Thursday, May 29, 2014


Love: One of the Twelve Elements on the Medicine Wheel.

Growth, Trust and Love.Southern Elements of the Medicine Wheel. 

When I first started studying the Medicine Wheel close to 30 years ago, I was surprised to find “love” as one of the twelve elements. 

It seemed so much unlike
  • ·       Clarity, knowledge, and illumination (east).
  • ·       Growth and trust (south).
  • ·       Experience, introspection and strength (west).
  • ·       Renewal, purification and wisdom (north).

Where most people refer to love as an emotion, something that we should feel for our family members and closest friends; the Medicine Wheel speaks of it as a kaleidoscope of sensations:  Something we feel by being an integrated part of a whole.  As Westerners we believe that all emotions stem from our individual thoughts and perspectives.  We see the World around us as if we are looking through a telescope:  Our eye on a dot in the horizon.  The Sacred Circle tradition in comparison shows us how to see a whole tapestry by surrendering to the experience of being one of its countless threads. 

At 16 years old, my father gifted me six tickets to a Kenny Rogers country music concert. I hand picked a few friends and we travelled to Montreal on our own.  I remember exactly how I felt:  Independent, excited and powerful!  All evening I kept telling myself “to remember” this moment / this dream because soon I would wake up from it.  The next morning I wrote in my journal: “It was amazing how the crowd’s excitement enhanced my appetite for Kenny Rogers.  I couldn’t wait to buy every single one of his records.  The pleasure was hard to contain and for at least a few hours it felt like I was madly in love especially when he looked straight at me. This morning I’m strangely enough back to myself with a case of the butterflies every time I let my thoughts journey back to the memory.”

In College and University I learnt through philosophy, religion, and literature (French and English) that as Westerners we are programmed by ancient cultures and their notion of love.  For example, born Roman Catholic and educated at the convent for twelve years of my life, I understood love as something so much bigger than me: The size of God.  When I started questioning love and exploring it I quickly became disappointed because so much of it was unoriginal and based on perspectives, which were no longer practical or valid in modern times.  “Loving the mind, the heart, and the soul” for example, which at the time was the motto for the emerging New Age was actually a Greek philosophy tactfully repackaged.  With the exile of the Dalai Lama from Tibet in 2001, Buddhism gently appeared in North America and gently impacted our society by delivering the message that love was compassion and enlightenment. It seemed we understood love according to what others felt or figured out…

It wasn’t surprising then, that in my own life as a newly married woman with two toddler children, love seemed removed from my experience.   I don’t remember ever candidly talking about love with my friends and family.  It was just assumed that love existed and that it was the reason why we gathered together as loved ones.  In school it was all about social, cultural and religious programming but in my life it seemed to be basic, necessary and in so many ways lacking.

Only once I started journeying with the Medicine Wheel did I begin to pin point exactly when I felt “love,” and it wasn’t very complicated. For as long as I can remember I always knew that “I should love others as I love myself;” yet, in time I also learnt that “it’s through the experience of loving others that I grew into loving myself.”  Love is a perfect circle and it’s the reason why it exists on the Medicine Wheel.

One day, I sat down in our backyard and watched the Red Wing Blackbirds build their nests and I felt curiosity, attraction, fascination, desire, pleasure and respect:  All different threads within the love tapestry.

I walked into the house happy! 

My husband who was watching me, asked: “What were you doing?”
I replied: “Learning to love.”

Love is also an important part of mythology.  All ancient people told stories about love:  About how it can be the greatest of virtues, a most appealing ideal, as well as a gateway into the worst of whom we are.  If we overindulge in love we can be incredibly destructive.  Too many people tip the scale from love to jealousy, paranoia, mistrust, competition and revenge. Too much dysfunctional love can make people kill.  Even historical stories show us that in many cases it is the “love of God” that led the bloodiest conquests.  Love in the hands of humans seems almost dangerous. 

The Medicine Wheel teachings show us that we are inspired to love.  With the help of the Fire Keeper Wind in the NE, Life’s first breath, we learn to understand that need, desire, lust, expectation --- FIRE --- inspires us to love.  It’s a biological drive, which brings us to develop attachments and a survival instinct.  Love gives life meaning and purpose.  In scientific experiments it was proven that love had an impact on our physiology.  Love can heal and love can make miracles.

Erich Fromm in his book The Art of Loving says that “Love is not merely a feeling but it is also actions”.   

