Mary Andrews

I am so grateful I found Rose. She has helped me in such a powerful way with her skills as a healer, shaman and wise woman.

When I first came to see her I was suffering from depression and anxiety. She has supported me in seeing a new way of being that is filled with practical skills that I have applied to my life in may ways. Thank you Rose!

Life After Death

Guru Meher in Takoma Park winter, 2010

It has been a year since my youngest son decided his time here on Earth was truly done.

How can a son tell his parents and family he is leaving??? How could he possibly know how to share that he was only incarnated here to teach us about love?

And he chose me to be his Mom. I guess he knew I would support him at his birth (where he almost died) and his death.

And now, I understand and have so much love, respect and gratitude for who he was and what he shared with all of us.
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The Chod Practice

pilgrimagesThe Tibetan people have thousands of years of spiritual knowledge that is available for the opportunity to awaken.

I was blessed in my Tibetan shamanic studies to have learned the ancient practice of chod.

There was a holy woman named Machig Lopdron who lived in Tibet. In her deepest meditative  initiation she encountered facing a part of her mind that held fear. This was manifested as a Naga ( snake spirit). In her awakend state she “fed” the snake demon her body as food, so the suffering spirit could be satisfied. In so doing, she allowed the Naga to gain merit and lessened the karma or pain of the spirit.
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The Vision Quest in Ireland

Rose at the clootie tree

Rose at the clootie tree

For most people, there comes a time in their life when deep transitions are happening, uncertainty is around the corner and times when nothing makes sense.

Nowadays, most folks choose Prozac, weed, sex or some other exciting thing that can distract them from what is really going on inside.

Fifteen years ago when the life I knew was dissolving before me I was praying non-stop for guidance and support of where to go and what to do.

I went to see an old man who was a healer. He knew nothing about me. He looked at my palms and said, “You are a shaman.  In a past life, you were an oak tree . Then I started crying as my body trembled,  feeling the words were so true but I did not understand how or why. He said, “Trees are unconditional love . Find your forest.”

Then I moved to Takoma Park where it is also called, “Tree City.” It is here that I have planted my roots for my healing center, and a home  for my family.

After turning fifty I decided to go back to the land of my ancestors, Ireland. It was on that Emerald Isle that I found my true ancestors, the oak trees, during my Vision Quest. I would like to share what happened there.

My brother, Andrew, lead a small group of pilgrims to Ireland in 2007. That year had been a tough one for me. My youngest struggling with alcoholism and I was ending a long relationship that had taken the life out of me, so to speak.

I had done Vision Quests before but never one on land that was so alive and full of the energy of the Goddess.

I am sighing right now as I am writing this, remembering how raw I was once I got there. It all settled in my womb, where I started bleeding, after almost a year of not. It felt like my womb was crying, shedding her deepest sorrows. I felt I was circling downward into Her womb of dark, wet wisdom.

I had never experienced that power of connecting to my ancestors like this. I brought my pain of the struggle with my son to the land and She understood. I brought my heart filled with scars of disappointment and shame and She opened me up ever so gently and simply said in Her sweetest whisper…” You are worthy of so much more.”

Never before had I felt so at home. The green of the trees and the sound of the wind brought me to a place of peace I had longed for my whole life.

Wicklow mountains are the home for Glendalough, a spiritual sanctuary where St. Kevin lived among all the animals and nature spirits. It was on this land where Andrew prayed us out for a day of silence and healing. A gentle Vision Quest.

It was early and there was a gentle rain upon me as I walked to the west. My whole being was seeking comfort and shelter. I was drawn up the mountain and the voice of the Grandfather Oak offered His shelter to me. It was here that I made my sacred circle and settled in for the day.

I slept, prayed, and slept some more. When sleeping I had many dreams and visitations from the spirits on the land. I offered tobacco, lavender and prayed with my sacred Ireland Pipe.

As I continued to be in the deep silence, with the Trees and all the loving energy of the land I had a simple vision. As I looked up, there kept being this circle of light that was being help by the leaves of the trees. As the wind gently blew, this circle pulsated and was totally alive with healing energy.

As I allowed myself to merge  with this circle, I could feel a knowing flowing into me. A knowing that I was part of a greater whole. I realized the circle is life, is myself, is love and all there is.

The rest of my time there continued to unfold with magic, grace and wonderment.

After my experience on this Quest, I have had the freedom from loneliness and despair.

And I also know that a Vision Quest does not need to be about suffering. It is about getting quiet enough with all the distraction of life to be able to listen with my eye, ears and heart.

