Becoming A True Human: Podcast on Future Primitive

A Million Human Songs, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

 It was a great pleasure and honor to be interviewed by Joanna Harcourt-Smith on the Future Primitive Podcast!

We talked about Joseph Rael’s and my new book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into A Living Spirituality and many other things as well…

Here is the intro text for the podcast and you can listen to Becoming A True Human, here.

We are happy to come back!

In this week’s episode David Kopacz speaks with Joanna about: encouraging children to plant green living things; dancing with the trees; the dormant seed inside oneself; walking the medicine wheel; becoming a true human being; we are medicine bags; being and vibration; the cycle of rejuvenation; separation is illness, healing is coming back together; the archetypal template of spiritual democracy; the Refounding Mothers of Democracy; coming home to peace.

Joanna had taken a break for a while and this was her first podcast interview, or gaialogue in a few months, so it was extra special. Thanks to Joanna Harcourt-Smith and co-producer, José Luis Gómez Soler. Here are Joanna’s and José’s bios, take a listen to my interview and check out the many other great podcasts, such as with Steven Herrmann, Charles Eisenstein, Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, Richard Katz, Neela Bhattacharya Saxena, Roshi Joan Halifax, Francoise Bourzat, Lyla June Johnston, and many, many others…

Joanna was born high up in the Swiss mountains on a snowy January evening. She grew up in Paris and speaks 5 languages. School was boring but her curiosity about life was not extinguished by the dullness of the education system. Nature was her teacher, trees, horses, dogs and the ocean gave her a sense of belonging that she did not feel within her birth family.

Joanna turned fourteen in 1960, she was in love with Marlon Brando and Rock and Roll. During her adolescence she was torn between a desire to die and an intense love of life. Because she felt lost between despair and passion she wrote poetry and continues to do so up to this day. During the early 1960s she lived in Spain and wrote “The Little Green Book” an answer to Mao Tse Tong’s “Little Red Book”. The Book was published in 4 languages and widely sold in France, the Netherlands, England and Germany.

In 1968 moved by the music of the times and the spirit of revolution sweeping through her generation she emigrated to the United States. Her exploration of mind liberating substances led her to find Dr. Timothy Leary who was a fugitive from prison in the US. They became in love and were kidnapped by American authorities in Afghanistan and returned to California where Timothy Leary went back to prison to serve a sentence of possession of 0.01 grams of marijuana. During TL’s three and a half years in prison Joanna worked tirelessly to secure his release, she lived in San Francisco where she collaborated, published and distributed the 6 books he wrote in prison. In addition, Joanna traveled to England, Italy and across the United states lecturing about the imprisonment of Dr. Leary.

In 1977 Timothy and Joanna’s love affair came to an end after he was released from prison. She then went down to the Caribbean and bough a magnificent wooden sailboat named Kentra. For several years she lived on her boat and sailed around the islands attempting to heal her broken heart. In 1983 she returned to the United States, surrendered herself into the path of life long sobriety and became a celebrated chef in Philadelphia and Santa Fe.

She practices Buddhism and the elusive way of loving kindness and compassion mainly for herself and for others around her. Joanna’s great question in life is “What is true Kindness?”

In October 2013 Joanna published a memoir about her adventures with Timothy Leary entitled Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary . Her book been has been optioned by the Oscar winner director Errol Morris. Filming began in December 2019.

She his currently writing another book entitled “Change your beliefs, change your life” Surviving Timothy Leary“.

She is also featured in Gay Dillingham’s movie “Dying to Know”, a documentary about Leary and Ram Dass’ lifelong exploration and friendship.

She is the author of several articles published in the online magazine “Reality Sandwich”.

The co-founder of the podcast is her partner, José Luis G. Soler.

Joanna has three amazing children.

She likes to remember that “if you don’t like the media, be the media”.

Life is short, but it’s wide!

José Luis Gómez Soler is the co-producer of Future Primitive. Since 2006 he has supported the podcast with research, recording, guest coordination and audio editing of these wonderful episodes.

José Luis studied Audiovisual Media Studies at the University of Sevilla, Spain. Since a young age, he has been deeply interested in mysticism and Nature.

The Call/The Invitation: Podcast (Part III) with Suzanne Richman, David Kopacz & Beth Turner

Part III of the Transformative Language Arts Network podcast

Sun Through Tree near Sol Duc River (D. Kopacz, 2020)

The Call/The Invitation Part III

David and Suzanne continue their moving discussion around ‘doing better than rushing to return to normal’ after things shift once again with COVID 19.

