Hired as a Shaman

In lat summer I have been approached by the city of Bracebridge, to join them as an employee of the City to bring some of the workshops I usually provide for the community under the umbrella of the Culture and Recreation Department.

I was not interested.

But, they said, I would get paid by them! 🙂

Not very much, certainly not equivalent to what I normally get paid, if they hire me as an “independent consultant”and workshop provider in this department.

In the end they chewed me down and I agreed – at least for this winter – to see, how it goes…….

BB drumming flier

They first wanted to write Shaman/ “Medicine Woman” onto my contract of employment and on the fliers for the workshops I agreed to provide. But I told them, the word Medicine Woman was controversial, as it is understood – by the Native American (First Nations) – to mean “one of THEIR Medicine People” – like a Lodge Leader, Faith Keeper (Sachem) or Shaking Tent man or Pipe Carrier……..

The word shaman is not as widely known among the general population here in Ontario and often I get asked, what exactly that is. When I explain, that it is a Siberian term for a “Medicine Person, that gains information and help from the Spirit World during theta trance journeys brought on by drumming ”

they say Ooh, like a Medicine Man! – Or ah, you are a Witch Doctor!

NO, I am not!

I am not a witch and I am not a doctor, although I do have a current RN licence and am training as a Jungian analyst from a Western university.

My father’s people call a person that does the things I do a “Kham”, leading Khamlanies = healing and other rituals.

Udega is another similar word but it rather describes a person working with herbs and potions.

Someone who uses drums and chants , who has one or more Spirit Guides, mostly in Animal form that he or she contacts while drumming in order to find out what is wrong with a client is called a Kham. The word this culture uses is Shaman, also a Siberian word, Tunguse to be precise, it is descriptive of someone entering ecstatic trance in order to help, advise, divine, heal, and otherwise aid the community.

Living here in the West I claim this word as a befitting description for me because it points not only towards what I do but also to my Siberian heritage and distances me from the also often used term “Medicine Woman” that implies Native American heritage and incidentally would be analogues to the word Udega among Siberian people.

Shaman however is not what I do, it is what I am. It permeates every aspect of my daily life, my art, the way I teach at elementary and university level, the way I engage the Spirits in order to facilitate healing, the way I mentor my students, and how I conduct public multicultural gatherings and rituals.

But generally the ordinary folk here in Muskoka do not care so much about what I am called; they are waaaay more interested in what I do and what I teach THEM to do.

One lady, that signed up for the upcoming drum workshop and was advised by one of the town clerks taking in her application, that no, I was not going to do any healing right there…. She reportedly replied: ”I do not care if Mi-Shell teaches knitting this fall, my sisters and me and a few friends will be there and we will learn something that will be important to us – and besides, something awesome always happens anyway…..”

Well, we will see…..


Coming home from last night’s Haudenosaunee Harvest Social there was a freshly killed Snowshoe Hare in the middle of the Road. Dinner for our Raccoon family? It was still warm and so we decided, that the Raccoons would have to share with us. So this morning I first sang a “Soul returning Home” chant and then butchered the Rabbit. There was lots of goodies for the coons; head, lower legs, rib cage and innards, but we do not much like bloody smeary messes on our upper deck, so I brought these out to our organic composting place.

Something was rattling inside the large black bin.

I carefully opened the lid, expecting one of our Coons, but a little baby Bear jumped out, right at me and then scampered of into the bush.

I knew, what THAT meant:


Me and Bear 3

And sure enough a large black hulk appeared between the low bushes, huffed at me and proceeded to chase me halfway back to the house…..


I ran!


This was NOT Windwalker, the Lady Bear who knows me/ us, but one of her now adult daughters, now a mother herself, probably for the first time.

Best, to teach her in no uncertain ways, that she ALWAYS will have the “right of way” here on our land and that we are not a thread to her and her cub.

This will assure us, that later, she will simply ignore us when we accidentally meet up somewhere in the bush.

All my Relations

A few months ago we finalllly invested in a new TV.

RCA and like everything else these days, it was manufactured in China.

About 6 weeks ago we suddenly noticed, that there was a bug in it.

Yes, literally! In the lower right quadrant of the view field there was a small centipede!


