Making America Healthy Again: Indigenous Perspectives on Land & Health – new article About Place Journal

Making America Healthy Again: Indigenous Perspectives on Land & Health

By David R. Kopacz, MD & Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

About Place Journal from the Black Earth Institute

We have a new article published at About Place Journal for their Geographies of Justice Issue – Volume VI, Issue III, May 2021! We are very excited to be published in this excellent and important journal.

We look at the relationships between land and health, private land/private health, and public land/public health.

When I spoke with Joseph about the topic of Geographies of Justice he immediately resonated with it. “All humans are looking for that – some justice, a just place where we can feel adjusted and feel safe. A just place is where you are adjusted to justice,” he said. Here are a few excerpts of Joseph’s thoughts on Geographies of Justice:

There are a lot of resources on the land that we take care of and they take care of us.

We need to start with the origin of the land, the place before everything broke apart – Pangea. We start at 1 – that’s Pangea. Then the scientists say the continents broke apart, and then people came out of Africa, then the Indians walked across the Bering Strait into the Americas – that’s how the scientists tell it.

We can learn from our environment, from our geographies. We cannot have justice unless we learn from our geographies. Pangea was created and all around it was Panthalassa, the great ocean. Then Pangea spilt and you had the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans eventually, and the Americas, North, South, Central, and then you had all these tribes in North America, and you had tribes in South America. For all these tribes, their religion was based on geography. The Eskimos had igloos and they would have ceremonies that reflect where they live, all the tribes would have ceremonies that reflect where they live.

There are different areas of land. You become your place before you live in your Mom and Dad’s house because they come from the land and you come from them. They teach you about the weather. The ceremonies are related to the climate of their place. First there was Pangea, and then it split and you had Europeans and Americans, but we are all from Pangea, we are all related...”

Justice is right here in the room with me and it is right there in the room with you and it is right there in the room for all the people on the planet – it is here.

To read the whole article, follow this link to “Making America Healthy Again: Indigenous Perspectives on Land & Health” in About Place Journal.

The Social Determinants of Clinician Health – new post @ CLOSLER!

I have a new article posted, “The Social Determinants of Clinician Health,”

at CLOSLER: MOVING US CLOSER TO OSLER A MILLER COULSON ACADEMY OF CLINICAL EXCELLENCE INITIATIVE, Johns Hopkins.

Here are some opening quotes and the first paragraph…

“Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets,”—W. Edwards Deming

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”—Victor Frankl

“Many believe burnout to be the result of individual weakness when, in fact, burnout is primarily the result of health care systems that take emotionally healthy, altruistic people and methodically squeeze the vitality and passion out of them.”— Swenson and Shanafelt, Mayo Clinic Strategies to Reduce Burnout: 12 Actions to Create the Ideal Workplace

If every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets, then many healthcare systems around the world are designed to create high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue in the people who work within them. Maybe burnout isn’t a lack of resilience or coping skills in clinicians, but an iatrogenic effect of modern healthcare.

Read the rest of the article at CLOSLER

Toward a New Way of Being with Plants Conference – June 17-18, 2021

I am very excited to announce that I will be speaking at the Toward a New Way of Being with Plants conference on June 18th! This is an online conference and registration is free.

I will be presenting along with my sister, Karen Kopacz. Our talk is called Remembering Our Living Relationship with Plants and is from 1:20 pm-2:05 pm US Central Time.

My part of the talk is called Toward an Ancient Way of Being with Plants and will review some of my work with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow).

The center of our talk will feature a video of Joseph Rael Becoming Medicine Initiation Ceremony video (5:16) that we filmed and Karen produced.

Karen’s talk is called Shifting Into a Relational Mindset With Nature.”

You can check out the speakers, here, and the agenda, here. The conference is put on my a number of international partners, including the University of Minnesota.

Maybe we will see you there!

Also, I just had a post up on CLOSLER, “Making the Most of Your Daily Nervous Breakdown,” where I write about taking a mini-rest cure connecting back to nature.