For the land and all Her glory, and Grandfather Oak.

I am forever grateful.

The Guffa Initiation

When the spirits find someone to work through to help others who are suffering, sometimes that person finds themselves practising shamanic healing.

This happened to me.

Sometimes I wonder how many times I will die and be re-born in this lifetime! And then I remember, I am a shamanic healer. My soul has asked for this , so I have to get use to the ride. And believe me, it has been an adventure!

In my travels to Nepal and studying with the Tamong and Tibetans, we were asked to go through an initiation called the Guffa. It is believed that the shaman needs to go into a cave from anywhere to a day, to weeks,to  pray, do chod ( offering your body to the masson, suffering souls ) and to invite in the hungry ghost. The whole purpose is to test the pure heart of the initiate.

This was my second time to Nepal and we were outside the Kathmandu Valley. My friend who put it together did a great job with hiring local shamans to assist us and add to the deep sense of community.

For a week we spent in a huge tent, sleeping on the floor with out camping gear, praying, drumming, and praying some more. We would drum and pray at the graveyard near the tent area, to call up the hungry ghost. This was all part of the ceremony and I was a simple participant.

Every night as the village folk would come up after their day, we would drum and do shamanic dancing with different masks that would represent the various deities and shadow parts of ourselves. I remember the local shaman’s,  Bell, Samindra, Amma, Maya and Ram would be sharing their particular medicine with the community.

It was so beautiful to see the glowing faces of the town folk, the laughter and joy that we were there. They knew, that what we were doing would help “clean up” the dark spirits, which in turn would bring happiness and joy to the hillside.

In the forest, they had constructed three little huts that each initiate would stay in for how ever long they wanted. The decision was made at the beginning, that most of us would stay for one night.

So, each night, after the evening puja, we would walk the initiate to the guffa huts, sending them off with prayers of protection. At dawn, they would be gathered and walked back to the main tent to rest, as part of the initiation, was to stay up all night and help the hungry ghosts.

The third night was my turn. I was pretty nervous and excited at the same time. I forgot to mention that the first night we were there and we had prayed, drummed and danced on the graveyard, that night there were these spirits that came in the tent and were trying to eat me. I was deep in sleep and all I could do was moan! In the morning Larry asked who was moaning and I just said…” if you only knew..”

Off I go to my guffa hut. There was room for a candle, my drum and my alter, with a cloth curtain for the door. The wind kept blowing it open and it was pitch dark.  Within minutes of me not hearing my friends footsteps, going back up the hill, someone was shaking the hut…it literally felt like I was being shaken up.

I got my drum out and started chanting. I could see with my shaman’s eyes layers and layers of spirits outside the hut. They were all asking me for help. As I began to feed them my body ( chod) and see who needed help passing over,  many started to tell me their story of suffering. I was so moved and chanted and prayed for hours, until I felt they had all been helped. Then I decided to lay down for a few moments.

As soon as I fell asleep I felt myself being pulled out of the hut by my hair. I woke up and shouted, “NO!!” and again began the chanting praying and drumming.

I was taken to NY as 9/11 had just happened a month ago. I stayed up till dawn listening to where I needed to go to be of service. By then, I felt fearless. All I could feel was my soft, vulnerable heart and the sound of my drum and my singing.

As I was brought back to the main tent in the morning, I got a high fever and slept most of the day. I simply allowed myself to feel what was transforming in my being. At the same time, knowing I was in the right place and so grateful to be alive.

After the week was over, there was a huge celebration from the village community, with prayers, food, flowers and many hugs. We also had a fire ceremony, where we walked on the hot coals and brought the “scared flame” back to the people. It was a powerful full moon that night and there was much laughter and joy in the circle!

I had met this lovely village woman named Sita. She would bring us water daily up the mountain. Even not knowing the language, we could share and speak with our hearts ( it was also great to have an interpreter). I will always remember the hugs, knowing we were spirit sisters, with the sweet memories of what we shared with the community.

It was later in the trip that I was able to meet the Tibetan shaman’s in Pokara. There, I felt I had come home. I knew that somehow my shamanic work would be working in the lineage of His Holiness, The Dali Lama.

Years later, I met Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, and he continues to be my main root lama ( teacher). The Bon teaching are based on ancient shamanic principles and the main protector, is a Goddess, Weshi Walmo, who is the Mother, protector and guardian. She is fearless and she lives in my heart.

My shamanic work is a combination of all the studying I have done over many years and I continue to have gratitude for all the indigenous cultures who have preserved their shamanic teaching, as the Mother Earth and Her children, need this wisdom more than ever!

