Pick my Brain!

I don’t really believe in owning knowledge and I’m a firm believer in understanding. I see my generation as a lost generation with one of two options: we can either hoard everything we know and have, making the next generation as lost, or we can give it all freely in the interest of making a better world for those to come in hopes that they have a better chance than we do. I have chosen the latter. Though I temper what I present to the level of understanding the person in front of me offers and I respect my own needs for introversion time, I don’t believe in holding anything I have back. Here are some things I offer regularly that you can book me for or incorporate into a retreat if you’d like to host me. All my contracts work through Embody Healing, LLC, so check out the contact page on how to get in touch if you’re interested.

Online Classes

I offer two kinds of online programs. The first is on an online platform in an online learning center that is a branch of Embody Healing, LLC. The learning center can be found online here: The second, which is also hosted by that same company, are online live classes, workshops and other programs via Zoom. Some of these are ongoing whereas others have been done in the past and may be offered again if enough people requested them.

Free Learning Center Courses

Plant Spirits and Essential Oils: Rosemary
This one plant course is an introduction to the plant and essential oil of rosemary that also uses meditative and visualization techniques to connect you to the plant spirit. It’s offered as a freebie so folks can see if the plant spirts and essential oils courses are for them before investing.
Essential Oils 101: Holistic Views
I published this course for two reasons. First off, I do have an oils team that I try to keep more highly educated than most certified aromatherapists and having an online 101 class they could access immediately seemed like a good idea to help folks get started. Secondly, I am deeply troubled by the lack of education out there with most people involved in using, selling, distributing, and other forms of using essential oils. I see a lot of flat out dangerous advice out there. My way of fighting back was to create some basic information and make it publically available for free. Don’t feel free to share this course with anyone you know who’s interested in oils- feel ENCOURAGED to share it. We need to be safe, smart and sustainable in our oils use as a culture and this is a primary tool in making that happen.

Low Cost Online Courses

Plant Spirits and Essential Oils: Trees AND Plant Spirits and Essential Oils: Flowers
My interest in publishing these was mostly to help people in urban environments get in touch with the natural world, plants, and plant spirituality even when they don’t have access to actual plants. Though the courses are very introductory, they deliberately involve multiple learning tools to help a person get as much out of them as possible. The classes present either eight trees or six flowers using a combination of color therapy, chakra therapy, guided visualizations, meditative journeying, essential oils, introspective questions and affirmations. They also have downloadable PDFs, images and recordings. I plan to add more plants to these courses as time goes on. Eventually I’ll raise the price of them as they become larger, so if you enjoy the Rosemary freebie, I’d encourage you to pick these up now so you can get those expanded future editions for the lower price.

Live Online Events Via Zoom

Oils One by One Ongoing Series: Did I mention I’m psychotic about training my oils team? In fact, I am so psychotic that I actually train them as herbalists and aromatherapists in our state of Pennsylvania over a two year period for free. The oils one by one ongoing series is how I do that. Every other Wednesday, we get online for an hour and I train them on the herbal and essential oil use of one plant. We also cover things like complimentary blends, what plants and dietary things to avoid when using that one plant, and plants that are good replacements when you don’t have the plant of the day, so I suppose one could argue we don’t do strictly one plant every single time. I love presenting this information because it gives me a chance to share the energetics, cultural significance, traditional herbal, and modern scientific information about the things I love most. I do also provide downloadable materia medica pages for my group, students, and Patreon subscribers only, mostly for legal reasons but also to encourage more people to make a deeper commitment to their learning and take on more training. If you want to get in on this, you can pay for one program at a time, join the oils team, or check out a temporary or long-term subscription here:

Past Programs

Most of our other past online programs have been between one to three hours. They might have involved downloads, presentation slides, or just us sitting there talking while I show you items or techniques on screen. When there’s a skill to learn, we often practice it together right then and there. All of these can (and some of them have) been adapted into in person programs. Topics I’ve done have included:

