Please Note: The information presented here, in Ohki’s book & in her teaching seminars is intended for personal use only. Due to the powerful & deeply transformative nature of these teachings, Ohki does not grant permission to people to teach her ways in any form unless they receive proper initiation by her & her Council of guides.
It is essential that ancient Power Animal teachings be taught properly, with sound guidance, to enable the serious seeker to reach integration with the true gifts of their essence.
Excerpt edited from DREAMING THE COUNCIL WAYS: True Native Teachings from the Red Lodge, Ohki Forest/ Chapter 2: The Spirit Animal Behind the Soul
I must express an important caveat about some of the workshops given on Power Spirit animals in the Western world. I have found some of these teachings to be extremely incomplete in regard to our ancient ways. Unfortunately, these techniques are among the most popular on the international scene of shamanic interest. I wish to assist people in discerning between what is false & what is true, between fake & real shamans, between good practices & hazardous ones. There is so much shamanic “stuff” out there. The fact that many of these ancient practices are announced as Power Animal “techniques” is a good sign of a lack of true appreciation, divesting these noble traditions of their sacredness. The Spirit Animal teaching is one of the most sacred relationships for us & is, by all means, a way of living & of seeking for our soul. Describing our very soul as a “technique” is, therefore, an aberration.
I often meet people who have attended such seminars & workshops, & I always hear the same story. The teaching material of the so-called shamanic practitioners consists of a Westernized technique of Power Animals & spiritual journeys, probably copied from ancient knowledge, but which has, without a doubt, suffered a process of serious “injury.” Several dozens of people who have participated in these workshops have told me that their instructors incite everybody to journey, a form of inward meditation through a tunnel & with drumbeat, teaching that whatever animal the un-initiated student finds is their Power Animal. Apparently, no one is verifying any of the participant’s findings to ensure that they have the proper animal. Deplorably, sincere & innocent aspirants may believe whatever they hear in these seminars. This is critical to me. I have held numerous private meetings with people in order to “replace” the Spirit Animal for people who were genuinely convinced they had found the correct guardian animal by themselves.
One of the most serious examples I recall is that of a lady who joined a teaching circle I offered a few years ago. This woman was silent in the circle, & her energy was heavily “off” & depressing. I was glad when the lady asked to speak privately with me. She shared that she had participated in one of these “famous” workshops 8 years ago & found a bear in her journey. Having been told that the animal they would meet in the tunnel would be their own Spirit Animal, she adopted the bear as her animal & started a process of intimate identification with it. I expressed to her that the Spirit Animal I was seeing for her was one of a completely different nature. I told her that her animal guardian was a Red Hawk & not a bear. For a long minute she did not say a word, seemingly puzzled. Then her face simply illuminated. She now remembered in her adolescence that she had a very striking dream of a Red Hawk flying directly at her face, looking straight into her eyes. A year later, I saw this lady. She was very radiant & her depression had lifted. It is no wonder! How could a hawk, needing to fly, live happily in a bear’s cave for 8 years? I have countless examples similar to this lady’s misfortune.
To surrender to & focus on a daily basis on an erroneous Spirit Animal as your essence may bring deranging consequences for the rest of your life, if not amended promptly. In traditional ways, the medicine people always confirm the Spirit Animal to you, depending on their own visions & yours. Even if you receive a vision of a certain animal, this may not necessarily mean that you have encountered your true Spirit Animal. Often an animal may come as a strong sign in your life, or a guide in this phase of your life. Even when you dream about a particular animal, however lucid the dream, you must confirm your findings with an experienced shaman or a medicine person. Moreover, the power to determine or “catch” Spirit Animals for others is not given even to all shamans & medicine people. Traditionally, this capacity belongs to certain shamans gifted in this art. Permission for a future shaman to recognize Spirit Animals for others is only entrusted to them by sacred Powers.
Some of these practitioners have established what they call “shamanic institutions” that offer instruction in these supposed “techniques.” I ask myself, how can people institutionalize shamanic ways? If the Spirit Animal teachings are a sacred way into life for us, how can life be institutionalized? Life is a wondrous reality of transient qualities, & there exists no way to retain it in a cage like a bird or in a “reservation” as a captive. From ancient times, shamanic ways could never be contained in any societal or religious classifications, for they reflect the great ways of Earth & nature. Furthermore, anyone who lacks the maturity of these ways may experience all sorts of animals in the journey’s tunnel. The inexperienced may even encounter the animals of other persons present in the room with them, all trying to undertake their first journey. A beginner is as a child, fresh & open, not always possessing the aptitude to discern what is real. Your own fears may appear as spiders, rabbits, or snakes, reflecting your own shadows. Angry animals may represent your emotional blockages & ravens, among others, may appear if you are pursuing a healing of some sorts. But these do not signify in any way that you have unearthed your true Power Animal, the one that dwells with you for the rest of your life.
