Apprenticeship for Medicine Women 2018
Traditionally, embarking on a path to become a medicine woman is a life long journey, isn’t ?
Indeed it is. What has traditionally been a one-on-one life long experience has been restructured to primarily be a group experience with one-on-one teaching and support. That structure lends itself efficiently to a more accelerated process of growth.
How does your group determine who is invited to participate?
Women approach us and we are open to those who would like to join us. Those who are not ready or who are not in alignment with our path choose to leave or not to start. We rely on resonance to create clarity for those who come. It is not a personality decision, but rather a decision of the Soul, a calling, that people answer or for reasons that are known or unknown, do not answer. Women sometimes choose not to answer because of timing, clarity about higher purpose, or fear. Often we will offer a preparatory class that helps people to get a flavor for who we are and the process of apprenticeship.
How long is the Apprenticeship? What is the general path of study?
The first group of women started with a three year commitment and continued for an additional 2 years. While teachings continued for over ten years, not all the women have chosen to continue to participate actively in classes. The majority are still practicing and all who completed the five years have started meeting annually to stay connected and to share wisdom and life experiences.
Apprenticeship is a way of life. It is learning how to connect with Nature in sacred union for support to heal. To that end, we have learned how to connect and communicate with many highly evolved beings. We say that to be a medicine woman means to have access to everything we need to be of the highest service.
Teachings have occurred during weekend retreats, usually 3-4 times a year in a nature setting. We have also used live webinars for times when travel was difficult. We structure teachings to start where you are in your spiritual life journey and assist you in reaching your highest potential, if that is your goal.
Nature informs all aspects of what we do and how it is presented. We use many different kinds of teaching supports, such as books, CDs or audio journeys, classroom experiences and, of course, a great deal of time in Nature learning rituals, manifesting, channeling and other skills one might assume a medicine woman might have in her tool box.
As a result of becoming an apprentice, you have the opportunity to become a medicine woman. Some women have started the apprenticeship and left when they have satisfied their curiosity, were “full” and experienced enough change, or found that the apprenticeship was not what they thought it might be. Becoming a medicine woman occurs when you have successfully negotiated a series of initiations. We follow our guidance and walk you through the process, sometimes slowing things down to allow you to integrate the teachings, but always allowing you to follow your goals/your guidance.
One woman’s story:
My introduction to becoming a Medicine Woman and the Spiritual Quest
My story starts with a story. This story comes from one of my books of inspiration.
“There once was a beautiful white swan that came from the great ocean to the North. After being in the South for the winter, it was ready for the return journey home. So it took off and with its big wing span and shining white feathers, it soared effortlessly through the blue sky. After a long while, and far along the journey, the swan began to tire and came down to land for a rest. It landed right on the edge of water well and let out a deep sigh.
In the bottom of this well there lived a frog. The frog said, ‘Well, who are you and where did you come from?’
‘I am swan, and my home is on the water of the great northern ocean,’ answered swan.
‘Ocean? How big is this ocean?’ asked the frog. ‘Very big,’ said swan.
‘Is it this big?’ Frog asked, taking two hops backward.
‘No, much bigger,’ said Swan.
So the frog took five huge hops backward, saying, ‘Is the ocean this big?’
Swan said, ‘No it’s much bigger than that.’
And so the frog went around the entire well—his whole reality, as he knew it –and asked the swan ‘Now, is the ocean as big as this?’ And the swan said, ‘No, it is much, much bigger!’
Thereupon the frog said, ‘Well, you are a fool and a liar!’
Because he knew there could be nothing bigger than his world and his well.”
(Dennis Holtje, From Light to Sound: the spiritual progression. Master Path, Inc., Albuquerque, N.M. 1995.)
How did I find my way to the Medicine Woman Program?
As far as I know I don’t come from a lineage of healers. Nor, do I possess any extra ordinary skills or talents in telepathy or intuition that others are gifted with who might be drawn to this practice. Perhaps, it has nothing to do with my choices as a little self and all to do with my Soul’s journey.
My earliest memories are of age three or four. I had a love for playing in the dirt. I loved digging in the dirt and cooking up “magical potions” out of plants. One of my most cherished gifts from my parents was a child size set of real garden tools. A shovel, hoe and rake. My fun included playing in the woods behind my house in the day and looking out my bedroom window at night. Amazed by the images from the silhouettes in the trees I fantasized and imagined the Beings that were living there. I was always fascinated by faraway places and mysterious, exotic cultures. I looked forward to my sister bringing her social studies book home from school so I could look at the pictures of the people and places from all around the world.
