I recently had an article published in the Seeds of Peace Newsletter, which is dedicated to exploring the teachings of Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow). I wrote about how I came to meet Joseph. I will paste a copy of the article below. Please email Marina Budimir if you would like to be on the mailing list of the newsletter: email@example.com.
Following the Teachings of Beautiful Painted Arrow (in Circles):
I have been listening to Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted
Arrow) since I first met him in 2014, although I had already been learning from
him through his books since the year 2000 when I saw the cover of Being & Vibration by Joseph Rael and
Mary Elizabeth Marlow. I was entranced by Joseph’s eyes peering through the
opacity of the dust jacket and the book opened up a doorway into a living
I spent some years living my life, then moving from
Champaign, Illinois, to Auckland, New Zealand, where I was working as a
psychiatrist at Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre. I was writing a monthly
newsletter called, “Thoughts from the Clinical Director.” I remembered Joseph’s
section on “Becoming a True Human,” in Being
& Vibration, and I wrote my penultimate “Thoughts” on that, as I was
getting ready to move back to the United States, taking a job in Seattle
working with veterans at the VA.
Back in the United States, I was going through reverse
culture shock. As I sat listening to veteran after veteran come into my office
and telling me that they felt out of place, that they could not relate to civilians,
and that they felt lost, I could relate, in some small way, to what they were
feeling. In New Zealand, I had been talking with my friend and colleague Bernie
Howarth about using Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey and
developing a class to help clients find themselves and their purpose as part of
the rehabilitation process. We never got that going before I left, but I
thought it would be perfect for helping veterans find their way home from war
to peace and I started working on that.
In Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, I came across another book that caught my eye—The Visionary: Entering the Mystic Universe of Joseph Rael Beautiful Painted Arrow, by Kurt Wilt. I quickly read through the book, noticing that Kurt described Joseph, at times, using Campbell’s Hero’s Journey framework. I sent Kurt an email, he sent one back, saying that he thought Joseph Rael would be interested in my work. Joseph and I exchanged a couple of emails and he invited me to Colorado. I thought I could maybe add a chapter to the hero’s journey on indigenous approaches to reintegration after war, and I set off for three days with Beautiful Painted Arrow in October, 2014.
My first day with Joseph was confusing and disorienting.
What were we doing and why were we doing it? Why were we driving around in
circles? Why were we sitting by the side of the road as trucks whizzed by,
looking at a barren hill where a house used to be? Joseph said some things that
first day that I am still trying to understand. One thing he said that sticks
with me was, “You and I are both crazy, you can tell that, we both love life!”
I thought, “Who is this guy? I can tell at least one of us is crazy!” Although
I am still coming to understand Joseph Rael’s kind of crazy (as well as David
Kopacz’s kind of crazy) that statement and laugh of Joseph’s warmed my heart
and I felt like we were two adventurers setting off to God only knows where.
After the first day of going in circles with Joseph, I was
writing up all my notes and I thought, “We should write a book together!” When
I mentioned this to Joseph, he simply said, “That’s what I was thinking.”
Working with Joseph Rael has been a disorienting process. The writing flowed smoothly, but when I turned it in to Paulette Millichap, our publisher, she said, “This is a very interesting book, but where is the book about the veterans?” “Oh no,” I thought, “Joseph kept me going in circles, writing about Pope Francis and St. Francis, about ETs, and how we don’t exist and we gradually shifted away from what we were supposed to be writing about!” I was learning that working with Joseph Rael was similar to what he said it was like being around his grandfather, “living with the unpredictable,” (Being & Vibration, 39). I went back to the drawing board with the book, kept part of it, wrote some new material based on a review of theories of trauma and my clinical experience, and then Joseph told me about a vision he had that God holds back a place of goodness in all of our hearts, no matter what we do or what is done to us. “Beautiful!” I thought, but then, “Gee, it would have been really helpful if Joseph told me that before we started the book because it is the perfect framework for healing trauma!”
