Friday, October 22, 2010

Etsy's Native American Forum Founder & 2010 Anniversary Sale

My recent drive across country had a few surprises and some treasured moments. One surprise was seeing a pickup truck at a gas station with huge moose antlers in the back (presumably attached to an out-of-sight moose).

A real delight was the opportunity to meet with Joni Stinson, founder of the Native American Forum Thread. Started in November 2009 to celebrate Native American month, the forum is currently running in its sixth edition on Etsy. An exciting promotion and sale of Native American-inspired items is running from November 1st to 21st to celebrate the Native Forum’s first anniversary. (Find these items on Etsy by clicking the search bar at the top right of any page, click on “All Items”, and type “NAPromo” into the space.)

Now a highly-respected venue for promoting Etsy artisans’ favorite Native American or Native American Inspired work, the Native Forum is lively and fun. Participants from around the world join in, we love bacon at our virtual parties, move the on-line campsite regularly to new fabulous locations (currently “located” in Fossil Creek, Arizona), and are learning Cherokee words. The forum generates amazing opportunities for spiritual and artistic growth and healing, too. Many special friendships have been formed, both on-line and in-person meetings. Check out the current thread at Native American Forum on Etsy.

Joni and her Beaded Owl Necklace

Having seen some pictures of Joni Stinson before we met, I knew what she looked like. What I didn’t realize is that this beautiful, petite woman had the deepest voice I could imagine! Must be like a Lioness sounds when talking! We met near her home in Omaha, Nebraska. Joni emerged from her car wearing one of her spectacular handcrafted beaded necklaces, with a beautiful turquoise blazer complementing the exquisite colors of the long rose-themed piece. Everything about her was glowing color and warmth.

Joni is a descendant of a red-haired Irish mother and Creek-Cherokee father. She learned the Native American art of bead weaving from her paternal aunts, who wanted to make sure she was becoming well-grounded in her Creek and Cherokee heritage. Over dinner, I learned that Joni started selling her own handmade beaded pieces several years ago after attending Native American festivals, creating her own niche for reasonably priced, high quality, Native American artisan-crafted jewelry. She has also supported and nurtured hundreds of talented artists through the Native Forum thread!

The Native Forum’s November anniversary promotion provides exceptional opportunities to obtain handcrafted artisan items directly from the artists for your holiday gift giving, at prices ranging from $5 to $500. We will also be offering prize giveaways of many beautiful items. Joni contributed these starry earrings for one of the prizes ...
Native American Dangling Star Earrings by Joni Stinson

The Native Forum’s November anniversary promotion provides exceptional opportunity to obtain handcrafted artisan items directly from the artists for your holiday gift giving, at prices ranging from $5 to $500.

We will also be offering prize giveaways of exquisite artisan-made items.

Kokapelli Suncatcher by HandyAnn

Additional temptations among the handmade artisan items and prizes from some of the participating artists include the delights featured here!

Be sure to check out the participating artists and prizes for great handmade art by searching “NAPromo” on Etsy between November 1st to 21st. Bring some special joy to your holiday gifts!

More than 30 Etsy artists are participating in this event. More information will be available in coming days, so check out my shop page, and watch for info on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Practicing Compassion Every Day for Transformation and Health

Autumn is the season for letting go. This is a time for reflection on where we are at this moment, what we have experienced that brought us to this place in our journey, and to ponder what inner work we can do that will lead us to where we really want to be. Just as the leaf is released from the tree, or the raindrop drops from the cloud, Fall is a time for learning detachment, letting go, and to not be attached to the outcome.

A recent conversation with a dear friend provided an unexpected opportunity to consider the importance of compassion in our daily lives. I have found that practicing compassion has brought ease to my heart around difficult personal relationships. And I find that I frequently have to work at compassion every day.

We each carry pain and hurt deep in our hearts. Perhaps from difficult childhood experiences that color our adulthood …rejections (real or perceived by us) from someone that we love and from whom we
wanted love from in return  … loss of someone or something that was held in close and of great importance – a job, a home, a precious animal companion.

