Walking with Crocodile Wisdom

my Decolonizing Story, or, the Art of Being Human
for presentation at Center for Babaylan Studies May 2023 large group ceremony.

Renegade, poetry by Raena Wilson, 2023

The writing and channeling process
I name vulnerability as I begin to share my “decolonization story.” As I write this, I deepen embodied clarity of my decolonizing journey as a process of grounding, firstly within my being—of connecting grief and anger to ground or support—of giving roots to power in the flow of powerlessness. As well, I am descending from multiple lineages, and the way things unfolded, which follows in the telling, it had the impact of putting me neither here nor there. There’s a way I found my belonging in my unbelonging. I am a catalyst by nature as well—my inner trickster or cosmic fool can cause disruption just through my human observation and presence, whether I intend it or not. I am a Hermit-Heretic in my Human Design profile—and the heretic energy, the aspect of me that universalizes spirit and body wisdom in practical ways through guidance and seership, can create rumbles for those who are in pattern. My reverence is sometimes in my irreverence, which is an energetic expression of the catalyst to shake up perspectives and allow knowing to emerge from the novel and unknown—or the unremembered. And a lot about this Western modern culture holds in opposition to nature and evolutionary/growth perspectives. But, my ancestors talk to me, and have been driving me—in those connections is where I can actually feel belonging as pinoy, and I surrender trust to them. They reach out to me and do mano po with me as if I am their elder, and I have come to understand this is more than a gesture of respect, but an energetic extension or exchange of wisdom that stretches long in both directions. We are all empowered by the ancestors’ wisdom. I was driven to answer Ate Leny’s call, to tell my decolonization story, and in the writing, I found myself with the struggle between the river of telling that flows through me, and the part of me that holds against it in fear of being my nature, and the patterning of negative consequences I have historically received because of it. It has become less and less a struggle over time as I reclaim root, but still has cause to arise from time to time, such as in writing and channeling the traverse of my embodied earth and spirit experience over my 49 years. My challenge reached a point of blocking me for a moment in this writing and channeling process, that three of my ancestors turned their attention to my guide, who is also a spiritual catalyst, to deliver their guidance to me—and I am affirmed again to surrender trust to them and just let the river flow:

A shamanic path
About 10 years ago, I sat across from a trusted friend, a spiritual leader, healer, and teacher with Abenaki and Celtic roots, for a session around community difficulties. Before we embarked on that journey, she said to me, directing her gaze reflectively off into a distance, “You’re one. It takes one to know one.” “One” being unnamed but, there was a sense of nonverbal energetic understanding. I sat in silence with her observation; there’s nothing to do, but Be—this is how I have always been with any esoteric or related type of experience. In my pause, she sharply turned her gaze to me and said, “I am one!” pointing to herself. To which I answered, “I know.” And I paused again as it hit me, given her logic, I would know, and I burst out chuckling. She proceeded to reflect, “and how do we know we are One? Well, it’s the way we walk the fine line between death and insanity without actually dying or going insane.” And I immediately resonated with that, my life was death and insanity every day—this path of spiritual emergence(y)—shamanic initiation—since very young. And yes, it is a fine line to walk, and we humans who do do that walk, are able to do so with a level of embodied spirited consciousness—the part of us that can hold awareness beyond the mundane—the second attention—that is ever evolving and expanding with each guardian met presenting challenge, turning pain or demon to ally. And because of that awareness, the dying might feel that much more painful, and the insanity that much more insane, because we are holding the whole spectrum of realization around it—there’s no so-called blessing of “ignorance being bliss.” You can be assured that you are not crazy when you can name your craziness, though, but it can still feel like a hell of a lot of crazy to be in the experience of it, particularly if you are still in the initiation part of the walk.

Her Wild and True Compassion, poetry by Raena Wilson, 2022

Some time later, I was sitting across from another spiritual leader, healer, teacher, an Apache Stoneman, coming to meet again through a mutual connection, my guide, and he told me, “pain recognizes pain.” I recalled the time we had met earlier, where he had risen up and given me a big bear hug, acknowledging, “it’s good to meet another one.” The armor of chronic anxiety built around my isolation melted away in the witness and connection offered in his embrace. I brought my attention back to this moment, sitting again with him—“Pain recognizes pain,” he said, and he also said, “you’re one of the chosen ones—you know what I mean when I say that, right?” Again, I was in energetic rather than cognitive understanding. In my felt inner experience, I reflected and grounded myself in my knowing:

Growing up
My dad, born and raised in Keene, NH, was ethnically Scottish, English, Welsh, Nordic, Swedish. By observation and some scant telling of his childhood, I also recognize him as an undiagnosed and unsupported neurodivergent person, whom I recently learned also had a serious traumatic brain injury around 19 years. He was a highly sensitive, artistic, musical, highly intelligent person who also needed to control his environment for his comfort—that’s what an unsupported person can tend to adapt towards. I am told he was hard to be around since he was young. The man listed as his father on his birth certificate did not claim him, and the man who actually was his father did not name, claim, nor affirm it either, but would take him every summer and make him sit alone at the bench while he worked at his convenience store. My dad was isolated and had no real grounding of place and belonging, and he projected much of his experience out to his family in control and reactive rages. He met my mother as a Marine stationed in the Philippines.