The worst & most critical fact is that all sorts of people “graduate” from these seminars after only a few of these classes, claiming to be shamans, when, in reality, they have no real gift, no true vocation, nor any real understanding of these ways. In turn, they may only create more un-groundedness & imbalance for those they instruct & heal. Shamanic ways can be tremendously healing or on the contrary, really dangerous when not imparted properly. The universe has not chosen everyone to be an enduring & discerning shaman, one who must strive along the road to obtain these special powers & develop their sacred medicine. Even among Natives, the medicine people develop their own distinctive field. There are the prayer people, the healers of all sorts, the retrievers, the removers, the blowers, the transformers, the shakers, the shape-shifters, those who pulse, those who perform Limpias cleansing, the seers of the spirit world, sweat lodge leaders & the vision makers, among many others. These skills are only mastered after powerful trainings & demanding initiations over many years which validate whether the shaman-to-be possesses authentic spiritual vocation. So it is absolutely essential that ancient Power Animal teachings be taught properly & sacredly, with sound guidance, to enable the serious seekers to reach the true gifts of their essence.
When Women Lead
Ancient ways teach that proper balance in the world happens when the primary circle of Earth wisdom is held by women & when men enter the women’s lodge to learn from them.
Excerpt edited from 2005 Bioneers panel:
“When Women Lead” with Ohki Forest, Nina Simons, Gloria Flora & Diane Wilson
When I was a child, my mother used to say to me: “Ohki, there is nothing more powerful than a decided woman. Remember this all your life.” I’ve applied this in my own life in times of harsh winds. When I took from within my own determination, my Bow of Authority, I knew it came from the Earth. Later on I came across ancient Native teachings which say exactly the same as my mother that there’s nothing more powerful on Earth than a circle of decided women, because the Feminine is the universal force through which all creation manifests.
I’ve seen 2 powerful examples of this in my life; first, the Kahnawake resistance in 1990 by the Mohawk warriors, in solidarity with the Mohawk people of Oka, to the Canadian Army. After weeks of no resolution of the conflict, the Clan Mothers walked into the middle of this very tense situation, formed their circle, & began praying & singing as the federal army entered the reservation. In sight of this, the army stopped, turned back & left.
The other example is from where I live now in Chiapas. After the 1994 Zapatista uprising, one of the tactics used by the Mexican government to try to destroy the indigenous Maya resistance was to send government troops to occupy the water holes supplying the communities. The soldiers harassed, molested, & even raped the women fetching their daily water. The women, barefoot, with their babies on their backs, resisted these well-armed troops, literally pushing them away from their communities.
Ancient ways teach that proper balance in the world happens only when the primary circle of Earth wisdom is held by women & when men enter the women’s lodge to learn from them. But for men to enter the Earth Lodge there must be an Earth Lodge held by women. For a woman to enter into the male Sun Lodge as many do today, to make a career for instance, she must have a very strong root to the Earth to avoid the danger of disconnecting from her natural Lodge.
Ancient Earth Wisdom: A Path of Healing for the Present
Earth wisdom ways do not belong to one race, but to all children. They are given to anyone who hears the heart of the Earth & enters the dream of her magnificent promise of awakening & justice.
An Edited Interview with Ohki Forest by Patricia Worth, published in “El Dorado Sun” NM, 2004, & “Sacred Pathways Magazine” 2005.
Author, shaman & spiritual healer Ohki Forest talks about the significance of Native Earth ways for the personal, social, spiritual & global challenges facing us today. In July 2004, Patricia traveled from northern New Mexico to join Ohki in the Chiapas highlands, continuing her apprenticeship with Ohki in the spiritual warriorship tradition of Native Council ways. This quest returned Patricia repeatedly to the enduring map of reality at the root of life, the Medicine Wheel. From Ohki she learned a Native name for the Wheel: the Great Shield of Understanding. Simple, direct, powerful & never ending, the wisdom held in the Shield of Understanding contains many of the missing links vital to our individual & collective awakening into true responsibility as human beings.
Medicine Wheel Teachings: Global Significance for our Lives
The Medicine Wheel teachings are from different lineages of shamans from Mongolia, the Native Americas & the Maya land. This path of teaching is primarily to help people go back to the root teaching of the Earth Ways. This is a very ancient way of life that comes through all of these cultures & is the very first way people lived when they became more conscious. They lived based on the Medicine Wheel because it is profound, right at the root in harmony with the whole of the universe & with all the cycles & ways in Nature & it brings consciousness. It teaches you how to see where you are trapped, where your mind & your spirit are not fully living. The Earth Wheel is not just an external circle of stones outside; it is inside you where you have to find your internal wheel. The Western mind was trained linearly, with squares, & it is disconnected. So to find the Wheel within, you have to go back to your essence. Everything you do is circular anyway, whether you know this or not. The way you relate to other people is not on a one-on-one basis, we are all inter-connected. It becomes a community of mind & people. Even if you live alone, you do not feel alone; you always feel connected.