Selecting Visual Aids for a Class at a The Empty Petshop
Selecting Visual Aids for a Class at a The Empty Petshop

Backyard Winter Plants for Health Support
Developing and Controlling Spiritual Sensitivities
Dreamwork and Dreaming
Elements as Spiritual Practice and Medicine
Essential Oils for Energy Workers
Exploring the Mirrored Universe through Shamanism and Alchemy
Four Bodies, Three Minds
How to Open and Run a Holistic Business
How to Write and Publish a Book
Initiation Practices Then and Now
Making Herbal Foot Soaks and Bath Salts
Online Soul Contract Release Event
Plant Spirit Work Online Training
Prayer Techniques Around the World: How they Work and How to Do Them
Sacred Sites in Ireland
Sacred Sites in Peru and Bolivia
Sacred Sites in Wales and England
Shamanism, Animism, and Indigenous Belief
Smokeless Smudge and Healing Smokes
Stress Reduction for Real Life
Theories Behind Care: Holism, Alternative Medicine, Western Medicine
Wheels of Time and Healing from Around the World
Working with the Third Eye

In Person Apprenticeships

In person apprenticeships are just that. At this time, you’ve gotta come to me at my home base in Pittsburgh to get these programs. Not all of them are offered every year and some are offered whenever a person wants to book them. We’re working on making all of these available as travel programs that I can bring to people around the world. If something here interests you in that way please check out my Contact page and let’s chat about it.

Introduction to Shamanic Practice

This program meets once a month for one year and is a prerequisite for all other shamanic training programs. It started as a one day program to help people spot and avoid abuse in the community and developed into not only a year-long training program but a faith and activist community. This class has since become everything a person needs to shift their lifestyle into an earth-based one, understand the differences between things like shamanism, animism, and other earth-based cultural practices, be able to use basic tools, develop basic shamanic and animistic skills, talk to plants directly, do dreamwork, develop basic herbal medicine skills, work with the elements, build and maintain a home altar, and more. We look at cultures from around the world in a respectful way (only information alders in their communities have authorized me to share is provided, and only what I can document as being given permission to share). At the end of the program, you’re awarded a completion certificate and provided with information and resources on where to go from there if you want to pursue a traditional path or if you want to explore other options. There’s a LOT in this program. Most folks who finish it choose to take themselves back through the textbook at least another time or two and some graduates have even gotten continued study programs together to share experiences and go deeper in the material. Our 2017 class runs from Jan-Dec and is $700. This course also requires a textbook which I have made available at cost through online and brick and mortar retailers. You’re also encouraged to keep a journal as we do some pretty impressive inner work. Clearly, I’m not in this to make money. I genuinely want to see our world –not- die, and I think this is the best way to make that happen.

American Shamanism Movement Year One Training: The Shadow

This course requires the Intro program’s completion. This course gets a person deeper in working with the parts of their psyche, energy and past that they’ve suppressed, that they’ve rejected or that have been abandoned, amongst other things. This course connects you with your ancestors that are your spiritual family, your mother and father’s, and any adopted or earth-based spiritual family you may have been included in the lineage on (we have had adopted folks take this program with great benefit and results, so please understand that you do not need to know your blood lineages to work with this program, though these are helpful to have). We also help people connect to things from ‘past lives,’ help them resolve these things, and look at other energy structures and flows that might seem like past lives but may not be. This program is journal heavy, ritual heavy, and very intense. We encourage people to be connected with a community (some connect to our community through the American Shamanism Movement, others connect to a church/family community, others choose to involve professional psychotherapy assistance) for support during this program, but it also meets once a month in person. This course also requires that you build a pretty powerful shamanic tool for use in the Otherworlds which involves collecting your own materials, an associated book which is not available in the mainstream world deliberately, and a journal. At the end of this program a releasing ritual is performed and participants have the option of taking an initiation ceremony into our spiritual community. We do not believe in people paying for sacred initiation ceremonies, so the only cost for the initiation (if there is one) will be based on the expense of putting on the event (such as materials costs or land fees), printed for those involved so there is complete transparency, and split between all those taking the initiation. This is an INTENSE course, and the initiation at the end is the most intense experience of the first three years of this program according to most people.

