A Traditional Learning Trail
As Martin Pretchel shares ““The indigenous mind knows that we owe it to the Earth to become that part of the song that’s missing. The Earth wants to put the song back together. If we can become the lost parts of the song we put the Earth back together, we put the health of the people back together.”
We were becoming that part of the song that was missing in our own way.
Beneath the surface however, a deeper calling was percolating. My health was deteriorating from excess drinking. Something had to change. During this time I was part of the Puyallup Sweat Lodge for several years and it was changing me, opening me to a more original way of being as an extension of the Earth, of Spirit, of the Ancestor’s dreaming. Each time we entered the sweat lodge it was an act of returning to the womb within the universe and being re-dreamt back to life.
I was raised in a rigid Christian household and each time I entered the inipi… each time I foraged the emerald forest at the base of Mt Tahoma, aka the Mother of Waters, the spells of religion and mainstream reality fell away and availed me to a greater reality of connection, relationship and sacredness.
And then I was nearly murdered. A man, who didn’t even make eye contact with me, slit my throat and left me on the sidewalk bleeding out. He was drunk and didn’t like the way my girlfriend looked at him and was heading for her so I stepped between them. He broke a beer bottle over my head and cut my throat.
Fortunately there was a surgeon in the emergency room who was one of 3 surgeons in the State that could have stitched me up the way he did. The nerves were cut and the left side of my face drooped. They said it would be that way for the rest of my life.
The inipi experiences showed me life is a dreaming and we have the power to heal ourselves. For a month I mostly laid in the dark of my room, re-dreaming my face back together, envisioning the nerves re-growing, my muscles finding form again and in one month, I had function and form in my face.
The doctors were amazed but didn’t believe I healed myself.
When I was bleeding out and contemplating this was how I was going to die, I left my body and had a vision. There were three elders and they said I had a choice to leave or continue on. They showed me a vision of life and way of being of service. I saw how much I had yet to grow, love and experience.
A year later I sold everything I owned. Healing myself revealed we have a much greater potential that we're not accessing. I put a few clothes and a journal in a back pack and set off on a pilgrimage around the world in search of the Great Masters, Shamans and Elders I had only read about. I wanted to know if they were real and what we're truly capable of. Well, I found them.
The moment I left, I was unaware I was entering a completely different life. I exited the social construct of how we’re conditioned to be and live and was gifted a life of walking a traditional learning trail where through direct experience and inner cultivation endangered knowledge awoken within me. I found warmth sitting in the shade of the Elders and knowledge was gifted through blistered feet of walking beside them. As my teachers share "This isn't information you learn, it's wisdom you become."
I began my journey at a Buddhist Sanctuary on the Big Island of Hawaii where I spent three months in silence, fasting, meditating, releasing deep grief and unprocessed emotions of my life. I arrived in a deep silent place inside of me that anchored me in an awareness of being aware of being aware.
And then I was called to India. I had no plans. When I arrived, I bought a bus ticket without knowing its destination and it took me three days out into the Great Thar Desert to a small village. It’s here I met my teachers who were a wandering band of sanyasi’s who I were to find are great masters.
How I met Guruji will reveal the potency and level of mastery these beautiful souls embodied.
I stayed in a dwelling just outside the village. Each day I walked into the village, the streets were lined with fake sadhus asking for money and trying to con me into something. There was one sadhu I noticed sitting on the ledge of a temple platform and no matter where the sun was, he seemed to always be in the shade. One day, I went up and sat next to him. He looked over and smiled with his eyes then went into meditation. I too went into meditation and for some 3 hours I experienced the deepest meditation I had ever experienced. When I came out, I was amazed how much time had past. He subtly nodded and I left. That night I had a dream I came to a river but instead of water between the two banks I could see into outer space. There was desert on each side and it was as if I was seeing through the veils of life into the eye of the universe. Suddenly I was amongst the stars without a body and I heard a voice say “Look… there’s no up, there’s no down, no left or right… there just is. Learn to perceive from this mind.” Then the Baba who I had sat with appeared and told me to come to him.