My mom, born and raised in Olongapo City, Philippines, is ethnically Ilokano on her dad’s side, and Pangasinan, Spanish, Chinese on her mom’s side. She did not realize the extent of my dad’s control and reactive behaviors when she married and moved to the states with him. It eroded her inner landscape and her sense of personhood to be in relationship with his unpredictable rage. She would also develop an ungrounded rage as things progressed, until she was much older and decided she didn’t want to be angry; she dissociated from it intellectually rather than processed it emotionally. Being an immigrant, she said she was confused when she first got here. She thought she knew English so well, but she could not understand what anyone was saying here in the states—because no one here speaks book-taught English. As well, her mother back in Olongapo City passed when I was not yet 2 and my brother an infant, and with her young age and no one to guide her in her grief, she made the conscious commitment, as she told me when I was 38, that she would not love my brother nor I in order to spare us the grief of losing her in her death as much as she was feeling grief over the loss of her own mother. My dad would take us to kiss her good night before bed when we were little, and she would reach her fingertips out to us to kiss, not looking at or regarding us in any way. She was told teaching us Tagalog would confuse us, so she didn’t. My mom was also ungrounded from place and belonging. She did not speak of Filipino ways, though our house was decorated in the typical Filipino-American ways—the Weapons of Moroland shield, the giant spoon and fork set, woven grass and bamboo anything, plus oceanic statuary, a machete on the bookshelf… candles lit for ancestors. She would take me to the Filipino-American parties and would only permit me to sit on the side in a chair, unmoving. I was not allowed to get up and play with the other kids, nor really take part in any of it. I did not understand the language, and no one talked to me, aside from the infrequent Tita swooping my chin in her palm to tell me that I was very quiet, only to flow on back to the gathering. The times I saw my mom in her power and full of life were when she would call me while on a trip to the Philippines. While here in the states, she is challenged to go out 20 minutes from her home, there, she was empowered, leading and helping to resource neighborhood building and gardening projects and repairs, helping family and neighbors to start small businesses to build their incomes, bringing food and money to the Aeta, freely giving wherever she could. To those who had a resistance to accepting help, food, gifts, she responded that she was only sharing her blessings and nothing more. On the phone with her in those times were when I could feel her aliveness and clear embodiment of pinoy values. She became a naturalized US citizen when my daughter was 4.

Raena Wilson and brother as kids in NH

My parents had their moments of Light where their hearts peeked through, but mostly, there was no connection or thread, to them, to us—they did not let us truly know them. There was the facade that upheld a wall shielding them from their discomforts and vulnerabilities, truth. There were no stories of their childhoods, of either of their families, no stories of Filipino ways—although I could observe my mom’s embodiment, nothing was named and affirmed. I had no language nor validation for anything I felt keenly through my body experience, and moreover, received active invalidation in the culture around me. In this childhood environment, my body learned that breathing was counter-intuitive to survival, and all of my armoring tensions would be organized around that growing up and into adulthood. I also was isolated and had no grounding of place and belonging. We started out in California, then moved to my dad’s home state of New Hampshire when I was 4. NH is not so diverse, and the neighborhood kids called my brother and I the N-slur when we arrived. When we moved on to the next neighborhood some time later, it happened again. I remember I did not feel personally wounded so much by it as much as I felt anger and pain at the injustice that even exists in the world in general—and then I was crying for the world. There was an underlying sense of fire simmering against the felt sense of global injustice. Perhaps that was the seed of warriorship energy in my being. It was a bigger than me thing. I’ve never actually felt welcome here, except for the brief moment when I was 41, and I brought my daughter to The Land of the Witches, Salem MA for her colorguard competition. I entered the high school where we were immediately greeted by signs of all the languages of the world offering “hello”—and the first sign up read, “kamusta”! I was shocked into a moment of inclusion never known before and also very touched. And I told myself, of course, it would be in the “land of the witches” that I would feel welcome. The only other place in my life where I felt momentary shared delight and acceptance was as a dancer and occasional choreographer on stage from the age of 12 through my mid 30s. For a three minute song, under hot lights, I could totally be free to become whatever the energy was pouring through me with no negative consequences at all to my existing; there, I was seen, and I could speak entirely nonverbally in my body’s expression, and this was really the only place where I received a positive response to my “voice.” But overall, I walked long with these energetic threads reaching out from my body, flapping loose and unmet in the wind—that sense of connection that my body was attuned to and calling for through me, that I would much later learn the pinoy word for that put my experience into context: kapwa—shared inner self.

Young Raena Wilson

The Belonging in the Unbelonging
Looking back, I’ve come to recall to myself that I was “spiritually feral” growing up—domestic violence and neglect were part of my upbringing, which included any attention to my spirituality—other than my parents saying, “just be a good person.” Having come to earth and already gone through near death experience through assault and also what I later learned were what were called “walk-out/walk-in” experiences at very young ages, there was a certain kind of awareness that left me open and attuned to happenings that were beyond the confines of conventional thought as it was mirrored around me. Guidance has told me that all of this was part of the plan to keep me from forgetting, as children do in this culture especially. So, I was not bound to any formal religious teachings or instruction. Without those binds, I lived with a certain drive and compelling force on my body and being—sometimes it was audible, sometimes visual, sometimes felt, sometimes, I just “knew.” But it was reasonable and natural to me, being spiritually feral, to follow it, because I saw the results—both when I did and did not follow it. I was in spontaneous esoteric experience. Particularly, my dreams were prophetic. No one could ever tell me “it was just a dream” and convince me dreams were not a worthy source of intelligence. I just kept remembering the future! It was sort of like time-traveling, only to see it all unfold again in waking. I also learned I walked in tandem with others in the family in the dreamtime, when they shared their dreams with me, and I recognized we were traveling together. But I did not live in a world of seers, listeners, feelers, knowers, of possibilities—I did not receive any mirrors to that aspect of my life— apart from everyone’s imposition of impossibility and make-wrong. And so, as a child, I started to develop two kinds of awarenesses—since I couldn’t forget—one where I internalized I am wrong, stupid, and crazy, despite on-spot outcomes, and one where I was empowered in my body and wholeness—if the two ever tried to interface, survival-me couldn’t let myself know or name I was empowered, or would otherwise deny my breath and voice towards empowerment, in order to protect me from violence or otherwise negative attention. The only way to really integrate the two was to move in silence in that world, never being named nor naming myself—because I had no language for anything—but to reflect the knowing in an embodied way at the same time I was demeaning myself as someone who didn’t know anything at all as much as the world out there claimed to know and own things. Invisibility was a refuge, that was also a frustration—and I would later find it a wisdom that was cellularly handed down from long ago.