American Shamanism Movement Year Two Training: Arising through the Heart

At the point of starting this program, a person has already developed a new culture and lifestyle unique to them in the introductory program and learned who they are in the first year. Now it’s time to come up out of the underworld into the world where we live today. We do this through the heart as expressed in the plant world. Again we meet once a month in person where we learn wisdom teachings, spiritual care techniques, and herbal skills through representatives of the plant world. This is a path through the heart. We also learn some basic animal-based medicines that compliment what we’re learning in the plant world. Participants have two options for this program. They may either do the base course without herbalist training in which they mostly do meditative and energetic practices, or they may take the full program where they learn herbalist skills and are required to make a materia medica. At the end of this program, those who take the full program are ready to be in service to the community. They qualify as herbalists in the state of Pennsylvania (at the time of this writing- 2017) and have basic spiritual healing and spiritual counseling skills. Those who complete the full program can be awarded a certificate of completion and are eligible for an initiation into our community at this level (initiations again are either free or base-cost divided amongst participants depending on our circumstances at the time of the event). If you choose to go this far, expect to have lots of work and volunteer opportunities thrown in your direction! Our community is very much in need of practitioners who have completed this much training or more.

American Shamanism Movement Clergy Training

This is a unique program with no start or end date. There are three components to this training. First, there is skill set. To make sure you have the skill set needed to function in the community as one of our clergy people, we (as a community) have compiled a list of the ‘hard core’ shamanic skills a practitioner should have. These include things like necromancy skills, herbalism, soul retrieval, ritual possession, exorcism and deposession, counseling, group leading, drumming, trance work, ritual facilitation, working with home funerals, and a list of other skills. We basically take a look at what the individual is able to do and work with them on what they’re weak on or don’t know. The second component is experience. Practitioners in this program are expected to shadow a practitioner for a set number of hours and assist that practitioner in set up and tear-down of events. Then, after those hours are met, the practitioner is expected to co-facilitate and facilitate several events under the watch of the mentor they are working with. Finally, the last component is always initiation. What is unique about this program is that the spirits provide the initiation, not the mentor or a practitioner from the community. When the participant reports a specific experience to their mentor, their training is completed, they are awarded a certificate, are presented to the community as a practitioner, and they may be offered a position as a member of our clergy if such a position is open. They are also qualified to teach any of the programs up to and including this one. We are not yet a recognized ‘church,’ but are working on this as a community. When the legal recognition is in place, these ones may also have the option of ordination and ministerial licensing.

Bitesized Reiki

Bitesized Reiki is any of the Reiki programs I offer (Usui 1-3, Templar and Run Valder) on a small group basis planned according to the group’s needs. It is possible to also have this program in a 1 on 1 fashion. Basically, we get together one to four people and book out my time as a practitioner at an hourly rate, get as much done in those time slots as possible, and keep going until everyone’s completed the program they want to complete. This was actually one of my client’s ideas but it’s worked really well for us. Even if you’re familiar with Reiki, you should take a look at how I present material below as it’s a little different for each practitioner. Hourly costs for this program are $100 for the first two hours, $100 for each hour after that. It resets for each meeting. So, for instance, you may get through all the material in Reiki 1 in two hours in one sitting ($100) or you may need two sittings, the first an hour and the second two hours ($200), or you might do it all in a three hour one time class ($200). The idea behind this was so we could share Reiki with more people who have weird schedules or simply can’t commit a full single day or weekend to learning a new level. You can always get in touch with questions if you have them.