This episode dwells in the land of opportunity: What could things look like for us as a people, a world, an environment should we thoughtfully, purposefully move with the new things ushered in despite the chaos vs desperately trying to ‘get back’ to what was once upon a time—back then?

There is such beauty in their words!

I will borrow a saying from David: “Like  pinatas of wisdom…”

Listen to the podcast here

——————-

David Kopacz is an author, painter, TLA member and psychiatrist. He lives in Seattle, WA.

Twitter: @davidkopaczmd

Blog: https://beingfullyhuman.com/

Website: https://www.davidkopacz.com/

Instagram: davidkopaczmd

———————

Suzanne Richman is an education consultant, had founding roles within Goddard College in Vermont, she has expertise and passions within the realms of trauma, grief, social activism. She is a self-confessed recovering academic. You can contact Suzanne at :   Suzannehummingbird@gmail.com.

The Call/The Invitation: Podcast (Part II) with Suzanne Richman, David Kopacz & Beth Turner

This is part II of the Transformative Language Arts Network podcast.

Binding Sites of Coronavirus COVID-19 (D. Kopacz, 2020)

The Call/The Invitation, Part II

David and Suzanne do some wrestling for us in this episode: 

The push to ‘return to normal’ after a stretch of chaos. 

*What could we miss as a people, a nation, a world? 

*What questions could we be asking of ourselves right now, and one another? 

*What gems could be squandered if we skip past this pause before the return?

Their thoughts will cause you to slow your pace and move ahead with more intention and quite possibly in a different direction.

Listening to them share is very centering.  And probably something you will want to repeat!

Enjoy~

You can listen to Part II of the podcast here

————————————————–

David Kopacz is a psychiatrist, a painter and an author. He lives in Seattle where he does transformation work with veterans and their stories. He is a TLA member.

Twitter: @davidkopaczmd

Blog: https://beingfullyhuman.com/

Website: https://www.davidkopacz.com/

Instagram: davidkopaczmd

————————–

Suzanne Richman is a passionate teacher within such realms as: Ethnobotany, Social and Ecological Medicine, Community Health Systems, Trauma and Transformational Leadership. She lives in Vermont, and is a TLA member. Suzannehummingbird@gmail.com.

The Call/The Invitation: Podcast (Part I) with Suzanne Richman, David Kopacz & Beth Turner

Transformative Language Arts Network Podcast

Path through thicket, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales (D. Kopacz, 2018)

The Call/The Invitation:

*What happens if we did something better?

 *Better than return to what was before COVID 19? 

*What if we slowed the rush to return?

Seattle psychiatrist David Kopacz and Vermont educator/community activist Suzanne Richman extend an invitation to us all. It is not a passive request. By its very essence, the word ‘invitation’ suggests action, a response. These powerful TLA thought leaders ask us to RSVP to the call to reflect before we return.

There are 3 parts to the core invitation. Each part is a meal-of-thought in itself.

Listen to the podcast here

You are invited to savor!

—————————————–

Twitter: @davidkopaczmd

Blog: https://beingfullyhuman.com/

Website: https://www.davidkopacz.com/

Instagram: davidkopaczmd

——————————————-

Suzanne Richman has her roots in education. She was the co-creator of the Earth Justice and Health Learning Alliance, and facilitated learning in fields such as grief and dying, trauma, social activism, and community health systems.  Suzannehummingbird@gmail.com.

The Doctor as Humanist Virtual Symposium

I will be speaking at the round table “I Swear to Take Care of Myself” at “The Doctor as Humanist” Virtual Symposium.” It takes place on Thursday, May 7th. It is a bit early in the Pacific Time Zone: 5 AM, but not so bad as you move further east, 6 AM Mountain, 7 AM Central, 8 AM Eastern Times.

You can find out more and register at the website for “The Doctor as Humanist” Symposium. Here is the program for the virtual symposium:

And here are the sponsoring universities:

Becoming Medicine: Initiation Ceremony Video

A video of Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) teaching about initiation into ancient wisdom.

Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) speaks on initiation and becoming medicine, joined by David Kopacz, MD at Joseph’s home in New Mexico. This video features an initiation ceremony in which Joseph tells the story of eagle-man who is initiated into becoming a true human being by the ancient one. The idea of becoming medicine is developed in the book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality by David R. Kopacz, MD & Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow).