Exploring Integrative & Holistic Healing at All Levels of Being with Dr. David Kopacz (Part 3 of 3) – Interview by Dr. Alice Lee

Listen to Part 3 of Alice’s interview with me on the Holistic Psychiatrist podcast. This segment shifts to looking at the importance of medical activism and our social responsibility for professionals.

A Review of A Place Inside, Poems by Judith Adams

Whidbey Island poet, Judith Adams’ new book of poems, A Place Inside, covers the full range of human emotions & experiences, bearing witness to the tragedies and celebrating the joys of life.

Poems such as “Visit to the Doctor” and “Letter to my CPA” bear witness to the dehumanizing mania of turning human beings into numbers. The poems are rooted in the earth, not only in harvesting potatoes in “Pommes de Terre,” but walks through the ferns and forest with grandchildren, rescuing a hummingbird that got into the house, and a poem “For Mary Oliver.” Death and life come into full circle relationship in poems such as “Two Reasons for Weeping,” when attending a Covid-era “circular drive-by” funeral, the poet gets a call from her daughter about new life, “Mom, I’m having a girl.” The poems look backward and forward, remembering the pain of leaving a mother behind in the UK, burying her under quince tree, and the birth of granddaughter, Brigid.

What could be more natural and human than giving birth and dying, gardening, mourning, rejoicing, kayaking―the land, the body, roots and bones, growth and hibernation? “All the things I have loved, as I love the human face,” ends the poem, “Roots.” The poet imagines a God who wants you to have “a wild night on the town” and not to try to get into Heaven with “love letters/you never sent,” (“Love Letters Only”). The poet reminds us that we need the trickster as much as the saint to keep us human and sane in a world that tries to classify the complex interweaving of suffering & joy into the question, “What is my pain level out of ten?” To the young doctor/computer technician, asking questions to quantify and reduce complexity to certainty, “Her fast fingers wait to classify my/existence on a screen,” while “oblivious/to the bend I have just rounded,” the poet suggests questions instead that open and deepen into life:

            “Ask me instead who I am,
            what my mornings are like,
            if I am working towards a future,
            who in my life has just died?
            If you don’t have time, and you are
            backing out of the room with your computer,
            at least ask me if I drink alone.”

Judith Adams knows what healing and comforting the soul is, in contrast to the often cold, heartlessness of contemporary medicine. She created The Poetic Apothecary project, offering “poems for healing and comfort,” throughout Washington State via the Humanities Washington program. A video of this talk can be found on Judith Adams’ website.

The center of the book, and the title as well, is “A Place Inside,” a poem, brief and wonderful, which embodies a love of life, bringing inside/outside, human/divine, and body/spirit together.

            “You have a place inside you
            no one can touch.
            It’s where your tools are kept.
            In this divine workshop
            you chisel at a raw day
            in deep devotion to yourself,
            and there you allow some unruliness,
            your share of sore complaint.
            And there you follow
            your own footsteps
            through the dark”

            (A Place Inside)

A Place Inside is a wonderful book that reminds it what it is to be human, to be alive, to be grounded in the Earth, and to breathe starlight.

Watch for an interview I did with Judith Adams to be up on The-POV soon!

Judith Adams

Exploring integrative and holistic healing at all levels of being with Dr. David Kopacz (Part 2 of 3) – on the Holistic Psychiatrist Podcast with Dr. Alice Lee

The second part of Alice Lee’s interview of me is up on her Holistic Psychiatrist Podcast!

This second part covers transforming suffering, the Hero’s Journey, the movie Groundhog Day, Joseph Rael’s teachings on the Medicine Wheel, and a discussion of circular models of healing.

Part 1 is available through the same link.

Part 3 will air next week. While you are on the site you can check out some of Alice’s other podcast interviews!

“Exploring integrative and holistic healing at all levels of being with Dr. David Kopacz” – on the Holistic Psychiatrist Podcast with Dr. Alice W. Lee!

Thanks to Dr. Alice W. Lee for interviewing me on the “Holistic Psychiatrist Podcast!”