How did it get there?


What was even more disturbing was, that we soon noticed, that it was alive!!!

It mover around. It was obviously “stuck” somewhere at its mid- section, but head and tail crawled here and there as far up down. Right and left as the stuck mid- section allowed. Poor thing. My shamanic prayers always end with “Blessings to all my Relations” – meaning ALL life on Earth and beyond and “let there be no suffering”

So now, here, with the news we nightly also witnessed this poor Shape-Changer’s suffering.

We tried to get it out, but no luck. Kill it? Peter pressed a thumb on it- pushing onto the soft surface screen of the unit. Nothing. Its little antennas continued to move and its many feet moved here and there and tried to get free…..

Days passed. What is it eating, that it i still alive???

Then we went on vacation – for 8 days.

Upon our return – the little Creature was just as alive and strugggglingas before.

I started to get nightmares about being stuck and unable to get out.

Finally last night I sat in front of the TV and “concentrated”.

On the space widening and softening, on becoming “open”

When, after quite a while I opened my eyes again, the Centipede was gone!

I first could not belief that; but on the other hand, shamanizing always brings results. Often the ones we want, when, ifffff our “want” is in unison with Mother Earth.

Then, today around noon I noticed something.

A small movement on the floor 1 1/2 meters away from the TV and towards the sliding door to the deck.

The Centipede!

Peter took a quick picture and then I took him/ her outside, to a half rotten log that was warmed by the sun.

Good luck!

Take care; winter will be here soon.

Centipede 1

free at last!

Palaeolithic Hunter’s Knife

DSCN7096 (371 x 720)We now know, what the flint blades, that our early Ancestors used for hunting and in other daily activities did look like. During long hours the carefully collected flint was finely napped into shape and finished with a razor sharp tip.

flint napping


When I was able to trade such a blade, created by a fellow artist,that specializes in flint napping, I could not resist, combining it with a smooth goat horn and some bits and pieces of fur and leather to create this replica of a knife used in hunting, skinning of hides portioning meat and in “Hunting Magic”

This actually is the term many archaeologist and anthropologists used to describe the many and varied pictographs and petroglyphs they encountered in paleolithic and also neolithic sites. I feel, that the user of the knife honoured his/ her personal Spirit guide/ Guardian as well as the Animals, that were the desired, but also revered and respected prey.



The Materials I used for my replica:


Goat Horn – May the descendants of the Goat, who’s horn I used live and prosper

Pig leather – Can YOU imagine, to go after a Wild Boar with just such a knife?

Deer leather,… or run down a fleeing Deer in dense under-brush…?

Fox Fur – ….get bitten by a cornered Fox?

Mink fur – You would catch this one in a sling……

bone, stone, antler and wooden beads,

hand carved Spirit Bird,

Raven feather



I finished my nursing education with an RN degree in 1976 and a year later my training as a Jungian annalist.

In 1989 I went for a nursing refresher course at the College of Nurses in Nepean, Ontario

In spite of that I have not worked in formal nursing since then.

Bearpaw, our Jewellery making business took of like a lightning bolt and we both worked at new and exiting designs, making and selling our creations full time. Any free moments I had were taken over by my shamanic work and as local word about that went around I took a step back from the daily jewellery making and towards taking care of an ever increasing group of shamanic clients and patients. Then I was also asked to formally teach about shamanic ways, about drums and drumming and also within the Native Studies programs in schools, universities, in the community and in the health care system.

Busy times!

Now, that we taking it a bit slower, as far as Bearpaw Jewellery is concerned and I now am visiting fewer schools on a regular basis (Now there are many dedicated graduates of the Native Studies programs teaching in most all the schools 🙂 )

I have a bit more “private time” – to maybe catch up on some reading – or just relax a bit for a change…

But over the years I often wished, that I could go back to university to catch upon the latest science in in Medicine, maybe even genetics, in social studies, and a variety of “new to me” and exiting subjects.

Live and learn, right!

Keep these grey cells busy ……before they frizzzle away….

Then, a friend pointed me to Coursera!



Learn without having to go to Toronto or another big city! Study right at home?!!

When I have time – like late at night! 🙂

I was hooked!

