How On Earth Did I Get Here?!
We all get asked “what do you do for a living”? I often get “so what exactly are you?” Generally speaking, I use the term “holistic practitioner” to refer to my work title. I use this title because in my state it denotes that a person has at least a bachelor’s degree and uses holistic theory in their practice. Holistic theory, oversimplified, is recognizing that health or a lack of health is a result of a combination of factors. Thus, the physical health must be considered with other aspects of the person’s life such as the social, spiritual, environmental, et cetera. Although I do base most of my work on the spiritual as a base line I do not need to do that and have many people who come to me asking that I don’t use spiritual methods. This ability is putting holism in action.
As far as when I’m functioning as a ritualist, ceremonialist, healer, or like role, I generally allow the people around me to call me what suits them. I interact with many cultures who have their own perception of what I do. Many of these have different words depending on my role that day, what methods I use, even my sex or age. Many cultures have specific words for people who work with the otherworld, another word for herbalists, and another word for someone skilled in poisons (mainstream medicine included). As I have skills in all of these things, some choose to use different words for me at different times. I am not particularly invested in any title and feel that what a person calls me when tells me a lot about our relationship and their perception.
People ask me pretty often about my qualifications to be practicing since I interact with so many fields. I am glad that the public is becoming more aware of the amount of charlatans in my field and are learning to do their research. Here I’m hoping to give you an idea of what my background is so you can make a better decision on whether I’m the right practitioner for you.
The short summary is that my training consists of religious schools, home training in family lineages, apprenticeships around the world mostly with traditional families and tribal people, and training in mainstream universities and academies, both federally and/or peer accredited. My family chose me to be a minister and spiritual worker when my mother found out she was pregnant and my training began with my mother playing tapes to me in the womb, followed by playing tapes under my pillow in the crib. I had very poor health growing up and still have some chronic challenges that holism and alternative therapies have helped me a great deal with. I’m grateful for the sicknesses at this point in my life because they were my best teachers. I do not consider sickness ‘wrong,’ and look for why that ailment has come to a person because of this. I am trained and qualified in more than 100 practices formally. I could use many titles, but I choose “holistic practitioner” because it is a middle path term. To use this term in my state, a person must have at least a four year federally accredited degree in the field and are required to perform continuing education each year. HPs are also encouraged to be peer accredited, which I am. This separates me from people who have only taken a weekend program but does not distance me too much from general people and other professionals by showing off advanced education or fancy degrees that can make people feel challenged or uncomfortable. Formal education is important, but it doesn’t change the fabric of a person nor does it give them the tangible experience of clinical experience. I have a tendency to think being a survivor of abuse, being sickly, and doing clinical work on people is what has brought the quality to my work that my reputation is based on rather than degrees and paper work that has mostly only helped my mind (still important, but a small part of the human being!).
Here are some of my more mainstream formal trainings you may be interested in (for political reasons, apprenticeship teacher’s names are not listed but are available on request):
~Reiki 1, 2, 3, M/T, Master Teacher Jenny Lea Schwartz
~1 year apprenticeship with a Cherokee elder
~Cert. Dreamwork, Holistic Healers Academy
~Cert. Spiritual Counseling, Holistic Healer’s Academy
~1 year apprenticeship with a Celtic Shaman
~Usui Reiki 1, 2, 3, M/T, Infinite Reiki Healer Institute
~Cert. Life Coaching, Holistic Healer’s Academy
~1 year Apprenticeship in Traditional Chinese Medicine
~1 year Apprenticeship in Applied Kinesiology and Roman Medicine
~Cert. Knight’s Templar Reiki Healing, level one and two
~1 year Apprenticeship with a Lakota medicine man
~Cert. Acupressure, Michael Reed Gauch, PhD (acupressure.com)
~B.A. Complementary and Holistic Health, Ashford University
~Trips to Peru, Bolivia, England, Wales and Ireland for Shamanic Work
~4 yr. Herbalist Training Program, Heart of Herbs Herbal School
~B.A. Metaphysical Sciences, University of Metaphysical Sciences
~1 year Apprenticeship in Ritual and Psychology and the Body through Stone Circle Wicca
~Masters in Divinity, University of Metaphysical Sciences
~Cert. Rún Valdr (Using Runes for Healing)
~20 years of Christian Fundamentalist Ministerial School, licenses only awarded to men
~Certification in Advanced Transcendental Dowsing (also called Alchemical Dowsing), Dr. Chazay
~Ministerial licenses, ordinations and memberships: United National Church (Christian, Georgia, Reverend), Church of Spiritual Humanism (Interfaith, USA, Druid), Knight’s Templar Irish Order (Mystic Christianity, Ireland and USA, Priestess), Oklevueha Native American Church (Native American Spirituality, USA), Ministerial License and Ordination University of Metaphysical Sciences and the Wisdom of the Heart Church (Metaphysical Interfaith, USA, Minister), Stone Circle Wicca of Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary (Wicca, USA, Priestess)
I have also spent extensive time studying with Sufi, Indian and Asian teachers informally and spent a great deal of time with my blood line lineages in Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Germanic, Jewish and Roma lineages. Of course, family traditions don’t carry paperwork outside of our last name, which I’m very protective of. If you’re curious about the meaning and lineages of my last name (which was documented first by the Romans) and matrilineal lineages that are not reflected there, I’d be more than happy to talk to you about it.