Exploring integrative and holistic healing at all levels of being with Dr. David Kopacz, part I of III.

You can visit Dr. Lee’s website here, Alice is also a great photographer and shares some of her photographic work on the site as well.

In her newsletter announcing the podcast, Dr. Lee writes:

“Dr. Kopacz has written three deeply insightful books: Re-humanizing MedicineWalking the Medicine Wheel, and Becoming Medicine. Reading them is like swimming in a liquid pool of twinkling crystals, filled with light and beauty. I can’t read a page without highlighting a passage.”

Thank you Dr. Lee for these kind words and for featuring my words and work on your podcast! I look forward to part II & III.

Moon Shots

The full moon this month is called the Snow Moon. Last night it was hazy, almost like an eye in the sky, looking at this blurry year of the pandemic. The light from the moon is reflected from the sun. It seems like this past year we have been fumbling in the dark, not seeing clearly, struggling with the disruption of the pandemic and the political instability.

My friend, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is always telling me, “We need to teach people that they can go to the moon – not with rocket ships and technology – with their own consciousness through visions, like I do.” Joseph tells me he has been to the moon several times. One time he was sitting in his armchair in the Southwestern United States and then, pop, he was up in space, looking at someone who was aiming a camera at the moon and he was also seeing the Little People, the elves who were on the surface of the moon preparing it for human arrival. As Joseph looked at the scene, he realized that he was trilocating: he was the person with the camera and could zoom in and out, he was the observer seeing the person with the camera, and he was the person talking to the King of the Elves on the surface of the moon. The King of the Elves told him that the elves always go ahead to prepare reality for the arrival of humans and they were quite busy on the moon. Then, pop, Joseph was back sitting in his armchair.

While many might think this sounds fantastic, or it was just Joseph’s imagination, he is adamant that this is an important part of his teachings and that people need to stop being so focused on their self-imposed limitations of the separation of the body from the Earth and the Universe. He sees human evolution as moving away from technological travel to spiritual or metaphysical travel.

Joseph has always been guided by his visions, from his formative vision in the early 1980s of buidling Sound Peace Chambers all around the world (over 65 have been built on four continents), to his visions of us entering the 5th world, the new world, and his trips to the moon.

I stepped outside into the cool Seattle night and looked up at the moon and thought about how Joseph keeps telling me we need to teach people that they can travel without technology, that they can travel in non-ordinary, visionary reality. I looked up at the moon and I was the person the with camera, zooming in through the haze to see the moon more clearly. It is a hobby of mine, trying to hold my breath, steady the camera, and seeing how clear of a photo I can get with the zoom on my camera.

New Interview with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) in Parabola magazine!

I interviewed Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) for The-POV, the new interview site that Usha Akella and I have started. Parabola magazine has picked up this interview and published it in their Spring 2021 issue entitled “Wellness.” The interview is called “A Bridge Across the River.”

Please support Parabola magazine and pick up a copy of the Spring 2021 Issue!

The Art of Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

I have been working with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) since October of 2014. I’ve written about how I was working on a Hero’s Journey class for veterans, based on the concept of Joseph Campbell. I happened to find a copy of The Visionary: Entering the Mystic Universe of Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) by the late Kurt Wilt. Kurt had mentioned several times in his book that Joseph’s life’s path was like the Hero’s Journey. I wrote to Kurt, told him what I was doing with the veterans’ group and he thought Joseph might want to hear about what I was doing. Kurt gave me Joseph’s email address. We emailed back and forth a couple times and Joseph invited me to visit him at the Southern Ute Reservation in southern Colorado. On the way down there I was thinking maybe I could include a chapter in the Hero’s Journey work on indigenous approaches to healing. As I wrote up my notes that first night, I realized there was more than a chapter – it was a whole book! The next day I mentioned the idea of a book to Joseph, what to me was an epiphany must have already been obvious to Joseph, as he just off-handedly said, “That’s what I was thinking.”