So since last summer I did/ participated in quite a few courses offered by Coursera:


Curanderismo: Traditional Medicine:

This course provided information on the history, traditions, rituals, herbs and remedies and video demonstrations of Curanderismo, a folk healing tradition of the Southwestern United States, Latin America and Mexico. The course discussed the effectiveness of traditional medicine in order to meet the needs of many people, especially the uninsured.


I LOVED every minute of that course!

In the early 1980ties during every winter we lived in the Central Highlands of Mexico and had direct contact with curanderos and curanderas and indigenous Medicine, which has its roots in shamanism.

I knew many of the Herbs that were used in curing and in the Temazcal sweat-house. So this course was sort of a refresher and also re-awoke many dear memories as well as it updated my knowledge of techniques like Fire Cupping, the Manteagas and the Temazcal. 🙂


Encouraged by this experience I dove head over heals into “What a Plant Knows” presented by the University of Tel Aviv = a course about the sensory system of Plants.

Plant biology about what and how a Plant can see, how Plants react to smells -to being touched and moved – or eaten and how a Plant always knows where it is compared to the Sun and the Water source.

It sounded sooo easy and fun, but the course went all the way down into Plant genetics and epigenetics, photoperioidism, phototropism and how a Plant’s short and long time memory works.

I realized, how much science advanced and I had to buckle down to catch up in order to pass the exam.

what a plant knows

At the same time that the Plant course, Johns Hopkins offered

”Mayor Depression in the Population”

This I HAD to take!

Sooo many of my clients are struggling with mayor depression and with SAD = Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The course looked at depression from a Public Health Care point of view and the increasing incidences of MD in the population, why more women than men, why do women often seek help and men do not, how does MD present in Kenia – compared to with what symptoms do patients seek help in the US….

But there were hundreds of depressed individuals taking the course in the hope to receive some answers and the professors were all epidemiologists, not equipped to answer their concerns and questions on the accompanying forums. So rather quickly I became quite active there……

It also was a difficult experience, because what the course stipulated as solutions for the problem of a steadily growing population afflicted with Mayor Depression just are not implemented in the communities up here in the bush in Canada – or are not realistic in general, due to costs involved and due to lack of trained professionals.

There were long discussions on the forums of this course and one could easily see, if the posters came from Western Europe, California or the Eastern US or from India, South Africa, Peru or from Central Canada….. We here live in the proverbial First World, but as far as Mental Health services are concerned this here is a Third World Country. When I posted that, many sadly agreed.

But all in all I learned a lot!

Come to think of it, maybe I should share some of it here in a future post.

So, what do I have my nose in, at the moment?

2 very interesting things:


The Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich offers

“Circadian Clocks: How rhythms structure life “

The course is still open, so you can take a look here.


I find it fascinating, because over the years I noticed, that all my depressed clients have a circadian clock, that is out of sync = they sleep until very late in the morning/ noon and are up all night….

Cancer patients also have disturbed rhythms and so of course do shift working people….

The other thing is, that again and again my Medicine Animals point out, that clients with SAD do not get enough Sunlight in the morning hours and most people are working indoors at a 9 to 5 jobs and are not getting enough Sun light to keep a healthy immune system. This all , I sensed, is dependant on a compromised in their circadian rhythm and sleep rhythms and so, I wanted to know more. Sure enough!

My Medicine Guides are absolutely right and the scientists now have prove of how disturbed rhythms make us ill and kill us. They also found out, how to fix these problems, but our social clock = the 9 to 5 workweek would have to change and with it our whole society.

Did you know, that most medications a person gets prescribed do not work, because they are taken at the wrong time of day, when the “liver cycle” just washes them right out of the blood instead transporting them where they were supposed to help??

No, I stumbled over that conundrum with people on blodd pressure meds, when my Owl again and again showed me, that these need to be taken at certain times in the evening – individual to each patient. And then chemo = Cancer patientsthat should get their drugs at night – there is little use to suggest that kind of thing to patient on a tight shedule at the Barrie hospital….