I was natural at emotional and spiritual therapeutic triage as I grew up in the chaos of highly dysregulated and reactive people. People did notice my “uncanny” knack for smoothing and easing the ways, of dropping an observation that gave them sudden insight and ground, but they would have rather receive these medicines without realizing or naming the possibilities, their own vulnerabilities. I observed many are unknowingly holding against their own nature in many ways, many dimensions. Like I remember my dad towering his 6 foot body over me in a rage, and for a brief moment, empowered-me was peering out my eyes—I can still feel her there anchored at the back of my heart in this memory—and saw a person who had no idea he was a greater expansive soul playing a small role. I burst out laughing at the silliness of the juxtaposition before me—which is not the smartest thing to do when you are being threatened. But it shook him out of the moment, and he stepped back.

The impact to me as a child though, holding that kind of space for others, without guidance on how to manage energy wisdom in relationships, was also a dysregulated nervous system, dissociated from anger, that moved towards collapse or dispersion whenever it came to empowering myself and voice, as well as a certain lack of faith or trust—instead, I took on the role as the one who will “take care of it all.” I would later marry into a white family that kept me in the energy of my cPTSD—they operated by shame and control through enmeshment and triangulation, gaslighting, rejection of personal accountability, overriding disregard of boundaries and the word “no”; they do not allow their children and adult children autonomy; they do ungrounded rage with a smile on their face. The rage they did show was in the way they argued that I was NOT a Filipino. You couldn’t gaslight me out of knowing I am Filipino; of course, I am very clear on that awareness. And so that is when their covert anger became overt. My anger over such boundary violations should have been a cue to them that they were overstepping, but they felt fully justified to become angry at the anger I had when they disregarded my “no.” They presumed to have authority over my experience and impose their projection upon me, giving me no credibility for me describing my own experience. You could switch out the topic of my identity for other topics that were relevant to me, and it was still the same experience. They interacted this way with people in general. Based on my own survival mechanisms born from my own lack of support growing up and being in the role of “savior,” “caretaker who has no needs,” I did not yet know the power of walking away when the other is committed to a win-lose dynamic, favoring their side. I did not yet have the skill to mediate on my behalf to root into clarity when their actions did not match their words nor when their words twisted my words. I could not find the ground, because I made the mistaken assumption that the relationship was based in mutuality, and the dynamic would persist to trigger my cPTSD. It was the kind of relationship that drowns you one drip at a time; unnoticeable at first; it begins to pool in puddles at your feet, and for each drip, it seemed manageable—as I took responsibility where he/they should’ve been accountable. So I’d adjust and keep contorting myself, thinking, “if I only figure out how to say things the ‘right’ way, we could have a win-win”—until more of your inner landscape starts to disappear, becoming a peninsula, then an island, until one day, you realize you are completely submerged. I later learned there was a deception in the beginning where he kept me sheltered from his family dynamic by not allowing them to speak certain things to me. As well, the things he was attracted to in the beginning, my spirituality and artistry, unconventional thinking and being, increasingly became things he criticized me for and became triggered by, not fitting in with his internalized and externalized family’s dynamic and expectations. So where I thought there was authenticity, there was not.

[image text] empaths be like… ‘but, i can see their light’ 
[image] angry and ominous looking anglerfish illuminating her antennae in a dark sea, drawing in a small unsuspecting sea creature