Reiki 1: In Reiki 1, you’re given everything you need to know to work on yourself as well as a history and science lesson. You learn what Reiki is, where it came from according to multiple sources, and how we believe it works (including scientific studies and FDA research). Reiki 1 includes one symbol and the level one attunement. I do not teach anything on how to work on others during this class, not even the basics, because I know that you’re a good person who might try to help someone if you have those skills even if you’re not ready to and that people can and do get hurt when they do that. We also do meditation and spiritual fitness skills to make you a badass spiritual beast in preparation for level 2 (yep, my standards are a bit high, but I’ll help you reach them).

Reiki 2: This is the fun class. We do everything you need to know to practice Reiki on others. How to scan a field, remove blocks, feed in energy, cleanse energy, and a whole bunch of other stuff happens here. We explore energetic anatomy and what those different pieces mean in depth here. I make you practice in this class, and demonstrate the differences in energy in different conditions so you know what you’re doing. We also look at legal concerns and requirements of practicing, ethics, empathy and controlling empathetic skills, basic client support, setting up a space to do healing work, and some serious spiritual protection and cleansing stuff. There’s also an attunement and certificate for this level, of course. One thing I don’t offer in this class is distance work. The reason is I don’t believe that people have the self-development in most cases to handle the responsibility of manipulating time and space at this level- I want to see that they have more practice and experience first. I also want to see what sort of character they have. There are a lot of Reiki teachers out there and I see no reason to certify a sociopath or person obviously interested in abusing people in my lineage.

Reiki 3: Reiki 3 is really for people who want to make a lifestyle out of Reiki. I actually turn down most people who want to learn this level, so don’t take it personally if I suggest a different teacher. For the most part, that happens because I’m either booked up or because I don’t know you that well. Reiki 3 gives you the training and energetic structural changes you need to pass on your own (and thus my) lineage, the teachings I’ve shared with you, teaching and attunement skills, and other fun stuff. I also include ‘distance work’ and help you see how that works outside of time and space. I had the privilege of using this skill to locate missing people professionally early in my practice, so you learn how to apply it for things like that too. We also look at polarity and basics of hermetic energetic healing because I believe they explain and enhance working with Reiki profoundly. Obviously there are lots of ethical concerns here, and that’s why I don’t just accept any student off the street for this program. At the end of this class, you have all the symbols, a certificate, all the attunements, and the ability to teach. You will also have a piece of paper showing the exact lineage back to Usui through me, which is traditionally required to be a practitioner.

Run Valder: You are required to have your Reiki 3 completed for this program, but not necessarily through me. This system is pretty open to everyone. There is a brief class (most people get through the material in about an hour), an attunement, a handout, and a certificate. You will need to memorize the symbols on the handout as well as the runes in your own time. If you catch me at events, I sometimes give this program on donation, as the founder intended (he recommends asking for a $100 donation).

Templar Energy Work (Irish Order): Please do not request to learn Templar energy work. Traditionally, we had to disqualify anyone asking to learn because it showed a self-important attitude, amongst other things. I am insanely picky about who I offer this training to and you can only get it if I offer it (or from one of the other three people outside of Britain and Ireland able to pass it on). There are secret teachings, history and practices here that I won’t write about online. There are two levels of training here- one is to be a practitioner and the second is to be able to pass the lineage on. The second level of training requires a traditional ordination from a traditional religious institution as a clergy person (this is the order’s rule, not mine) and thus this is the reason so few people are able to pass on the lineage. Should you take this program, there are attunements, classes, symbols, anointings, paperwork and a secret way of self-identification. A pre-requisite to learning this is that a person have their Reiki 3 (for level 1) and their Reiki 3, Templar 1, specific experiences using Templar 1 and traditional religious education and ordination for level 2. According to the order, you may have your Reiki 3 from anyone, but I’m strict and only offer this to my students because that is the only way I feel I can respect the power of what’s being passed on and pass that power to people doing helpful things in the world. No jerks allowed, that’s what I think!