But, right again, Certain cancer drugs work better- or not at all – or have mostly side effects or almost none – depending on what time of day you give them and also depending what natural chronotype the patient is – when his or her liver/ adrenal/ cortisol cycle is at what stage and or his / her immne cycle is active during sleep

Ifff you have any time on your hand sign up to this course and look at or download the videos of the last = no 6 lecture and learn about it!

This course should stay open for a few more weeks…..

The other course I am participating in right now is

“Preventing Chronic Pain” given by the University of Minnessota”


Discussed are myofascial pain, headaches, migraines, arthritis and TMD.

Right now we are all chewing on the module about Fibromyalgia……..

Dopamine serotonine low in FM

… reminding me, that my homework for today is waiting…..

I live and learn

……. to help and heal……


Of Medicine Bags and Anti Matter:

Well, we all know by now, what a Medicine Bag is.

New year birthing pouch

New Year Birthing Pouch

I do have – and daily use – several of them.

Crystal pouch

Crystal Pouch Black Beaver Fur

I also make some – for others on the path – you have seen the pictures and there are several that I am working on right now….

Maybe you have one as well, a Medicine Bag, for the things, that matter…..

But –

Oh boy! Friends are coming over and I better clean up!

There is dirt and what not EVERYWHERE!!!!!!

So out comes the vacuum cleaner! Mine is oooooold – and scruffy and shamefully dirty. He – he makes a lot of noise and so he is a “He”

He is from the first days, when we build our log house, when we did not even have inside walls and doors and no money for buying insulation….. 1992 . He was young and shiny then. So was I. To be honest, on an every day morning the 2 of us look a lot alike! Scruffy!

He is the one in charge of Anti Matter! With a loud howling sound he swallows everything that I allow him to – and then some….

In his belly is the bag of Anti Matter!

So, what exactly is it, that I consider “bad” what do I neeed to get rid of in a hurry, before my friends are coming?

Lets see, I say and just pick up, whatever is on the – once white and now muddled grey wool carpet from behind the couch.

A perfect example:

Carpet anti matter

A Wolf hair!

I am working on another Wolf Pouch, but by falling off my project this hair changed from Sacred matter to – ?dirt?

That can’t be right…..??

Then there is a small piece of Cedar twig,

several Spruce needles,

hair from my white mohair sweater,

a loooooong windy grey hair – from me.

Some small pieces of wood – from the wood Peter brings into the house every day to keep us warm.

One is Maple bark and the other is some mushy pulp from the centre of a hollow log.

Listed like this you sense, each and every one of these has some Medicine Powers!

Just imagine, what kind of magical spell could be worked with these ingredients!

Well let’s face it, there is also a Mouse turd. 😦

Honestly, I have NO idea, how many Beings live in this house!

OK, there are Peter and me,

at least 3 Flying Squirrels in the attic,

4 or 5 Spiders – so far.

We get them inside with the wood where they have hibernated and when in the warmth of the living room they wake up and crawl about sleepily. Hopefully they do, because otherwise we might not see them and…. (every piece of wood gets inspected, before it goes into the stove….)

If we see spider or other critter on the wood, it ends up downstairs in Peter’s workshop in Fran’s flowers,

Apropos Beings in the house: There are our winter guests = Fran’s monstrous flowers which we keep for her so they do not die on her veranda. Then there are some of our “over winterers” and all the plant beings on the window sill in the living room. I have not counted them – (leaves pooooooter to do just that…)

– Well, as of right now, there are 49 Plant Beings living in this house.

And yes, I am avoiding the subject of how many Mouse Beings…..

Usually we catch them in life traps and bring them – per car (= gas money) about 4 km away to the meadow of an abandoned farm and let them go there.

But in winter that is not an option. They would have neither food stores nor a nest and would freeze to death, so usually catch them and keep them in a terrarium until April. But Mice do often not like mice from other families and then they fight in there until the death of one fraction. So to avoid that we in other years had up to 3 terrariums with different mouse families… BUT:

When one Mouse is not scent marking her territory (because we caught it..) another Mouse moves in and so there will ALWAYS be one mouse family in the house…..This year I decided, not to catch them and see… So far so good.

A turd here or there, but otherwise no sign of any secret house inhabitants…..

