Apr 26, 2016

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Initiation Is Not Graduation

Initiation is not graduation. Initiation is not the formal certification of the successful completion of a course of shamanic training, nor is it the ritual or ceremony that celebrates that completion publicly. Initiation is a function; it is the enduring transformation of the collective energy of a person into a state of being that did not previously exist. Thus one can experience an initiation process without being initiated. One can experience change and transform without being initiated. Join us this week as host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores the functional transformation at the heart of initiation. When we dispel our misinformation, myths, and wishful thinking we will be better able to co-create the rituals needed to heal our hearts, broken and betrayed by the culture that did not initiate us, and then begin anew to initiate our young into the power and responsibility of true spiritual adulthood.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Apr 22, 2016

CNN Still Soft-Soaping James Ray

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



A magician never reveals his secrets... unless he's a down on his luck, ex-con, trying to mount a comeback, and you stick a camera in his face.

Sometimes I miss New York. This is one of those times, because this week's debut of Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray at the Tribeca Film Festival is an event I'm actually sorry to miss, if only for stunning reveals like the above. You want to see how I played my followers like fiddles? Watch my hands, as I subliminally conduct your thoughts and feelings. See? ACTING!!!

This is not to say that it's a great film. I'm hearing not very good things about its effectiveness in conveying the horror of James Ray's actions, or holding him to account. For starters, the families of his victims were never even contacted by the filmmakers, so their voices and continuing concerns are notably absent. According to The Verge, Virginia Brown, mother of the late Kirby Brown, took it upon herself to contact the director, Jenny Carchman, and met with her over lunch. Kirby's sister Jean Brown's calls were unreturned, and Carchman declined to interview any family members on film. Ginny has posted a letter under the auspices of SEEK Safely, Inc., the organization of which she is a founding member.

We were disturbed to see clips of Ray “at work” before and after his incarceration serving as an infomercial for his comeback. The film failed to look critically at the tactics Ray had used prior to his incarceration and continues to use that put his customers at risk of emotional, financial,and physical harm; the film even omitted important facts such as the suicide of another attendee at a Ray event just months prior to the three deaths in Sedona. Many of these tactics, such as encouraging participants to share about personal trauma in a group setting, are commonly used in the unregulated selfhelp industry and are exactly the sorts of “red flags” SEEK wants to alert consumers to.

When asked at the end of the film how and why Sedona happened, Ray’s declares, “Sedona had to happen. It was the only way I could experience and learn… A test of character. I think I did ok.” Unfortunately, the people who were injured and traumatized, and especially those who died, are not so “ok."

Apr 19, 2016

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Nourishment for Your Spirit: The Elements

Right relationship with the elements allows their energy to flow into our lives, creating well-being by balancing our own excesses and deficiencies. Learning to work effectively with the elements through shrines, songs, ritual, and ceremony allows these essential energies to nourish the essence of our own souls. Join us this week as host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores what it means to enter into right relationship with the elements, creative ways cultivate relationship that fit into our contemporary lives, and how to know when you need an elemental ritual to deal with what life has given you. Through right relationship with the elements we gain courage, presence, the ability to change as life demands without losing our true essence, and the ability to release and begin a new, no matter how improbable change seems.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Apr 12, 2016

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Earth as a Teacher of Your True Nature

The outer world reflects our inner world. Pollution reflects the ways we pollute our bodies, bloody conflicts reflect our inner struggle in immature, self-centered times, and our waste of the earth's resources reflects the many ways we waste the energy and essence of our lives in feeling lost and addicted. Yet the answers for who we are and how to live well are right here, waiting for us to learn again to pay attention. The Earth is the great teacher of our True Nature with its flowing harmony of ecosystems and the wild beauty of nature. Join us this week as host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores the is great power in our True Nature and the fundamental healing in letting go of all that no longer resonates with it. When we allow our True Nature to flow through our lives and out through our words and actions, we come into a natural alignment with our essential selves. Living in that alignment we focus inward to energize our deepest core purpose and outward to work in a way that is good for all living things.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Apr 8, 2016

FLDS, Foodstamps, and Fraud

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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Federal charges against FLDS leadership have opened a new window into Warren Jeffs's oppressive, ongoing regime. The imprisoned child molester is still very much in control and, while his followers are suffering, they are not doing so equally. While rank and file members have been forced to subsist on beans, sharing in the pain of their incarcerated "prophet," they were also directed to apply for food stamps, which they were directed to turn over to church leaders. The government benefits are enjoyed by the privileged few, while the majority starve.

