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.

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)

The Art of Becoming Medicine.30

This is the final installment in the Art of Becoming Medicine. Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and I have been featuring our artwork from our book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality. These are the last two paintings in our book, and fittingly one is by me and one is by Joseph.

“Heart Radiation” is from a series in 2014 I did when we were working on our book, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD.

Heart Radiation, D. Kopacz (2014)

This painting is accompanying the text of the “Entering the Heart Ceremony” that we close the book with. This exercise, or ceremony, takes you through a series of doorways through your physical heart, the heart of humanity, the heart of life, the heart of creation, and finally into the heart of the Creator and the heart of the medicine wheel. At this point, the journey that we started in walking around the medicine wheel in our first book together is complete as we progress through initiations into being a shaman, a mystic, and a visionary and end in the center of the heart of the medicine wheel. We’ll offer this ceremony to you here:

Entering the Heart Ceremony

Find a quiet place where you will be able to sit for a while, either inside or outside. Find the center of the space where you will be sitting. Orient yourself to the North and take one step in that direction, honoring the place of innocence. Turn around, facing South, and step back into the Center of your medicine wheel, honoring the place of carrying. Take a step to the South, honoring the place of placement. Turn around, facing North and step back into the Center, again honoring the place of carrying. Turn to the East, and take one step forward, honoring the place of purity. Turn around, facing West, and step back into Center, honoring the place of carrying. Take one step to the West, honoring the place of awareness. Turn around and step back into Center, once again honoring the heart of carrying.
Now you will walk the medicine wheel. Face the East and take one step forward, intone the sound of the letter A_aaahhhhhhhhh, drawing out the sound as long as you can as you step around the perimeter of the circle to the South and then intone the sound of the letter E_eeehhhhhhhhh. Follow the wheel around to the West and intone the letter I_eeeeeeeee. Follow the wheel to the North and intone the sound of O_ooooooooo. Now step to the Center and intone the sound of the letter U_uuuuuuuuu.
Now you can sit comfortably in the center of the medicine wheel, this is the place of carrying and it is the heart of the medicine wheel. As Joseph reminds us, the microcosm is the macrocosm, thus this is the heart of the medicine wheel, it is your heart, it is the heart of the Earth, it is the heart of the Universe, and it is even the Heart of God—Wah Mah Chi—if you can walk deep enough into the heart.
We will now be going through a series of doorways. First we will enter your personal heart and trace the flow of blood through the medicine wheel of the heart. Venous blood, after giving its oxygen to the body, returns to the heart from the Northwest, the place of connecting spirit and body, entering into the right atrium. Next follow the flow of blood into your right ventricle in the Southwest, the place of the connecting body and emotion. From here the blood is pumped to the North, the place of Spirit and Innocence. Here the blood enters into the lungs and is transformed as the inner venous blood connects with the outer oxygen- rich environment coming into the lungs. The venous blood now turns from dark to bright red arterial blood as it carries more oxygen as the physical matter of the body creates a container in which the movement of the blood connects with the movement of the breath—thus we have Breath, Matter, Movement, thus we have Wah-Mah-Chi entering at this point. Next, follow the blood as it comes back into the heart from the Northeast, the place of connecting spirit and the mind, as it enters into the doorway of the left atrium. From here the blood travels to the Southeast, the place of connecting mind and emotion in the left ventricle. From here the arterial blood travels North, to the spirit again, and then travels throughout the body, revitalizing it and carrying the breath into matter through the movement of the blood.
The atria and ventricles of the heart are empty chambers that can fill with blood and then empty, a continual process of accepting what life has to give, allowing transformation, and then giving goodness away to the rest of the body. These empty chambers might remind you of the word that Abhishiktananda used—guhā: the cave of the heart. Now that you have circulated through your own personal heart, the time has come to enter into the center of your heart, for it is here that you will find the doorway into the deepest chambers of the cave of the heart, which we can also call the secret garden. Move into the center of the heart, this is the still point at the center of all the circulating movement of the burning fire of the blood. In this still center-point, look around for a doorway. It is dark here in the center of the heart, despite the burning of the blood, you can look with your eyes, but you need to see with your inner, non-ordinary vision. You must feel into it with your non-ordinary senses. Locate the doorway—it might be on the wall, or the ceiling, but it could possibly be on the floor as it leads deeper into the heart. Open the door of your heart and step through the threshold into this next larger space of your heart, feeling the opening of stillness and space within your center. You are now in the heart of humanity. Feel your way into this heart of humanity where your heart and the heart of humanity are one.
Once you have acclimated to the heart of humanity, begin looking for the next doorway that opens into an even deeper stillness of heart. Using your non-ordinary senses, locate the door, open it, and step through, entering into the heart of life. Open up into the heart of life where the heart of every living thing is one. Even things that don’t have an obvious heart like plants have their center here. Open up into this greater spaciousness, feeling more space open up within your heart and feeling a vastness that you are entering. Take some time getting comfortable in the heart of life.
Start to look around for the next doorway, looking all around with your non-ordinary vision. Find the door, open it, and step through into the heart of creation—this is the heart of every physical thing, all biological beings and rocks, water, soil, and even space. Feel this space open up within the center of your heart as you step forward into this vast space. Spend some time enjoying being one with creation.
There is still another doorway as you begin looking around again with your non-ordinary vision. In this realm, you get used to letting go of your identity—moving from the personal, to humanity, to life, to creation. Find the door, open it, and step through, entering into the Heart of God,
the Heart of Wah-Mah-Chi—the Heart of the Creator. Here you are One with everything, resting peacefully in the light of the Heart of the Creator. You have taken four steps through four caves of the heart. You have been practicing heart medicine as you have been circling deeper into the heart medicine wheel.
Now it is time to go into the heart of the heart medicine wheel, taking a step into the center of the heart of the heart medicine wheel. By now you should be used to using your non-ordinary vision to find the door, open it, and walk through, as you do so. You now are entering into what Joseph calls Vast Self. This is the place of non-duality. There is not even oneness, because it is before the counting even began. Feel the peace of Vast Self, the place before Creation, the place that watches Creation being created out of itself and yet remaining the same. Be still, be still . . . still . . .

