I was born and raised on the Confederated Flathead Salish Kootenai Reservation near the buffalo and below the Mission Mountains of Northwestern Montana.
It is a very wild out-of-the-ordinary place. We faithfully went to church every Sunday and to Catechism each week. I was fascinated with the Native elders who walked past my home to church and chanted from the front row pews, their traditional songs. I loved their fine beaded moccasins and beaver fur-covered braids, fancy shawls and leather pouches. I looked forward to summers at the Pow Wows and listening to the drumming throughout the nights. Being a white girl in a school of indigenous people, I was a minority and conflicted with purpose. When I was 12 my father bought a set of Book of Knowledge encyclopedias from a traveling salesman. He loved to read which transferred to me. I poured over the 26 volumes and was introduced to a world of extraordinary people, ideas and geographical wonders. Indigenous people lived around the world which caught my attention along with becoming a brain
surgeon. The Book of Knowledge set me on an exploration of religion, spirituality, medicine and indigenous ways, as I hungered for my path and purpose.
After high school I entered university as a pre-med student, then changed to anthropology and archaeology. I learned more about humans, the body and sociology, medicine and indigenous ways of life which took me into the field where I learned first hand, abroad in an indigenous community. After five years, I finished undergrad training and began the training of life. I came to realize that to “study” other people from an academic perspective was not my path.
I became an entrepreneur, householder and mother. My teachers appeared twenty years later. This not being an unusual way for a woman to realize her spiritual path. I first became a massage therapist; then in 1994 I began an apprenticeship in Belize with Rosita Arvigo, a healer of the Mayan tradition. I learned about herbal remedies and to work with women’s issues in fertility and well-being. Shamanic training came from teachers including Alberto Villodo, John Perkins and indigenous teachers of Ecuador. Soon thereafter, I studied Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan, who took me under his wing to apprentice in the Huichol path of Mexico.
That same year, I landed on the doorstep of 90 year old don Lucio Campos Elizade, a traditional healer of the Nahua Weather Work tradition of central Mexico. He told me that the gods were reaching for me and that I have a spiritual relationship with the weather beings. He said that my calling would take me on another path in which I would sit on many mountains. A good relationship to weather would provide safety from lightning and storms as I pilgrimaged to these sacred places. He ‘crowned’ me as a weather worker (granicera) in his little consultorio in Nepapualco, Mexico in 1997. There, I spent a great deal of time with don Lucio and learned to connect with the Weather Beings.
Simultaneously studying Plant Spirit Medicine, I found that my teacher Eliot Cowan's advice to “follow your heart” was profound and still lives in me today as a key ingredient for health. His counsel led me through a maze of my own heart and mind, to discover a deeper connection to the divine through the ancestral lineage of the Huichol people.
Often one is called to a spiritual path through sickness or tragedy. I heard this calling at a young age, but the moment I fell down a mountain two hundred feet and heard a booming voice say, “You have work to do” I knew it was time to get serious. After this I had dreams and spiritual visitations by the gods, and at one poignant time I recognized that the Huichol gods had invaded me calling me to task, to become a Mara’akame. My next teacher was an elder Huichol
Mara’akame named don Guadalupe Gonzalez Rios. He and Tatewari, Grandfather Fire, authorized me to move toward a six year apprenticeship where I was initiated as a Mara’akame twice, in 2003 and 2004, from five different sacred pilgrimage sites. During my exploration, I came across medicine men and women, notably of the Shuar and Qe’ro of South America, who told me that the responsibility of caretaking the world by the indigenous people would soon come to an end. The people of the west were next to take this on. I accepted this responsibility wholeheartedly. I knew that my calling was to be one of those caretakers.
From here I continue to develop my work and offer what I have learned, and provide an ancient but profound perspective to my western-cultured people.