Lyle Jeffs and 10 other church members, including another Jeffs brother, Seth, were accused in a federal grand jury indictment of conspiring to cheat the federal government -- and qualified recipients -- of millions in food stamp benefits. Families who qualified for federal assistance were told to turn over their food stamp debit cards and take what they needed from a warehouse of pooled resources called "the bishop's storehouse."

As a result, the federal government alleges, some families subsisted on beans, rice and toast, while high-ranking church members were able to serve more expensive meat, turkey and seafood. The government also alleges that the Jeffs brothers and others laundered money by swiping food stamp debit cards and ringing up "ghost" purchases at church-friendly businesses. The laundered cash allegedly was used on big-ticket items such as a Ford F-350 pickup truck ($30,236), a John Deere tractor ($13,561) and $16,978 in paper products.

In addition, another $250,000 allegedly was spent on printing costs for Warren Jeffs' self published, 854-page book of jailhouse revelations, "Jesus Christ, Message to All Nations."

Apr 5, 2016

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Working with the Spirits of the Land

It is particularly important today -given the vast changes moving in the earth and across environments- that we learn again to work with the Spirits of the Land. We have passed the possibility of going back and must now go forward. Will we go forward with consciousness and skill or continue consuming, deaf, dumb, and blind to our affect on the world around us? Join us this week as host and shaman, Christina Pratt, revisits "Working with the Spirits of the Land" in the context of learning about the structures and spirits and energies that are part of the vast practice of working with land. Whether you are a practitioner or an everyday human, your flourishing is tied to the flourishing of the land. To flourish in the coming changes we must live and work with the Spirits of the Land today.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Mar 29, 2016

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Working with the Earth with Ana Larramendi

What can we do to address climate change and other big challenges to the balance of life on earth? We can do a lot when we remember that our shamanic skills allow us to engage effectively in issues that feel overwhelming and out of our reach. Whether our shamanic skills are just budding and basic or advanced and in full bloom, we can bring our shamanic skills to bear on a larger scale to address the needs right now on earth. This week, shaman and earth healer, Ana Larramendi, joins host, Christina Pratt, to share her work with the earth in clearing, restoration, and deep facilitation of a return to right relationship with the earth. Ana's Earth Tenders Apprenticeship is unparalleled in the training it offers practitioners in developing awareness and skills that are applicable to a broad range of situations requiring earth-healing interventions in our modern times.

This week's guest:
Ana Larramendi

Ana H. Larramendi has spent her life weaving together her spirituality with nature skills to create a skill-set of tools for land healing and teaching students to detect and heal earth trauma. Of Spanish and Basque ancestry and born in Spain, Ana is a full-time shamanic teacher and healer, at The Hollow Bone, a private practice in Madison, Wisconsin. She offers a full range of shamanic healing forms, space clearing, and various land healing practices and offers a range of shamanic course work and her Earth Tenders Apprenticeship for more advanced practitioners.

Ana has been studying shamanic traditions since 1989 and is an international teacher of shamanic healing practices. She is a minister, public speaker, Vision Quest leader, wilderness enthusiast, ceremonialist, chef, translator and an initiated mesa carrier in the Inka tradition. Ana has studied extensively with teachers from many traditions including: Alberto Villoldo, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Sandra Ingerman, Angeles Arrien, Betsy Bergstrom, Tom Cowan, Dr. Larry Peters, Marko PogańČnik, indigenous Alto Misayoqs of the Andes, and Weather Shamanism with Nan Moss and the late David Corbin. She also studied for 6 years with Tom Brown Jr. of the Tracker School, learning tracking, survival and wilderness awareness skills.