The Wall of the Western World
In the Medicine Wheel teachings, each of the 4 cardinal directions has a particular wall or veil associated with it which individuals & nations must face & conquer to become true human beings. For the Western world, it is the West wall, also called the Wall of Illusion, the Wall of Self-Importance, & the Imperialistic Wall. What this wall signifies for American people is the American Dream, which is a huge illusion that people have come to believe in, have created as a reality. But in reality there is only one dream, which is the Dream of Earth. The other dreams are false; they are illusions, a deceit of the mind. The wall in the West can be seen as a wall of mirrors, like a discotheque ball, that everybody is trapped in, with their own egos & arrogance being mirrored back to them. On the other side of these mirrors, the ancient teachings say that you can gain the powers of humility, the power of introspection & the powers of Earth. Humility is hard to gain for Western people. The West wall is also associated with Crazy Mother, the one who shows you your own insanity. Fear of insanity can make you rigid & dogmatic. Embracing insanity as a natural part of yourself helps you see these different mirrors as direct projections of who you are. Some of these mirrors are called self-grasping, ignorance, doubt, anger & terror. Terror is one of the last mirrors you go through before you find the mirror of true self. Conquering the mirrors helps you gain virtues & powers.
The direction of the West in the Wheel has to do with your relationship to the material world, the physical world. Western cultures have put too strong an emphasis on materiality versus spirituality. There is too much concern with the body, the fitness of the body, which just reflects a lot of ego involvement. When you are connected with Spirit, you are not overly obsessed with the fitness of your body or with material things. You live simply within yourself. Of course you take good care of yourself & your things. When you live properly with reality, you care for these things for a long time. The materialism of Western culture shows this insanity, this lack of humility, this being caught in the illusion of matter, the spell of matter over their minds, & they believe in it as a supreme god. It is a wrong thinking, a wrong understanding of life. There are a lot of people who have started awakening to that reality, realizing it is completely insane; it is not how we can be as true humans.
The Great Dream of the Earth
The Dream of the Earth is in the West of the Wheel; it is the feminine consciousness. Only through returning to Earth ways, which are sound & spirited at the same time, can we come into healing for ourselves & our world. That’s why this is so crucial now for Western people to live properly & sacredly on Earth without harming her: being in harmony with her, understanding that she has a spirit, an awareness that Native people have never lost. That’s why our Native ancestors are the keepers of Earth ways since ancient times because we deeply knew if the people disconnected from the ways of the Earth, humanity would be lost. Throughout the conquest, wise Native people have preserved this ancient wisdom often at the cost of their own lives, to make sure that link would never be lost & we could have, one day in the future, a way to reconnect with our spirits & the Spirit of Earth.
I encourage Western people to not be afraid of the terror that has started to come upon the people. I encourage everyone to look bravely into the insanity. I encourage people to live with their comforts, nothing is wrong with this, but not be so attached. We all may have to start preparing for living in a way that is much more in accordance with Earth ways. Prepare yourself for the eventual changing of your culture. Go back to the root of the land. Earth Mother gives you the guidance & the answers in times of crisis.
The Native Earth ways offer powerful guidance for the world today. First, it is not a formal religion; it offers a true & strong way of life. Native ways are about living life wherever you are, as it is. So there is really no recipe of the way, you have to be very creative. When engaging with Native ways you are called to undertake your quest to take responsibility for your own walking & find your inner wisdom. You have to make an effort, & sometimes it is a tremendous effort, to change your way of life to one that is closer to the Earth & closer to your true nature. It takes courage to say “no” to the conditionings of your culture that are so far away from Nature. For a lot of Western people, it may be too scary or too difficult. But as you return to your source, you find you could not have done otherwise. A true way takes you directly to Spirit. There is no worshiping of anything, no magic pills. It is real & direct. This is the beauty of Native teachings they give you that possibility of growing with yourself & others in like-minded ways. The Earth ways make you do just that–connect with your very Spirit & open the way to go back home where you have always been.
The central fire of the Council represents the heart of the people. Without it there is no focus at which the people may gather their spirits. It is where people find the faith, regeneration, & power to stand together as one. It represents the core fire within the womb of Earth. When the chiefs light the central fire of their teepee, they commune with the fire of the Earth core through an invisible, but tangible cord for all the people.