The Long Version
I personally believe that it is what we experience, not what we study, that gives a practitioner the understanding, depth, and relationships necessary to be a truly good practitioner. Here is my story as an offering to you.
Growing up, I was a very sick person. Due to injuries at my birth, I had chronic problems with the bones in my skull and neck. I was also born jaundiced and oxygen depleted. I had asthma problems in my youth, as well as a chronic fever, insomnia, allergies, depression and frequent infections. When I entered puberty, I struggled with endometriosis, Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease, auditory and visual hallucinations, fevers, fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue/exhaustion, nervous system problems, depression, anxiety, instability in my weight, post-traumatic stress disorder, blood clotting problems, prediabetes, vertigo, anemia, photosensitivity, migraines, heart disease, problems with my pituitary gland and imbalanced hormones, and several other conditions that were diagnosed by practitioners in the medical field. I had treatments for most of these, including depression and PTSD which are not self-diagnosed in my case, being given both mainstream and experimental medical care until I was eighteen and was allowed to start refusing treatment. When I was sixteen, my endocrinologist told me I would not live another year and that treatment should help to extend my lifespan but I would probably never be able to have a normal life nor live past my high school graduation. My family practitioner, after seeing multiple blood tests that proved they weren’t errors in the lab, told me he would help me get disability but not to consider going into the work force- ever. The medications and constant hospital visits were often worse than the sicknesses and many of my current chronic problems are from medical treatment. At eighteen I quit all medical treatment, choosing nutrition and herbs over these options. I believed I was signing my death warrant when I signed off on treatment. As I surpassed everyone’s expectations and progressed into my twenties, some of these conditions were managed but others declined. The year I turned twenty, my lymph system began to fail and I struggled with kidney and liver problems partially from the intensity of drug therapy and partially due to a poor environment as certain fossil fuel enterprises had moved into my area. My allergies progressed to the point that my sinuses bled in an unmanageable fashion, and my digestive troubles progressed until I was on a purely liquid diet that I remained on for a year and a half before progressions in my holistic path enabled me to eat solid food again. I also survived H1N1 at this time, though I did not receive medical treatment because there was no available treatment that would not cause my overall health to deteriorate faster due to other diagnoses. My fibromyalgia was also out of control and caused arthritic-like conditions in my hands, hips, knees and lower back, though it was a few more years before I was ever diagnosed with (rheumatoid) arthritis by a medical professional (I was 23 at the time of that diagnosis, but the symptoms leading to the diagnosis are documented from the age of 17 onwards).
At this point in my life, I was unable to work, continue school (I had been dual majoring to become an English teacher), or have much of a life at all. There were many days I could not sit up without help, and many days I could not walk. Some days, however, I could get up and would seem perfectly normal to a person who didn’t know my situation.
Then I discovered meditation, energy work, and the chakra system. I began to clear myself out using these methods, combined with the nutrition work I knew and soon more intense herbalism. I was introduced to what I later learned was shamanism, which I incorporated into my own healing, and even later counseling and coaching techniques. My introduction and journey through learning holistic methods was really about me getting well.
Within a few weeks I began to feel better. I started sleeping for a few solid hours a night for the first time in my life. Around this time, PTSD hit me hard and made relationships, sleep and normal day to day function impossible. I tried mainstream medicine first, but was unable to afford the care I needed, and thus was left on my own. I went deeper into mind-body practices that I learned from cheap online classes and books. A family that were basically complete strangers to me took me in during this time as abusive family dynamics and my health issues had left me homeless and sick.
As I went deeper into myself and learned more and more of these practices, my panic attacks started to fade. I began to be able to eat (I had been on liquid nutrients exclusively due to digestive problems for more than a year). When my thyroid disease started to fade, people started hearing about the various ailments I had and that I was not on any medication or having any sort of medical treatment like radiation or surgery. I began getting phone calls asking me how I had done it and asked frequently to perform energy sessions on others and teach others what I was doing. It occurred to me that I should get some sort of formal training or a license if I was going to start doing work like that. I started with hermeticism and alchemical studies combined with the meditative and chakra work I had been doing, which are still the foundation of my work.