You can watch the video through my website. We have a couple of other videos we will be releasing soon…

Staying Connected Inside & Out During the Pandemic – New Post on CLOSLER

I have a new post on CLOSLER: Moving Us Closer to Osler, a Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative of Johns Hopkins – “Staying Connected Inside and Out During the Pandemic.”

Shamanic Vision, D. Kopacz, 2016 (published in Becoming Medicine)

“Our primary public health measure at this time is not getting too physically close to one another. However, we know from research that socialization has a positive effect and isolation a negative effect on our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. What we need right now, for our personal and collective health, is not social distancing, but physical distancing. We need to find ways of being social and connecting without physically touching or being in close physical proximity. We need to find ways of staying connected, inside and out.”

To read the full post, follow the link, thanks CLOSLER for all the great work you are doing on clinician wellness during these times.

How can we Transform Suffering, Fragmentation, and Painful Inner & Outer Separation? An Overview of Becoming Medicine – Part I

How can we transform suffering, fragmentation, and painful inner & outer separation? This is the central question that Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and I address in our new book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality. Suffering is the flip side of initiation and enlightenment. If you are seeking to become enlightened, the door that you often enter through is some form of suffering, separation, and fragmentation.

Initiation is the process of becoming more fully human. It is a common process in indigenous societies and in religious traditions. Anthropologists, such as Victor Turner studied initiation, as well as scholars of world religions, for instance, Mircea Eliade. Joseph Campbell popularized the process of initiation as the Hero’s Journey, comprising three primary stages of separation, initiation, and return.  Campbell sought to find a way that we “modern” people, who lack religious and sociocultural ritual frameworks for initiation, could transform suffering into personal and spiritual growth. Psychologists and psychiatrists became interested in the concept, as it applies to the presenting common concerns of those seeking psychotherapy. Carl Jung saw the need for initiation and transformation, as he wrote about throughout his career in books such as Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, and his posthumous journal, The Red Book.

We live in a disorienting time and we seek to get our bearings again. In our first book together, Joseph Rael and I wrote about his practices of using the medicine wheel as a kind of compass for inner and outer orientation. When we find ourselves disoriented, we need some organizing framework to help us re-orient. The outer directions are North, South, East, and West. There are also the inner directions of spirit, emotion, mind, and body. Joseph also teaches that the center of the medicine wheel is the heart and embodies the principle of carrying. When we enter into the center of the medicine wheel, we realize that our hearts are medicine bags and they are filled with sacred objects. The initiation is the process of “finding the held-back place of goodness,” as Joseph called it in our book, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD. Initiation is when we go into the center of the medicine wheel to find our medicine, which we come to realize is an ongoing process of becoming medicine – becoming the very thing that we so desperately need.

David Kopacz’s adaptation of Joseph Rael’s Medicine Wheel

We structure the book around the framework of initiation that Joseph Campbell, Victor Turner, Mircea Eliade, and others have described: separation, initiation, return. However, Joseph Rael comes from what he calls a verb language tradition – a language that is full of verbs like breathing, transforming, and becoming. It is a language of connecting, rather than how he describes noun language (English and German, for example) as languages that separate our living and interconnecting world into separate and discrete: people, places, and things. (The process of turning people into things is the topic of dehumanization that I explored in my first book, Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine). Given Joseph’s predilection for verb language, we adapted separation, initiation, return into: seeking, finding/receiving, and giving. What one seeks with and within one’s heart, one eventually finds and receives, becoming healing medicine, and then as one is fulfilled with this, one overflows with fullness, giving to others what it was that we were seeking. In part III we examine how the personal medicine is also the universal medicine. The medicine that we become is the medicine that the world needs, and we find it through the journey of initiation into our hearts.

We live in a disorienting time and yet maybe instead of trying to go back to the way things were, we can go deeper into transformation, into the way things might be. The idea of initiation is consistent with Jack Mezirow’s model of transformative learning – that one enters into transformation through first becoming disoriented. And we have plenty of disorientation that we find ourselves in the midst of at this present time. Mezirow studied ten stages of transformation and we can break these down into three stages that parallel the stages of separation, initiation, and return. One way to understand transformation is that it is a change of who you are. This can be contrasted with simple change – where you remain the same, but you just change something you do. One can change without being transformed, but transformation is the ultimate change. Disorientation is the first step, according to Mezirow, for transformation. In that sense, maybe we are exactly where we need to be and things are exactly as they should be in order for us, as individuals and collectively, transform.

Adapted from Mezirow, Jack. “Transformational Learning Theory,” in Jack Mezirow, Edward Taylor, and Associates eds., Transformative Learning in Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.

