This section is for those people wanting more information … read all or none or some … as you choose. I have used subtitles for those who quickly wish to find a piece of the story. Thank you for your time…
At this point in human history, I am told those who use the internet desire limited information. And yet, in Traditional Circles – who are we, without those who come before us? Who are we, without those who contribute to us? I am taught, human knowledge belongs to everyone – it is not owned by one person. We are to honor our lineage, to honor those who help us learn. This way we remember all and walk with wisdom.
Throughout the years, I am humbled and honored to train, walk, sing, drum, dance and share teachings with Indigenous Elders from my full ancient lineage – in the physical and spiritual realms. This includes assisting in ceremony, sitting in silence or in conversation with Elders from many nations and traditions. As a traditional Indigenous Medicine person … training is continuous – self awareness is continuous – knowledge acquisition is continuous – taking knowledge into action is continuous.
The world is constantly changing – thus nature and her people are constantly changing. As such, we learn to recognize those changes and assist people in and through those changes. I am all ways learning from the land, from all people in this world, all people I serve and all life experience.
There are so many people whom I could mention…and it is important to highlight a few key people. Know as you read this there are many, many who contributed along the way and whom I hold dear in my heart, as I carry forward what they shared with me. Their names are contained within the spaces between the words and on the whispers of the wind.
The Story so far
I was born a child who remembered. I heard the murmurings in the early days … of my Elders, the forest, the rocks, the water and the animals. I was visited in my dreams often. I saw our loved ones in spirit form (others called ‘ghosts’ – to me real and alive) and knew they were leaving this world before the adults received the call. I sat beside or on the laps of the ‘old people’ in the family – mesmerized by their stories of life, their trials and tribulations, their joys and resilience. As I grew, I soon learned there were things you talked about and things you didn’t. Things you could do – and things you couldn’t. Things you could speak and things – if you spoke, people were afraid or mad. And so, I became a child who ‘forgot’ – who chose to forget.
The wounded healer…
As time progressed, despite all the support Spirit sent my way in various forms, I continued to choose to be like others around me. On one hand I looked like I was doing ‘well’ in society – going to school, involved in community, involved in athletics, off to university. And so, suppressing who I was, I inevitably ended up in difficulties – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I would fall down, and I would find a way to pick myself up. Over and over again I would do this, until I fell so far down, I thought I would crack…only to find my way out would be to journey further into me – to take the spiral path down into my core – to find the me I had hidden oh so very long ago.
Nature and all her people have, and all ways will be my Elders, my companions, my friends. I have spent long hours in observance, in silence and in active listening. I have watched and listened as the plant kingdom tells me which medicines need to be prepared for imbalances people will experience in the coming winter. I have listened to the whispers on the wind, as they take me to honor a recent death of one of their people or direct me to where I will find the perfect medicine. Some of my most challenging skill development and learnings on universal principles has happened with the guidance of nature’s people … you do not know how to track energies until you are able to track your teacher, a beautiful red fox, across the outcroppings of rock in the Canadian shield.
Stories within the genetic memory revealed in human history
At the age of 10years, I sat on the bed with my cousin Helena. She would tell me stories of our family … of how we used to walk with reindeer, how sometimes the reindeer still come to our home in Finland, how the long cold dark of the family would soon come to end, how Santa Claus came from our people. Then years later, I ‘discovered’ our names were Sami, before they were Loytomaki, our name change corresponded with a resettlement of the Sami people, there were others in the family – searching like I was, living experience like I was, illness that ran in our family was often metaphor for lost teachings and fractured spirits. When I ‘came out’ … some celebrated the claiming of our name and our ancient identity, some were relieved for someone was like them, and some thought I was crazy and couldn’t understand.
At the bottom of a deep dark hole – or what at the time I thought was the deepest it could ever get – I found a branch … offered through a Shoshone Elder, Grandmother, channeled by Lori Wilson. And the proverbial crack in the cosmic egg occurred. The shell I created around myself for all those years was broken wide open, the light rushed in and the journey of remembering began in a big way. I thank Lori Wilson for reminding me that I could communicate with all inside of me, and all surround me…for opening the doors I had closed, re-establishing communication with my Ancestors, the world within me and the world surround me, and for planting the seeds for the re-turn of our Medicine Ways to the world. For with the flood of light – came all the Ancestors of my full blood lineage on both sides – ready, waiting and eager to begin the training of the one who was eager to listen and to act.
Now do not mistake – this was no easy task. The path of a Traditional Medicine person is arduous and requires constant dedication. And with this stepping in, came the crumbling of the false edifice I had created around myself – that I once believed to be real and true. And…I knew, this was what I had to do.