The last painting by Joseph is “One Sun and Four Moons” from 2018. It also features black holes. Joseph has told me, in the past, that the black eyes of his spiritual figures in paintings are black holes.

One Sun and Four Moons, J. Rael (2018)

Although this is the ending of our The Art of Becoming Medicine series, working with Joseph is like always opening new doors. We are already nearing the end of a draft of our next book, Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons – a book for children of all ages, but particularly those in the transition from childhood into the teenage years. We have a rougher draft of a book for younger children called A Bowl Full of Ideas for Inventive Minds: Learning How to Count to Ten in Tiwa. We have also started the talking and idea stage of a book on Art Medicine, which will focus on Joseph’s visual art and the healing properties of artwork. There is always more to do with Joseph! The ending is just the beginning

The Art of Becoming Medicine.28

We continue featuring the artwork from Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality. The next two art works are by Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow).

The first piece is “In the Currents of Time,” from 2005. We see a medicine wheel of the seasons moving sun-wise (clockwise) and two fish, one swimming upstream and one swimming downstream. Although time flows forward in ordinary reality, Joseph says that time can flow backward in non-ordinary reality. Everything is circular – if you don’t get something right the first time, you will circle back around to it and some point. Similarly, the past of the country and the past of the land continues to exert an influence.

In The Current of Time, J. Rael (2005)

The next piece is “Breath Matter Movement and Space Time,” from 2014. Breath Matter Movement is how Joseph translates the word for God in the Tiwa language, Wah-Mah-Chi.

Breath Matter Movement and Space Time, J. Rael (2014)

We only have four more art works to feature and we will bring this Art of Becoming Medicine series to a close.

Joseph and I have been working on our next book together. He wants it to be for 10-12 year olds and it will include Joseph’s life & lessons from when he was growing up and what he thinks kids today should learn. I think kids of all ages (meaning adults, too) would find this interesting because we are always learning and growing. We started out with a working title of Journey of the Holy Beings, then moved to A Bowl Full of Ideas for Inventive Minds (we might still keep that for a younger kids book), currently the working title is Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons.