Here is the table of contents of Part I of Becoming Medicine:

Part I: Separation (Seeking)
1 / Becoming Medicine
2 / Circle Medicine
3 / Separation
4 / Becoming a Visionary
5 / Becoming a Shaman 
6 / Becoming a Mystic

After studying the various forms of separation/seeking, we look at how ancient and modern people have gone through the process of initiation of becoming visionaries, mystics, and shamans. We define visionaries, shamans, and mystics broadly, with the understanding that anyone can develop these human capacities. We examine my experiences learning from Joseph, as well as Joseph’s life experiences. We review a number of different spiritual teachers, musicians, and healers and their processes of initiation and becoming, including Carl Jung, Henry Corbin, Hildegard of Bingen, Miles Davis, Ben Lee, Evelyn Underhill, Dorothee Soelle, Juan Mascaró, Krishnamurti, and Matthew Fox.

In the next blog post, I will give a brief overview of Part II: Initiation (Finding/Receiving).

Becoming Medicine Has Arrived!!!

I just received five boxes of books! It is so exciting to see Becoming Medicine in finally in print. Two editions, one color (the Art Medicine Edition) and one in black & white! I keep flipping through the two editions, side by side and comparing how the artwork looks! I’m too excited to read it and I already know what it says, anyway…

It is available directly through Itasca Books (the same price as on Amazon). I ordered a copy through Amazon, myself, and anticipated delivery date is 3/31/20 – 5/30/20, for some reason, although it says it is in stock. At this point I’d recommend getting it directly through Itasca as I know someone has already received it that way. It is also available on Barnes & Noble, but I am just seeing the more expensive Art Medicine Edition there at this point.

Here are the links to Itasca:

Standard Edition

Art Medicine Edition

The foreword is by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, PhD and a number of people have written some lovely endorsements that I’ll include in this post:

Becoming Medicine is a great compilation of contemporary medical science and ancient spiritual wisdom. This book is written from the heart like a prayer, if you are a seeker of a living spirituality and want to magnify your power to heal, read this book. — CARL HAMMERSCHLAG, M.D., author of The Dancing Healers, The Theft of the Spirit, and Healing Ceremonies.

This is a remarkable and deeply engaging account in which a Native American shaman and his psychiatrist apprentice plunge deep into the heart centre of a living wisdom. Replete with questor myths and mystical adventures, this passionate, richly cross-referenced and spiritually inclusive book becomes a vibrant junction of intersecting journeys from diverse wisdom traditions. Circling age-old themes of separation, quest and spiritual homecoming, it is an invitation to trust the non-linear journey of inner transformation — one that turns us, eventually, into our own medicine. Marked by an authenticity that readers will instantly recognize, here is a genuine watering-hole at which seekers of all persuasions can pause and ‘drink the light’. — ARUNDHATHI SUBRAMANIAM, M.A., author of When God is a Traveller, Sadhguru: More Than A Life, and with Sadhguru, Adiyogi: The Source of Yoga, editor of Eating God: A book of Bhakti Poetry.

Behind the words and images of Becoming Medicine is the wisdom of a man fearless enough to break down all the barriers between what he knows and what he is. Joseph Rael is a unique island of beauty and sanity in our crazy, uncultured culture. And that island that he is, is vaster than the whole world. — PETER KINGSLEY, Ph.D., author of Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity, A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of the Western World, and In the Dark Places of Wisdom

In this wonderful book, Picuris/Ute medicine man Joseph Rael reveals that each of us is an embodied human being who is in fact a medicine bag, a container in which we carry sacredness. By walking into the center of ourselves, into the center of our hearts, we cease to be ourselves and are instead becoming medicine. It is something that is done every moment. Becoming Medicine means that we are becoming capable of being a place for the Breath-Matter-Movement of the vast spirit to manifest and reside for a moment. This is a fabulous book for our times. — HANK WESSELMAN Ph.D., anthropologist and author of nine books on shamanism including The Re-Enchantment: A Shamanic Path to a Life of Wonder, The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman, the award winning Awakening to the Spirit World (with Sandra Ingerman) and the Spiritwalker trilogy.