In Person Classes and Workshops

These are programs we’ve offered in person. They range from 3-4 hours to 3 days in length. Some are certificate programs and some are not. Please also see the online offerings if you’re interested in hosting my work as most of those can be adapted to in person events but may have not been presented in this way prior.

Tea Classes: I try to keep these classes relaxed and limited to no more than two hours. I give a history of tea and I make sure it’s fun, then we talk about the teas the shop I’m at has- what they do in the body, energetics, whatever. Sometimes a shop will book me for teas for a particular topic such as teas in South American medicine, teas for spiritual protection, teas or teas from a specific area, culture or for a purpose. Sometimes the topic becomes narrow; I once taught an entire hour program on tea made from palo santo, for instance. Generally these classes are booked by a tea or herb shop and I cater what’s offered to what’s in stock, and generally we include a cup or two of tea for sampling in the class or we do a lineup of pre-made teas where people can try samples of a few. We’ve also done tea mixing class where we calculated so much of each plant included in the price with an upcharge for making more tea.

Shadow Work and Transforming Personality Workshop: I have two ways of presenting this workshop. The version I provide once a year is slightly shortened and a little less personal. It runs about 2-3 hours. The full workshop runs closer to 4 hours. This workshop gives participants the introductory basics for doing shadow work, a type of psychological transformative work that combines shamanic practice and the psychological theories Jung presented to the world. We open with creating sacred space and calling in the directions. Then we discuss what shadow work is, what its history is, why and how to do it, and then we do a series of four shamanic journeys to help participants actually do the shadow work. These journeys help a person connect with the energy of their life in their physical body, compacted trapped emotions held in organs, and the pieces of the person which are suppressed in the mind. We will also discuss the role of the personality and how doing shadow work can transform the personality. Participants are given the skills and resources needed to continue this work at home. I also often send folks home with some essential oils that help them process the experience when I have them available. I try to offer this workshop for free or by donation for at least one church or community center per year, generally around Samhain/Halloween. I choose those locations based on financial need, the role the location plays in the community, and my personal relationship with the community (generally developed over a couple of years). This workshop can also be booked in other locations any time of the year.

Journeying 101: This workshop is about 6 hours including a refreshment break halfway through. It prepares curious and interested people for the monthly journeying meetup group and is perfect for people who are new to journeying and want to see if it’s for them or who want to prepare for future journeying work. I open the class with a brief history, cultural lesson and introduction to journeying and shamanic work. You’ll get an idea of where this practice comes from, how it’s come to be what it is in modern usage in America and the sorts of journeys that many people use. We’ll go over the journeys that we will be doing at the event, which include:
1. Journeying to meet a power animal or helper.
2. Journeying for shadow work (also called inner child work or integrative psychology work). This is a chance to meet the darker nature of the self and how this came to be to see what you need to heal and integrate within yourself.
3. Journeying to an upper world for guidance.
4. Journeying to what I call your “secret garden” in middle world where you can refresh and grow as a person.
After the introduction, we get to the journeys. I use different tools for each journey so you can get an idea of what these feel like. After each journey, there is quiet time to write down your experience if you choose to, and then we have the opportunity to share experiences (always optional). We also cover some of the pitfalls and dangers of journeying and how to avoid these.

Healing with Frame Drums 101: I developed this program because my focus group asked me to. This is a crazy hands-on six hour class (including a refreshment break halfway through) that ends in a certification of completion. The workshop covers the basics in selecting, caring for and doing healing work with hand held frame drums (both two headed and single headed). Participants learn:
-the energetic and functional differences between a double headed drum and a single skin drum
-basic terminology and drum anatomy
-methods for how to tune a frame drum
-ethics on culture and drums
-what a singing drum is and how to use it
-rhythms for journey work and how to do this solo, with a partner and in groups
-how healing with a drum works on the self, a partner and a group
-safety tips for healing with the frame drum in a healthy way
-how to select, feed, and care for a medicine drum
-and a ton more!