The Wheel shows us that every element although stationary in each direction moves through the Wheel and around it.  Clarity is not merely in the east at the start of every project or every vision, it is also in the West when it is time to let go or die, and in the North as we look back and renew.  The same applies with love.  It exists in each direction but makes its home in the south where we sit as we build our wheel / our personal story and look up towards wisdom.  Each element demands commitment:  Actions. 

Just recently I asked a young 15 year-old girl: “What is it that you like about that boy you are seeing?”

She replied: “I like the way he makes me feel.  The way he is with me.  The way he talks to me.  The way he looks at me.” 

Love is a moment of presence when someone or something stops to notice us.  Suddenly we are understood and recognized.  Love is a conscious commitment to others and the World around us.  It permeates all that we are from thoughts, to feelings, to behaviors, to attitudes and most of all to actions.  It is unconditional.  We can’t control it.  Love appears unexpectedly and reveals the deepest secrets. Love along with every other element on the Wheel is divine and exposes mystery.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Totems and Relationships

I get a lot of questions about totems from individuals who struggle in their relationships. It makes sense since the word itself "totem" implies "relations." There are no better teachers than animals, plants and stones when it comes to understanding "how to live together." Just a few weeks ago my husband and I took a weekend trip to the country. On the way there we noticed a few areas where there had been rockslides. As we drove around the stones we were pretty amazed at the size of them. Both my husband and I pulled different lessons and wisdom from the incident.

He said: "I wouldn't want to be in the way when one of those cliffs let's go of something major." 

It brought us to discuss the relationships of a few couples in our lives. The kind of individuals who need to constantly vent about their mates but don't have the courage to be forward and clear with them. They often argue and put a damper on those evenings we were all looking forward to enjoy. 

ET asked: "What are you supposed to do stay clear of them?"

It just seemed to me that it was exactly what the rockslide was advising. From my side I was more impressed with the beauty and precision of the crack. All through their youth, I've been watching my kids move through several relationships. It's the age where we learn about "relations": What it takes to make them work. 

What always impresses me is how the Universe triggers the end so to speak and makes it crystal clear. It takes listening to the facts and accepting to move on. All relationships bring us to grow but the lasting relations are about growing together.

As a child I always said that I was a wolf growing in a family of cats. My father and mother were so much like Lions. My mother took care of us kids and worked full time, my father was a traveling salesman and showed up every now and again. My brother was actually born in July and he certainly carried the Leo personae stereotypically. And then there was my sister the cub who often behaved like a stray cat. Honestly, I found it difficult to grasp the feline mentality. As a Wolf I seemed to respond to a completely different set of rules.

Unfortunately, I left home at the age of nineteen years old after a catfight with my mother. Looking back I wish we could have agreed to disagree rather than constantly fight for territory. Still, I admired the strength and endurance my family possessed literally in every scenario. They taught me to be stubborn, strong and independent. My Wolf learnt to lead and to grow into an Alpha from a household of felines.

Cats are resilient and perseverant. When they are not happy they make you feel it. They are solitary creatures. As I was growing up it often felt like it was always about them: Their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their due. And it was! Cats often give you the sense that they are entitled to pretty much everything. Looking back at my mother's story as well as my sister's it seemed they often walked around the element of Love. I learnt really early in life that stray cats have torturous, hard lives; while those felines that get adopted into good homes where they are loved unconditionally usually grow into affectionate pets who know how to give back.

I taught my Beagles to track cats, squirrels, rabbits, mice and chipmunks. They were pups when they learnt not to hunt skunks, they always seem to leave you smelling horrible for months. All I have to do is say the words and they'll literally go on alert and start searching. They never fail, if you want them to find a cat it's exactly what they'll do. If you say "skunk" they'll shake their heads and sneeze. I find it incredible that they can tell the difference between one animal and another with just their sense of smell. I certainly taught me to develop my senses and be better skilled at identifying these different totems in the crowd of people around me. 
 It's through working with our totems that we learn more about ourselves, and others. 

When I met my husband I knew that we shared traits in common. We both excelled through team work; knowing when to jump in and surrender. We had predator perspectives; enjoying the hunt / journey above and beyond the outcome. We never stopped until we got the tasks, chores or projects done. We were always practical, loyal and committed individuals. We believed in being attentive to our environment.  It wasn't just about us. Nevertheless, I saw right away from the beginning that I needed pack members and possessed the skills to find them and bring them together. He could work with whatever he got...  At work he excels with people in general.  I need individuals who share a common perspective.