It took me a long time to figure out what that dynamic was and then how to get out—my mind kept traversing options only to find impossibilities; I was disempowered materially as well. The DV counselor at the women’s shelter informed me it takes an average of 12 attempts at leaving this sort of dynamic before a person is able to physically complete the action. Western mindset puts these situations forward as if it were an “on/off” switch in such questions as “why did you stay?” This is a process. Once I figured out the dynamic, I was in a process called “leaving”; I didn’t “stay”—it takes many steps, and time, and the supports must also be there to gradually internalize. After some years in this process, and gaining internal ground, things began to move. Then one day, I asked him for clarification on my daughter’s report that his family was smearing me without me present while visiting them the previous weekend, again on the topic of how I call myself Filipino, and that he didn’t stand up for me or us. He became defensive and critical of our daughter for bringing it up, so I conveyed that I was asking for clarity from a curious place since I wasn’t there, regardless of our daughter. He finally blurted out, “I’m in a biracial marriage, and I didn’t even know it!!” That is the moment I felt the ground in my whole body. It was clear to me that we were not in mutuality, that he was in relationship with an unspoken picture of me he was holding in his head and becoming angry when I didn’t conform to that picture to suit his needs and comfort, that he was complicit in their abuse of me, that in his own survival mechanisms, he would never stand up for me nor us, nor protection of his created family, over keeping and maintaining connection to the destructive dynamic of his family of origin that doesn’t allow differences, nor the word, “no.” I no longer traversed my mind to try and “figure it out.” In that moment, I vibrated a plea to creator—“god, I cannot figure this out, please show me the way!” Two nights later, the way opened up, outside of my will actually. It was all divinely led. The supports were there. Surrender and trust and faith were the keys—one of my big wounding areas where I had developed “control” through “needing to know all” as my protection. I found that surrendering to the unknown with trust and faith allowed me to resource the pure life force energy of fear, and it was enlivening! Fear as a body and life force wisdom is meant to attune us to our instincts and how to guide our attention beyond the mundane towards alignment. We were divorced amicably within seven months. My daughter and I have been on a healing journey together and individually in the years since then. I know he has remorse for that outburst. He’s more enlightened than his family, and I observe that he seems to protect his relationship with his current wife from his family’s toxicity. And, we all needed out of that dynamic. We are all each in better places.

Wiring of a Deep Listener
There were and are other aspects of my being that impact how I perceive and know the world, and it is through my neurodivergence—I have ADHD, Auditory Processing Differences, Synesthesia—I see sound and hear light, and these also move my proprioceptive senses energetically—Sensory Processing Differences, Cross-dominance. I replace the word “disorder” in these diagnoses with “Differences,” because they are only “disorders” when I try to move in unforgiving neurotypical spaces that lack awareness to different ways of being and processing, or even that we have relational neurobiology. These sorts of spaces are typically presumed, without naming or choosing them, in very much the same way that white modern Western mindset is presumed in spaces. Where neurotypical people are generally operating awareness along 5 lines of parallel senses, I, in my neurodivergence, am operating with a cross-hatch of 5x7x5+ senses. Resolving c-PTSD through healing relationship and somatic-centered wisdom—wisdom that weaves the lived experience of energy, heart, intuition, and spirit with the intellect through body awareness—helped me to organize and free up the gifts of my embodied differences, reduce the challenges in typical spaces, and I have found that my decolonizing journey has given me even more depth and grounding to that freedom—of Being. My observation is that neurodivergence is Nature’s way of calling Nature back to their-self. For instance, there’s a whole intellectual Western societal industry around helping people become more “present” and giving people teachings and certifications around skills of being “present” and “mindful,” while neurodivergent people are already naturally attuned to timelessness and being in the moment and entering flow state. Yet, neurotypical Western mindset will consider and treat ADHD, neurodivergence, as a pathology, referring to those natural attunements symptomatically as “time blindness” and “lack of object permanence,” for a simplistic example. Neurodivergent people also process a whole host of body experience, processing information loads in their body on average 42% more than that of neurotypical peers, just sitting there. * My reflection here is that we are attuned a bit more deeply to the body’s experience processing any sensitivity and information, internal and external, and sometimes multiple ones at one time, that might be coming up in the moment at embodied levels, where the general population of Western society tends to be a bit more dissociated from body experience and awareness, moving in well-worn grooves of habit and expectation as well as patterns of unacknowledged and unresolved trauma that is normalized as conventional thought. Furthermore, processing more load takes more time, yet, this Western society associates “slowness” with lack of intelligence. Really, if we were to become more present, coming more deeply into body experience and awareness, body intelligence exists in a slower pace of being than does the mind. Pacing oneself is one of somatic healing’s teachings. I reflect it is also Indigenous wisdom. I like to call this, “slowing down to the speed of Light,” which is even one of Einstein’s physics observations—the closer we approach the speed of light, the slower we observe time to move.

(Re)Claiming Thrones
So body and spirit had me experiencing and knowing the world from an expanded lens of observation since childhood. One day, it occurred to me to turn around and ask one of the compelling forces who they were—that this whole thing could be a two way conversation. Her response was “Queen of Angels.” Spirit will use what you know to communicate with you, and as soon as I heard that, I said, “yeahhhh… sure… the ‘Queen of Angels’ is my guide! Yeah, right! That’s clearly my ‘ego’ talking!” My childhood invisibility cloak of hiding and being nobody drove my disbelief. She immediately flashed a visual of a lily into my field. “Ah! You are Lily! Thank you.” I exclaimed. That seemed more reasonable to me. She entertained my calling her that the rest of the day. But being one to follow symbology very closely, I looked up the esoteric meaning of lilies, and right there, I stopped as I read it—“Mother Mary.” I asked Her, “are you really Mother Mary… my guide..?” And She shook my entire body with the force of her demanding response: “WHY WILL YOU NOT BELIEVE WHO YOU REALLY ARE?!!” She proceeded to tell me to look up the Buddhist version of Mother Mary, and there she was: Kuan Yin, Queen of the Universe. We began to more deeply develop relationship, as we conversed back and forth, and as I studied more and more about her. “She who hears the sorrows of the world.” The bodhisattva who vows to remain behind and assist others into nirvana before entering their Self. With every spontaneous soul retrieval I experienced, She placed a peacock eye feather, a pearl, a scroll, and a vajra scepter with crocodiles on it into my heart center. In stories of her incarnations, I saw myself, the same energetic connections that had always been a part of my life—expanded awareness of global sorrows, dragons, rivers, tigers, parrots, a desire to follow Spirit’s heart and way despite having a violent imposing father, gifting fertility to the infertile (I gave birth 3 years after being told I couldn’t have children), leading from behind, appearing in the form needed in order to lead and impact healing—which is a gift of a deep embodied intuition that can attune one to another’s whole-being experience. I would later learn the pinoy word for this all-encompassing tacit knowing as well: pakikiramdam—shared inner perception. Language and the act of naming can be an affirming and grounding experience for connection.

