PNW Ritual Participants Wanted; Also, Free Workshops on YouTube!

Pacific Northwest pagans, listen up! I am facilitating the rituals at this year’s Sunfest (in Oregon, between Portland and the coast) in June; the theme is “Journey to the Sun”, and the main ritual this year will be a neoshamanic walking pathworking (think of the Alice in Wonderland ritual a few years back if you were there). I am looking for folks who want to be a part of this ritual through invocation and embodiment of the sacred nature beings attendees will be meeting along the way. This is the most elaborate group ritual I’ve ever facilitated, and I’d love to make it one of the best Sunfest has ever seen! Want to know more? Details at

Additionally, I’ve done a few free video workshops on various pagan topics over the past several weeks. The initial workshops are held live via my Livestream account (two sessions of each, allowing for different time slots so people have more flexibility in choosing a time that works for them). They’re then archived on my YouTube channel. So far I’ve covered Introduction to Animal Totems, Skin Spirits (working with the skins in hides, bones, and the like), and an animal totem guided meditation, and I also made separate videos of just the meditations themselves for those who want to use them for totemic work. The next round of workshops will be about the pagan publishing industry; here are the pertinent links to the Livestreams:

Saturday, March 9, 7pm – 8:30pm Pacific Standard Time

Sunday, march 10, 11am – 12:30pm Pacific Standard Time

And if there are any topics you’d like to see me do a workshop on, just let me know! In the meantime, I’ve got a full roster at PantheaCon this weekend, and I’ll be presenting workshops AND vending at FaerieCon West the following weekend. (You can see other places I’ll be on my calendar.)

Free Introduction to Animal Totems Online Workshops Jan 4 & 5

Hey, folks!

I am hosting two FREE sessions of my Introduction to Animal Totemism workshop in January! The workshops will be held on Livestream, where you can participate either via video or chat. Here are the relevant dates and times (the links also have more relevant information):

Friday, January 4, 2013, 7pm PST
Saturday, January 5, 2013, 11am PST

You can sign up for either time slot; if you aren’t sure what time it’ll be where you are, here’s a good time conversion tool. I deliberately am offering two different times in the hopes this will allow some of the folks outside of the US to join in!

Here’s more info about what I’ll be covering:

What’s my totem?

How do I find my totem?

Can any animal be a totem?

These are just a few of the questions people have asked me about animal totemism over the years. In this free workshop, I’ll provide my answers to those and more as I discuss the basics of animal totemism, including their nature, how to find and work with them, how to integrate them into your daily life, challenges and troubleshooting, and much more!

In addition, I’ll be discussing new material I haven’t covered in workshops before, to include some information from my newest book, New Paths to Animal Totemism. There’ll be ample time for questions as well, and you can ask either via livestream or chat. I’ve been practicing my own totemic path since the mid-1990s, and I’ve worked with a wide variety of animal totems over the years. Don’t miss this chance to not only hear me speak on this subject that’s near and dear to my heart, but ask me questions, too!

And, again, I’m offering this workshop free of charge! If you’d like to support my work financially, feel free to check out my books at or my ritual tools and other artwork at Thank you!

Offering Classes in Portland

Are you interested in practicing shamanism? Do you live in the Portland, OR area?

Join me for an informational meeting about a new, ongoing series of shamanism training classes. Based on her own practice, Therioshamanism, these classes will be designed to accommodate beginners as well as those with varying levels of experience. This informational meeting is a chance to get an idea of my approach to shamanic practice and to help attendees find a good fit for themselves, as well as offer input and ideas for these ever-evolving monthly classes.

In addition to practical shamanic techniques such as identifying and working with spirits, drumming and other vehicles for journeying, healing and other sacred work, these classes will cover related topics, such as the place of shamanism in non-indigenous American culture, the issue of cultural appropriation, bioregionalism and ecospirituality, and other relevant material in our ongoing work. Participants will also be invited to share what they’d like to know more about as we work together over time.

The informational meeting will be held Saturday, May 19th, from 11am to 12pm at Quaking Grass, 5010 NE 9th, Unit B (take the stairs on the north/back side of the building, whose front is on Alberta) in Portland, OR. Suggested contribution for this meeting is $5 per person, no one turned away for lack of funds.

Keep your eyes peeled for other events coming soon, including totemic drum and dance circles, and standalone workshops on topics like totemism, sacred work with animal parts, eco-spiritual art, and more!