This led to the publication of Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD. Actually, in working on that book, we turned in our first draft to Paulette Millichap, our publisher with Pointer Oak and Millichap Books. Her reaction was, “This is interesting, but where is the book for veterans?” Oh, no, I realized, Joseph took me down the rabbit hole and I chased his thoughts like birds and we ended up writing a book that went up, down, and all around, but we lost track of what we started writing. So we split the book into two books and I quickly wrote in more veteran specific chapters. The second book also expanded and expanded and became Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality. However, even that book – at 500 pages – still had things we cut out and that could go in other books!

One of the other book ideas that grew out of the other writing was a book on Joseph’s art. I had the idea of a book called Art Medicine (which is actually the sub-title of the Becoming Medicine color edition) that would focus specifically on art and visions.

To this end, with the idea of doing a book on art, vision, healing, and featuring Joseph’s art work, I’ve put out a call to anyone who has an original art work by Joseph. Joseph is very generous with his work and has given away the bulk of it. At some point, he did start getting digital copies of some of his work, for books, or for printing out posters that he would give away. He also gave me a set of 35 mm slide photos of some older work and I’ve had those digitalized to preserve.

If you have an art work by Joseph, please just take a camera photo of it and email it to me at davidkopacz369@gmail.com

I’ve gone through each of Joseph’s books and listed the art work that has been published and we have all or most of these on digital.

For anyone intersted, here is a list of art work by book with the page number in parenthesis.

Sound: Native Teachings & Visionary Art

New Awareness, Old Awareness

An Epiphany

Seekers of Divine Guidance (0)

Blessing for All Life (4)

Mother Earth and the Flowering of Life (8)

Voice of Silence (10)

Song of Singing Bowl (14)

Sky Father covers Mother Earth with SPIRIT Leaves for new trees just planted after the summer fires (18)

The Infinite Vast Self (21)

The Fun Makers (23)

The Grandfathers (26)

Rainbow man and rainbow woman make first Double Rainbow on Turtle Island (29)

Oceanus vents beneath the Earthly crust, circles of epiphanies for the two Leggeds on Mother Earth in July (32)

Untitled (Early Horn of Plenty) (34)

Summer nights with Mother Earth and her children (38)

Morning Prayer for a new dawn (43)

Spirits of Red Rock (44)

CLEAN AIR Sacred Offering for the People of Mother Earth (47)

The moon arrives near the Earth to seed abundance in the Oceans (50)

Dance Chief calling the Sun-Moon People from the Spirit World to come and Dance (54)

Song of the Baskets (61)

Beautiful Painted Arrow song before Painting: “Oh Grandmother help us to see.” (65)

27 Feather Blessings (66)

Ancient Mysteries tell us that the Mother of fires lives inside the roots of grass, the roots of trees or in the brightest star in any night sky (69)

The Cosmos dreaming us in and out of perceptual realities (70)

Biosphere Stratosphere Energy Sphere (75)

Ceremony for severe cyclones with strong winds (76)

Woman of the Mountain Lakes calling for Mountain Rains – in Ceremony for the water moon (79)

Blessing place for school books (84)

Entrance to TREE of Life (87)

The Winter Summer People (90)

From the Clay of Life “the people” became visible (93)

From the hand of Great Spirit comes all Blessings (99)

Galactic Dance (102)

Flowering of new insights (104)

Untitled (eight-lobed inner flower, colored faces, Old Medicine Wheel) (108)

Rainbow Makers (110)

Story Tellers say that Ancient Ancestors traveled through time looking for new places to live and were known as “Those that fly like blowing wind” (113)

Angels of Light (114)

Harvest Belt Dance (117)

Climbing and Crossing Between Worlds Ceremony (121)

Dream Catcher (124)

Four Winds, Elders of the Sacred Blessing Way (128)

Ah-who (131)

Mother Nature of fields and Streams A child of innocence is born in every moment (137)

Watermelon plant people making food for the children of Mother Earth (141)

Creator of Ocean mists always brings new wisdom to learn (147)

Sage Woman becomes visible to bless “the People” (150)

From the Spirit World comes Eagle Wing to heal the people (159)

The Dreams of the Right Hand (168)

A cup of Silence (170-171)