Soul Retrieval

After my third son was born I went through a deep passage of death and re-birth. The post-

partum took me deep into a very dark place. I am sure the circumstances of his birth contributed, as he was born two and a half months early.

I was having serious thoughts of ending my life and knew I needed to ask for help.

I prayed.

A friend told me of a  woman nearby who was a shaman.

When I went to see her the first thing she said to me  that I was not in my body and she was wondering how I was functioning.

That moment changed my life, because I knew what she was saying was true. I sat there weeping , with total humility and asked,” How do I get back in?”

She said,” Be committed to your healing and come weekly and we will begin the healing journey”.

Slowly, as I had support from her and other healers, I began to call back parts of myself that had fled ( to another reality outside of myself), to be loved, nurtured and cared for.

This process is called soul retrieval. At this time in my life a door open for me. The path of shamanism and earth spirituality.

I began to see the unhealthy patterns I was in, besides the abusive marriage and a community I had outgrown. This community also had supported my silence as far as not speaking my truth. I needed to get out of the box!! My soul was longing for the sacred feminine, which I slowly began to see as my souls divine food.

I would like to share my experience with soul retrieval, as it was such a pivital part of my own transformation.

The body never lies. It also is very smart and protective of our essence.

When we experience trauma, in any way, there is a part of our soul that checks out, so not to feel the impact.

When someone experiences  trauma, they can have energy holes in their body. This is called being “fragmented.” You can see it in someones eyes. They are not there.

Where these parts hang out is a very real place I call The Dreamtime. It is a reality or dimension that is unseen, but very real.

The shaman, with the help of their guiding teachers, using the drum or plant spirits, journeys to these places in behalf of a client and finds the soul parts. In this sacred place the shaman ask their teachers to heal the soul parts before they bring them back.

In this reality everything happens quickly. The spirits come with compassion for us, as they know how we humans struggle here on earth . It is like traveling into the darkness, until we find the places the souls are hiding.

When our teachers say the soul parts are ready to come back, we blow them back into the clients body and focus on the light coming back to them. The love of these soul parts, are like lost children who have found their way home. It is so beautiful.

Then we support the client to begin the process of integrating this new energy, by first just allowing the energy to sink down into their bones and cells. To go deep.

Then I support them to connect to each soul part, asking them what do they need to feel loved and safe. It’s all about wanting to be responsible for being here, to be willing to be “seen” and share our gifts with the world.

Everyone is different in how long they take to integrate the soul parts back into their being. It all depends on their own psyche.

I encourage time in nature to just be with the new energy. To have quiet time to allow them to speak what they need, since they have come back home.

It is a powerful time to create new patterns and let go of old ways that no longer serve them.

We also look at stolen souls and curses that may have been put on a person or family. These can all prevent a person from living a healthy life and are energies that are “unseen” but very real.

The land and places where there has been tragedy are places that need soul retrieval also.

Soul Retrieval is a path to transformation.

It is a part of the healing story.

Since my first soul retrieval, I have probably had ten or more as I patched together my life. The shaman path is who I have become. And I am seeing the death and re-birth process  as a part of life.

I have been teaching soul retrieval for fifteen years in my training called The Shaman’s Circle.

I hope this encourages you to explore this powerful healing tool.

And, I am happy to say, it was totally worth it!!

The Sacred Sundance

Eleven years ago I was blasted out of Virginia with the split up of a 25 years old marriage and landed in sweet Takoma Park Md. My life was out of control, shredded and I felt I was hanging on by a thin thread.

I never thought I would be a single Mom again ( first son and now the third), but there I was. In my new found spiritual path of Earth spirituality, I was part of a Lodge community and the water pourer was a Sundancer on Rosebud, SD. I found myself going there to support her and she never made it. But I was there with a small group of friends, including my middle son, Parmatma, who was one of the main fire tenders. I ended up massaging one of the elders and when she heard my story she said I HAD to go to the Chief and ask to dance. I really did not think this was possible, but when he heard my husband had left me he knew I needed spiritual help, and said I could dance. I did dance, one day.

That year I began to learn the power of the Pipe, and forgiveness. On the end of that day I felt so much anger releasing from my heart. All the pain I had carried about my husband not loving me and wanting to be with other women. The tears, prayers and support from the holy circle gave me an opportunity for deep, deep healing of my wounded heart.

To Sundance you make a commitment for four years and then you have to show up and be willing to sacrifice and pray for the people. I had been on the dharma path for most of my life but I was not ready for the intensity of this experience.