We are starting to look for publishers – young adult books are a whole different category from our past work. Let us know if you have ideas for publishers! Maybe we will get the book out within 2021!

The Art of Becoming Medicine.26

The next two art pieces from Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality are by Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow).

The first is “Rainbow Makers of the (tutah) Rainbow Light,” a colorful burst that reminds us that Beautiful Painted Arrow can also mean Double Rainbow.

“Peace Makers of the (tutah) Rainbow Light, J. Rael (2005)

The next piece is the second in a series, “Candle of the World #2 – People of the Sand Place – Stars Who Live in the Heavens – They Travel to Planet Earth.” This painting reminds us of the Picuris Elders telling young Joseph that there is an equivalency between the stars in the sky and the sand on the ground. There was a movement of peoples from the stars to the sands of Earth and the destiny of the people of Earth is to return to the stars.

Candle of the World #2, J. Rael (2019)

The Art of Becoming Medicine.23

Two more beautiful paintings by Joseph Rael from Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality.

The first is Grandfather God Creates All the Universes. Joseph started sending me paintings that he would ask me to do some finishing work on, such as adding a few words, painting in a detail here and there. This piece Joseph sent me with just the outlines and no paint, so I painted in all the color on this one. I was not sure if I should follow his style, with lots of negative space, or to go with my intution of having space of absolute blackness and then also blackness of space with stars. I decided to follow my intuition and not over think it. This piece is thus a hybrid of Joseph’s inspiration and my finishing with the pain. I look at this as Joseph is the Artist and I was the craftsman on this one.

Grandfather God Creates All of the Universe, Joseph Rael (2017)

This next painting is a beautiful one! I recently had a dream that the hummingbird who has a nest outside our bedroom window landed on my shoulder twice and seemed to be thanking me for all the salvia we have planted.

The most recent time I spoke with Joseph, he told me about how he had noticed one time that a Hummingbird kept flying up near me as we were talking and he said, “The Hummingbird initiated you into the Sun Dance.” Then he reminded me of the good luck sign of the road runner coming up on to the fence while I was visiting his home. He told me, “You saw the road runner, then a little while later, I saw a bunch of little ones, scrambling around. You have to look at what came out of that initiation for you. I haven’t told you this yet – the best, best, best thing is that I was getting out of the car at the credit union and a road runner almost went right under my fett. It kept going and then it flew to the top of the bank and quick grabbed a bug. I looked up and said, ‘Hey, you did this wrong – you are supposed to run along the road, you don’t fly on to the top of a bank!‘”

I told Joseph about my hummingbird dream and he said, “If you see life this way, you’ll have a heck of a lot of fun!

Drinking from the Flowering Light of Mother Nature, J. Rael (2005)

The Art of Becoming Medicine.22

The next two paintings from Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality are both by Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow). These two take us into the central chapter of the book, Chapter 0: “Na-Yo Ti-Ay We-Ah (We Don’t Exist).”

Na-yo ti-ay we-ah is a complicated concept. Joseph says it means “I don’t exist.” He teaches that most of the time we don’t exist because we are trying to persist in some kind of state. The times where we really exist are when we are entering into the new and the spontaneous – when non-ordinary reality is perfusing ordinary reality. The first place he explained this to me was when we first met and we were sitting in the rental car prior to Joseph directing me to drive around to different places on the land where key events happened for him. We were talking and then he said – “There, did you see that? We were just sitting here, but then all of a sudden we both started to get really animated – that was the place where we were existing.”

The first painting is titled “Planet Earth (Our Mother),” yet it has a lot of words on it, including Wa-Ma-Chi, the Tiwa word for God. The other text on the painting reads, “Planets of outer space – to our ancient relatives who have always lived there. We ask for your help – a passage way up. Offering to the Sky and All Our Relations. Earth children. Children of Mother Earth. Help!”

Planet Earth (Our Mother), J. Rael (2017)

I’d like to include a section of dialogue with Joseph that led to him telling me about sending the above painting.