Ocean Places of Oceanus (172-173)

Cradleboard Blessing Great Bear is the Big Dipper and the seven stars (174-175)

A Geological Formation: A Fault Line vision quest site a place to look for something that prevents perfection (176)

Flowering of Divinity (receiving sending) (181)

Weh-mu – 1 (191)

Weh-seh – 2 (196)

Pah-chu – 3 (199)

Wiii – 4 (202)

Pah-nu – 5 (206)

Mah-tschlay – 6 (209)

Cho-oh – 7 (212)

Wheh-leh – 8 (219)

Whiii – 9 (222)

Tehn-ku-teh – 10 (226)

Sun-Moon Dance, for our Galaxy (na-ku-tha-ke) We’re Dancing (229)

Creation Singing for all Artists (232)

Being & Vibration:

Entering the New World

Climbing and Crossing between worlds Ceremony (duplicate)

Untitled (Hands Weaving Mocassins)

Little Rainbows of Light home of a Beaver dam of water…Of Enlightenment (x)

The Land Spirit after it returned to Mother Earth, she drinks the thunder of Light at the new home of the Corn People (xii)

Planet Earth (Mother Earth) for Paulette & Kelly (Angel bringing child) (7)

Lava Rock is connected to time (10)

Born into the being of vibration the prehistoric farmer demonstrates how multi-verses were made with the sound of “Taah-que”…(12)

Broken Pots (20)

Birthing the Corn Mothers (24)

Coil Pottery Stew (28)

Deer Mother Feeds Her People (31)

Breath Matter and Movement, Being and Vibration, Life is the road of Goodness Grandfather walks with us (34)

Medicine (go forth for the people) for the four directions medicine bag, Grandfather, creator  Dreaming into Life, all of the universes (Tiwa World) pa-aah-neh (40)

Untitled (Medicine Wheel) (48)

The Red Road (51)

Corn hair woman (64)

Singing for the Little People who bring the autumn light t0 (key-yah-ney) Mother of Planet Earth (67)

Mother of Time (74)

Untitled (corn plant, emotional, physical, spiritual, mental body – left, south, west, north, east on right) (79)

Drum Dance Wa-Chee-Chee-Who at Where God Lives and Walks on Planet Earth (99)

Being and Vibration of the Brother and Sister stars (102)

Creator of the Five Worlds (111)

Holy Water (113)

Untitled (5 worlds) (119)

Rain water droplets, sun flower, drink (124)

The Rain makers at Long beaver tail pond (131)

Ancestors bring rain to the desert (135)

Heart Path Spirit (137)

The Being of the feather Dance (139)

Altar of Mountain lion – mossa-neh (144)

Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD

Breath Matter and Movement (three feathers pointing to sun) (xxix)

Offering of the Heart (xiv)

Planting the Seed of the Heart (DRK xvii)

People of the West-East be Blessed (xviii)

People of the North-South be Blessed (xxiii)

The Cardinal Directions are created (xxxi)

The Ancient Role of the Sentry of sentient perceptive consciousness for seeing long distances, etc.  (15)

A Geologic formation A fault line vision quest site – a place to look for something that prevents perfection (20)

Trapped Warrior (DRK 34)

Untitled (corn plant, emotional, physical, spiritual, mental body – left, south, west, north, east on right) (44)

Grandfathers in the dreamtime traveling into multiple realities on strings of light (47)

Sweat Lodge (55)

Medicine Circle of Mother Earth home of two leggeds (65)

The Medicine in the Medicine Wheel (DRK 70)

Untitled (Medicine Wheel 1995) (71)

Ideas (74)

Father facing sun rise blessing for the people (77)

The Grandfathers (90)

Before the Gourd Dance the spirit of time came to bless the people she was wearing sixteen medicine wheels (124)

Awakening at an AA Meeting (135)

Darkness Seekers of Wisdom (137)

Awaken from sleep to a state of grace (142)

Sacred Heart (DRK 149)

The Sacred Heart of the Madonna (DRK 150)

The Enlightenment of the Horn of Plenty (153)