She told me that a dragon would deliver a pearl to a bear, and the bear would deliver the pearl to me. After receiving it, it would become dark, and I would see a dove come towards me in illuminating light to regard me with her left eye. I honored the message by creating art reflecting the story. A year later, one week before I would head to Western MA to attend a somatic therapy training program at Kripalu, Kuan Yin told me there would be a bear with a rainbow coming out of his heart—and not to make judgements. I acknowledged that with a little bit of, “whaaat? I don’t know what you’re talking about… I don’t judge…” A week later, I was in the program and found myself avoiding a very tall Jewish man who carried tension and harshness in much the same way my dad did. As soon as I recognized the tension in my own body, of bracing myself in his presence, I also recognized, “oooo… this is me making judgements!!” Lol. Following Kuan Yin’s guidance especially, I relaxed and opened myself to opportunity. Synchronistically, we wound up being grouped into the same triad for the week. He was actually very intuitive, and we started to become friends. At the end, he gave me his business card: there was a bear on it, and it indicated he was a shamanic practitioner—I recognized the bear with a rainbow coming out of his heart. We continued on, relating in different roles: classmates, coach-client, teacher-student, friends, colleagues, working out some relational lessons as well. A couple years later, I was having some challenges, and he offered to do a soul retrieval ceremony with me in the style of the Four Winds teachings. I had never told him the story Kuan Yin told me, but my intuition was starting to poke at me, making me wonder… was he the actual bear? I lay on the table while he performed the energy work, and after, as we sat, he shared the healing story:

A woman named “Kuan” came to him and gave him a pearl to give to me. He said he asked her, “that’s it? A single pearl?—not even like a pearl necklace?” She replied, “She will know what it means.”

As those words landed in my Being, I buried my face in my hands and started crying from the rush of overwhelm of: oh my god, She orchestrated this whole thing— from Her first telling a long time ago, to our paths crossing, to this moment, involving a whole other person in Her message to me—and then I burst out into deep belly laughs, remembering her demand, “WHY WILL YOU NOT BELIEVE WHO YOU REALLY ARE?!!!” Actually? Who am I? What does “believing” actually feel like? Because I didn’t actually feel any different. Esoteric experience and spirit connection has always been a woven part of my everyday being, and did not give me any “special” feeling, it is a part of my personhood. And even more, being a “woman who knows” actually got me more negative attention. And even so, I live in a culture that validates hierarchically through programs and certificates, imposing such structure on people’s soul wisdom, even the “level” of their access to it, and people who suddenly walk with authority and ownership of wisdom itself and of who will be the “knowers of things” once given that paper—but those papers I earned didn’t win me any kind of authority when those programs are run through modern white Western mindset, and my experience moving in those circles where that is presumed without being named nor chosen perpetuates a dismissiveness at best due to lack of awareness, and overt oppression at worst.

As a recent example, I had been invited by a founder of a shamanic nonprofit to co-facilitate a dream visioning workshop. I submitted my proposal, and it was the one that was chosen out of the three submitted to the requesting party. But all three were pushed through, and upon meeting with my white co-facilitators, one an enthusiast for the topic, and the other a board member for the nonprofit, the board member stated she did not want to be a part of the project but was doing it because she felt obligated to by the founder. As we planned the workshop, enthusiast asked an aware question, of how to address the Indigenous roots of the work. Board member replied she was “white-a** white” and didn’t have anything to say about it. I responded that I could offer perspective from my own lived experience and knowing several generations of my family who had skill with it, as well as understanding a tradition in the Philippines around the topic. Board member shot it down with “I don’t believe in Indigenous people teaching just because they are Indigenous.” With that statement, she not only wiped out consideration of my lived experience, but also any credential I have earned through the Western paradigm. I replied that I would not project that, but she did not have the awareness to realize where she was lacking integrity, and I had no more words at that point where there was no crack to direct light into. The project fell through because this is what happens when a “yes” is being held with the energy of “no”. When I say those papers didn’t “win me any authority,” I am not talking about my seeking authority from others, which someone from the dominant culture might project, not being able to fathom being the target of societal covert biases on a daily basis—that it’s all on my side in seeking a sort of validation, and that I need to “fix” my thinking. I own my authority and my ever-evolving capacities. In this culture, that does not even matter when I and other minorities are actively blocked systemically, and it is so normalized, that it is also systemically denied that it even happens, that it becomes hard to navigate—even in the Indigenous wisdom space I authentically come from as it is consumed by this culture.

On another level, as I have more understood walking the path of evolving shamanic consciousness, there is also a sort of facelessness in the kind of play and work that this life calls for in serving in this way. Shamanic initiation is a constant breaking down of identifying with the known in order to keep wearing the face of what is needed in order to serve a wide spectrum of human experience. For example, there is another Queen of the Universe who came to me and communicates with me: “She who is never not broken,” a Hindi deity who rides a crocodile, who chooses from all the different broken pieces of pains to shapeshift into new ways of being to serve the moment.