For the first four days you prepare by doing Lodges and getting your spiritual things ready for the dance. You also help with setting up the camp and whatever else is needed to serve. The day before the dance you go and get the tree. The tree is sacred in the Ceremony as it represents the Tree of Life and is a portal for the spirits to move up from the earth to the heavens. It is the focal point of the dance and we see it as a symbol of the Creator. It is brought into the Sundance grounds with so much respect and love. Then, all the people place their prayer ties on the tree. The sweet smell of tobacco is so powerful!

Then the dancers begin their fasting, as soon as the tree is up. We do not drink or touch water for four days and fast from food ( unless you need to eat something light at night for your health). It is always a personal choice, but whatever you make a commitment to do, you walk it. For all four days we rise at 4am to Lodge and get ready to enter the arbor as the sun rises from the East Gate. This is the Guardian of re-birth. There are so many helpers too. The fire tenders are the bomb!!They are working so hard to keep the fire going all four days, with lots of lodges and smudging.

Then there are the drummers and singers. They keep us dancing and singing. The songs are all prayers and so beautiful. I loved feeling my feet touch the earth and the energy that would come into my being. The songs….it’s hard to describe. They are pure spirit and to this day, pierce my heart.

The Sacred Drum

The first year I was kind of in shock by it all and I have to say, it got me through the year. As the years went by my relationship with my Pipe became so beautiful. All I can say is the dance humbled me. I would be so thirsty, tired and when I would pray for my children or someone back home who were sick I would get the energy to dance.

Every year by the fourth day I would be in such an altered state I felt God’s presence with me every moment. The pipe was always in my left hand feeding my heart. And the tree was there as a reminder of all that is sacred and good. Of all the love that is always available if I only open to it. A few times at the end I had an experience of feeling the oneness of us all. That I was part of a bigger whole. That we are truly all related. I would be smiling through my tears as I sang with the drummers to Tunkashila.

And for some who may not understand this, sometimes I pierced for my relatives. I never thought I would do this but when I was there the spirits told me to. I did it as a spiritual give-away. I felt my prayers were being heard and it made me feel like it would help me get through the year back home and give me strength as a single Mom. It did and more.

At the end of the dance there would always be a big give-away and feast. This was a time of celebration and gratitude. The Lakota people have taught me so much about myself. In the mist of the dance I made two 4 year commitment, fell in love with the only African who danced there ( Tieku, known as Fred), and got adopted by Jean Last Horse. She gave me the name, Tanampe Wakan Wi which means Sacred Hand Woman, for my healing abilities.

After the last dance I knew it was over as I was moving on a different path with my studies with Rinpoche and a reconnection to yoga and meditation. The Pipe and Ceremony continues to be a spiritual way for me. I offer Pipe Ceremonies here as a service to the community and will always teach the ways of the Pipe to anyone who comes with a good heart. The Sundance is a ceremony that occurs in the summer all over the world, but mostly in the US and Canada with the Native tribes.

As a white girl with Irish heritage, I somehow was blessed enough to find a Sundance community that was open to all nations. My gratitude to  the  Sundance ( I am honoring their privacy by not mentioning their names),  for all their give-away and supporting me those eight years. With deepest gratitude, All My Relations

The Lake of Forgiveness

 My First Trip To Ireland

When I turned 50 all I knew is that I was walking towards something that was new, fresh and exciting. I had always wanted to go to Ireland and was just waiting for the perfect time, place and folks to go with.

Then, in a Celtic shamanism training I met Andrew. We became friends, ended up teaching together, and was taking a small group on a pilgrimage to the land of my ancestors. I was so excited!!

I have two dear friends who also teach polarity therapy who live in Cork. I wanted to go a week early, visit them and get to see Cork, since this was where my ancestor, John O’Leonard, sailed to American and settled in Easton, Md., during the potato famine.

A few days before I left I had just ended a long love relationship and was really arriving with much pain, and sorrow in my heart.
Interesting, that the day I arrived I started bleeding. It had been the first time in a year. Needless to say, I did not expect this and it was almost like my womb was letting go…was dying.

The last day I was in Cork my friends took me on a lovely ride trough the hills with all the lavender. OMG!! What beauty!I could almost see my ancestors walking the hills.

We came across a grotto of Mary and there was a sign for this special lake below us.

Many years ago a woman had been drowned in the lake. The story went, that she was thought to have been a witch, so they drowned her.
We both knew that at that time, many who were in the healing arts ( herbalist, midwives, etc), where treated this way.For me, being a healer, it felt like we had been guided to this place.