Medicine Wheel of the Darkened Heart (DRK 157)

Center of the Heart Become Aware Carry Divine Consciousness find and live states of Grace (163)

The Ordinary and the non-ordinary learning how to play or paint, follow the Red Road (169)

Ideas – Reflections (171)

Madonna over Sound Peace Chamber (189)

Cosmic Medicine Wheel (DRK 191)

The Grandfathers (217)

Breath Matter and Movement (Sacred Offering for Humans) (222)

Summer Rains a basket People of the Earth receive It is full of Beauty and delight is dancing (Angels of Divinity) (225)

Fan Spirit Ceremony (Lord of the Winds) (228)

Wind Keeper – Breath of Life Spirit (230)

Three Feathers dancing to the light of Divine Song (232)

The People in Ceremonial Bliss (238)

Dreaming a New Future Cat People symbol of the visionary (250)

Warrior Healing (DRK 264)

Divine Healing (Eagle wing) (268)

Becoming Medicine

Available in Art Medicine Edition (color) and Standard Edition (b&w)

Creator of Worlds (ix)

Breath, Matter, Movement (xxiii)

Enlightenment (DRK xxv)

Conception (DRK xxvi)

The Hero’s Journey (DRK 7)

Medicine Wheel of the Heart (DRK 12)

A Rainbow Medicine Wheel (DRK 19)

Night Eyes of the Direction Finder (22)

Eagle Dancing Feather Medicine (33)

Lunar Stand-still at Chimney Rock (37)

Creation (DRK 46)

Sun and Dancing Moonlight on the People of Mother Earth (61)

Dove of Peace (72)

Where God and Humans Meet (79)

‘Alam al-mithal (DRK 86)

At Vision Questing with Dandelion (90)

Puuh-Tea Bringer of New Knowledge (96)

Vision of the Blessed Virgin (100)

Shamanic Vision (DRK 109)

Blessings for Drinking from Morning Star w/ JR dictation to DRK (117)

Sacred Offering of the five-fingered (130)

Elders Gathering at Winter Solstice (139)

Drinking Universal Spirit Starts Light (156)

Dove of the Holy Spirit (DRK 160)

Crow Flying Through Cosmos (DRK 166)

The Blowing Breath of Dark Energy (171)

The Underside of a Far Larger Ship (184)

Heart Meditation (DRK 206)

Heart at the Center of Dark Matter (DRK 220)

When the People Went into the Cave of Existence and Returned as Made People Ceremony (228)

The Vase of Love and Light (235)

Blue Feather (DRK 238)

Candle of the World #1 – Ordinary and Non-ordinary Realities (249)

Crystal Chamber Taken up into the Sky (256)

Ordinary, and Non-Ordinary Reality Offering Bowl (258)

Spirits of Chimney Rock (263)
Crow Flying Through Dark Matter (DRK 281)

Of Many Windows in the Dream Time of Mother Earth (283)

Puma Giver of the Visionary Life to the People of Mother Earth (293)

The Hunter Puts Cornmeal in the Deer (297)

Dark Matter Deer Medicine (300)

Planet Earth (Our Mother) Offering to the Sky and All Our Relations Wa-Ma-Chi (311)

Returning Home for Mending (316)

Grandfather God Creates All the Universes (328)

Drinking from the Flowering Light of Mother Nature (344)

Good Bye Dr. Dave (356)

Out of One, Many (364)

Rain Cloud and Oceanus (371)

Earth Child of Spiritual Democracy (380)

Peace Makers of the Rainbow Light (396)

Candle of the World #2 – People of the Sand Place – Stars Who Live in the Heavens – They Travel to Planet Earth (406)

Holy Woman (412)

Mother Earth Dreaming All the Two Leggeds into Beauty (423)

In the Currents of Time (433)

Breath and Space Time (446)

Rainbow Bird and Blue Star Woman (460)

Up to 2000  Songs per Day of Bird Song Chiuu-cho-cchaa-aah-neh (473)

Heart Radiation (DRK 482)

One Sun and Four Moons (486)