So, back to the matter of the Anti Matter:

A medicine bag full of my/ our specific Anti matter contains almost no an-organics like plastic or metal – well, maybe the odd bead that rolled of my beading table and did not get picked up….

So when the belly of the Hoover Monster is full, where will I put its contents?

Open it up and release the Anti Matter back to where it matters= next to the organic compost, where it too can return to being – – just Matter.


Chuchundras dancing in my home

How are YOU celebrating the Winter Solstice?


yule log Today I want to share a few of the many Winter Solstice customs from around the world.

Most of them date back to a time before Christianity and most of them have an element of shamanism at their centre.

When we get together in our house, each Solstice Circle participant reads out loud  about one of these traditions.

I now invite you to copy this post and follow suit! 🙂


The Winter Solstice is the year’s shortest day and longest night.
For our ancient ancestors it was a scary prospect, to see the sun in late fall rise later and later and sink earlier and earlier with less and less daylight and warmth left.

They worried each year that the sun might not be able to gain its warms back again. They believed the sun waged a formidable battle with the forces of darkness and so they gathered and lit fires and drummed and danced to cheer on the sun and assist her in her victory over darkness.

Solstice festivals therefore centred around the idea of rebirth to assist the newborn sun to grow in strength, when it emerged from the dark womb of night. It is a celebration of the eternal cycle of life.
The Old Norse people called their festivity “Yule” – meaning wheel
The wheel of the Solar year has turned and the light is reborn.
Many people around the world believe in the Earth as being a female, that is forever changing, a virgin in spring, a woman and mother in summer and a wise old crone in fall and early winter. The solstice is the turning point, where by the power of the sun the old crone is turned again into her virgin form.
In Japan the Sun goddess Amaterasu emerges from her cave again as a young woman.
For the Apache and Navajo Yolkai Estan = Changing Woman = Mother Earth changes from a tired old limping old woman to a beautiful young maiden full strength and promise.
The Apache people have all night mountain spirit dances to ward of evil and guard the village.
In Zuni Pueblo the Soyal ceremonies mark the return of the Kachina people to the human people.
………………………………………….. …….

The divine symbol of the power of the sun, the fire of new beginnings, on the longest night of the year, is the Yule log. It is set ablaze to assure good fortune and continuation. It is a sacred offering from the Tree of Life to the sun.
So let us light the Yule candle and later decorate the Yule Log.

Let everyone present take a small piece of paper, write on it their personal Solstice wishes and then tie the wishes onto the log with colourful ribbons:

DSCN7618 (2)

Another solstice custom are the so called Mummer;s Dances.
People dress up in animal skins and masks would romp from house to house to sing and dance and collect food and drink and pennies for their efforts.
In mediaeval times in Britain the Mummers Plays would re enact the ritual slaying of the old sun/year and the rebirth of the new.
It was widely known as the Morris dance.

That again comes from the Moor’s dance because the dance re-enacts a story that combines the experience of the crusades with the victory of light and good over dark and unholy:
The powerful King George slays and kills the Turkish knight (the old year)
But Father Christmas (the bringer of light) intervenes calling for mercy and tolerance – and a doctor.
The Doctor has a magical drink (brandy) and revives the Turkish Knight, who promises to behave himself…….

On Winter solstice in ancient per-christian Europe the people would don animal skins and sing and drum and dance to ensure not only the return of the sun but also to honour the animals of the hunt upon which they depended. This is the beginning of the still popular Mummer’s Dances.
Later-in northern Europe shamans were often synonymous with the craft of smiting = power and creative force over the element of fire and by extension over the sun.
The traditional guild outfit or the smithy’s gild was a red cloak and cap with white trim and a black belt with a silver buckle and black pants.
Nowadays someone in this outfit is recognized as Santa Clause

Among Mi-Shell’s Siberian ancestors the shaman, in this case her great grand mother Ulali, would spend the Solstice night walking around the outskirts of the village singing and drumming to prevent malevolent spirits from entering the village and bringing illness and harm.
At the height of the celebrations the shaman of the tribe ritually climbed the centre pole of the lodge, that represented the Tree of Life to speak to the Spirits (go on a trance journey).
Amongst drumming and singing he – or she ( often Mi-Shell’s gran) could stay up there for quite a while….
When he /she came back down it was with gifts of prophecy , advice and wisdom that would sustain the tribe through another year.
In Iceland people fear, that whoever has not apologized by winter solstice for transgressions committed would at midnight be devoured by a giant long-toothed cat that lived in a mud-volcano.