I have been practicing various pagan and ecospiritual paths for fifteen years; I have been developing Therioshamanism as a dedicated path since 2007. I am a published author and sacred artist, and earned my Master’s degree in counseling psychology in 2011.

Updates to FAQ

First off, I tweaked the FAQ. Mostly some minor changes and updates here and there, but also an update to the question How can I support your blogging efforts?

Second, I’m going to start writing some posts more tailored towards helping folks “play along at home”, as it were. Some of these will be more theoretical, reorganizing and condensing things I’ve written about sporadically here. Others will be more hands-on–I eventually want to have instructions for the various stages of the first six months and so forth. I don’t have a set date when these things will start appearing; just making a statement of intent.


State of the Lupa

I updated the therioshamanism FAQ, since it hadn’t been done since last April, and a lot has changed since then.

It amazes me just how quickly things are changing. I’m used to things developing with some advancing through leaps and bounds, sudden shifts upward that carry me along. However, in the past year, and especially the past half year, the process has been accelerated. A lot of this, I think, is because I’m applying myself more than I ever have before I started this whole therioshamanism thing. I’ve been doing a lot, including things I don’t blog about but that are important anyway. It’s become a day-to-day practice, even if every day doesn’t always include journeying or rituals. It’s been a very intense time.

It almost feels, in a way, like I’ve reached a new level of actualizing, of tapping into potential I hadn’t been in contact with before. I knew that formalizing my spiritual path would create some changes for the better, but I wasn’t expecting the kind of experiential growth I’ve been through. I’ve made progress in the past, but there’s more fluidity, continuity, and meaning in it this time through.

Take the teaching aspect, for example–the fact that I’ll be teaching therioshamanism to others is part of what prompted me to change the FAQ, since a lot of it was based from a solitary perspective. I’ve taught via workshops and books for several years now, and I think I’ve done pretty well with it. However, when I started all this I hadn’t intended it as anything except a path for myself.

Back in November was when the spirits first started urging me to pass what I’ve been learning on to others. At the time, I told them I wanted my six months’ initial training to be done before I even considered it seriously. Even then, it took another six months after that.

I wouldn’t have agreed to it if I didn’t feel comfortable where I am now. Anyway, I won’t be teaching everything there is to teach. Instead, I’ll be guiding students through the six months’ training, which is really the only structured part of this whole path. And that’s mainly to give them the context and parameters that I’ve developed for therioshamanism. After that initial training is done, we’ll all practice as individuals, and come together once a month to trade notes and troubleshoot. There won’t be any degree system, and rites of passage will be organic and personal. I want to maintain enough control to be able to decide what therioshamanism is and isn’t, but I want those I teach to feel comfortable with experimenting within those parameters.

I feel like the personal part of my practice is accelerating as well. I can’t get into details right now, but I am very quickly coming to better understand and develop a formal ritual structure that will facilitate journeying and other practices. The spirits and I have been bouncing a lot of information and ideas off each other, thoughts and aesthetics and considerations. Things that have been vague forms in my head for literally years are coming into sudden, sharp focus. I think the roots of therioshamanism go deeper than I thought, and I only recently became conscious of what was growing there.

Things are coming together nicely, and I’ll be curious to see where I am next September.

Open to Local Students

I am opening up my home for a limited number of trainees in Therioshamanism. My goal is to be able to work with those who successfully complete the initial training to further develop Therioshamanism as a path. While it will still be “my baby”, in that it will be based on the ideals and parameters that I have been laying down and will continue to develop, I want to encourage further experimentation, and in-person note-trading. In order for other people to help in this development, it will be necessary to have training in the basics already established to give proper context.

What is Therioshamanism?

Therioshamanism is the neoshamanic path that I have been developing over the last year, based out of my own experiences with animal magic and other paths in the past decade and change, as well as supplemental reading and studying. I have been actively practicing this path, and am continually developing the techniques, particularly as they pertain to journeying and related practices. This will be an experiential training wherein the trainees will be doing the bulk of the work on their own with me as a guide.

It is first and foremost an ecospiritual path; this is not a path of abstractions, but one that ideally brings spirituality into conjunction with physical reality. There is no divide between “mundane” and “magical”; the physical world has magic all its own. As shamans, we mediate between the physical world and the spiritual world, but we recognize that they are not so distantly separated as is sometimes assumed. Part of the training, as well as subsequent work, will involve the interrelationship between self, community, and environment, and making improvements to all three.