[Kuan Yin is the dearly loved Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, cherished in many cultures worldwide. Embodying compassionate loving kindness, her presence calms those who suffer and brings peace to the heart. ]

This pain and hurt lodges deeply within, and continually calls out for our attention in many different ways. Many can manifest physical conditions that have some relationship to these hurts. Others find themselves expressing anger and bitterness in relationships – at work and at home. Holding on to emotions that are better let go brins a feeling of what I describe as a “tension in the soul” that brings an edge, like a paper cut, to our daily existence – a hurt that is not incapacitating, but one of which we are always aware.

To me, Compassion is a deep feeling of spiritual love, loving kindness, and acceptance of a person or situation for exactly what she/he or it is (or was). Compassion is much more than pity. Genuine compassion for another actually begins within - with love, forgiveness and acceptance of ourselves.
Meditating on compassion helps us observe our emotional, spiritual, mental and physical processes that are connected to holding on to behaviors and beliefs that no longer serve us well. Walking (or “moving”) meditation, when we are moving and open – especially along water – helps us move into an altered state of awareness that enables us to perceive messages from what is around us. Paying attention to our thought processes and the joy of movement often leads to experiencing creative problem-solving. A sitting meditation is a receptive, universal posture that aids us in accessing universal wisdom and learning. This posture teaches us how to wait, listen, and observe what is being revealed (A. Arrien)  Messages may come through our dreams, as our unconscious delivers information to our awareness.

Blue and pink are the color rays carrying compassion and love. Working with potent crystals such as Aquamarine, Rose Quartz, Rhodonite and Clear Crystal will help you focus the energies of compassion, healing, and transformation in meditation and dreams.

Practicing compassion means stepping back from a powerful hurt and examining the thought processes we engage in around this particular experience and/or belief that we are holding onto “for dear life” - regardless of what carrying this pain has created in our life. A clear-eyed, open-hearted review of the experience or belief will usually show us outdated beliefs and attitudes that we can address, work to release, and change into a powerful transformation of how we view the world.

Challenging? Absolutely. This is a vitally important practice that changes us, and radiates outward to change the world.

Suggested Resources:
Arrien, Angeles, The Four Fold Way, HarperSanFrancisco, 1993

The Dalai Lama on Compassion

Schlitz, M, Vieten, C, and Amorok, T, Living Deeply The Art & Science of Transformation in Everyday Life, New Harbinger Publications 2007

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strengthen Affirmations, Intention, Manifestation with Meditation

We truly are composed of the same elemental material as the sun, the stars, moon and planets, and everything in the universe. Quantum physics has shown that natural laws apply equally to the biggest and the smallest particles. Atoms vibrate at different frequencies, creating color, shapes, forms, sounds, and all of matter. Each atom and molecule is surrounded and wrapped by electromagnetic force. The physical forces of light, electricity, magnetism, and heat are linked together by Electromagnetism – that essence, chi, prana, the vital life force. Sound is a vibration - an electromagnetic force.
Our bodies are made of electromagnetic currents, sound and light waves. Our thoughts and emotions also are electromagnetic forces. Emotions travel on the mind’s electromagnetic current to every atom in our bodies. Everything operates on and creates magnetic force – causing other atoms, all beings, to move towards each other.

So, you might be asking now, what is the point?

Everything that happens begins within our bodies.

Thoughts begin in our mind, in our deepest  inner self. Our thoughts and our words have their own force and physical power. We make decisions based on our thoughts that radiate throughout the Earth – the ether – the universe, putting our own unique imprint on the history of life.  Wars, rainforest devastation, the Gulf Oil spill ... world peace, healing, democracy ... all began (begin) with thoughts leading to actions.

You've heard of “the power of positive thinking.” Most of us have heard about affirmations. Affirmations are words repeated daily – either silently or verbally – that start as seeds of thought in the conscious mind. Affirmations generate emotions, a flow - magnetic and emotional – within the body. This flow stimulates action, and manifestation follows upon action.

I practice affirmations every day – I have for years. While perusing Twitter late last week (of all things, really!), I came across an astonishing reminder that how one phrases an affirmation is so powerful. Andrea Conway, a Law of Attraction coach from Denver, writes an interesting blog about Attraction marketing for small business success. My attention was captured by her writing about the power of two little words that are “total manifestation powerhouses” – the words are “I AM.” These words are central to the teachings of the mystical lecturer Neville (1905-1972).

