“People become the stories they hear and the stories they tell”
~ Elie Wiesel
I returned from Social Health Care Program for Syrian Children and Families (SHC) latest trip to Jordan and Turkey a few weeks ago. SHC, where I am the co-director, did some grassroots staff training in trauma treatment and we served as consultants for a few staff on specific cases while we were there. Additionally, I taught at two international conferences on trans-generational trauma, one in Amman and the other in Istanbul. My presentations were on the use of symbols and ritual in healing trauma and on soul retrieval as trauma treatment.
Additionally, I was on several roundtable panels discussing a variety of issues with other professionals including use of the internet for virtual classes and consulting globally as well as how to heal cultural and historical stories of victimization.
While there, we heard the devastating news that UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had cut v40% of the refugees off financially. What this means is the loss of food vouchers and rent assistance for refugee families. As refugees, the host countries forbid refugees from working as unemployment is high for their own people. The
huge influx of refugees has put huge pressures on Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey in particular. UNHCR is the primary source of support for refugees throughout the world. The loss of support increased the sense of desperation and the news was that there would be another 18% cut off this month. SHC has forged a number of alliances with other NGO’s trying to address the basic needs and manage the overwhelming stress they face. Please consider donating to this cause where right now an anonymous donor is matching gifts on our Global Giving Fundraiser Site >. Before I even left and during my time away, I was getting dozens of emails and phone calls from people worried for my safety on this trip. The stories in the media had stirred a lot of fear with coverage of ISIL and Ebola. People worried that I would be exposed to disease or violence. At the same time, while overseas I heard many complaining that the United States bombing of ISIL would only make things worse for people on the ground as it would make ISIL into heroes and as is often the case, the civilians would be the ones most targeted by the bombing runs. The irony is in some ways the perspective. From the point of view of a person in Amman or Istanbul, the worries of people for my health and safety would not be understood . And I know in my talking with people here, they are surprised to hear that the bombings of ISIL are looked upon suspiciously in Jordan and Turkey.
Fear and division are stories occurring in many places throughout our world. What I tell everyone I am in communication with is simple, “we must move beyond the choir to dialogue with everyone about our spiritual values and our dream for the world. We must first paint a picture of what we want life to look like, for no people or nation is going to go down a road where it cannot visualize what life is like around the corner.”
It is safe the say many do not like the nightmare we are living and we must present a story of hope and possibility to lift us collectively out of the darkness. In some ways, we are in need of a collective right of passage. We need a way to separate from our known way of being; initiate into a new way of being; and then return to our original context changed as people.
As such, I’m initiating steps of bringing together artists, musicians, writers, dancers, healers and other creative people in hope we can generate new stories for the world we want. Stories that light up our eyes, soothe our ears, and energize our bodies in joint activism to dream a world of empathy, compassion, interconnection of all life, sustainability, and peace. If this speaks to you in any way, please contact me so we can find ways to gather in meetings directly/and virtually in this purpose.
Training and Services
Office hours continue to be Monday-Friday with evening hours two nights a week. Skype sessions are available for distance consultation.
January 24, 2015 Advanced Training in Death and Rebirth in Shamanism
One day workshop exploring a range of topics related to the core theme of death and rebirth in shamanic traditions including but not limited to: role of shaman in healing the dead as well as the living; exploring the realms of death; spirit of death as healer and teacher. Enrollment limited to 12 people.
January 24, 2015, 9 AM to 4 PM. Fee: $100. To express interest or questions, email me.
There have been a number of requests to do more of the Advanced Shamanic Work with Transgenerational Trauma/Ancestor Syndrome workshop. New offerings will be posted early next year; additionally, planning is underway for the Annual Advanced Shamanism Training Retreat in August 2015 and more details will be coming soon.
Sedona’s Story, a book written by Kim Starr, will be released soon. It’s the story of her daughter, Sedona, who is on the autism spectrum and who has a gift for helping the dead cross over and it’s a story of how in a parents struggle to understand and help their daughter heal, they find spiritual understandings which offer hope. Some of the book details the work that we did together. Largely it’s a book about the power of love and commitment as a family. I think many of you would enjoy reading the story and it will be helpful for other families addressing similar issues. I will post it on my website once its officially released.
While in Turkey, I was approached about working with a segment of the Alevi people (Kurdish) to help restore their shamanic traditions. We are in early stages of this project and I hope to return to Turkey in the Spring to meet with Elders to build trust and relationships for this project. At the international transgenerational trauma conference in Istanbul, I watched a presentation on cultural healing of the Alevi people occurring in the U.K. Teen suicide rates have been quite high there. It reminded me quite a bit of the historical trauma of native peoples here in the U.S. and the high suicide rates within certain tribes. Very sad stuff and yet the cultural healing approaches being used in the U.K. school systems was quite impressive.
Recently in my studies of the use of ritual and ceremony in healing trauma, I read of a ritual that was done to heal gender violence. Without going into a description of the whole community healing ritual, I was soothed as I listened to an old gospel spiritual that was sung during the ritual itself. So I’ll end with words from that song:
There is a Balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Sometimes, I feel discouraged
And think my work is in vain
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.
Blessings to you all and prayers for our world,