So, we walked down the winding path, between the lavender and the incredibly green of the hills and came upon the most amazing glazier lake.
It was totally still. Deep, with a crystal clear reflection of the sky.

I sat for a long time, thinking of the woman whose life ended here, wondering all the questions about what really happened and what she must have felt like. The betrayal, the terror and the final moment, the last breath.

Then, I started to feel the presence of her.

I stood up, and made an offering of tobacco and lavender. In my silence I simply listened to what she could offer me at the place I was.
She whispered to me….” Rose, this is the Lake of Forgiveness.”

I will never forget her.

I am enclosing some picture of this magical place.

From my heart to yours.

The Lake of Forgiveness

The Pipe Ceremony

Many years ago I was gifted a Sacred Pipe (Chanupa) for helping to build a Sweat Lodge for a community in Virginia. I knew this was a very sacred act of honoring someone and to be quite honest, I had no idea at the time what to do with it.

So, I wrapped it up and it sat in my closet for quite a few years until my first Medicine teacher came to town to teach a weekend on The Medicine Wheel. The brother who had gifted me with the pipe said, hey Rose, you need to get this “awakened.” So I did.

Little did I know that she would use this opportunity to teach me and the entire group about the Pipe.

In the Medicine Wheel, which is one of the most ancient forms of divination and healing, the North is the direction of Transformation  ( I will write a whole piece on the Medicine Wheel later). In the North is where we connect to Spirit and Wisdom.  It is here, the earth element, where we find our deep roots to our ansestors. It is here in this place that we remember to pray.

Many years ago when the people where suffering ( like NOW), two men were out hunting. They saw a woman dressed all in white approaching them. She asked these warriors to go back to the people and prepare the tribe, for she had a gift to share. These men knew she was sacred ( wakan) and someone of power.

When she came, she  shared with the people the sacred Pipe. She said that if the people prayed and used the Pipe for healing, the people would heal and live.

When you open the bundle, there is a stem and a bowl. The stem represents the male energy of the Creator and the bowl is the sacred feminine. When they come together, they create the energy of the Universe and Sacred Union.

When she left, leaving the bundle with the people, she walked to the North and before their eyes, she changed into a White Buffalo and then a White Buffalo Calf, thus giving her the name, ” The White Buffalo Calf Woman.”

So, back to my story.

So after the workshop, my life continues to shift and change as my 25 yr. marraige ended and suddenly, I was a single Mom, heartbroken and broke.

I ended up moving from Virginia to Maryland , so my private practice slowly ended.

I found myself meeting the dark night of the soul. And, I heard a voice that said, ” Take out the Pipe.”

For months I sat with it, prayed and kept the bundle next to me as I slept, esp. the nights I cried myself to sleep with heartache, worry and grief.

The Pipe brought me solice. I could feel healing around me.

I was being guided by the spirit of the Pipe.

The main message I kept getting was….forgive.

Then, that summer, I went out to South Dakota to support a friend who was Sundancing and the elders asked me to dance for my life and my son.

THAT was when I REALLY started to understand the spiritual power of the Pipe ( chanupa).

That first year I Sundanced I had a breakthrough. I started to see with my whole being, that if I surrendered and truely opened my heart and prayed for others, that I learned so much about myself. That most of my suffering was a perception of my own issues. The more I let go and forgave myself and others, the closer I came to my own happiness.

I ended up Sundancing for eight years. And then I knew it was over.

I will tell my entire Sundance story later.

The Pipe has become a close allie to me and I have shared and taught it’s wisdom for many years.

After 9/11 I had a Pipe Ceremnoy here every Monday night for 2 years as a service to the community.

Then, after Katrina, I started them again once a month and we continue to have them here upon request and also for special occations.

I would like to thank Grandmother Lillian Pitawaniquat from the Ojibwa nation, for her teachings on the Pipe. She helped me to see on a deeper level the divine feminine and the energy of the Mother in the Ceremony itself. To see the Pipe an an inclusive energy , for all our relations.

My deepest gratitude for the Lakota people, and all those who perform and are part of the sacred ceremonys in the Native American traditions.

All My Relations!

( which means, we are all connected!!!)

Paulette Robinson

“The Vision Quest was life changing not only for myself, but for those I prayed for. It helped me to release energy that had been binding me to old patterns and to move forward with my life. I highly recommend it for anyone!”

Paulette Robinson, Bowie, MD

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