Ana has been a lecturer for the University of Wisconsin Medical School, as well as teacher and Peruvian guide for Madison Area Technical College. She is a founding member of the Society for Shamanic Practice and was a keynote presenter for their first annual conference in 2005. Ana's work has been published in The Journal of Shamanic Practice.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Mar 22, 2016

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Meeting Hatred and Shamanic Practice

Hatred is a luxury we do not have. It costs too much, eventually destroying all that truly matters and leaving the soul lost as collateral damage. What can we do to reverse the rising tide of hatred in the United States? Using our shamanic skills we can draw on our helping spirits to support us in small, everyday acts to shift the story playing out around us. For the more experienced practitioner we can engage in large acts of ritual, healing, and ceremony that reach the very source of the hatred and focus the power of transformation there. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores the small, subversive daily acts that allow each of us to engage hatred where we meet it and the larger shamanic acts needed to disengage today's hatred from the historic roots that nourish it. Large and small, it is work we must all engage in or we have learned nothing from history. Hatred ultimately costs us our souls.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Mar 21, 2016

Religious Literacy: Midterm

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



I have been taking this class through Harvard edX on religious literacy and enjoying it very much. It's also been taking up a lot of my writing time, so in lieu of a blog post, I thought I'd post the Midterm I recently posted to the classroom. The assignment was to apply the cultural studies method to a contemporary article, relevant to my cultural context. I chose this article for analysis. The questions posed are in bold. It's a little brief, because there was a word limit. My first draft was about twice the length, but oh well.


1) Does the article represent the religion or religions in question as internally diverse?

Yes and no. The authors specify that the focus is biblical literalists, including "Evangelical and fundamentalist churches, the Church of Latter Day Saints, and other conservative sects." They distinguish these sects from "liberal, progressive Christian churches with a humanistic viewpoint, a focus on the present, and social justice."

There is no acknowledgment of diversity among Evangelical sects and LDS, and that not all are rigidly "conservative." For example, the authors claim that these groups "focus on the spiritual world as superior to the natural world." However, there are Evangelical movements with a strong focus on ecology and "stewardship" of the natural world.

Aside from the caveat about “liberal” sects, they are not represented in the article. There are no examples of benign or positive influence in other Christian sects. Yet, they make many generalizations about the destructiveness of Christianity and religion, writ large, rather than confining these assessments to these "conservative" Christian practices.

To say that some religious expressions are “more toxic than others” implies that they’re all at least somewhat toxic. This broader implication is not supported in the text. While there is acknowledgment of the internal diversity of Christianity, the authors do not present a balanced portrait of that diversity.

Mar 15, 2016

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Fear and Shamanic Practice

Feeling fear-whether real or imagined- initiates a variety of chemical responses in the body that support the needed physical response, either fight, flight, freeze, or focus. It is a natural response to specific or immediate danger to our physical well-being. But why do we feel paralyzing fear when there is no imminent danger? More importantly how do we work with fear, whether brought on by specific danger, a perceived psychological threat, or flashing back out of time in a PTSD induced response to life? Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores the terrain of contemporary fears and how we can use our shamanic skills to address fear, to discern what the true source of a fear is, and to transform the patterns of fear that allow illusions to run our lives.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Mar 8, 2016

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Shamanic Healing with Wisdom Bodies: Case Studies

This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, shares case studies of shamanic healing with people who found a path to health and freedom by engaging their four wisdom bodies. Shamanic skills allow us to develop and to work in all four wisdom bodies: the mind, the heart, the spirit, and the body simultaneously. When one wisdom body is out of balance, deficient, or dominant it can throw our whole experience of life out of alignment with our power and greater truth. Join us as we explore what it feels like to trap your processes in the dominance of one wisdom body, the distortion that creates, and how real people have used their shamanic skills to open to new wisdom and cut a direct path to health and well-being.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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