I asked Joseph what the Tiwa word for “zero” is. “Y-we-ah” he said, “the flesh does not exist.” And then he said:

“Ok, hold it right there. We are not going to go to the East or the West, we are not going to go to the North of the South. We are not going to go up or down. Write this down, I’m going to say it to you in Spanish. La vida no mas un sueño es. In English that means, ‘Life is but a dream.’ This life is not real. This life is a dream. We have talked ourselves into believing we are our ordinary reality bodies. We use these ordinary bodies to complain, to get in the car, to go around. In this life we are addictable. Use that word, I know I am making things up—we are addictable, we are addicted to this life of ordinary reality. We think we are going from 1 to 10, but we are already at ten (tehn-ku-teh). We were at number eight 10,000 years ago, but we are stuck because we are very addictable, we are stuck hanging on to life, we are hung up on the physical. Enticing as life is, it is a dream. Now, 99% of people are going to disagree with this. They are supposed to disagree because they decided to go with teamwork. All these generations have been stuck because we are very addicted to the idea of being solid, physical ideas—this leads to the idea of property and property leads to conflict. So now we have property problems between the Indians and the United States.

“The point for me—I’m being told, ‘Look you dummy, you are going around in circles, 10,000 years and you are still going around in circles.’ Every now and then, I see ancestors looking down from above—I climb and climb and climb all the way up there. They tell me, look, your ancestors got hooked on the physical. That is why they are still here but they are not supposed to be, they were supposed to have moved on. The trees stayed here with us because they love us. Plants stayed and that is where we got our language from. The mermen were planted in the ocean and now they are stuck here with us, too. It is like that man in the Bible who was stuck inside a whale—that’s us! We got addicted to the sunrise and the sunset, to seeing rainbows, then we got stuck in going to school, going to college, learning things so that we could get rich. We got stuck getting rich, traveling all over the place.

“We better start getting the message, La vida no mas un sueño es. It is dream, dream, dream! We have invested in our landedness, we get money and we buy land. We get a little money and then we buy property and we are stuck with ownership.

“This is what the Story Teller was telling us in the Picuris Children’s stories. I heard these when I was eight or nine years old. [He speaks for a while in Tiwa]. ‘Look up at the stars, they are like little bits of sand. That is where our ancestors are living. We are down here and we are supposed to be up there.’ Then they put you in a square sand box and you play with the sand. Look at people’s attraction to the ocean. They’ll travel across the world to put their feet in the sand and the ocean. They are trying to realize that they are the grains of sand and the grains of sand are the stars and that we do not belong here.

“It’s raining right now—finally I’m saying something worthwhile. This is more rain than I have seen in ten years. They’re saying, ‘Dang, David, you finally got it—you and that crazy Joseph Rael!’

“I was driving this morning and I saw a giant cloud and there was a rainbow up front on the left and then it went over and it was on the right, too. I was driving through it. The last time I saw that was driving back from Madison when I was in graduate school. It was around a place on the border of New Mexico and Texas called Texico. I drove through that rainbow and I thought, ‘It’s time to call David!’

“There’s something going on here that I’m not even going to try to explain.”

I totally resonate with this last statement and momentarily wonder if I can just say that in the book: “There’s something going on here that I’m not even going to try to explain!” But then Joseph continues and he tells me I do need to explain some things.

“We’re supposed to be here, you and I, for some dastardly reason. We need to put something in the book about what all this flooding in the world is about according to the mystic. Schools should be teaching this to kids. We need to understand that in non-ordinary reality we can leave these ordinary bodies behind. We can go out into outer space, to the moon, to other planets.

“We need to start with the premise that everything becomes its opposite. You are a scholar, you can explain this. We started with Pangea, the Indians came across the land bridge, across the straits. You need to orient people to where they come from and then tell them the statistics of what will happen with the flooding and rising oceans on the coasts. You have to look at where there is a lot of land and sooner or later that will turn into its opposite, a lot of water.