In the moment of hearing the healing story, sobs turned to laughter as the rumble of qi broke free into my body, and I ecstatically felt the lightness of being of knowing Kuan Yin’s connection to my Self and my walking my life’s path. Grounding “believing” “who I am” would come more deeply through a mirrored connection with my guide of being a catalyst, and through my decolonizing journey and meeting and relating with like-hearted kapwa.

“The Dove’s Eye” illustration by Raena Wilson, depicting vision ary experience of meeting Kuan Yin’s eye

Later that night, after the soul retrieval, I bolted awake in bed, hearing my young daughter’s voice urgently call out my name. I am extremely nearsighted, and navigate my home by memory, so I don’t bother to put my glasses on nor turn on the lights when I get up in the middle of the night. I headed to her bedroom door, turned the knob and leaned in to check on her. She was still in deep sleep and had not actually called out my name. I leaned back slowly, closing the door, turned to my left, and a foot before me was a physical manifestation of a woman’s left eye, peering at me and softly illuminating the hallway. Her eye was a rich gem of aqua blue-green, glistening with a little bit of moisture and depth, a sea of compassion, reflective of the all-encompassing we see when we look to the skies. Her lashes were thick and were also illuminating in golden light. The light extending from her eye and lashes cast iridescence upon her skin and the rest of her face faded from view back from wherever she was emanating from. I could see her as clearly and sharply as if I had my glasses on. I regarded her for a moment, in breath, as she regarded me, and then I turned slowly again to my left to re-enter my room, looking back once to see darkness again. I settled back into bed, back to sleep. There’s nothing to do, but Be. Two of Kuan Yin’s forms are Dragon and Dove.

Afterward, I met with my Buddhist therapist at the time and shared my experience. He reflected to me how there are deities in Buddhism who have kingdoms, and they are known from time to time to choose people to take into their kingdoms. It is up to those chosen ones to decide where they will dwell within the kingdom—out on the sidewalk by the trash? Or maybe a little closer on the doorstep? Or, even a little closer, in the kitchen? Or… maybe to sit in the throne itself? I carried that with me… a journey of claiming the throne when so many would limit me with their own limited perspective of ideas of rules, hierarchies, and impossibilities. Years later, my guide would reflect to me that all the places in the kingdom bear equal weight of importance, and I laughed again as the feeling of a remembered truth settled into me: I remembered the wisdom that dropped into my being when I was around 12: Hell isn’t a place you go to, but a place you bring with you. Wherever you are, if you are developing and grounding embodied and evolving, expanding consciousness, your capacity to be with any challenge or opportunity presenting in life expands—and you realize more and more that the skill you have to command your attention and intention in an embodied way in any place, no matter how “imperfect” it is, and to draw in support where needed, impacts outcomes. I relaxed into lightness of being again: all the places are inherently thrones. What is the skill of consciousness you bring to it? Through your body and being? Where are the resistances to pains of the wisdom that arises? Where can you call in support—connection to ground—given your awareness? Every place on the globe is inherently precious, every being on the earth is inherently precious, and there has been a split in our collective psyches since a force entered the globe that caused a population of people to cut off their own roots, give themselves amnesia over it, and propagate violently with ideas of dominion and rule over who is “saved” and who are not, that also gets projected over nature. And in following callings to reclaim inherent preciousness, and serving to help others reconnect to this innate and natural connection, begins to bridge and heal the split. And I note it’s interesting that one can recognize Being called through the calling’s paradoxical presentation in one’s experience. I mean here I am writing a decolonizing story with a section on “claiming thrones” as a metaphor. 🙂

The Philippine sun emblem found on the Philippine flag

Recovering Sunbeams
At the same time the above was unfolding, ancestors were increasingly arriving in my visionary experiences with crocodiles. I sought to anchor this awareness coming through, and searched for the connection to crocodiles. It was 2010, and this search led me to the word, “Babaylan,” and it opened me to another whole-body grounding experience—omigosh… there is a name for this spirit and force driving through my body and experience, my whole life! And it is pinoy! “Babaylan” being the mystical woman or trans woman who held sacred role in community, weaving many wisdoms of the counselor, sage, teacher, seer, warrior, priestess, healer at once. When the conquistadors came, they slaughtered the Babaylan and fed them to the crocodiles to evoke fear and command power over the Indigenous people, not knowing the link that crocodiles are our ancestors and guides in Filipino wisdom. Learning this, the cells in my empathic, pakiramdam, Kuan Yin-wired body lit up, sensing the embodied horror of a people witnessing this violence and annihilation of beloved sacred and powerful people being fed to sacred powerful animals with whom they actually lived in harmony.

I started to grow my library over those few years, starting with Leny Strobel’s Babaylan: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous and Katrin De Guia’s Kapwa: The Self in the Other, Worldviews and Lifestyles of Filipino Culture-Bearers. Learning there was a field developed of Filipino Psychology affirmed that Western psychology is not universal and in fact, is a global outlier for describing human experience, and this was also very grounding. I sense the field of somatics and neuro-informed approaches has the potential to begin to bridge this gap. Upon first reading the term, “decolonization,” I felt another release into gravity, as my cells grounded into another naming of experience—even just the title of the book, Brown Skin, White Minds by EJR David affirms the experience of the underlying and persistent psychological impact of colonialism—it described the experience of mindf*ck I lived with that was not only reflected personally in difficult toxic relationships, or communally with trying to advocate for my daughter in the school community that did not give her nor I credibility for our experiences as neurodivergent people that were even backed up by doctors, causing more harm to her, but I also realized the schism lived within me globally and ancestrally as well. I felt deeply the importance of the decolonizing movement as I again sensed the globe of people, in the Kuan Yin style of “She who hears the sorrows of the world,” who are suffering with this schism, even unconsciously, between the hyperindividualized urgency culture of “modern” Western mindset and what lives deeply in our nature—our indigeneity, our humanity. More books added to my library as the next couple years went on: Back from the Crocodile’s Belly, Leny Strobel and Lily Mendoza, Way of the Ancient Healer, Virgil Mayor Apostal, … Back then, I could take things in little at a time with the life I had going on, but I kept connection to the energy and intention of deepening more.