One thing I am learning from Joseph is that we need to move beyond thinking of people as “other” and start thinking of each other as “brother and sister.” Joseph often says to me, “I am my brother’s keeper.” Eventually we published Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD in 2016, a book that helps us re-orient when we become lost in life. Our next book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality, is due out later 2019. In this book I see us moving beyond even brother and sister to a place of mystical, visionary oneness that has something to do with the fact that we do not exist. We have a chapter on “Circle Medicine,” because I think this is one of the key points that Joseph is teaching me: thinking and being in a different way than the linear, separated, and reductionistic way that most of us live our lives. I am still following Joseph around in circles and still working toward being a true human. Joseph teaches us, “A true human is a person who knows who he is because he listens to that inner listening-working voice of effort,” (Being & Vibration, 68).
David Kopacz is a holistic and integrative psychiatrist who works at Puget Sound VA in Seattle. He is a national VA Whole Health Education Champion and an Assistant Professor at University of Washington. He is the author of Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine and, with co-author Joseph Rael, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD and the forthcoming Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality. His website is davidkopacz.com and blog, beingfullyhuman.com
“Words Create Worlds,” my new piece in The Badger, Year 5, Volume 1, is available now through the link, page 47. The title is taken from a quote by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:
“Words, he often wrote, are themselves sacred, God’s tool for creating the universe, and our tools for bringing holiness — or evil — into the world. He used to remind us that the Holocaust did not begin with the building of crematoria, and Hitler did not come to power with tanks and guns; it all began with uttering evil words, with defamation, with language and propaganda. Words create worlds he used to tell me when I was a child. They must be used very carefully. Some words, once having been uttered, gain eternity and can never be withdrawn. The Book of Proverbs reminds us, he wrote, that death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Heschel points to the power of words to create good or evil in the world. My article is a meditation following the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand and the increasingly disturbing words of separation and “othering.” I have a special connection with Christchurch, having lived in New Zealand for 3.5 years and having visited Christchurch a few days prior to the second devastating earthquake in 2011. These words that separate us from each other are earthquakes and weapons, in and of themselves, and these words pave the way for future violent actions. You can read the full article in The Badger through this link (scroll to page 47)
In writing Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow), I have felt obligated to write about “spiritual democracy” and the responsibility to act in ways that increase, rather than decrease, our inter-relatedness and oneness. A living spirituality is a call to action. Joseph Rael has been working for world peace for decades now, and working with him, I have taken on this responsibility as well. I plan to write more on the power of words, the ways that they can divide or unite us, and the disturbing trends towards fundamentalism and fascism in our world today. Here is the last paragraph from my essay in The Badger:
Over the next year, I would like to write about some of these topics of how our “words create worlds.” In working with Joseph Rael, writing our next book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality, I felt compelled to write about the responsibility of mystical, visionary, and shamanic experience—that we must work toward “Spiritual Democracy.” At its deepest point, mystical experience leads to an awareness that we are all one and this comes with a responsibility to challenge words of separation which ultimately lead to fascism. Mystical experience is a pathway that leads us to question who we are and gives us a responsibility to use our words wisely to create worlds where we are becoming the medicine that our world needs. As Rumi says, “We are pain and what cures the pain.”
Saint Brides Bay (Bae Sain Ffraid), Pembrokeshire, Wales, David Kopacz, (2018)
A short article I wrote just went up at CLOSLER, entitled “Cultivating Caring.” CLOSLER, out of Johns Hopkins, is named after Dr. William Osler, is a Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative promoting importance of the doctor-patient relationship.
The article focuses on how caring and compassion are resources that we need to attend to and cultivate, particularly in the healing professions. You can link to the article here.
On this first day of the New Year, January 1st, 2019, I thought I would take a look back at this past year. 2018 was filled with a lot of travel. We took a trip to England, Wales, and Iceland in May that I have blogged about. I have continued my work as a Whole Health Education Champion with the national VA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation and teaching programs took me to Madison, WI; Portland, OR; Nashville, TN; St. Cloud, MN; and three times to the Boston area (including an evening visit to Walden Pond). My mother had a couple of surgeries, which went well, but took me back to Illinois three times during the year.
As far as writing goes, I continued to work on the next book with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow). My sister and I took a trip to visit him in October.
David Kopacz & Joseph Rael, photo credit: Karen Kopacz
Joseph Rael & David Kopacz, photo credit: Karen Kopacz
David Kopacz & Joseph Rael, photo credit: Karen Kopacz
We finished the book on the Winter Solstice and I am now gathering a few endorsements for the book and we will be starting the publication process now. The new book is called Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into A Living Spirituality. Here is a copy of the table of contents, and the cover we are working with.