“I’m going to send you an art piece. In it I am asking for the people from outer space to come give us some technology. They can do it in our dreams, maybe the dream of a young scientist who will then get that idea to make something.” (Becoming Medicine, 308-310)

Returning Home for Mending, J. Rael (2005)

Anti-Democracy: Changing the Motto of the United States of America from E pluribus unum (“out of many, one”) to “Make America Great Again.”

This essay was originally published in The Badger, Year 4, Vol 2, March 2018. Thanks to The Badger for permission to reprint! It seems as relevant now as ever…

This past year (2018) has been a difficult one in the world. There continues to be a movement of anti-democracy and radical “other-ing,” in which we see our brothers and sisters as “others,” and we break down, rather than strengthen, the bonds of our common humanity. In the United States the freedom of the press is under attack, environmental regulations are being rolled back and hostility toward non-white, non-Christians is being promoted at the highest levels of government. Not only is there an attempt to drive people apart and promote fear, there is even talk of building a physical wall between the United States and Mexico. Walls are the most concrete dividers of people.

While the stated goal is to “make America great again,” in reality it is an anti-democracy movement that has all the hallmarks of totalitarian and fascist regimes of the 20th century.

I do not intend to regularly write on politics in this column (Becoming Medicine in The Badger), but we are in unprecedented times and times such as these spirituality needs to be engaged and to speak up for peace and human rights.

In 2017, I published an essay called “The End of E pluribus Unum? The De-evolution of Out of Many, One, to ME First” in The Badger (Year 3, Volume 2, pgs 57-66). In the essay I describe how the idea of “America First” is thinly veiled selfishness, essentially ME first. It’s history traces back to Charles Lindberg and the America First movement that was sympathetic to the Nazis and encouraged the US to stay out of the war (see M. Albright, Fascism: A Warning and J. Stanley How Fascism Works). This attitude is the pinnacle of self-centered capitalism, and betrays the ideals upon which the United States was founded.

In my work with Native American visionary Joseph Rael, in our book, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD, we discuss the motto on the back of the Great Seal of the United States which has the Latin phrase E pluribus unum, “out of many, one.” This motto captures the “united” aspect of the country’s name: the United States, symbolized by the 13 arrows the eagle is clutching. (Glenn Aparicio Parry has written in Original Politics: Making American Sacred Again about Chief Canasatego, of the Onondaga, giving Benjamin Franklin a single arrow that he then snapped easily, then giving him 13 arrows bundled together, which could not be easily broken). The 13 colonies had different cultural, political, religious, and economic foundations, and yet these 13 colonies united and came together with the idea of strength through union, “united we stand, divided we fall.” This phrase was used in the early years of the American Revolution by such figures as John Dickinson, Patrick Henry, and Abraham Lincoln also paraphrased it. I do not mean to gloss over the major failures of living up to the ideals of the United States in regard to its inhuman policies toward Black and Native American people, but ideals provide a vision of a better world to strive for.

The Great Seal of the United States of America, U.S. Government / Public domain. The eagle looks toward the olive branch rather than the arrows – reminding us to focus on peace.

In my essay, I discussed how crucial it is for the idea of democracy to be able to see ourselves as similar and united within our diversity. When Joseph and I wrote our book on helping veterans return from war to peace, we saw this motto, “out of many, one” as crucial. Moving from war to peace means moving from a perspective of human beings as “other” to seeing them as “brother and sister.” As Joseph often says, “I am my brother’s keeper.” This statement shows affiliation and human bonding. In war, military personnel are taught to view human beings as “other” as the enemy. However, after war, this perspective of viewing human beings as “other” does not promote reintegration or democracy. All of us here in the USA (except for Native Americans) come from other lands. Our current First Lady is an immigrant, born in Slovenia.

I was uncertain if I should write a political piece earlier in the year and I am still uncomfortable with speaking out politically for several reasons.

Yet, as a human being, and as a healer, I feel obligated to speak up against totalitarianism and fascism: attacking the press, threatening federal employees, appointing government officials who seek to undermine the mandate of those agencies (e.g. the Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nations Ambassador), lying without any consequences, and consolidating power in fewer and fewer hands.