It is also specifically a spirit-focused path. Most neoshamanisms tend to emphasize the techniques of shamanism first, with the relationships with the spirits primarily as aids to those techniques. In Therioshamanism, the relationships come first, and the techniques (as well as the contexts you will use them in) develop out of those relationships. This also means that your shamanizing will not be only focused on aiding human beings, and/or on self-development; rather, you will also take on tasks for the benefit of the spirits, as well as the natural phenomena they represent/embody/hold sacred/etc.

Finally, Therioshamanism is not based on core shamanism, which is what is detailed in Michael Harner’s The Way of the Shaman and the majority of other books on practical neoshamanism. One of my goals is to create a neoshamanic path that is independent of core shamanism and traditional shamanisms, and that is specifically geared towards nonindigenous practitioners. To that end, while we may look to other cultures’ shamanisms as inspiration, the bulk of the practical material will be based on both my experiences as I have developed Therioshamanism, as well as your own experiences during training, but also on the accounts of other nonindigenous, non-core shamanic practitioners.

The development of Therioshamanism will be primarily according to the parameters I set; you should be prepared to work within these parameters, which I will elaborate on during training. There will be ample room for experimentation, as well as for personal practice of things that are not included under the aegis of Therioshamanism, but I want there to remain some core of beliefs and practices that are central to the path.

If you would like to find out more and see where I’ve been, check the archives on the left sidebar, or scroll back on the main site.

So, who am I looking for?

–People who are in Portland, or who are willing to travel to Portland once a month, and who can commit to meeting up once a month through a six month initial training period.
–People who want to actively practice Therioshamanism as a path in and of itself, whether you are doing so already or not, and whether you are trained in other forms of shamanism/paganism or not. A basic understanding of magical practice, neopagan/neoshamanic spiritualities, as well as at least some experience with meditation, are preferred; if you are entirely new to all of this, please wait until a later training cycle and do some research in the meantime.
–People who, having successfully completed the initial six months of training, will continue to work with what they’ve been taught, and to continue regular meetings with me and the rest of the successful initiates.

Things You Should Know In Advance!

–Again, I want to emphasize that this is not core shamanism. Journeying is considered to be potentially dangerous, though not to the point where we should all just stay home. You will not simply go off into journeys with a single power animal and a power song; an important part of the basis of Therioshamanism is developing healthy relationships with a variety of spirit guides. You will also not be limited to learning only about healing, for while shamanism may involve healing, it involves a number of other potential tasks as well, not all of which are nice and pretty. And you will most likely not hear me throw around words like “medicine” and “vision quest” unless I am referencing someone else’s work. I do not draw on sources such as Brooke Medicine Eagle, Carlos Castaneda, Mary Summer Rain, or Ken Eagle Feather. If you would like to see some of my source material, click here to see a bibliography.
–This will NOT be a “shaman circle”, wherein we get together to do group rituals, group healing, etc. Rather, you will do the bulk of the work on your own, and meeting up will primarily be for trading notes while you are training. Further work beyond the initial six months will be discussed in person.
These meetings will be for trainees only, not friends or family members (unless they have applied themselves). If you have children, please make sure that you make child care arrangements in advance. Also, just to make things clear, I am accepting trainees only 18 years of age or older. I am not responsible for any conflicts with family, friends, etc. that may result from your decision to train with me.
If you are allergic to cats, please be aware that we have two cats, though we will be doing much of our discussion in a room where the cats aren’t allowed. However, there may be social time downstairs, where the cats roam free. I also have a husband, who is very good at respecting confidentiality, and who may be found wandering the downstairs portion of our home. He will not be participating in the training, but you will invariably encounter him. Please do not harass, bite, poke, molest, worry, or frighten the husband; it makes him cranky, and he must then be placated with video games and/or good beer, through an anciente Therioshamanick Rite involving Great Risk to Life and Limb. (You can, however, safely say “Hi” and even engage him in conversation.)
–Part of Therioshamanism does involve working with animal remains, including skin drums. This is an essential part of the path. If you want to find a drum that has been made from the skin from an animal that died a natural death or was used for food, I can help you with that. If you are a strict vegan, you may want to reconsider.
–Training is expected to be preparation for more involvement in Therioshamanism as a path, including continuing to meet as a group. It is not an end within itself, and completing the initial six months training will not “certify” you, so to speak, as a Therioshaman–it will simply lay the groundwork. There will not be set rites of passage, other than at the end of your initial six months; any other rites of passage will be determined by the individual and/or the spirits s/he works with, and discussed with the group to the extent that the individual is comfortable.
–You will not be required to pay any fees for training. Donations are appreciated, as I will be providing you with some materials at the outset, and I’m not going to complain if you want to help out a bit beyond that. We may do a small potluck for each meeting; if you want to make something extra and leave it with me that would be a good substitute if you’re uncomfortable with money–I can always use food! There will be some books that are suggested for you to get, though probably only one or two will be considered mandatory (and they are generally easy to find cheap and used). You will also need to purchase a skin drum during your training; one option is that complete kits for 12″ goatskin drums are available for under $30 at the drum shop down the street from where I live, as well as on the internet. (If you already have a skin drum, you’re welcome to use it.)