It took a trip out west in 1986 to discover that my husband was not a Wolf but an Orca. He became totally fascinated with these whales especially after witnessing a pod of them during a boat excursion. They scared me; but with him it was like finding home. The exact feeling I had with Wolves. It was then that we started pointing out the similarities between the Killer Whale and the White Wolf. We learnt that these whales were actually referred to as the Wolves of the Sea. Interestingly enough learning about these creatures showed us why "we work" and "why sometimes we need to shift perspective to work."

From birth we knew the totems of our children. It's not always the case especially in families, which have lost touch with nature and totems (the fact that they are related to all things). Our son is Wolf like me, and our daughter is a Bear. It was interesting at first to watch our children interact. It often did look like a Bear swiping at a barking, growling Wolf. By being aware of these animals and loving their individual totems, both our kids developed into the strength and beauty of these creatures and learnt to share the forest. Today they co-exist wonderfully.

It doesn't surprise me that having babies is more important to my daughter, while the band and the guys (musicians) are a must to my son. We embody the characteristics and sometimes should even follow the diet of our totems to actually feel balanced. It's quite impressive the way totems affect relationships people-to-people level and relationships at the Me/Myself level. 

At the beginning of the blog entry I spoke of plants, animals and stones to show that totems reach beyond the animal kingdom. I've always loved trees. Several years ago I decided to take my students out on a field trip. I wanted them to have the experience of trees. To dream their stories. It was interesting how some people related to some trees and not others. After a bit of research many of them came back acknowledging that the trees they had connected to represented them and their attitudes as well as issues. 

I've always loved red Maple trees. As soon as I planted a few I discovered that they had a slow growth. Yet, once they reach 25 years and over they strive and get noticed. So much about their story resembles my own. No doubt my parents were conifers. They often pointed out as we were growing up how much they loved Pine trees. We never had a home without the presence of a Pine tree. 

As I was discovering my tree totems I discovered I was Pine at the soul level. Suddenly a few of the puzzle pieces fell together. I understood better some of my life scenarios as well as the roles my family members played in my growth development. Today, I teach this aspect of the Medicine Wheel and try to explain to people that it's not about giving reason to the negative in our lives but also perceiving the positive; building on goodness...

There are countless ways to explore relations and each exploration brings forth the mystery, magic, and of course challenges, which exist between people / or fragments. MR and I for example (authors of this blog) connected at the Butterfly level. The fact that we were both born on the same day (June 16th) and are Gemini, allowed us to confirm that we are together to explore "the air element." We always manage to deeply connect at the intellectual / psyche level. It made sense that we would become both teachers of the Medicine Wheel, writers and lecturers. Friends, sisters, family seems to be the way of this insect.

I recommend that you all start looking at your relationships as well as your environment as a constant totemic discussion. This way you'll learn so much about yourself, your family and community as well as your World.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

In-Between Time of Year


At least the snow is all gone and the grass is beginning to turn green. With Summer Solstice just around the corner, the trees are just beginning to show their buds in this part of the world. It's that in-between time of year. The wind is blowing fiercly right now, as it changes from hot to cold one more time....

It's been one of the longest, coldest hardest winters that I can remember. Maybe it just seems that way, but with the Cosmological Forces i.e. the Dark Moon phenomena, Supermoons, Earth polar shifts and more happening all at once... its taking its toll on all of us, not to mention Mother Earth.

She seems to not have the energy to bring forth new life. It's as if she just wants to go back to sleep and pull the blanket of snow over her head. I guess we all know how that is. When you don't have anything great to look forward to except more abuse, neglect and exploitation, why would you want to wake up?

We are one with Mother Earth, we are living on her body, we are part of her cycles of change. But we are also the fleas on her back that are causing her a lot of discomfort.

This Spring, seeing as I moved to a new place, I am going to make sure I take care of the tree in front of our house. The Spruce trees in this area are full of a type of little green worm that sucks the sap out of the tree and they are dying.

I talked to the City and asked how to save the trees. I got pamphlets to hand out to the neighbours. Some of then didn't even notice that their trees were dying.

We have become so disconnected to the environment, that we forget that trees are living entities and need care just like we do. We plant them in narrow shallow spaces, we plant trees that are not indigenous to this area and we wonder why they look so sick.
Now even the indigenous species are dying.
I may not be able to save them all, but I can save the one in front of my house. Already it is looking better, happier, greener than it did when we moved in.

This spring I am going forward with a renewed commitment to the land, the Ancestors and the Spirits of the Land who lived in harmony, with respect and knowing their roles as Caretakers of this beautiful world we live in.