The next day I went to him and long story short, our training began. I wandered with this small group of humble and playful elders who were rumored to be over 140 years old. We meditated 12 hours a day, slept on temple steps or beneath banyan trees, exposed ourselves to intense climates such as the sharp heat of the desert and sharp cold of the Himalayas. They introduced me to other teachers who instructed me in other layers of teachings. They introduced me to my Ayurvedic Teacher Dr Kotecha who, unbeknownst to me at the time, was Prime Chancellor of Ayurveda Medicine in India. I trained intensely with them, undergoing their form of rites of passage, intense initiations, and mentorship for 7 years.
Describe your image
Describe your image
Describe your image
During this time, they’d send me back to the U.S. from time to time to do my practices in the mountains, to share with others and gain further certifications in other modalities.
One of my saddest days was when they told me it was time for me to return to the U.S. They shared "You don’t become a master by sitting at the feet of a master. You must go out into life and further grow into the awarenesses you've cultivated amongst everyday living." They told me to seek out other indigenous elders and undergo their underworld initiations and mentorships.
They had initiated me into a lineage we call AyurMukti. They were some of the last of their lineage. When I asked them what would happen to it when they left, they said the teachings will return back into the Earth and become available to those who are ready to receive them. They said that’s the way it’s always been and where these teaching come from. They told me to go out onto the lands from where I’m from and listen. They said to translate what I learned from them into the language that makes it accessible to others.
So I returned and did as they instructed. I experienced vision quest, wilderness rites of passage, and trained in guiding others through them. I learned the traditional ways of facilitating circle, of how not to learn “about” the plants, spirits and animals but to learn FROM them.
I served as a wilderness rites of passage guide for at-risk youth where the youth would be 100+ days out amongst the wilderness of Utah and Colorado using primitive skills and navigating the dark night of soul, grief tending, suicidal tendencies, and finding the hidden strength and medicine inside them.
Where my Babas gifted me the practices to break the spells that bound me and grow into myself, local indigenous elders of the Hopi, Dine’, Paiute, and Salish people grew my roots back into the Earth and gifted me a life of belonging, a way of being dreamt by the Earth Herself, a way of restoring Village Culture that gives us deeper meaning and connection in our life as a community.
I’ve now been guiding others for 20 some years through their inner terrain, their shadows, their grief and the beauty buried inside. Through vision quest, wilderness rites of passage, and traditional learning trails, we’ve helped restore our original belonging of Self and the great web of life. We're stirring the bone memory of what the Dine and Hopi call “The original instructions giving to us by Creator” or what my Babas if India called “The Original Understandings.”
Now today, I am witnessing the vision given me those many years ago while I was bleeding out from my neck, take form and bloom into our community. I am witnessing our community remembering ourselves home..
I give thanks.
Describe your image
For some time now, I’ve lost my mind. So if you’re looking for any kind of domesticated rationale, you may want to go elsewhere. The question is are you ready to lose your mind?
What’s this all about?
Too often people try to improve their lives without improving their psychology (mind). The thing is, to improve our psychology we want look outside the conditioned social systems that trap us. It's said "It's what's just on the periphery of our awareness that's probing us into the deeper meanings of our life."
The Elders are sharing “We want to return to the original system,” an Earth Based Psychology that re-weaves us back into relationship with ourselves and the greater cyclic movement of life we’re part of.
But how do we make the return? How did I get here?
I got here from an attempted murder that re-directed me to the Great Thar Desert of India where I met the wandering mystics who were to take me under their wing and initiate me. Here's my story.
A long long time ago I was a bar owner. My venue was focused on crafting a space for artists, musicians, actors, and creative folk to thrive, co-create, and feel the synergistic energy of community creating and dreaming together. We were our own movement happening amongst the downtrodden rubble of Tacoma Wa in a time when drive by shooting and murder were everyday occurrences. A few yeas before I moved into the house I lived in, my alley was the primary spot for dropping off dead bodies. We weren’t so exposed to it, but it was there in the back ground as we took over warehouses and dreamed our city anew. I was drinking and intoxicated every night but we were beauty making the world back together again.
From Pacifica University
In The Field
Wilderness Guide & Educator
Wilderness First Aide Responder
Circle Work & Trauma Resolution
Other Certifications & Training
Dark Descent & Initiation