If You Are Interested…

Please contact me at whishthound (at) and include the application below–do not put your application in a reply to this post. I will set up a time where we can meet in person to do an interview. I do reserve the right to accept or deny applicants.

Therioshamanism Training Application

Date of Birth
City of Residence
Email address
Best phone number to contact you
Best Evenings for Meeting and Potential Scheduling Conflicts
Emergency contact person with contact info if different from your own

What is your spiritual/magical background? What paths have you followed, and what sorts of magic/ritual have you done? Have you been initiated into any other paths?

What has drawn you to shamanism in general?

What reasons do you have for wanting to train in Therioshamanism?

Are there any health considerations, physical or otherwise, that I may need to know about? Please keep in mind that shamanic practice may be very intense at times, physically and psychologically.

Do you have reliable transportation to get to the inner Northeast portion of Portland? I am located in the Kerns/Laurelhurst area, reasonably close to the 20 line and about fifteen minutes bus ride from the Skidmore Fountain MAX station.

Deeper Work with Wolf and Small Wolf

So this weekend marked a pretty significant shift for me (no pun intended). I went to Sunfest on the coast with my husband, Taylor. It was an excellent festival, and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Pacific Northwest. Anyway, it’s one of the few places in the Northwest that I’ve found where I can do fire dancing, which means it’s also one of the few places where I can do wolf dancing.

I’ve been dancing with Small Wolf, my wolf skin, since 2002. Folks who went to Sirius Rising from 2002 through 2006 may remember me as “the skinny chick in the wolf skin”. Since moving to the Northwest, I’ve spent more time getting settled in than getting out and about; I didn’t really do much while in Seattle, and now that we’ve been in Portland a year we’ve been working on finding more stuff in the area. I haven’t heard much about drum circles in Portland proper (gas prices prohibit regular attendance anywhere else, though occasional visits aren’t out of the question). So if any of my readers know of any options, feel free to let me know.

At any rate, I’ve been dancing with Small Wolf, the whole time. It’s generally been for the fun of it, both for Small Wolf and for me. I like getting a chance to see the world through his eyes, and he enjoys being able to move again, borrowing my body as I wear his skin. However, since starting on this shamanic path, the dancing has been moving towards something deeper and more complex than that. A lot of the threads of my practice over the years are beginning to come together into something more cohesive–which is exactly what I’ve been working towards in this endeavor.

This weekend, I had an experience that brought a lot of this purpose into sharp focus. I had brought Small Wolf with me expecting to get some dancing in, since Sunfest has a good group of drummers and a fire pit. I also brought my drum, since it wanted to come along as well. Saturday afternoon I had some time to sit and drum, practicing my songs for both Wolf and Small Wolf. I had a couple of folks come and share the drumming with me, which was nice. While most of my songs right now are still private, Small Wolf has always been a very public critter, and enjoys sharing with others (to an extent–not just anyone is allowed to touch him, and never without my permission unless you want to get yelled at). This was a good exercise for me, too, because while I’m fine with public speaking, I’m nervous about public singing. I’m not looking at huge concert tours and things of that nature, thankfully, but I will eventually need to at least be able to do the songs and drumming and such in front of other people as I take what I’m learning and use it to help others.

Last night it began to rain. Well, not really rain, so much as drizzle and spit. However, I generally don’t wolf dance outdoors in the rain because it’s really bad for Small Wolf–tanned furs are nowhere near as waterproof as the live deal. It’s tough to dry out the skin while camping, too, especially in a damp area. So I had originally figured I probably wasn’t going to get to dance. I had danced Friday night, and there were a number of people who had missed out on it. Apparently last year Small Wolf and I made quite an impression at our first Sunfest, and there were folks who were really looking forward to seeing us dance again (or who had heard about it but not seen it).

