reality together, I would suggest that they revisit the topic….    In most cases it’s about indoctrination and how it serve you…. Or not!