"My goal is to support and empower the client's inner knowing
and body wisdom as I gently guide them back to wholeness and health."
It felt time to update the bio. This information is shared with an open and good heart, and with the utmost truth as I know it to be.
When I was a young girl, my father used to take me out in the woods to hunt with him. He taught that to see the animals and nature acting normally, one had to sit very still and blend in. After 10 to 15 minutes the animals would resume whatever they were doing before you sat there. He also taught that God was in nature, in the trees, in the wind. Those special times with him created a comfort, a deep trust, and a firm foundation with the earth and the natural world. Great grandmother Josie would also take her great grandchildren out to the woods and teach us the names of the wild flowers and plants.
The teen years were rebellious, and as soon as I could I left the flat landscape of Ohio. I moved out to Colorado. There was time living in a
cabin near Montezuma that had a woodstove in it and a bed. The coyotes sang the day away, the chickadees, mice, and squirrels were my friends and companions. I would feed them and they would gather near. This was home, this was safety, this was peace.
In the early 80s I married in Colorado. By the mid-80s I was studying midwifery in Florida and had a beautiful daughter born at home named Sky. I was apprenticing with homebirth midwives, attending lectures by Ina May Gaskin, and moving to Vermont.
At 27, all identity except for motherhood was released. It was here that I changed my name to Sierra. A name I didn’t like necessarily, but it kept coming and coming so I took it. There were many deaths inside of me at this time and I barely made it through. Because time with Sky was so precious, I sadly let go of my midwifery practice. The home with Willi, and gardens that my soul was enmeshed with, had to be released.
Sky and I lived in a camp with no water in the winter, or electricity. We had a pee bucket for the winter and beautiful gardens in the summer where we lived outside most of the time. There was a Fox den close to the camp with little kits one Spring. Sky was able to get close enough to touch them. This was before rabies was rampant.
About this time, I started to suffer with migraine headaches. There was a woman at Sky’s school who did something called light work. After one session with her the headaches were gone. I begged her to teach me how to do this work because I was a believer in it. She agreed, and in 1993 I started to practice it part time and continued to work in social services full-time.
A local woman brought Reiki into our community and my curiosity was piqued because it was Energy work. After 2 1/2 years I became a Reiki Master Teacher because I found efficiency, effectiveness, and beauty in its simplicity. In 1998 I began teaching and have taught nationwide, at Johnson State College as an adjunct, and out of my home practice Indigenous Roots. I’ve taught hundreds of students. During this time my son Grady was born in Greensboro, Vermont at home.
Soon after he was born, we moved to Stannard, Vermont. One day I was up in the woods snowshoeing, feeling lost, and praying hard for a teacher. The next day, Sky and I went back up to heal a fight that we had had. As we were snowshoeing, I saw a brown lump laying in the snow ahead of us. I immediately knew what it was. It was the biggest moose antler I’ve ever seen in my life. I didn’t have any tobacco to lay down so I pulled out a hair and left it in exchange for the antler. The end was still pink and wet, the antler itself smelled of pine. The next day I went up to take an offering and I felt movement off to my left. There was a huge bull moose with one antler on its head, and I knew this was the moose that had gifted his antler to me. I also knew this was connected to the prayers I had cried out. The moose gracefully and very slowly backed up one step at a time and after about 20 minutes left me alone to cry and give gratitude. Seeking answers to what this meant, I called my friend Annie McCleary. She directed me to a workshop where there was a wait list, to spend the weekend with Martin Pretchel.
Of course, I got into that workshop and I did a few other workshops with him as well, and learned about gratitude and giving back to the spirits. He teaches about the importance of honoring grief. He’s also an incredible story teller, his stories having layers of meaning. Eventually I learned about a Peruvian and Brazilian husband and wife team who were coming to Vermont to teach South American Shamanism. This was a one-year apprenticeship with them. Over the course of the year there was a group of people that I looked forward to drinking coffee with in the morning. We got to know each other pretty well over the year.
On the last day of the training, one of the grandmothers who was blind asked me to help her. At that time, she asked if I would consider being in their Medicine Lodge. Explaining that I would be on probation for six months, and at the end of that time if they felt I was a good fit and if I determined they were a good fit, we would continue on together. At the end of that six months I was initiated into their Medicine Lodge. It was held in the Northeast Kingdom and I was in the lodge for seven years. During that time, I took various workshops with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies. The leader of the Medicine Lodge was trained by Michael Harner and a graduate of his three-year shamanic program. She was also Abenaki. She told us that we were to never share the ceremonies that she taught us and I have never spoken of them to anyone. After seven years it was time to leave the group and I’m happy to privately discuss this with anyone, but I will not put it out publicly. The other grandmother left the group with me. She was a pipe carrier and also full-blooded Abenaki. She worked with me and gave me the pipe teachings for over two years. There was a small group of us that traveled all over Vermont and southern Canada doing pipe ceremony for the earth and the people. The spirits told her I was to become a pipe carrier, meaning I could teach others the sacred teachings. So far, I’ve only taught one person and he is not yet a pipe carrier but still engaged in the teachings. This Elder is still alive and I still meet with her once a month, and she just recently gave me the great honor of gifting me her pipe. She requested of a lodge leader in our group, who is a friend and also an Elder, that I become trained as a water pourer for sweat lodge. I was taught in the traditional way, including learning the songs, and fasted for a total of 10 days, during which I had to carve another pipe. This Elder is still alive and I still meet with her once a month, and she just recently gave me the great honor of gifting me her pipe.
This path has not been easy, there have been many tests. Grief has cooked my bones down to a soft understanding. I acknowledge white privilege and know that I have benefited from this. It’s important for us to educate ourselves on systemic racism, and for me to educate my students about it, and to be present as an ally to people of color and to people marginalized because of gender or sexual orientation. All people are equal. It’s been important to give back when I’ve been the recipient of important and sacred teachings. This path has been my life since I was in my 20’s, and I’m now almost 60. I am a supporter of indigenous people’s rights, sending prayers, provisions, and money whenever I can. When I meet with my Elder, the one who calls me granddaughter, she asks if I am still teaching. I say yes, and she says good. I have native blood, I have Siberian blood, I have Irish and Scottish blood, I have English blood and German blood. There have been those that have tried to stop me, but I will continue on. I don’t question it and I will keep walking this path, with respect to all beings.
Walking the in-between places, in the realm of unlimited possibility, is my specialty and passion, where I was born and live. Supporting people gently, lovingly, sometimes fiercely, as they surrender to the destruction of the false self, which includes soul-sickness and colonized amnesia, and gradually reclaim authenticity, ground, and a deep sense of connection, is a sacred and holy thing. This is accomplished with integrity and deep respect for the individual's own inner guidance and unyielding love for the earth. Divorce, death, depression, job-change, and environmental grief can catapult one into this place of initiation.