As Conway wrote, according to Neville,

"whatever you declare yourself to be with “I am” becomes the condition you express, and the entire universe agrees with it.”
Think about these words. When you think about – and verbally describe – your current situation, what do you say? “I am struggling to make ends meet” ... "I'm not selling anything lately", or are you saying “I am a successful, thriving artist”.

"I AM"

Conway points out that Neville states that we have free will. We can choose any condition that we wish. And because thoughts have energy, we become what we choose, and this is how the universe sees us.

Meditation is the most effective way to change our thinking, the energy that radiates outward to the universe, and that comes to manifest what we are.

To begin working with your “I AM” power, begin with concentration and meditation. During concentration, focus in your mind on “I AM” and let go all other thoughts and concerns. Follow the concentration period with meditation – listening to the silence, the vibrations from The Mystery. Be aware of the feelings flowing around and through you. Experience deep calmness, perhaps a sensation of lightness, or floating on currents of air or water. Begin to add descriptive words to your “I AM” awareness – perhaps the words are “eating healthy food”, “in good shape”, “filled with joy”, “in love”.

Repeat your statement quietly, calmly – speaking it out loud is best. Notice shifts in mind-set, your outlook, how you feel physically, and how it manifests all around you. You can even write your “I AM” statement down on a little piece of paper, and carry it in your pocket with one of your favorite crystals to generate energy and remind you throughout your day.

My new Affirmation and Intention Mini-Talisman is crafted to assist you in working with your own power of thought, helping you focus, strengthen your affirmation, and bring in crystal energies of abundance, inspiration, and Spirit Energy. With Rhodonite, Herkimer Diamond, Heliodore, and Imperial Golden Topaz.


All thoughts, all change begins within us. Thoughts are energy. Change how you think, how you speak, how you act, how you live!

Check out Andrea Conway's "I Am" blog

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Smudging Classes Bring Healing to Middle School Students

Many indigeous cultures and religious practices use herbs for cleansing and healing - as incense, essential oil, and as fresh or dry herbs. Cultural and healing lore teaches that smudging is calming and cleansing. Those of us who smudge regularly know that smudging clears the environment of negative energy and helps purify our spirit. Brushing the sacred smoke around the body is calming and centering.

I was recently honored with an invitation to teach two lessons on smudging to art classes at the Ace Charter School last month (March). Here's the story ...

Coming mostly from low income Latino families, these middle school students are some of the lowest achieving kids in their San Jose school district. Many come from rough homes. Quite a few have behavior problems. In their art classes, the students have been studying Native American culture.

Their teacher, Helene Erlich, works very hard to give them positive experiences and to teach life lessons that reinforce self esteem. She contacted me after becoming a fan of my art on Etsy.
From the moment I received this most unexpected invitation, and as we worked out the class details, I was deeply touched both by the teacher's caring for her students. We both knew these kids need opportunities for learning something that is healing in their lives, and that can help them change their own state of mind and their environment.

Class 1:

In the first class, the theme of preparing for Spring Equinox was used for introducing the sacred smudging ceremony. The students learned about the sacred practice of smudging, how to get centered, and about thanking the plant spirits. They learned that fragrant herbs used in the smudge stick - such as fennel for love and healing, lavender for calm and happiness, rosemary for success and clear thinking, sage for cleansing - bring energies from the plants into the physical, mental and emotional environment. They experienced smudging themselves and then someone else. (I crafted the smudge sticks they used from fennel, lavender, rosemary, and Mexican Sage [S. leucantha]).

Each small group had a campfire (candle) and a plastic egg rattle to use.

During discussions at the end of each class, many students - without prompting - said they felt "better", "happy", "calm", "relaxed", "more energized". One young girl who was recovering from surgery on both feet and using a walker said that she felt pain free for the first time since her surgery was over.

Class 2:

Students learned how to make their own smudge sticks in the second class. Smudge sticks are fairly easy to make. Most important is understanding that the herbs used are considered sacred, and approaching the creating in the right manner of respect and gratitude.

Handling the sacred herbs during the crafting is a wonderfully healing and uplifting experience.

