She was a small papoose when her mother walked out of her life. She had an old soul about her, this one. Riveting gaze, telling of things see that others have gone entire lifetimes without. She kept her eyes on the horizon for surely there would be better days.
As time marched on, she grew from a child into a maiden. The transition was difficult to say the least—growing up in a “spare the rod, spoil the child” Seventh – day Adventist home. Her world held an occasional dandelion where darkness seemed to abound. She had a life she was both terrified and ashamed to confess. Soon, dandelions were replaced with dead roses and cacti.
Under threat, she learned to let her mind wander. She still dreamed of better tomorrows but her clarity was growing shrouded amidst the dark fog of her mind. She held on to hope and treated it like a mighty flower growing and expanding inside her breast—like a sunflower searching for the light. Somehow this made it easier to endure the abuse: the beatings, verbal slurs, the dinner consisting of canned dog food, vomit, and other bodily fluids that met the madness of the dark temptress. She found comfort in a pretend world all of her own. She would create art through black ink staining pages of white and this would bring calmness and peace. She buried her long, curly locks in books and journals. She created a secret garden, safe and secure within her mind. Here she went when forced to don costume changes, the suckling of an adult’s breast, and a photoshoot to delight the mad. The abuse she endured was the things nightmares are made of.
The day finally came when all light left the land. She found herself trapped in the dark confines of her mind. The water fountain that flowed so vibrant in her dreams—now dried up. The plaster cracked from overgrown roots. The grand castle she once erected had now crumbled and all that stood was a remnant of once was—great columns overgrown with ivy and moss. Her secret garden, now a serpents den, was no longer a safe place to play.
Where she was once able to see the horizon—she now only saw thick fog rolling through a dense, dark forest. Cockroaches and nicotine stained walls. Where she once heard laughter, she now heard a million bats in flight. Holding herself tight, she realized she was alone in this cold, empty, dark world.
The day came when she plucked this flower from her breast, this thing she once called hope. She cried rivers of tears as she realized hope was bullshit and surely God must hate her. She had read her bible since she was but two. She grew to realize that she was a mistake composed of God’s wrath and surely no one would (or could) love her in a way that made her feel safe. Without hesitation, she emptied a bottle of sleeping pills and swallowed them without regret.
This was a desperate act, but she was tired. Oh so very tired. She was done stumbling in the dark without a light switch in sight. She was tired of being bruised. She needed a life
jacket to cling to, but in the swells of life, she slowly followed the tide and let it pull her under.
(20 Years Later)
I heard her heart beating in an animal like panic.
I couldn’t escape.
The candle’s flame seemed to glow brighter—its shadow dancing in anticipation of what was yet to come. Out of the darkness, her eyes resonated within me—perpetuating rage and darting with fear. I could smell her sweat. A feral wild thing about to escape. That which began as a whimper quickly became a guttural scream of madness—raw and familiar—an exorcism of sorts.
The hair on my arms stood on end. My head went light as my heart started to race. In one swift movement, everything came crashing down around me. In agony, I realized I was bleeding—my wrists cut, gauzy flesh exposed. Looking at my reflection, I realized I was alone. I had shattered the mirror and found an odd sort of comfort in the distorted image of myself. She was I and I was her. We were one.
“Right now I want a word that describes the feeling we get—a cold, sick feeling deep down inside—when we know something is happening that will change us—we don’t want it to —but we can’t stop it. And we know, for the first time, that there will now be a before and an after, a once was and a will be. And that we will never again be quite the same person we once were.”
“I imagine it’s the feeling Eve had as she bit into the apple, or Hamlet when he saw his father’s ghost, or Jesus, as a boy, right after someone sat him down and told him his pa wasn’t a carpenter after all.”
For me, this was that moment.
As I gazed at my shattered reflection and homicidal hooded stare, I knew with clarity that there would now be a before and an after, a was and a will be. I have always trudged the line in murky water, but this was an all-consuming darkness.
I was caught in a landslide—my own downward spiral. I was the cracked mirror of my own dreams.
When I was just 17 years old, I was committed to traveling with The African Children’s Choir but during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, all flights were cancelled and I had to come up with a new plan. I began working with animals shortly out of High School and quickly navigated towards humans. I tried my hand at conventional medicine but would often find myself waking to the smell and aroma of ammonia salt. Knowing it was my calling or rather, my destiny, to work with others in a healing capacity, I ended up spending my time working in Medical Administration/Management for almost eighteen years…
In 2014, my biological mother (who I came to know as an adult and who was truly my best friend), passed away. It was a year and a day from when I felt the light leave my womb that once carried life.