My mom’s eldest brother passed, and she told me my aunt who was closest to him was afraid of being visited by his spirit. I reached out offering connection for ways to be in welcome, in empowerment, with such things, sharing for the first time with my mom what I had been living with esoterically and in my body since very young. She wrote me a very long email describing all the wisdoms of seership, mediumship, healing and herbalism that are from both sides of her family, and that is why I was sensitive to the unseen realms. She listed who had which gifts and naming them—I recognized that I was the whole collection of all of them put together, to which my mom responded that she was too, “but you never talk about these things because people will think you’re crazy.” This window of revealing disappears, and she forgets these connections until I remind her when she does not see beyond the mundane from a general Western perspective.

I recalled sitting with a Seneca artist, seer, healer, teacher sometime earlier, making woe that my mom had never taught me these things that he could see in my walking, and he replied that she did not need to because I already knew them. I felt the truth of that in my being, and also, there is value in creating connection and relationship that deepens roots, along with naming experience, and I still felt the loss of that in the loose energy threads that I then recognized as a calling for kapwa—an embodied and tacit knowing of the shared inner we in community, personhood. We each are all on this planet with other people, and we have relational neurobiology—we are meant to be in a dance with each other, and it is a holding against nature to be in the expectation to live up to some idea that we are meant to muscle through things “independently,” as a sign of strength, as if support and connection were a pathology. True independence is born of healthy interdependent relationships—we internalize our allies and connections, which helps us continue to build the structural integrity of self-support—and it is actually a sign of health and well-being to reach out to others in connection, especially when there is need to fill in the gap in support.

I followed a calling to work with a shamanic oracle priestess, of Italian roots. She was the first white spiritual teacher I sat in circle with to offer inclusive space that did not presume white modern Western mindset in the space. She affirmed the expressions of indigeneity coming forth through my own work, naming it as such and connecting its alignment with the wisdoms of First Peoples. This was far from my previous experiences of dismissal and disconnection in such groups, and it was healing and grounding. She knew Leny Strobel and encouraged me to reach out to her, and so I did by email. Ate Leny responded by offering connection to my experience and introducing me virtually with a few people. Within the next year, I had the opportunity to fly to the San Francisco area, and I reached out again to see if she might be willing to meet with me, and she was! I was so grateful and very much looked forward to connecting with someone who is in the keeping of the wisdom of our culture and history—that which has been subject to erasure for centuries through colonization and perpetuation of Western mindset as superior to indigeneity. For example, one need only look in the Harvard archives to see documentation of Harvard’s partnership with the US military to design a (mis)education program to subjugate Filipinos as a military operation. We met at a cafe, and shared a bit of story, she asked me questions about my family connections. I asked her about the experience of being an authentic expression of indigeneity and not being able to mediate that in white spaces that are operating in Indigenous wisdoms, to be able to speak to it for all the dismissal and make-wrong, because it didn’t align with their conventional Western thinking patterns. She turned to me and said, it’s because they are invested in it; they’re invested in something that is not from their own roots, where they haven’t looked to their own roots. That landed on my body with a clear simplicity—a seed that would later bloom more fully, but in that moment, I had a release as my perspective pulled back from the unmothered mother in me who takes care of it all, who bore all the responsibility in relationship, and who would become tangled in an energy that despite my efforts wouldn’t “work” because again, there is actually no mutuality—to seeing that in those spaces, we just had different awarenesses where I’m including them all day every day, and they either had an unwillingness or inability to include me or others like me, and that was theirs to carry. There is a difference between “seeing beyond/no color” or “we are all made of stars” and actually embracing diversity. The latter nurtures unity and compassion, recognizes all the unique colors that each create the rainbow—and without them, it would not be a rainbow!—while the former sources only a singular, exclusive, self-serving, bypassing perspective. And wherever you are in bypass is where you will be lacking in curiosity, compassion, and connection—three “c’s” that weave along with awareness. We are human beings on this earth and not a single one of us has the consciousness of a star. Ate Leny emphasized reading the books, and digging deeper was definitely in my plan. I left the meeting refreshed, nourished, grounded and optimistic. I returned to another initiation—another unfolding relational dynamic that year.