For two days before the class, I prowled neighborhoods (Black Lab in tow) in two towns to gather enough Lavender, Rosemary, and Sage leaves for use by 110 students. Happily, Fennel is growing abundantly all around my neighborhood right now.

Most of the students were fully engaged in the process.

Some of the smudge sticks were quite creative!

And the smiles that lit so many young faces when I told them they did a wonderful job was a real joy to experience for all of us.

Research to Do !

Two questions were asked that prompted quite a bit of research on my part afterwards.

Quite a few students were very interested in the love energy aspect of fennel. When talking about fennel being an herb that attracts love, one girl asked me how that works (she may have been the one holding hands with a boy near the herb table). I answered that using fennel in a smudge clears your own energy and helps you feel more loving, and that attracts love back to yourself. And there are tiny particles in the smoke that move out into the universe and take this energy to others, plus stays around you - working like a hummingbird comes to a flower.

I realized that even though I've been smudging for years, and fully embraced all of the benefits that have been written about and I've experienced, I wanted to have a "technical understanding" of how and why. So, I began researching.

Understanding how smudging works begins with the sense of smell and the brain's limbic system. Fragrance has a direct, primal and powerful impact. The limbic system is a complex arrangement of brain functions that regulate everything from emotions to learning to responding to stimuli.

 This system is responsible for creativity, inspiration, and automatic life processes for survival including heartbeat, hormone regulation and respiration.

Next, remember that everything in existence has energy . Science has shown that everything in existence consists of atoms and molecules. The movement of atoms creates energy that has an electromagnetic "vibration". Everything is energy and thus has a vibration. Chi, the vital Life Force in all living things, is energy. Smell is molecular. Emotions are energy.

When you sniff an aroma, the fragrance travels up the nasal passage to the olfactory bulb, where - bypassing the blood-brain barrier - the odor molecules directly enter the limbic system. The limbic system is made up of many brain structures related to survival. This is where our brain processes emotions, and motivations such as fear, anger, and pleasure. Memory, happiness, decision making, heart rate, blood pressure, sexual response and creativity are all based in the limbic system.    
                     Abalone Shell Bowl - WillowRavenBeads

The limbic system is where atoms meet - and affect - emotional energy. The sense of smell is directly linked to health, relaxation, emotional well being, our reactions and to decisions we make. This is why fragrance has such an important role in religious ceremonies, and why aromatherapy works.

So, the short answer seems to be: the molecules in the herbal smudging smoke attach to the negative energy within the person and/or the environment. As the smoke dissipates (being exhaled and/or dissolving and moving out of the room), the negative energy is cleared away, or perhaps the smoke molecules actually change the molecular structure of the other energy. Since plants have energy, their unique qualities - for healing, change, purification - are part of the smoke and are absorbed into the body and environment. [I personally believe that the "brushing" action also has an important role - a subject for another day]

The second question was about using cilantro in smudge sticks, since many of the students were of Hispanic heritage and had this herb growing at home. Since I was not very familiar with cilantro, I needed more information.

Turns out that Cilantro has been used as a healing herb for 5,000 years.Cilantro is also known as coriander (all the same plant - cilantro is the leaf, coriander the seed), Chinese Parsley or Mexican Parsley. The Chinese used cilantro/coriander in love potions as they believed that it had aphrodisiac qualities (the kids will love that answer!). It is referenced in the Bible, and the ancient Romans are credited with spreading the plant throughout Europe. The herb was brought to the Americas (Central and South America) by the Spanish Conquistadors, making cilantro one of the earliest cultivated herbs in the western hemisphere.

Kicking Bear

Cilantro was referenced by many sources I reviewed as a common herb in smudge sticks, though I found no specific descriptions of it's metaphysical qualities. Medicinally, eating Cilantro has been found to remove mercury and other toxic metals from the brain and central nervous system into other tissues. Herbalists and aromatherapy sources say that Cilantro/Coriander contains an essential oil that helps in the healing of digestive problems (such as flatulence, indigestion and constipation), eliminates toxins, stimulates circulation, eases migraine, prevents infection and salmonella, and treat rheumatism and arthritis.