Up until then, I had done a great job of playing hide-and-go seek with the demons in my life. My skeletons were neatly packed in the closet—carefully wrapped and labelled. The loss of my mom put me in a tailspin and before I could blink, this Pandora’s Box of secrets was released and I utterly and completely lost my shit.
To quote Brené Brown, “What looked to others as a nervous breakdown to others was actually my own spiritual awakening.”
On the surface, it looked like my entire word fell apart but really I was in the midst of a very beautiful and powerful process of burning away that which no longer served me.
I began writing as a way of healing. To speak my story out loud was one of the most liberating things I have ever done. I had to go into the shadows and sing over the bones–the fragmented pieces of myself to give them voice, give them recognition, bring them to light in order to release them and free myself from the chains that once bound me. I had over 50 articles published with Elephant Journal, Huffington Post, The Tattooed Buddha, The Urban Howl, House of Citrine, Redflag.org, and most notably, The OC87 Recovery Diaries.
I started on my own quest, howling into the night allowing my heart to follow the ebb and flow of the tide under the waning and waxing moon. For healing to really begin, I had to go back to my roots. I had to go inward and dance with my shadow. The more I learned to surrender, the louder Spirit became and from this birthed my company, Woods and Wander…
I felt called to create a safe space for women to gather – a space where women could feel heard, be seen, and be felt within a community that empowers women in divine sacred space through the bonds of sisterhood. A place where women could gather to share their hearts desires, to commune, to collaborate, to share their dreams and to uplift and support each other on their own unique paths; a place to nurture, inspire, explore without judgement and to heal:: Maiden, Mother Crone. And, thus, my online Facebook group Woods and Wander was born..
As is the natural progression of life, I also started a women’s circle within the community of Nevada County that met monthly around the New Moon called The Sacred Heart Gathering. From there, 1:1 mentoring and coaching sessions began happening quite naturally. As a perpetual student, I acquired several (eight to be exact) different certifications in coaching, went through Levels 1, 2, and Master with Reiki, and began working with quartz crystal singing bowls and performing sound healing ceremonies (incorporating guided meditations and tantric breathwork). During this powerful time of transition, I also started noticing (and then become acutely aware) of certain aspects of myself and gifts that seemed to be reawaking. This has been the evolution of my soul; I feel my way through this life and the lives of others. My heart is my medicine, love is my superpower.
And it is from within this space of true love, surrender, trust, and authentic power that I returned to the work I set out to do so many moons ago: To help the women of the world release all that doesn’t serve their souls and in turn, re-establish a connection with the earth – their truth and nature, desire, the essence of their souls, and their own authentic feminine power. BECAUSE A WOMAN FULLY EMBODIED AND STANDING IN HER AUTHENTIC POWER IS A LIFE FORCE THAT WILL BRING THE HEALING ENERGY OF LOVE TO THE WORLD. It is our time to release, surrender, heal, and rise to our own innate callings.
Many things have transpired in my life since then but what I’ve realized is that I have become the greatest alchemist of all- a transmuter of the soul; turning pain into beauty, hate into forgiveness, anger into love…
I began to heal using my words as my past collided with the present and my entire world collided with reality, unraveling me to the core. And from the muddy beginnings, this young wolf has grown in her majestic beauty stepping into her role of Alpha – as true beauty, love, and leadership reside within the essence of my being. It has become my life purpose to share this wisdom with others and to help guide them back to themselves, back to wholeness, back to wellness – back to nature, the forest, following the drum that beats within until at last they are free following the wings of the mighty raven – running with their pack until they are standing at the edge of all they know – howling at the moon and signaling the call of true freedom and liberation once and for all.
I have worked through a lot of archetypes in my life; beginning with Christ Consciousness. As I grew older and began studying history (which to date still fascinates me to no end), I came across teachings that were Buddhist in nature. I was utterly intrigued. After spending most of my life terrified of Revelations, Hell, and everlasting Brim-fire (as I knew in my heart I would never make it to heaven – I was far too curious a child), I was relieved to find a figure who seemed very similar to Christ – but emanated so much love. The more I began to study, however, the more I began to dissect. Was Buddha really Christ and things just got changed a bit through cultures and translations (as many teachings back then were given orally and were never written down)? I remember almost feeling obsessed with this idea and began an in-depth study of almost all major world religions.