Here’s the curriculum outline:
1. The What Now?
A. Drum Anatomy
B. Choosing and Obtaining a Drum
C. Drum Care and Decoration
E. Feeding and Ceremony for Your Drum
F. Cultural Ethics and Frame Drum Work

2. How’d Ya Do That?
A. Rhythms for Journeying and Healing
B. Journeying With the Drum Alone
C. Journeying With a Partner or a Group
D. Considerations and Ethics on Leading Journeys

3. Who Now?
A. How to Use the Frame Drum for Healing
B. Healing the Self
C. Helping a Partner Heal
D. Group Drum Healing Work
E. Considerations and Ethics on Drum Healing

Exploring Past Lives through Shamanic Techniques: This program is about four hours long and I developed it when a few clients wanted to learn the techniques deeper. It includes a general discussion of reincarnation, the soul from the perspective of indigenous people as well as science and pop culture, and reincarnation theories from around the world. We also discuss scientific evidence and case studies that suggest reincarnation as a plausible possibility and other explanations for these experiences besides reincarnation before actually doing the regression exercises. We then do several regressions with the intent of participants being able to experience a method they can recreate on their own. We also show how this process can be applied to self-healing, exploring and healing relationships, and healing fears. For the regressions, we do the exercises, then have some quiet time where so people can journal and process. After this, they have the opportunity to share experiences if desired.

Make N Take or Witch N Bitch Workshops: We call these “Make N Takes” in mainstream areas or “Witch N Bitches” for more earth-based crowds. I try to be culturally sensitive and make a big deal about adjusting the language and sense of humor I use in the events to the people there. These generally run about three hours. The idea is that participants learn the ins and outs of a new practice, skill or material, then learn to make their materials themselves and get to take something they made home. When we have the materials, I like to have an upcharge for people who want to make more than one of whatever we’re making. We’ve done these on smudging and smokeless smudges, foot and bath soaks, tea blending, and basic home and bath items. We of course try different things while we’re there. For instance, participants get to smell the different smudges and learn to burn resin and during the foot soak one they get to actually take a foot soak and I like to make it very spa-like and really pamper the crap out of them.

Healing Chronic Grief through Compassion, Valor and Courage Workshop: We did two of these one year when my community seemed overwhelmed with grief many of them had lived with their whole lives. Many of them were weighed down with things like grief over the death of their child(ren) or some other form of grief that you ‘learn to live with.’ The 2.5 hour workshop was to provide them with some coping skills, help release some of that grief, and to give some support to these ones. It was a really magical experience for all of us and someday I’d like to do it again (I’m also in the process of getting the program as a home-study distance course for home support since this is a pretty far reaching problem). We started the group with introducing ourselves and stating briefly what brought us to the event. We discussed the differences between valor, courage and compassion and how to express and experience these towards others and in our inner world towards ourselves. We did meditations on each of these and shared our experiences. The events were a hybrid of shamanic techniques and more mainstream visualization and meditation. I spent some time giving individualized therapeutic supports to each of the people, then we worked with the story and teachings of Turtle and Horse. We also had a central ancestral altar for folks to give recognition to those who had passed on. The altar also had a section where people could grieve their past self as someone who had died and was no longer there. We worked with the elements of water and wind in the body and the healing process. There was also a releasing station where people were able to choose custom rituals to help them process and release when they were ready or do a releasing ritual right there at the event. At the end of the event, we spent some time speaking our experiences, supporting each other, and each person shared something that gave them hope. There was a lot of really deep healing that happened at these events and folks still come up and talk to me about them today (they occurred in spring 2016). I also reported my work on this as part of my project for my Master’s degree and my advisor was so impressed that she encouraged me to get the material into an audio CD, which I swear I’ll get done eventually!