My work and art are heavily indebted to the spirituality of my father’s Native identified family and my shamanic teachers. I feel truly blessed to have many wonderful teachers, several of whom have gone on to the Spirit World.
At age seven I had a catastrophic case of Polio, an event that taught me much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing. After I unexpectedly survived, it became my family’s expectation that I would honor and work with Spirit. It was only much later, in adulthood, that my journey into shamanism began.
That was more than forty years ago. In the years that followed I was graced with teachers from many traditions. Some of these teachers, notably Susan Grimaldi and Julie Soquet, have become lifelong friends. Some, like Susan, the late Amazonian shaman Ipupiara (Bernardo Peixoto) and the Andean shaman and curandera Clechia Toscano have been greatly honored. Others were controversial. Together they represent the wide range of approaches to shamanism, the good and the bad, and shamanic paths that seem beyond either. Each spent precious time with me, and helped to mold my vision, and I feel enormous gratitude to each. Even though he died in 2011, I still deeply miss Ipu’s random late evening phone calls and constant encouragement.
In my family, my Grandmother Watson taught me to pay attention to the plants even as she wanted me to be safe and pass as European. My father taught me the power of story and metaphor, and insisted that Spirit transcends all religions. My family and heritage are complex; you can read more about them here.
For me, the role of the shaman is to be an intermediary between the realm of spirit and that of the human community. We are all called to keep the world in balance, to acknowledge and honor the spirits and Ancestors, and to do what we are able to soothe suffering. This task is called Dreaming A Good World Into Being.
Today my work in shamanism, as a consultant, artist, and educator draws from what was gifted to me by my teachers, rather than a singular tradition. It is also informed by the teachings passed on by my father’s family, teachings that reflect their life experiences and circumstances. I am not tribally affiliated or a carrier of any secret knowledge; I am just an elder human being seeking to be a good shaman.
I often work with my wife Jennie who has studied shamanism and Reiki. You can read more about our work at JourneyWorks.