I remember when I first came across Muhammad and had a revelation that yes, these beings must all be one and the same. I remember being so excited. Why had no one else thought of this?! Ha! (They had). This led me down a rabbit hole of history – The Dark Ages (and how specific books were left out of the Bible by the Catholic Church to represent more of a patriarchal society), I studied translations (and saw all the ways the Hebrew texts differ from the Bible we read today), punctuation, persecution, martyrdom, Adam and Eve (and Lilith), Dead Sea Scrolls, Babylonian Talmud, the Koran, Sumerian Texts (which predate all other texts and gives us a very different idea and concept of who ‘God’ is), ancient cuniform texts, etc. I wasn’t sure what door I opened but I knew that as humans and a society – we somehow got it all wrong somewhere along the way. There shouldn’t be ‘Holy Wars’ over teachings that we can’t even fully declare as truth as we have often been quite deceived (and I’m definitely not being a conspiracy theorist here)…
As I was studying Lilith (Adams theorized first wife who IS listed in The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Babylonian Talmud, and even in Isaiah in the Bible – only now she’s a demon with wings), I found that she was actually associated with the goddess Inanna, a Sumerian goddess associated with the planet Venus. Inanna is called Ishtar by the Babylonians. Ironic enough, The Sumerian text of Inanna’s Descent to the Nether World has her impaled on a stake, dead, and risen in three days. Hmmm sounds like our Christian resurrection story, doesn’t it?
As everything began to tie in with one another – I kept being led back to study the ‘Old Ways’ or the ‘Ancient Ways,’ which had deep roots in earth religion (and the rabbit hole got so much deeper). I started learning about how almost every holy day known to man was somehow or another associated with a pagan festival or deity. I started an in depth year and a day study following the wheel of the year. What I learned had me mesmerized: a nature based religion celebrated by the seasons, solstices, equinox’s, and mid-points – and following the cycles of the Moon, known as Esbats – commonly associated with the Goddess (female deity) – and the cycles of the Sun, known as Sabbats. It’s living in harmony with nature and attuning to the rhythms of the natural world.
The term earth religion encompasses any religion that worships the earth, nature or fertility gods or goddesses. There is an array of groups and beliefs that fall under earth religion – not just paganism which is a polytheistic, nature based religion; but also animism, which is the worldview that all living entities (plants, animals, and humans) possess a spirit; Wicca, who hold the concept of an earth mother goddess as well as practice ritual magic; and druidism, which equates divinity with the natural world. Another perspective of earth religion to consider is pantheism, which takes a varied approach to the importance and purpose of the earth, and man’s relationship with the planet. Several of their core statements deal with the connectivity humans share with the planet, declaring that “all matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part” and “we are an integral part of Nature, which we should cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We should strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally”.
As I was studying and sorting through all of this information, I found myself being deeply drawn to the Old Ways. Being a verified Native with a roll number (I am Apsáalooke, otherwise know as Crow), my blood knows the ways of nature and of the land; it lives on through the DNA of my ancestors; blood of my blood. I have also learned about the deep connectivity I have with my Korean lineage and the amazing Shamans (or Sʰinism, or Sʰindo) that also runs through my veins.
I also learned how most “witches” were really nothing more than herbalists, medicine doctor’s, midwives, healers, and those who work with the cycles and elements of nature. Most people in Medieval times never saw a “doctor.” They were treated by the local wise-woman who was skilled in the use of herbs, or by the priest, or the barber, who pulled out teeth, set broken bones and performed other operations. Their cures were a mixture of superstition, religion, and herbal remedies (some of which are still used today). Traditional “witches” were also very skilled in working with energy (think reiki, theta healing, or pranic healer) as well as working with the physical responses our bodies often display and manifest as a result of emotional trauma (think therapist, body mapping, and chakra work).
One day, after years of study, it became clear to me that while I will forever be a student in this life – it was time to integrate and embody all I had learned and thus I began to fully walk the path of the old ways and to lead others back inward to their own sacred temples of intuition; themselves. And while my offerings have evolved and changed over the years; my intent has remained the same. I am a multi-passionate spiritual being having a very human experience. Those I work with eventually come to understand that while I help* elevate and shift thought patterns and old paradigms by discarding old belief systems that no longer serve the individual while also dismantling years of domestication – my ultimate focus is on transcending our pain but not the actual experience. Rather, I will instead promote integration, surrender, and acceptance while leaning into that which you are resisting. The only way out is through. We cannot grow upward if we are unwilling to admit where we are and sometimes we have to forgive in order to climb. No matter the route, the ultimate destination is to return to our wildish nature – howling at the moon, spreading our wings in freedom flight, hearts beating in excitement and anticipation like wild mustangs along a river bed – a return to love, to hope, to light, to liberation – with a deep knowing and understanding that even in the dark, we have the moon and stars to illuminate our path. We are never truly alone and we always have a choice; even when it feels like we don’t.