One herbalist colleague believes that coriander/cilantro would lift heaviness away, just as it helps the body get rid of heavy metals, especially mercury. Cilantro's light and clean tasting qualities probably make it feel "like soap for the spirit," she says.

Many people I've contacted recently on this topic would be interested in hearing about Cilantro in smudge sticks. Please send me - or post -  your comments!

And lastly, I am delighted to share what Helene Erlich, the art teacher, wrote about the classes:

"It was beautiful and perfect timing. This ceremony, whether they realized it or not, helped cleanse some of the energy that stops their growth. "

Partial List of Resources and Suggestions for More Information:
Aromatherapy and SmudgingAromatherapy and Limbic System
Limbic System
National Plant Data Center
Sage Uses

Smudging Fan by Rekamekip

Limbic System Photo

Questions about smudging or smudging herbs? Just ask - I have lots of experienced smudging colleagues who would be delighted to share their experiences!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Equinox Approaches - Plan for Change

Equinox means the date when passage occurs.

Since ancient times, the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox marked the start of the new year. The changing Light from the darkness of Winter to the longer days and new life of Spring played an important role in folklore, mythology, lifestyle, and art.

Technically, an equinox occurs when the tilt of the Earth's axis is vertical to the Sun, neither tilted towards the Sun (as in summer in the northern hemisphere) or away from it (in winter). Day and night are of approximately equal length. After the Spring Equinox, the days will get longer - until the Summer Solstice. The Spring Equinox always occurs around March 20-21.

This date has been celebrated in indigenous cultures since ancient times. Calendars of cultures around the world commemorate this date. The Persian festival of Nowruz celebrates creation and the cosmology of Iranian & Persian people. Ancient Egyptians celebrated Sham El Nessim going back to 2700 BC. Christians have the Easter holiday around this time - the first Sunday after the first full moon after the March equinox.

Establishing the ability to fix key seasonal celestial transitions was essential to successul planting, harvesting, and hunting migrating animals. Native American tribes often appointed "sun watchers" to establish this significant ritual date. Northern California's Miwok tribe was believed to honor fertility during this time - perhaps at the rock carvings on Ring Mountain shown in the picture at left (not far from where I live).

South is the direction commonly associated with the Spring Equinox, and the Earth Element represents this season.

After the contemplation and planning of Winter, the time for change arrives. Often this is when we begin to put change into action - how we are going to live differently in our hearts, to begin preparing for the planting leading to harvest. Often this is a time of focusing on relationships and matters of the heart. [My Lab loves to eat spring grass]

And definitely this is a time to smudge your home, your office - to clear out the Winter's energies and bring in the joy and abundance of Spring! The Spring Equinox Talisman uses the energies of vibrant Moss Agate, Heliodor, Baltic Amber, and Selenite to recharge your own environment and help banish Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Want to learn more about conducting a sacred smoke blessing? Are you seeking a super-fragrant, colorful smudge for your Equinox celebration? Try my handcrafted smudge sticks, made with a blend of fragrant herbs and flowers ... fresh lavender, rosemary, mint. Each smudge stick purchase includes colorful instructions on smudging for people, home and office.

BLOG SPECIAL! Purchase a pair of smudge sticks or talisman with a smudge stick from my Etsy or 1000markets shop. Mention "BLOG READER" in the PayPal/Amazon message to seller and get free shipping!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thoughts on Midwinter

Midwinter - a time of reflection, regeneration, assessment and planning for the upcoming year's harvest. Short days, long nights. Hibernation. Weather changes and storms blowing down from the North. Remembering the change of seasons and connecting to all that is. Colors of white, grey, brown ... and green in California!

Each season has a purpose in our existence.

For most indigenous cultures, the Winter is the season of the Air Element and the North direction. Winter is the season for Manifestation.

The Air Element is the element of the Mind - of freedom of movement, higher vision, and inner spiritual renewal. AIR is the second primary element of creation. Air has no boundaries. Life on Earth begins and ends with Air. This element is also called the Wind Element. Wind moves vast amounts of Air around, bringing change and clarity - the phrase "clearing the Air" describes the action of Wind. The Air Element governs the Third Eye and Crown Chakras. Air energy is transparent. Gemstones for Air/Wind help us to enhance vision, understanding and mental clarity. Often colors of Blue and Violet, Air/Wind gemstones include Blue Aragonite, Blue Calcite, Blue Aventurine, Tanzanite, Iolite, and Fluorite, among others.