I made steady improvement, but my liver and kidneys were badly damaged from the high levels of drugs I had been on for so long and may have been weak at birth as suggested by the jaundice. Healing these organs took me deeper into the worlds of Western Herbalism and mind-body practice using Traditional Chinese practices which I learned from a doctor who took me under his wing and trained me in what he knew in exchange for what I knew from my family’s training in herbs and ‘other world’ (which ended when I was seven due to the death of my grandparents).
Within three years of starting my holistic journey, I was not receiving any medical intervention or on any medication. The endometriosis (scar tissue) that had reached clear into my intestines was gone. I had stopped having migraines, sleeping problems, and most of the other conditions mentioned. My blood work came back normal and free of any signs of illness after only 17 months of learning energy work. I had also had a mass in my breast, thought to be a tumor by the medical examiners, which disappeared as I practiced natural methods. My lymph system was functional, and I was no longer allergic to sunlight. The ovarian cysts that had caused me so much anguish also began to shrink and disappear. I was still dependent on herbal and nutritional programs, and decided that clearly I was not actually healed until I no longer depended on these. I continued to work on myself, and have been free of dependency on these since summer 2015, though my body still demands a lot of support when I live in the city.
I want to be very clear about something. I am not at all saying that the holistic methods somehow performed miraculous cures of all these ailments. I strongly believe that the body, the spiritual field and the person do the healing. Holism is a way to assist a natural healing inclination that already exists within the body. I am not against the medical field or drug therapies. These can be very valuable, even lifesaving, in many cases. If this is a type of care a client needs, I am more than happy to work alongside mainstream medical care so they may also benefit from holism. When speaking of things like hermeticism, meditation and other practices, these are available to all people, but the discipline and spiritual maturity to have the experience I did generally develops over time. It should be noted that by the time I was twenty, I had completed 14 years of ministerial school, had been ordained as a Christian minister, and had been identified for my abilities at two years old by the fundamental Christian organization my family was a part of. Nothing in holism is instant. There is no magical pill. Holism requires effort. However, I have never met someone who didn’t feel it was beneficial who had put effort into the practices. You and your body can heal yourself if you’re willing to go after it. Someone like me is really not necessary, but we can save you a lot of time, help you do this work more effectively, and even help you avoid pitfalls and injuries along the way. In the modern day of ‘internet medicine’ being accepted for training and the plethora of misinformation out there, the value of a qualified practitioner is priceless.
You would think that after all that, I’d get a happily ever after, but that’s not what happened. Though we all expected my body to get healthier when I reached 25, the opposite happened. Alternative and medical testing led to the realization that I was born intersex (that is, I have internal tissue of both sexes and am thus both and neither male and nor female). This was somewhat difficult at first, but it led to a better understanding of what care I needed. Thus, my chronic vision, kidney and bleeding problems became better managed with appropriate intersex herbs and care rather than that specific to a female. Though I still contend with minor allergies, occasional hand pain and mild acne, and I have an occasional painful menstrual cycle, I am currently drug and medical treatment free and am living a full life that the doctors (and I) felt would never be possible less than a decade ago. I am not dependent on any herb, nutrition program or medical regiment, and I still have all my original organs which function better than they have since birth.
Sure, giving this to other people came from simply having a love for others and wanting to help them heal as well, but I have truly found my place in the world by practicing holistic health care. If there is something I can help you with, feel free to book a session or get in touch with me. I love helping people achieve what I have. I look back on the years I spent suffering with more understanding and a lot of gratitude now. These things were terrible, and I wouldn’t wish any of it on anyone, but they helped me understand from my client’s perspective what many illnesses feel like and how impossible getting help or getting better can be. I understand the frustration, rage, and hopelessness of being abused and of being sick. I know what it is to be sick every morning and still be seen as a ‘young, healthy person’ by society. I know, too, what it is to go through the court system and try to get protection from abusers while being sick. I also understand exactly what it takes to turn one’s life around and the difference between surviving and thriving. My history also gave me a chance to experience many forms of medicine and holistic practices first hand. I sincerely believe that working on the holistic front lines is part of my life’s purpose and this helps me reflect with compassion on myself, those who tried to help me, and even those who, through their ignorance and sometimes cruelty, made it even more difficult to survive, which in the end made me the practitioner I am. It is so good to be at peace, and to experience joy in my daily life. In the end, as my first teacher, a Cherokee medicine man and elder, taught me, “it is ALL good.”