As an adult, I explored different venues of spiritual development. I never found one that truly fit. After attending a seminar conducted by The Original Medicine Institute for the Healing Arts, I was captivated. My curiosity piqued, I began feeling that this was indeed what I had been looking for in terms of a spiritual practice. Having had some training in Yoga and exposure to different forms of energy healing, I knew that being a part of this program was where I wanted to be. I wanted to experience more than “my well.” I wanted to see the great ocean. I wanted to develop a relationship with Spirit and the Higher Beings of Light. I was accepted in the OMIHA Medicine Women apprenticeship in 2011. I was one of five women in the second class. Sometime later the other four women choose not to continue. Subsequently, I was granted acceptance into the graduate class. I trained simultaneously with the other graduate women, as I worked 1:1 with my teacher.
Although I am only able to scratch the surface of what the training involves by describing some of the activities, I am not however, able to convey the experience. As with most incredible creations, words or pictures are not able to depict the experience of being there. Also, I might add, the experience is extremely individual and unique for each who walks the path. Full of wonder and excitement, I embarked on the journey not exactly sure what was in store. I had my ideas of what it might entail, but I was like the frog. My perspective was somewhat narrow. I had only known the parameters of my well.
In the Medicine Woman apprentice program, there is much experiential training. There are occasions when our lessons come from books or formal classes and workshops. There is the Awakening of the Light Body- the skills of becoming aware of the subtle energy anatomy; various healing modalities, some based on indigenous and ancestral wisdom. We are taught about understanding and using the energy of plants, crystals and animals: The teachings of the Medicine Wheel, the Four Cardinal Directions and the experience of the Vision Quest to name a few. Imagination is also a strong component of our work as is playing and having fun. Finding joy in our life is one of our daily tasks. More often than not though, our lessons come from each other. We support, encourage and inspire one another. Embrace and learn from each of our differences while recognizing that our differences are what make us dynamic and powerful. We are encouraged to allow our Souls light to shine through in whatever we are trying to create, grow and develop. We learn from trusting in our higher selves.
Gardening is a common interest amongst the women in the group. There are numerous lessons that come from the garden. The garden is symbolic of many things. Gardening brings a chance to play in the dirt, connect with spirit, nurse the seedlings and plants, enjoy our fruits and give gratitude for all the bounty produced from Mother Earth. Growing a garden is an act of love and joy. But, it can also be painstaking. There is the hard physical labor, crop failure, unpredictable weather, disease and infestation and the heart break and sadness come fall when the garden’s season has ended.
Of greater relevance, along with flower and vegetable gardens we also plant gardens that grow our Souls. We plant seeds for joy, faith, trust, love, and non-suffering. We plant healing seeds for ourselves, each other, the earth, and all sentient beings. Sometimes, as is with our vegetable garden, our Soul garden becomes weedy. It too, can be afflicted by hardship. We learn to honor and respect the weeds. As weeds too, have a purpose that sometimes we don’t understand. We learn to recognize that whatever grows in our Soul garden has purpose and meaning. It is the awareness of purpose that allows us to unearth the old weeds and make space to plant new seeds. These are the seeds that produce beautiful, strong, vibrant women. Women who are smart, creative and full of laughter and spirit: Women who give fully and freely from the heart, who have love for all living creatures big and small.
As Medicine Women we are taught the beauty and expression of womanhood as a Soul expressed. It’s a rebirthing of the self. Through it all, comes the courage and bravery for growth and expansion of the consciousness. The awareness of what is in” my well” and beyond. When there is openness in the heart and mind, when we support each other and work cooperatively with nature, give thanks to Mother Earth for all our gifts, it becomes possible to better understand and embrace the spirit of life. It becomes possible to be a vessel that shines through as a soul expressed. It becomes possible to love, grow, create and access all that is available.
In my everyday work, I work to serve others in need of mental and emotional health treatment. As a Counselor, I heal by providing psychotherapy services.
I strive to de-stigmatize mental illness. I want to help break down barriers and provide quality service infused with compassionate and care.
My work includes advocating for mental health rights and resources, educating those afflicted, family members and the general public on the misbeliefs of mental illness. I work to help families provide safe, healthy home environments for their children. I aspire to empower women and children who have had their power taken away from them.
I am passionate about educating and sharing the importance of having balance in life. Balance not only through good emotional health, but physical and spiritual health as well. I study and teach yoga, and sound healing. I still love playing outdoors in nature, digging in the dirt, working with plants and traveling to see all of the gifts of the earth. I now do it with more of a sense of purpose and a more expanded point of view. It is the whole co- creative process which is “much much bigger!”
Patricia Stewart, LPC
Medicine Woman apprentice 2012-2015