Cultural Anthropologist, author and educator Angeles Arrien (one of my teachers) developed the Four Fold Way that draws on cross cultural traditions, ancient wisdom and shamanic traditions for applications in contemporary journeys. She teaches that Winter is the season of the Warrior. Warriors are leaders. They must develop and practice responsibility and discipline, and understand the impact of all actions - those taken and also those not taken. Warriors are willing to take a stand. The Rattle is the tool of Winter and the Warrior.

We can all use the time and lessons of Winter to reflect on our actions and the results of the past year, and identify where we need to change and grow for the year now unfolding.

The Earthpath Artisans Team of Etsy is conducting a Midwinter Challenge. Go to the Earthpath Blog (see below). Check out the creative submissions on the topic of Midwinter and vote for your favorite (mine is the Intention Basket Talisman - hint!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Year of the Tiger

Mid February - and Chinese New Year is here. 2010 is the Year of The Tiger.

The Tiger in Chinese cultural traditions is a true force of Nature. One of the most dynamic signs in the Chinese zodiac, Tiger is unpredictable, fearless, and highly protective. With camoflage colors of black, gold, orange and white, Tiger is linked to the Moon - particularly the full and new moons.

Individuals born in the Year of the Tiger - and those with Tiger as their Totem Animal - are typically lucky, courageous, dynamic, attractive. They can also be stubborn and impatient. Often do their best work at night.

The arrival of Tiger indicates a year of unpredictability, new adventures, and passion.

This Talisman's gemstones capture Tiger's Fire and Water energies to connect one to their Tiger totem, bringing energies of Strength, Passion, and Transformation. The minerals include Tigers Eye, exceptionally rare Padparadsha, and rare Black Spinel and Blue Aventurine. An exquisite handcrafted copper Adinkra headpin symbolizes "Grace and Adaptability Under Pressure". The smudge includes mint, lavender, rosemary, and Plum blossoms!

SFEtsy - Tuesday Treasury - updated 16 Feb 2010 - features my Tiger Talisman and other beautiful Tiger-themed items for Year of the Tiger. Check out the blog!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spiritual Healers and Shamans - Responding to the Call for Help

Spiritual Healers and shamans have been part of humanity's spiritual practices in all cultures on Earth from the most ancient human tribes to today's world of science and advanced medicine.

Today I came across a thoughtful posting on shamanism and the role of healers that stimulated my thinking:

The great challenge of the 21st century is to wage peace on a globe full of humans while repairing the unintended damage we've inflicted on ourselves, other beings, and the earth. We need modern shamans to channel ancient "technologies of magic" like empathy, creativity, art, and spiritual interconnection, through "magical technologies" like medicine, computers, and satellites. That marriage of ancient and cutting-edge genius can heal hearts, minds, beasts, plants, ecosystems - almost anything. (Martha Beck, Ph.D, writing on World Healers, in What Matters Now.)

As an experienced Spiritual Healer and student of shamanism, I continually explore new techniques, practices, research, and information so that I can be the best possible channel for healing energy. In my current work with gemstone healing, I have encountered many powerful, gratifying stories of individuals who have experienced success in working with gemstone talismans for healing and meditation.

The call to serving as a healer and shaman comes from within, and is based on the individual's inherent capabilities and spirit guides. Even so, all of us have some healing ability to contribute to each other, and to our planet. Intention is the strongest force in the universe. Each one of us can state our intentions for ourselves, our work. Talismans help focus the energy and bring together the natural powers of the minerals with the essence of the body (human, animal, and plant) to begin healing and manifestation. And research has shown that prayers [or thoughts] for the healing of oneself or another really work!

Have an interesting healing experience to share? I'd love to hear from you! Post your comment below (subject to moderator approval).

For further information, here are some suggestions to start with:

Foundation for Shamanic Studies:

National Spiritualist Association: http//

Books by Larry Dossey, MD on prayer and healing