Our tent ended up being leaky, Taylor was recovering from a twenty-four hour bug, and I was wiped out from a busy weekend of vending, dancing, and socializing. So we decided to head home last night. This was perfect, because it meant that I could get a dance in before we left, and since home was only a couple of hours away I could get Small Wolf dried out since it was still only drizzling, not pouring. I made arrangements to get the folks who wanted to see the wolf dancing at the fire at an appointed time, asked a few of the drummers if they would be willing to show up, and managed to pull everything together in a short time.

The time came, and people were there at the circle, a couple dozen including the drummers. I had just intended to dance and be done with it. However, both Wolf and Small wolf had something else in mind. As I stepped into the circle, they made it very clear they wanted it to be a ritual. Small Wolf and I already have a bit of a rite we go through when we first get to the fire. First I walk around the fire a few times, greet it, and exchange energy with it to connect with it. Then as I prepare myself for the rite, I continue circling. After that I will carry Small Wolf over my shoulder and hold his head towards the fire so he may greet it. After that I put him on, binding his legs to my arms and legs, and tying his head over mine like a hood. I may then sit on the ground for a few moments, getting a really strong connection with him, and then we dance.

However, this time, after I connected with the fire and before I connected with Small Wolf, I called on the totems of the directions as well as various entities of Nature I work with, including the Animal Father. I don’t consider it evoking them, since they’re already there–the Green Mother is in the plant life, the Animal Father in critters great and small, the Wind and Water in the storm, etc. I don’t see a need to banish them, either, at the end–where would they go? I do acknowledge their presence, though, and ask them to witness the ritual if they will.

Only then did I ask Small Wolf to dance with me. I don’t just assume; I always ask. He’s generally enthusiastic–he enjoys it at least as much as I do. So I draped him over me, and we began to dance as the drummers drummed–they were so wonderful, those drummers! And the people watching were incredibly respectful and focused, sharing in the experience. A few had rattles and bells that they played with the drummers, and others I could see the wolf energy touch them. Small Wolf and I danced, and we danced, and the energy rose, and I began to show my teeth in the happy wolf-grin….

And then at the height of it, we invited those who would to come join us, to dance with us, to share in the wolf energy. Only a few did, but they settled into the current so easily, so smoothly. We’ve been able to share that current at more informal drum circles, and had people follow us in a line as we danced around the fire, but this was the first time that this was the sole focus of the dancing and drumming, and being able to feel that without distractions really showed me just what it was that Small Wolf and I have been building together for over half a decade.

I wish I hadn’t been so worn out; while I can channel energy with the best of them, I do allow my body to remind me of its limits. It had been a busy weekend, I’d done most of the setup when we arrived on site because Taylor was still sick, and I was potentially fighting off the bug as well. Plus cold rain will sap my strength more than just about anything. So I wish I’d had more strength, but when I reached my limit, Wolf backed off, and Small Wolf helped me to wind down. We left the wolf “flavor” in the drum circle–enough to let people keep the spirit of the ritual with them, but nothing that wouldn’t dissipate as the night wore on and other elements and spirits came in to dance with the people. I thanked all the spirits and beings who had witnessed the ritual, though they, like Wolf, had already begun to back off to their usual places as I began to tire. I think I wish I could have held out longer, danced more with the people who had been there; one person earlier in the day had been talking to me about how she and other people often felt intimidated by the fire dancing, too self-conscious to go out there and dance–and that sometimes what was needed was an invitation. I tried that, but I think if I’d had more energy I could have gotten people more involved in the ritual.

But I think we made an impression on the folks who were there, and this was definitely a good start. It gives me more focus of where my work with Wolf and Small Wolf will go. While I don’t tend to believe everything I read in the dictionaries, the theme of Wolf energy as teacher energy makes a lot of sense here. One thing Small Wolf and I have always been able to do with our dancing has been inspire people; Wolf and Small Wolf have been good at teaching me to lead through example. Part of why I blog here is to show other people what I’m doing and to hopefully inspire them to walk their own paths more fully and without fear. There are too many problems in the world these days to waste time letting the naysayers scare you into not doing what you need to do for fear of being told you’re wrong–we need more constructive actions, not destructive ones. (And there are better ways to remind someone of their impact than to insult them and point out only their mistakes.)

So the role I seem to be moving into with Wolf and Small Wolf is that which will be the most public aspects of my practice–giving people something they can participate in not just as spectators, but as active participants in the ritual. Time will tell as to whether any of the other totems or skin spirits want to be that involved with people beyond private ceremonies. However, Wolf and Small Wolf have always been happy to accompany me in public dances at pagan gathers. This is a great opportunity, because just being able to watch seems to really get people thinking about the Wild. If I can take that wonder and joy and roll it over into more interactive rituals that have a theme of Wolf = Wild = Respecting the Wild, so much the better.