Joseph Rael’s painting, cover for Becoming Medicine
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Foreword by Lewis Mehl-Madrona
Introduction: The Secret Journey
Part I: Separation (Seeking)
Chapter 1. Becoming Medicine
Chapter 2 Circle Medicine
Chapter 3 Separation
Chapter 4 Becoming a Visionary
Chapter 5 Becoming a Shaman
Chapter 6 Becoming a Mystic
Part II: Initiation (Finding/Receiving)
Chapter 7 Story Medicine
Chapter 8 Entering the Doorway
Chapter 9 Guhā: Cave of the Heart
Chapter 10 Enlightenment & Endarkenment
Chapter 11 Initiation
Chapter 0 Na-yo ti-ay we-ah (We Do Not Exist)
Part III: Return (Giving)
Chapter 12 Returning to the Land
Chapter 13 We Are All Pangeans; We Are All Related
Chapter 14 Spiritual Democracy
Chapter 15 Refounding
Chapter 16 A Living Spirituality
Chapter 17 Returning to the Garden of Paradise
Chapter 18 Secret Journey to the Secret Garden
List of Sound Chambers
We had an excerpt from Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD published in Parabola magazine, which was very exciting. We’ve also given permission for the book cover to appear in a movie about someone healing from PTSD and we’ll give more information about that as it becomes available. We had an article called “Sage—the Wise One,” published in the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy. I gave a workshop for Muckleshoot Indian Tribe Behavioral Health on “Circle Medicine for Healing Trauma.”
Mary Pat and I took a very restful trip to the Pacific coast near Copalis Beach just last week and I’ll post a few of those photos.
Sunset Over Copalis Beach
A Little Seeker
Corbin and I took a hike up Fletcher Canyon near Quinault. We couldn’t go far because there were a lot of trees down. We scrambled over a few before turning back after about an hour of walking up hill.
Corbin on the Trail
Looking Back Down the Trail
Are You Sure We Can Get Over This?
We stopped on the way back to take in the world’s largest Sitka Spruce tree, estimated to be 1000 years old.
1000 year old Sitka Spruce
One morning, I heard a raucous cacophony of crows cawing. I quickly ran out to see what was happening. I saw a flutter of movement on the ground and an eagle flew off, leaving a stunned crow. I watched over the crow for a few minutes, eventually he flew off, a bit unsteadily, and then the eagle gave up and flew off in the other direction. These aren’t shots of that seen, but other photos of an eagle and some crows.
Who knows what 2019 will bring, likely lots of changes, as well as the publication of Becoming Medicine!
I took a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico last month, to do some work with my co-author, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow). My sister met us there and we did some photos and video in preparation for our upcoming book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into A Living Spirituality. I should be getting the final edit back any day now and will be taking one more review of it and then it will start getting formatted – it should be out in the first half of 2019. It is always a lot of fun working with Joseph and I am always learning new things and ancient things.
Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)
The area is very beautiful and my sister, Karen, and I took a couple trips, driving up the back side of Sandia Mountain and to Petroglyph National Monument.
Tree Shape on top of Sandia, a little snow in the background
We got up to the top of Sandia with about an hour or so left of daylight and we saw an amazing sunset and beautiful views.
Looking South from Sandia
Kiwanis Rock House, Looking West from Sandia
Sunset through Trees, Sandia
The next night we went to Petroglyph National Monument, again near sunset.
Sandia means “watermelon” in Spanish and you can see how this mountain got its name when you see it at sunset.
Sandia Mountain at Sunset from Petroglyph National Monument
Having visited Sandia and Petroglyph several times, I always feel as if there is some kind of connection of communication between all the petroglyphs facing Sandia. This night there were light streamers visible above the mountain as the sunset behind us.
Sandia as Sunset Continues
We went to visit our friends, Mike & Marie Pedroncelli and spent some time in their Sound Peace Chamber, built with consultation from Joseph Rael and based on his visions he had in the 1980s of building circular structures, half above ground and half underground where men and women come together to chant for world peace. There are over 50 chambers on four continents that have been built.