Tragically the odious divisive social diseases of the 1930s are returning. Nationalistic, racist and fundamentalist movements are rapidly dividing communities. Innocent people feel more and more lost, alienated, powerless, lonely. They yearn for healing. But how can this healing begin? This is why Becoming Medicine by David Kopacz and Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is so timely. It is a truly remarkable book, so relevant, so grounded in experience. The medicine of healing begins within each one of us. There we discover our true selves, our unified oneness with all humankind and the universe itself. This is not a healing that is confined to one event. On the contrary, it is a call to a transformative, ongoing, lifelong initiation of discovery. Each discovery leads to a deeper personal and social healing. — GERALD A. ARBUCKLE, Ph.D., Refounding and Pastoral Development Unit, Sydney, Australia. Author of Fundamentalism at Home and Abroad: Analysis and Pastoral Responses (2017), Loneliness: Insights for Healing in a Fragmented World (2018), and Humanizing Healthcare Reforms (2012). 

Like the wondrous journeys of the spirit it describes, this book escorts the reader along a path to new understanding and, ultimately, transformation. Along the way, we are reminded of our true nature, our kinship with everything around us, and our power to navigate through our own tumultuous times. The path can be bumpy. It can be circular.  Sometimes it is dark. This book helps light the way, and every page is a step toward something meaningful. Where will your journey take you? — J. ADAM RINDFLEISCH, M.Phil., M.D., Medical Director, Integrative Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.


Becoming Medicine 
will help you think in circles, dream-journey in technicolor, speak your vowels with mystic awareness, listen to music with more heart, and feel your heartbeat with more awe. The wonderful paintings of Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and David Kopacz are a generous offering to linger over. I am grateful for their creative friendship and commitment to share a depth of spiritual, psychological, quantum physics, and visionary teachings. Becoming Medicine is a call to community, not only so that we seek out companions to slowly explore the insights and stories in this book. But so that we each take an inner journey into our hearts and return as the visionary healers the community of earth is calling for. — SHELLY L. FRANCIS, author of The Courage Way: Leading and Living With Integrity (2018). 

This is a book that can really change your life. David Kopacz and Joseph Rael’s Becoming Medicine is a remarkable collaboration between two brilliant and courageous pioneers. The information they provide opens a doorway to a healing path that unveils the hidden potential of the human spirit. Blending together knowledge that is ancient and sacred within the backdrop of modern day psychiatry, it is deeply illuminating. It is a must read for anyone interested in embarking on a journey of transformation and becoming medicine for the world. — SHILAGH MIRGAIN, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Distinguished Psychologist, University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Becoming Medicine byDavid R. Kopacz, & Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is a powerful illustration of the title through the authors’ sharing of their own stories, beautiful art and text, using examples from scientific and humanistic/spiritual literature. Its message is not about becoming a doctor or a healer, but the path to becoming the medicine itself. This is a profound exploration of the journey to Become More — Medicine to self, others and the world, integrating personal examples with multiple cultural traditions present and past. In Becoming Medicine, Kopacz and Rael detail not only the journey for individuals but a path for a disoriented and fragmented world to engage in transformation towards wholeness and unity. Health workers and all seekers alike will benefit from this work.— MICHAEL HOLLIFIELD, M.D., (Long Beach, California & Angel Fire, New Mexico), President and CEO, War Survivors Institute, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.


Becoming Medicine 
is a bridge between many dualities including: the conscious and the unconscious, the scientific and the spiritual, the ordinary and the non-ordinary, and the Western and the Indigenous. Intricately referenced and yet personal in narrative, David and Joseph weave us through distinct world traditions to reveal the interconnectedness in stories of healing. This bridge is likely to most benefit those of us educated in western contexts, where our minds have been trained to neglect the wisdom of circles and spirit. Whether readers begin as healers or seekers, they will realize the congruence of these paths. Becoming Medicine inspires us into our own shamanic journeys. — NEETA RAMKUMAR, Ph.D., Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, University of the South Pacific, Fiji.

Dr. Kopacz holds the space between the mystery and majesty of shamanic tradition and the study of anthropology and medicine. His writing brings the reader into sublime experiences that Dr. Kopacz holds in his body. He walks the walk between the seen and the unseen, transforming life along the way. Prepare to be fascinated. Prepare to be amazed. You’ll return over and over to the information on the pages and between them. — HENRI ROCA, M.D., Functional Medicine Specialist, Shamanic Journeyer, Clinical Assistant professor, family and community health, Louisiana State University School of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Becoming Medicine Now Available for Pre-Order at Itasca Books & Amazon!

Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initation into a Living Spirituality is now available for pre-order!

By David R. Kopacz, MD & Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow), with a foreword by Lewis Mehl-Madrona.

From Itasca Books: full color Art Medicine Edition and Standard Edition in black & white.

From Amazon: full color Art Medicine Edition and Standard Edition in black & white.