The Jewish celebration of Hanukah is nothing but attribute to the return of the light after a time of darkness and the lighting of the menorah with its 9 candles symbolises the newborn light. Also presents are given in its honour.

Here, at the gateway of the year
may we strive to make good cheer
In our revels,
shall joy abound
and sorrow be cast underground!

The importance of the Egyptian culture is expressed in the architecture of the great temples at Karnak, Thebes and Abydos each of which focuses the rays of the Midwinter sun into the heart of the temple enclosure.
This puts these sites at par with the mighty earth temples and stone circles of Europe like New grange and Stonehenge.

Decorating one’s doorway with holly and ivy at the solstice was so clearly linked with ancient beliefs that Christian fathers more than once tried to outlaw the practice, but to no avail.
Holly was also part of an ancient, ritualized battle of the sexes: tradition held that whoever first brought holly into the house at Yule, master or mistress should rule the household for the coming year.
The kiss under the mistletoe may have then represented a peaceful resolution and union of the two.

In the Baltic’s reigns the Sun Goddess Saule. On Winter Solstice her heavenly smith, Kalvis, wearing a red and white suit with a black belt remade the sun for her. Using his magic hammer he formed a golden cup to catch Saule’s tears the liquid sunshine that solidified to Amber. Then he accompanied Saul in her flying chariot pulled by Reindeers and wrote over the hilltops of dawn. Saule threw presents of amber and apples over the world below as they flew across the sky.
Does this remind you of Santa, Rudolph and the presents?

Rozhanitza Rozhanitza is a winter goddess found in Russia and eastern Europe. Winter embroideries were made to honor her, which often show her with her daughter goddess, who is sometimes human and sometimes a deer. She is shown with horns, lone among the deer species, the reindeer of the far north are the only species in which the female also has antlers. Her feast day is December 26th; and white-iced Reindeer cookies were given as good luck tokens on that day.

Reindeer Cookies

Evergreen trees are a symbol of the Tree of Life and renewal:
Romans wreathed their temples with pine boughs for the celebrations of the Saturnalia and Kalends. The former was a festival for the winter sowing season that ran from Dec. 17 – 24; a general holiday was observed and presents, often candles, were exchanged.

The Kalends was the Roman New Year celebration. Presents were also exchanged at this time, as symbols of the sweetness, light and health the giver wished for the recipient in the new year.
The new christian church tried to eradicate these customs in their followers but gradually had to incorporated them by declaring that presents and well-wishes were exchanged in honor of baby Jesus.

The early church did not fix the date of Christ’s birth at midwinter until the fourth century C.E. (comon aera). The church of Jerusalem did not recognize this date for another 300 years;
One would think if Christ was indeed born December 25th, this fact would have been recognized in his native land from the start.
The current date was chosen because it was already celebrated as the birth of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun an alternate title for the rival Savior Mithras, whom even St. Augustine declared to be the same deity.

And this date already incorporated the earlier Greek sun festival, the Helia. And of course there was the Norse celebration of Yule, which honoured the rebirth of the God Frey at the darkest point of winter.
………………………………………….. ..

And what about reindeer?
Deer have always been considered magical creatures, sacred to our ancestors -especially on the winter solstice
From the shaman at Trois Freres to the Gundestrupp Cauldron, the horns of the stag were used to represent the divine male principle. Indeed, the “Julebukk” was sometimes costumed as the Horned Lord. Despite church warnings labelling him as the devil, girls still sought a chance to dance with the figure, no doubt recognizing his role as fertility king for the coming year


Midwinter is the season to work powerful magic charms, spells and
rituals to assist the rebirth of the light and the continuation of the life-cycle.
What is your personal symbol of rebirth and continuation?
………………………………………….. ………..
I send you heartfelt Yule-tide charms,
to keep you safe from ills and harms,
to last through out the coming year,
to ward off doubt and dismiss fear,
And welcome joy with open arms.
………………………………………….. …………..



there are many more customs, including your very own .