It’s also good for me for personal reasons. One thing that can be considered, I suppose, a personality flaw is that I love attention. Okay, I love good attention, not the kind of attention one gets when punched in the nose, let me clarify! While most people like attention, I sometimes go overboard, and it’s something I’ve had to struggle with for years. The shamanic work has been great for teaching me how to shove my ego out of the way when needed. However, the enjoyment of attention is actually coming in handy here, because I’m able to get over my self-consciousness and instead consciously attract attention for a specific purpose. Therefore I’m able to take a personality trait that could potentially be a problem (attention whoring, anyone) and instead channel it into something more positive and constructive. Not that it completely solves all problems; I do still have to remember that when I dance, it’s not all about me. But Small Wolf in particular has been a great teacher for working through that particular bit of conditioning, and instead of completely squelching the desire for
attention, I’ve instead been learning to use it for the Powers of Good (TM)!

It’ll be interesting to see how this Wolf/Small Wolf work progresses. They’ve already been strongly involved in the ecological aspects of my life and practice; it’s no coincidence that wolves have often been equated with the wilderness, and the need to preserve both. Wolf taught me to appreciate Nature from an early age, and Small Wolf has continued with that through our dancing. I’m going to find some ways to maybe do more regular rituals where others can participate, since there are a lot of things Wolf and Small Wolf would like me to pass on to other people, and this is a great way to do so.

Wolf, the teacher and my guide into the Wild, and Small Wolf, my dance partner and willing conspirator in impromptu inspiration, are definitely taking me in some good directions.

ETA: Here’s a brief addendum to this post that I added after the feeds picked up on it.

Today’s Hike

This past Saturday Taylor and I went with our friends innowen and Kender to Mt. Hood, where they showed us a couple of trails we hadn’t yet been introduced to. While one was still remarkably covered in about 5-6 feet of snow(!), the other was mostly clear, at least up the first half mile or so. If people and places can have relationships, then I think I seriously have a crush on Mt. Hood. There was some reciprocal interest, though that mountain strikes me as rather aloof at first encounter. S/he’d like me to get to know hir better, physically (rough terrain, more remote) and spiritually, before I try anything even remotely shamanic there. Which is fine by me; while I won’t go out there as often since it’s a decent drive out, an hour and change, I do want to spend more time getting to know Mt. Hood, who may end up being a good place to go when I want to get away from people and into more secluded areas.

The trip to Mt. Hood got me craving a solo hike, something that I’d been feeling a subtle pull towards for the past few weeks, ever since Taylor and I went out to the Multnomah/Wahkeena trails for the first time since last November. Now that’s a place that I have formed a good relationship with; we’ve adopted each other, as it were. Today was a great day for a visit–perfect weather, and though there were more people than I would have expected on a week day, once I hiked past Multnomah Falls themselves, it was pretty quiet traffic-wise. I saw all sorts of critters–ravens, shiny black millipedes with yellow spots down the sides, tons of butterflies, robins, and a hummingbird, among others. The plants are going crazy, too–it’s green as can be, and everything’s rebounding from winter just fine, other than a patch of conifers that seem to have been hit by some sort of disease.

I spent a good deal of the hike in an ongoing, mostly nonverbal conversation with the Land there at Multnomah/Wahkeena. While they feel like two separate places–I can tell a decided shift in energy on the trail connecting the two–they’re very close, so I usually just refer to them as one. I also spoke a good bit with the Water as s/he sang and danced down the mountainside; s/he gave me a blessing, telling me to cool myself off by splashing myself with cold icemelt on this warm day.

At first, I found myself getting cranky with the tourists there, especially since I’d been expecting fewer people. However, I remember the lessons I learned the last time I was there, with Taylor and worked on accepting that everyone else had as much right as I did to be there, and that they weren’t automatically going to go uprooting plants and stomping on bugs.

Then three things happened, all within the space of a mile:

–A group of four people, a few years younger than I, were coming down the trail above me on a set of switchbacks. One of them threw a rock down the mountainside and nearly hit me by accident, because they hadn’t seen me. They apologized when we met. Instead of getting angry, I just told them “Yeah, it’s a really bad idea to throw rocks here, because it’s really hard to see people on the trail”. They seemed to have learned their lesson pretty well, so I went on in good spirits, trusting that they wouldn’t do anything else foolish.