Another instance of anti-democracy is the censorship of science by banning the words “diversity,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” in official Center for Disease Control documents. My friend Father Gerald Arbuckle has been writing on topics of bullying and fundamentalism, and he describes how “Trumpism” is a fine example of both (see my review of Gerry’s latest book, Fundamentalism: At Home and Abroad).

Sandia Mountain, looking south, NM (D. Kopacz 2018)

Other healers have felt similarly that they have a moral, ethical, and professional obligation to speak up about the current risks to American democracy. The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, edited by Bandy Lee, MD, MDiv, includes perspectives of 27 professionals. (Now in a second edition with 37 professionals contributing and also a companion volume The World Mental Health Coalition Documents). While the Goldwater Rule banned mental health professionals from diagnosing mental illness in politicians who had not been formally evaluated, many of these authors take another perspective on our responsibility as mental health professionals to warn others when we see signs of dangerousness.

Two psychiatrists who were very influential in my learning about trauma studies contribute to this volume: Robert Jay Lifton and Judith Herman. Lifton’s work includes the books The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide (which examines how “good” German doctors could gradually become perpetrators of genocide) and Destroying the World to Save It (which examines apocalyptic cults and global terrorism). Judith Herman is the author of the classic book, Trauma and Recovery The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. What I admire about both of these authors, and part of what drew me to working clinically with trauma is that they take a strong human rights stance in their work and do not focus solely on the individual. Their work bears witness to human rights violations as well as seeks to provide a pathway of healing for those who have been traumatized at the hands of fellow human beings.

While I am glad to see that other health professionals are also struggling with the commitment to human rights that is part of being a healer, I do not think that the questions about specific psychiatric diagnoses are important. It does not matter why someone is acting in a totalitarian and fascist manner, danger is danger: fomenting anger and division, whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment, attacking the press, and lying so much that people have come to accept his lying as “normal.” Robert Jay Lifton calls the normalizing of lies, “malignant normality,” through the sheer repetition of lies, people no longer expect the truth.

The Washington Post Fact Checker reported that the current president of the US made “2,140 false or misleading claims” in the first year of office (as of 10/2/20, the total is 20,055 false or misleading claims).

In an interview with Bill Moyers, Robert Jay Lifton describes the concept of health care providers as “witnessing professionals” who have a responsibility to confront malignant normality. Lifton ends the interview with Moyers with the following statement:

“I always feel we have to work both outside and inside of our existing institutions, so we have to…examine carefully our institutions and what they’re meant to do and how they’re being violated. I also think we need movements from below that oppose what this administration and administrations like it are doing to ordinary people. And for those of us who contributed to this book — well, as I said earlier, we have to be ‘witnessing professionals’ and fulfill our duty to warn.” (Robert Jay Lifton)

Face in the Tree, Sandia Mountain, NM (D. Kopacz 2018)

I am obligated to provide some follow-up to last year’s essay and to do my part as a witnessing professional. When I spoke of the de-evolution of E pluribus unum to “ME first,” I was speaking on how the current administration’s policies promoted selfishness and self-centeredness over the idea of coming together into union. In many ways my essay predicted that the president would remove E pluribus unum from the official discourse, and in fact he literally did so when he removed it from the new presidential coin and replaced with “Make America Great Again.” The deletion of E pluribus unum promotes anti-democracy. I am very worried about the direction the United States is heading because we are seeing statements and actions that have historically led to the rise of totalitarian and fascist regimes.

Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and I continue to work together to promote peace. In our latest book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality, we seek to illuminate the pathway in the heart that brings us from “other” to “brother and sister.” Mystics, visionaries, and shamans teach us that there is a state of radical union that transcends even the separation implied in our relation as brothers and sisters.

Joseph Rael teaches us that we do not exist as separate beings, but are all part of Divine Oneness. Anti-democracy and radical other-ing are not consistent with spiritual reality. Spiritual Democracy asks us to walk the path of the heart at the center of the medicine wheel.

Many Native American traditions speak of walking the good Red Road, and Joseph tells us that the Red Road is currently off kilter and we must all strive to straighten the path that we are walking upon.

Red Road Off Kilter, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)