Building the foundation…finding others, claiming my self, my identity
I owe a large gratitude (Chi Miigwetch) to Jan Sherman and Sandy Benson for their friendship, sharing and contribution to the raising of our youth. To all the men who sat at the Community Drum, to all the women who sang in the Women’s Circle, to all members of the Guelph Native community all those many years ago. You who opened your arms and hearts to myself and my youth – birthed us to better understand the many original peoples of this land, to our original peoples and our collective inter-connection. You provided light and laughter during many years and helped us find our way. Know all your names are written between these words and in my heart, with prayers for you and yours every day.
I would not be the person, nor the practitioner I am today, without the guidance and support of Dr. Leslie Korn and Dr. Rudolph Ryser of the Center for Traditional Medicine, and the Center for World Indigenous Studies. You both were guiding lights. Being of mixed blood, walking with much trauma (individual, familial and intergenerational), I was confused about the world I lived in and where life experiences were calling me. I was confused about ‘re-claiming’ what was mine. Was I Indigenous enough? What could I ‘claim’ and if so, how? You helped and continue to help me stand solidly in my Indigenous roots – so my tree of life can grow and bloom strong. You also helped me find a way to merge all worlds – the scientific, energetic, Traditional, Indigenous. Under your auspices I learned how to integrate all – clinical practice and spiritual offerings. Through the teachings you shared – you showed me a way out of where I was, and a way to all that is. And you planted the seeds for the future. You helped me find a way to bring the integrity and ethics of the Elders, into best practice offerings in a western world.
Sami Elder, Elina Helander. How do I express words to share my gratitude with you? So often tears still well up when I think of our exchanges. How amazing for both of us – to realize the full impact of the teachings of our Ancestors. You – you, trained orally by your Father and Mother…helped me, a young woman born on another land, stand in her blood line, the one trained ‘old style’ … through the Elders we share the natural world with and through the Elders in the Spirit realm. Thank you for acknowledging and accepting me – and in that – helping me accept who I am and how I am to serve.
I am also humbly grateful to Ken Cohen and Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona, for your willingness to answer your phone all those years ago. To come and share with our community. To become friend and inspirator – you help me frame, describe and bring further into the world all I am. It matters not whether our connection in the physical world is constant – for you both – are all ways guiding, reminding and assisting me to move forward.
I give thanks, Sat Nam, to Sat Dharam Kaur, Nirmal Singh and Daya Kaur for sharing with me your years of teachings. For uplifting, challenging and encouraging me to deepen and broaden my understanding and sharing of Kundalini Yoga teachings. It is a privilege every time we cross paths.
Putting the teachings to the test…
Life continued … raising youth as a single mother, running a business, keeping a practice alive, providing a community meeting place, bringing Elders into community to share with others, facilitating groups, events, talking circles, sacred fires and continuing to learn, grow and evolve.
One day, death arrived on my doorstep, falling into multi-system organ failure, dying and returning to life … to a severely damaged body. It was here all my teachings – my ability to listen, follow and act – were put to the test. Showing me how to fight to stay alive, how to surrender to death, only to find being given a choice to return. The western medical system did a wonderful job at keeping this body alive, creating medical stability and saying I was ‘cured’. Although, from this rebirth it would be several more years before I restored full balance in all aspects of my being…and once again attained full vital health.
And here – in this journey – I solidified the truth of all the teachings you Elders had shared with me through a lifetime. Here – I learned the incredible and amazing ability of the human body to restore itself. Here – I learned the full value of life and of death … and the full cycle of living and dying … and the relations we have along the way – with our self and others surround us.
Here I stand now – knowing what I know today – knowing that tomorrow is a new day and there is a vast potential to learn more … and … knowing that if there is a day that arrives where I no longer have something to learn, it is the day I will return home.
I give thanks and praise to all the teachers, guides, mentors and Elders along the way.
I n I have been given direction by all the Elders I n I represent, by all the Elders who have taught me, by the Ancient Ones I n I represent, by the Ancient Ones who have taught me – to humbly speak their teachings and share with people, who are receptive, the Indigenous Medicine traditions, teachings and universal principles I n I carry, on their behalf. When this direction was given, I chose yes. I chose to follow their guidance and represent them in the best way possible. I chose I n I life. To this end, I n I live where Spirit, the Elders and Ancient Ones have placed me, and I n I travel where Spirit, the Elders and Ancient Ones guide me.
Every Day I walk, living for Spirit
Every Day I walk, directed by Spirit
Every Day I exist, as a reflection of Spirit
Every Day I beam, the love of Spirit
Every Day I Share, the reality of Spirit
Every Day I speak, the truth of Spirit
This is My Way of Being ~ I know no other way
This is the Way of My People’s Being ~ They knew no other way
What was theirs to caretake was taken from them
And they were Conditioned to think less, to feel less, to be less
And I was conditioned to think less, to feel less, to be less
THIS IS THE PAST!!
As all ways … as a child of light … as a child of earth
I know more
I think more
I feel more
NOW…I live more
NOW AND FOREVER MORE
This is my Way of Being ~ I know no other way
This is the Way of my People’s Being ~ they know no other way