–Another guy, about the same age, had been following me for a ways. I let him pass me, and was a bit annoyed by him, particularly his shirt which said “Don’t like my attitude? Then stop talking to me”. (I tend to think that the trend in “cute and fashionable rudeness”, typified by such things as Happy Bunny and the aforementioned t-shirt is not something we really need to be encouraging in this culture. But maybe I’m just an old fogie or something–most of the people I see sporting such things are in their teens to early twenties, and I’m *gasp* pushing thirty…but I digress.) Not too much later, he came back down the trail as I was heading further on, and very politely asked me if I’d seen the party he’d been separated from. I told him everyone I’d seen matching their description had been going the way he was going, and asked him if he had their cell phone numbers. He didn’t, so I told him his best plan of action would be to head all the way back down to the parking lot and wait at the car. He thanked me, and also incidentally apologized for mistaking me for male, as I was wearing relatively gender-neutral clothing with my hair pulled back and my hat on, and I am not the most curvy XX-chromosome person in the world. I assured him that it was in no way an insult, and continued on my merry way.

–Maybe five minutes later, I rounded a bend and greeted a couple of middle-aged folks who were enjoying the day. They stopped me and asked if I had any food. Just their luck, I happened to have a couple of extra granola bars I wasn’t going to need. I tried to just give them to them, but they insisted on paying me, and the man pressed five ones into my hand despite my protestations. Normally I’d think $2.50 was pretty damned steep for a granola bar, but having been in a similar, very hungry situation, in their place I’d have been that grateful, too! I checked to make sure they knew where they were going, and that they had enough water, and we parted ways with a smile.

I didn’t really think about the first incident in any meaningful way. However, when the second one happened, I started to make the connection between my lessons of tolerance from that Land, and what had been happening. The third incident was just the clue-by-four whapping me in the head. so I asked the Land what was up. S/he told me that s/he wanted me to help her help the people. We’d already established that s/he didn’t mind people being there, and made it hir task to educate them as much as possible about the need to preserve wild places like hir. S/he told me that I wasn’t particularly special, and that she talked to everybody there–I just happened to be one of the folks who noticed it on a conscious level. However, as our relationship has deepened, there’s been a greater need for me to make more of a commitment to hir, and s/he finally was able to get through to me what s/he needs me to do.

Today was an object lesson in some of the basics of what I can do for Multnomah/Wahkeena–pick up trash along the trail as usual, bring along some extra food and water, give people directions, offer a cell phone in case of need, bring a first aid kit, etc. In addition, I think I’m going to go ahead and go through first aid and CPR training as I’ve been meaning to for a while. And I picked up some volunteering information for the Multnomah Falls trail system in general; they need some help with general maintenance as well as information, so I may add that into my volunteering (along with my unofficial guide/guardian/etc. work that has been initiated today).

To finish up my hike, I went down the western part of loop around Wahkeena, my favorite part of that trail. And I got a few more affirmations that I was on the right path, figuratively and literally! First, at the crossroads where the connecting trail meets the Wahkeena loop, where I always sit and take a break, the Animal Father poked me and told me that next time I came alone, he wanted me to hike up to the place further up the mountain where I’d met him back last fall and where I’d heard him speaking through the owl’s hoot last time I visited with Taylor, and that he wanted me to bring my drum.

Then the very next people I met as I came down the mountain had a very friendly German shepherd, my favorite kind of dog, who came right up and said “Hi!” with a big slurp across my face (I don’t mind dog “kisses” at all–cleaner mouths than people, and I can always go and wash my face afterwards). After that I gave a few more people directions, and also showed another couple of folks where a Stellar’s Jay was hopping through the tree branches.

So overall it was a really inspiring day. I feel like I’ve made a major step forward in my shamanic path, since one thing I’ve known I’ve needed to do is care for the Land and maintain a good relationship with hir. I feel like I’ve been given a certain amount of responsibility that I’ve never been given before by the spirits, and I want to honor and respect that. I know there’s room for me to be, well, me, with all my mistakes and so forth, but I’m very much honored by what happened today.

Progress! And the Spirits are Ganging Up On Me….