Happy Winter Solstice to EVERYONE!



Soooo – I think, it is time for a little update as to what I am up to the days.

Well, busy for sure. Now in late October whenever the weather is halfway decent Peter and me are working hard – getting winter wood ready. Recent storms have brought down some huuuuge Maples, that we cut and carry out of the bush, section by section…..

Then there are a couple of craft shows coming up and while it is raining Cats, Dogs and Howler Monkeys – or rather Chipmunks, Weasels and caterwauling Catamounts we are making jewellery, lots of little things, that are fit for small budgets. Many of them are inspired by the recent trip to Bon Echo and Algonquin Park:DSC_5927

Spirit Boat petroglyph:


 I am also making a few nice Medicine Pieces.

Like this Rattle for example:

Shamans Rattle 1

here is another view

SR 2

While sitting on working on pieces like this, I again think back on the “Vision-Teachings I received at Bon Echo and I yet again find myself drawing the pictographs seen on the face of the rocks = or their counterparts shimmering in the water onto the leather of my Medicine items.

The sonorous voice of a long-time enspirited Medicine Person reaches from the beyond into my ear – or rather my soul:

They call it Bon Echo.

But not for the voices reflecting back from the rock walls.

The bon echo is the one coming of the Medicine Spirits as they dance in the Water and teach the People!”

I reflect about these reflections……..

Bon Echo indeed!

_DSC0753 (2)

A box with wings:


A little warning:

This is a rather bloody post, so iffff you are a bit squeamish, please skip this one…..

I am putting it here mainly for all my international students to get an idea, as to how to preserver the Birds wings that you so often see dressed up and used as smudging fans in my shamanic art posts.

Owl wing wand

Owl wing wand

Usually, you – or we drive down the country road – and there, on the side is a traffic victim, a little bloody, but in all rather fresh and you wonder, how you could save its feathers. .

Well, you will have to get a plastic bag and start plucking ….. and then respectfully put the remains aside for brother Fox to find the coming night. But what, if you want to preserve and use the magnificent wings?

Sure you could take your find home and then work on it there…. But so often I hear: ”Yeah, we found a Hawk, but we were on a road trip and we could only take a few feathers instead of the full wings and talons……”

First of all, equip your car with what you will need:

1 sharp poultry shears

2. a hefty end cutter

3. a sharp knife

4. large styrofoam plates – the ones from the meat department of the grocery store or from Styrofoam packing material you have recycled.

5. a box with medium sized safety pins – to pin down wings and talons onto the styrofoam plate- or, if need be, the carpet of your car……

6. some kind of string – to straighten out talons

7. rubber bands – to straighten out talons

8 .assorted sizes of plastic bags – for fresh items – and for feathers

9. bungee cords – to tie something onto the roof or the back bumper

This will become your Bird tool kit and come in handy for other “finds” as well.

On the little trip to Manitoulin Island that I talked about in the previous post,

leaving the Pow Wow and driving south we found first a Sharp Shinned Hawk.

Into a large bag he went and with bungee cords tied to the roof rack. Only minutes later there was another Bird on the road:

A perfectly beautiful Merlin! Only he was dead:(

We bagged him as well.

In the motel I went to work:

Sage and cedar for a fare well and a chant to find home and to come back 7 generations from now, in a little egg in a nest… grow up healthy and strong… far away from any cars and road traffic…..

Then, tears aside, out came the shears and the promise to make something beautiful and honourable from the parts I take……

I cut the wings right at the shoulder joints

plucked from breast and back feathers what I knew I could use,

plucked the tail feathers

cut the legs at the knee joints

took some cedar boughs from outside and drove to the next secluded wood lot to bury the remains facing East

Yes, there was another chant and some more tears…..

Then, back at the motel I went to work.

I washed the blood of wings and feathers and dried them off

We would be on the road for the next few days and so now I needed a secure place, where to pin the wings and where they could stay – undisturbed.