Every little bit helps Mother and it helps me too. I feel more grounded, connected and more at home here now!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Knowing the Way.

It’s difficult for people to believe in past lives.  The concept of reincarnation would have to be proven scientifically for the people-of-today to actually commit to it.   I think that many open-minded individuals think that it’s possible and will even admit: “It makes sense.”  Yet, rare are those who actually live their personal story considering what is outside their present day box. 

For years I remember telling my elders and teachers that I couldn’t wrap my mind around something that I wasn’t sure of.  It took years to figure out that my issue wasn’t in my inability to prove that past lives exists; but actually rather in attempting to “wrap my mind around it.”  In fact all it took in the end was for me to trust the process of remembering.

Every day I get at least one email from a dreamer who wants to know why he or she can’t remember his or her dreams.  After I’ve gone through the list of potential reasons why someone may not be remembering their dreams (shift in sleeping patterns, excess stress, difficulty with digestion or healing from illness etc…) I often tell people that often changes in patterns are due to changes in attitudes or perspective.  I explain how something so simple as focusing always on an end result rather than the journey itself could have an impact on memory.  

Rather than always looking for the final outcome start exploring the different details; which bring you there.  You'll be surprised at how much you can shift reality just by shifting perspective. 

Memories are first created or encoded; second, they are stored; and finally, they are retrieved.  One day, EC (teacher / elder) and I were landscaping together. She had this beautiful Butterfly bush (as she called it), and she cared for it daily.  Every time we’d focus on the bush – she would remember phenomenal stories from a distant past, or from her childhood and family life.  It’s as if she stored her most precious memories in the bush.  In time I learnt that her name was Amagas (Butterfly in her language) and that her whole life story revolved around Butterflies and the bushes; which attract them.  Indeed she had woven through this reality her whole personal story.

There are themes or details in life; which basically represent us and our attitudes, path and purpose.  It's by nurturing these themes and details that we create an encoding and storing system that is literally full proof for an expanding consciousness.

Scientifically, the concept of encoding memories relates to stimuli (senses and emotions).  We tend to remember things that are remarkable whereas details often escape us.  Where this may be true for most it isn’t true for everyone. For example, my grandfather loved fishing.  He could describe every sunset or sunrise from different angles and rivers. 

He was an amazing storyteller and he often said: “I can hear the story unfold as I watch the details fall into place.” 

For him encoding memory came from his passion of sharing it.  He was someone who prepared the story in advance so to speak… His love of people and his talent in performance fine-tuned his ability to remember.

Feeding passions and empowering emotions helps the memory process.  Rather than always focusing on the negative and giving energy to complaining we should intentionally develop depth in our lives. We'd be surprised by its power of manifestation. 

When I started learning about dreaming, my teacher quite literally told me to sense, feel and experience the dream.  Be part of it rather than just witness it like someone who is looking to be entertained.  If I wanted to remember my dreams I had to learn to encode them; store them; and retrieve them.  In fact, most people tend to believe that this process comes naturally.  Most individuals wouldn’t know the first thing on how to become pro-active in the process of remembering. 

Where we may think we "receive dreams" from the Dream Time, we may also want to consider the fact that we are also pro-Creator of them.  By adopting healthy and sacred attitudes and behaviours we contribute to the kind of dreams we'd like to receive.  If anything dreaming helped me to understand that I need to be a participant in my life if I don't want to constantly be burden with impositions.

Life has changed so much in the last 100 years that we are just starting to realize how much of these changes are affecting human nature.   Think about it:  We approach everything as if it’s a computer, a television or a screen.  We have a difficult time listening to our life partners, friends or even our children because they aren’t captivating like the actors on TV.  We now have expectations towards what we’d like to hear…  

With an epidemic of dementia amongst elders we have become conscious of the fact that even memories are being affected by the changes in humanity.  Is it easier to believe in technology than it is to believe in the soul and its travels through time?  

Ironically, a computer doesn’t doubt its memory of its origins…

The way I see it, memories are still stored away waiting to be retrieved and until we've stopped doing that there's hope for the Sacred Circle.  I don't like the idea of walking a straight line and never getting anywhere.  I'm a strong believer that life / dreams / memories knot at some point and become circles.  I've lived enough Sacred Circles to understand how precious they are:  They illuminate, they bring forth consciousness, and meaning to every breath we've taken through life times.  It makes no sense to me to be inconsistent.  If I believe in memory, in dreams, in life -- then, I need to be living it from every different angle, in every little detail and expand to see every perspective. 

It's really not about having opinions.  It's about knowing the way!