First off, a quick note to the good folks on the Livejournal feed for this blog: I welcome comments; however, I do not get comment notifications for comments made to the LJ feed postings. Please click through to the blog itself at and make your comments there; that way I know you had something to say! Thank you muchly 🙂

I also tweaked the FAQ again, specifically the question about whether you can call yourself a therioshaman. To be honest, I’d really prefer people didn’t use that term as a self-signifier. A lot of it is because therioshamanism, at least at this stage of the game, is my personal path, created from a very specific perspective and using very specific resources (though that may change later on–read on to find out why). While it is flexible and fluid, at least let me get it into some semblance of a formalized path! *grin*

I’ve been at this for over two months now, and while that may not seem like a long time, again keep in mind that I already have a significant amount of material from over a decade of study and practice to work with. At this point I have a pretty good idea of what my basic training for the next four and a half months will be–more focus on specific elements, and then a month of work with all four traditional elements again, as I did last month, though with the experience of single-element months taken into account.

I’m better at holding to a schedule, and I will say that I have learned and developed a lot just in the time I’ve been doing this. The Earth month, as you’ve probably read, has been exceptionally important for getting me to pay attention to both the internal and external environments, though the focus seems to be more on the internal–getting my body and health into shape. I’m thinking that while the first six months’ focus on elements is meant to increase focus on the elements inside and out, that it’s important for me to get my own house into order, as it were, before moving outward to a greater extent.

A lot of the changes are little things that I notice on a day to day basis, too many to list systematically here on a blog. Needless to say, I feel more grounded and focused, and more confident as well. I’m calmer, and more likely to catch myself in the act of re-acting, rather than letting my re-actions get the best of me. I’m working to be healthier, and taking active steps to do so. And there’s so much more…and it all adds up! I’m patching the holes that I’ve noticed in my practice, and feeling less like spiritual Swiss cheese.

On another note, I received an initially alarming request from the totems and other spirits I work with recently. I was kicking around the idea of eventually putting this all into book format (not that this should surprise anyone who know this bibliophile well). I figure I’ve already had a few people tell me that they’ve gotten quite a bit out of what I’ve written here, that it really resonates with them, all of which makes me happy–if my journey can include aiding others along their paths, so much the better. Granted, a book would be a few years in the future, most likely, since this is still in the growing stages. But it’s a possibility for somewhere down the line.

So I was bouncing ideas around in my head as I was walking from work to the train station, when I got that familiar *ping* that tells me the spirits want my attention, so I listened to what they had to say.

“We want to you to teach students the way we’re teaching you”.

(This is why I added the “OMGWTFBBQ” category to this blog.)

I know people who have taken on students. It’s a ton of work. Not necessarily a horrible thing, though I have heard horror stories of student-teacher relationships that went very wrong (and didn’t even involve sex!). Aside from the time commitment, though, I don’t even have therioshamanism complete as a path yet!

So I grilled them for more information (as well as calling my mate and talking to a few friends online about the whole thing). Basically, it appears that I wouldn’t even have to think about starting this process until after my six months were done (i.e., after I get done with the months of elemental work ahead of me). And I, of course, wouldn’t stop my own training and learning, particularly since the first six months are designed to be largely self-directed. The closest I can come to a comparison would be the grad student who student-teaches a freshman course while continuing to do hir own graduate work. I also wouldn’t have to worry about long-distance students–local, in-person students only. This would cut down on the number of potential people I might have to wrangle to make this work 😉

The spirits were quite insistent about this whole thing. It does make sense, though. The spirits have been exceptionally generous in helping me along the past decade and change; they’ve given me quite a lot and asked for very little in return. I’ve always felt, though, that I owed them something for it, and this would be a good opportunity to repay them. They want this material out there, and while I have some trepidation about the whole thing, this is a vote of confidence in my favor.

I’m still going to be cautious; while the *ping* I received was one I’ve gotten used to over the years, I’m going to revisit this topic with them once my six months are over with. I want to be very sure it isn’t just my ego speaking, though I was pleased to note that my first reaction was “You want me to do WHAT?” rather than “Oh, people will think I’m so great!”. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be a good opportunity to pass on some things that both I and the totems and other spirits see as very important, and which at least a few people have expressed interest in. Still, I realize that this is a major commitment for a long period of time (of course, so is therioshamanism in general) and not to be addressed lightly. Just to be sure, I’m going to include some reading and other research on pagan teaching with the rest of my reading material over the next few months.

At this point, it’s a “Let’s see where I am in four and a half months” rather than a “Yes, I’ll do it!” situation. However, I figure that if the spirits have this sort of confidence in me at this point, it’s a good sign that I’m doing something right, at least. All the warning flags seem to be in the arena of things that I’ve seen screwed up in other peoples’ experiences, rather than a deep, intuitive/instinctual “STAY AWAY!!!”. But, as I said, we’ll see in four and a half months.