Out of the back hatch came all our stuff. Cars are upholstered these days and there was carpet material in/ on the bottom of the trunk. Into this I pinned my fully stretched out wings using the safety pins = one at the bottom of the first primary and one into the lower back skin, so the wing stretches straight out.

I put some newspaper over the wings and a floor mat on top of that. Then all our luggage and stuff could go on top and would not make any damage.

The talons need stretching.

Pin then into the styrofoam tray. 3 front claws , on back claw. Then attach a string to the upper part of the leg bone and straighten it 90 degrees. with a safety pin peg the string so this position is secured. You also can use rubber bands as I did later with my “wing box”

At home of course you have to retrieve your wings and pin them to styrofoam or stiff cardboard. When I got home I used my pinning box – an old styrofoam ice chest.


Inside the box you see the perfect Merlin wings at the sides and the smaller reddish wings of a female Kestrel, that, sadly,we found the next day. One of her wings is quite damaged and what I will do with it I will see, when all is dry. In the middle all the talons are straightened out using a central chop stick and string as well as rubber bands.

On the outside of the box I pinned the Sharp Shinned Hawk wings.


It will take at least 3 months, until the wings are dried enough to be worked on and inserted into a decorated wooden handle can begin their life as a smudging fan.

The talons may even take a bit longer and may then adorn a Hawk Medicine Staff

The feathers I harvest, I always put into a plastic bag and then they go into the freezer for 48 hours, to kill off any mites and other “critters” that live in feathers. After that they are ready to use.


Hawk Staff

Hawk Staff


Pow Wow

Woman dancers

This summer in August Peter and me took a little mini holiday and went up to Manitoulin Island to attend the annual Pow Wow on Wikwemikong Unceded Territory.

We had a wonderful time and also met a few dancers, that we know from Pow Wows in our area. It is always surprising to see, how many folks follow “the Pow Wow trail” from one event to the other and dance every weekend.

Writing this I suspect you guys want to see some pictures!??!

Eagle Staff

Eagle Staff


Deer Clan dancer

Deer Clan dancer


full Siberian style facial vail

full Siberian style facial covering on Woodland regalia

Woodland Culture  regalia

Woodland regalia

















Wolf Clan dancer

Wolf Clan dancer

Of course I also wanted to see the vendors that were set up just outside the dance grounds, I was secretly hoping to maybe find and “adopt a special treasure as a memento of out trip,

What however surprised me is, that up here in spite of all the galleries advertising Native art and handiwork what we found was rather dismal, cheaply made – but not by any First nations people from this continent. Colourful Chinese Chicken feathers and plastic beads everywhere.

Dream catchers from China – or the Dollar store – or both….. 😦

Other things made of Moose or Deer hide but crudely glued together with a glue gun and adorned with plastic beads and said Chicken feathers…….

Tacky velvet pictures of the stereotypical Indian on a Horse brandishing a spear towards the sunset…..

Where IS all the good stuff??????

What will the small kids growing up now on the res think of as their art and artistic expression, when all they see at their cultural events is this?

OK, there was a Caucasian guy selling the big Navajo jewellery with Turquoise cabochon – VERY expensive….

And I can not count how often I was asked or commented or complemented on the Wolf pin and earrings I wore – which of course Peter had made. I passed out all our Bearpaw Jewellery business cards.

So, in the end, what did I buy?

My heart cramps up in sorrowful pain as I am writing this down…..

There was a fur trader from Alberta. He had strung up in his tent – among many other pelts, 2 Wolves. A black male – Huuuuge! And an almost white female – beautiful…….

Standing in front of her, my heart pounded loudly and I was transfixed…….

I asked about her.

The story is not pretty:

……Alberta Wolf cull…..

…..South of Slave Lake….

…..She was shot in the face.

I need not say more- I hope……

There as a gentleman from England, who has a cottage somewhere here and was looking for a wall decoration, eyeing her and an Arctic Fox pelt…….

Peter wordlessly gave the trader $ 600,00 and then we smudged her.

_DSC0552 (2)

What will I do with her?

How will I somehow craft her ruined face back together?

Today, a month later, I still do not know…….

But I visit her, talk to her … and now I am crying into the keyboard……

…..for her…..

…..for all the cups she should have had…..

…..for all the Wolves…..