I was in a breathwork community, also training to become a facilitator. I received healing in recovering my breath and resolving the truncated defenses that lived in my body as a result of trauma, reconnecting to my anger as a life force wisdom. Outside that community with my somatic therapist, we worked more deeply, and I understood I was modulating between complete collapse and repression of anger to reactive anger that could overshoot the mark. That was part of the healing and grounding process of coming to the center between the two, bit by bit, towards assertion. I was grounding my voice, and my channel was becoming clearer, flowing. My experience in relationship was becoming clearer as well when it came to violation, and I began to understand that things were pretty toxic in the group when the leaders became bullies where participants acted in empowerment. Things seemed fine, if they were in their wounded selves and enrolled in the dynamic of following the teacher without question. I increasingly understood that they did not hold people’s processes as sacred when they spoke about participants outside of group in demeaning ways. In my process, I had been told from the beginning I needed to fit in and be the one to make the connection, but they were a group that were not aware of the ways they foundationally exclude, blind to my efforts, particularly the leaders. Where I had gained ground and would stand up for people in their processes, or point out things that were missed that helped the participant experience healing, I was increasingly told not to speak in group, my contributions became less welcome. Where I had felt healed and clear, they started to pathologize me, projecting lack of clarity and sickness. They had called me the “Priestess” of the community and counted me as a “pillar,” but they were not interested in hearing from me, only interested in the optics I provided as a mystic in a healing modality they were playing in. It became, “sit there and be pretty/nice.” I just wanted to help people. However, it was another form of gaslighting, and when I took a pause to get my bearings, stating I was taking a moment, they pushed me out through passive aggressive means and triangulating the community, including the bear with the rainbow coming out of his heart, to cut connection with me. I have since helped a number of people process harms they experienced in connection with these “teachers.”

A month later, I had the opportunity to reconnect in workshop with my old somatic healing community from 10 years prior at Kripalu. I remember lying on the floor by myself in the middle of the room as others socialized, but not feeling alone, even when most of the community were new to me. I felt safe, accepted, and included, without having to do anything. The contrast was stark. Belonging doesn’t require “fitting in.” I realized the ways I didn’t belong were because I had found myself in places I didn’t actually belong, and to listen to those cues of unbelonging as a wisdom to move on rather than keep blaming myself for not being able to get it to work—another reflection that the entire responsibility of the relationship being a relationship was not entirely mine. One of the exercises one week was to journal the voice of kindness, where one converses with the “voice of kindness,” sharing challenges, and in return, writing the voice of kindness’ responses. I struggled with that exercise, and at the end of the week, the teacher stated the purpose of the exercise was to cultivate one’s kindness to their self. I did a solid facepalm (because that’s so kind to one’s self lol) as I realized I had strongly internalized unkindness to myself—and further, all these bullying relationships I had had, were a reflection of that inner scape. I grounded myself in that awareness and this is when I started to feel I could gain traction on this earth. Innately, I was ready to Be the heretic, the catalyst, a bit more broadly in scope.

[image] heretic being burned at the stake, and she takes it in with calm cool casualness as she lights her cigarette by the fires that have been set to her. Art by @Marco Melgrati

The next season, I reached out to a man, whose picture I had seen posted on a wall at a metaphysical shop five years before. I felt connection there, but he also seemed to be giant, and I was not ready back then to wave my heretic flag at the general population. He’s a spiritual coach, counselor, catalyst, and I started to work with him, my guide, whose roots are also of multiple lineages including Celtic and Mi’kmaq heritages. I am one who walks and cuts through the wild and weedy path with unconventional thought and wisdom, and he could mirror that in me, my gifts and associated pains, having traveled similarly ahead of me. He also pokes at false and harmful structures and calls them out, with a mind and heart towards justice and connection to humanity and grounded spirituality. I had a boss once, who, whenever I directly pointed out a plain truth that everyone missed, said, “It’s like getting hit with a ‘DUH!’ stick…!” and I got the pleasure of experiencing having that aspect of myself mirrored by my guide when he delivered a point with his psychic sledgehammer, a nickname he is also known by. A slow smile would creep onto my face as it settled within, unraveling sticky and stubborn knots, and I’d say, “thank youuuu!” as I reorganized around ownership of my pains and new vitality. He helped me with the last gripping bits of cPTSD holding in my experience, helping me to grow and internalize a strong sense of protection and safety in a world of pitchforks and torches raised up at differences. My embodied energetic experience given my long-term wounding relationships with the dynamic between my mom and dad, and then later with my ex and his family, then any situation reflective of that like with the board member and the enthusiast, was that of knowing only that there are bullies and bystanders, and that no matter if I wielded my sword of words or not, I could not “succeed” in protecting myself. I knew cognitively from my somatic therapy training that to internalize protection, I needed to meet the right vibrational match who could help me entrain to the felt sense of inner protection by experiencing the protection of being stood up for and with in times of needed protection. Here with my guide is where I met the mirror to do the dance with me, and my body discovered, oh! This is what protection feels like! I moved from the energy of wielding the sword—to Being the sword. This is the importance of embodied, relational healing. It was the one place where I could let everything down and receive nurturing, giving connection to the unmothered mother within me, allowing me to ground and unfold her into the force of nature I am. He also helped me clear previous abuses from relationship and harmful spiritual teachers.

Connecting with Crocodile Wisdom
In working with dreambody process, we start to make connections for how to navigate everyday life informed by guidance from dreams. For example, every year now, I’ve come to see that I can allow my attention to come to what is coming up in dreams around the turn of the year as cues for what may be coming the following year, whether personal or globally. At the end of 2019, I had a dream epic showing me a great sickness coming to the masses, where there would be no room for the sick and not enough supplies, particularly breathing tubes. There would also be differing levels of fear propagating through the population. 2020 saw the pandemic hit in March. At the end of 2020, my dad, with whom I’d been estranged for a decade, came to me in a series of dreams. First pondering, “maybe, it’s time for me to go now…” as he looked out the window. In subsequent dreams, he was showing me how papers and computer files would not make sense, that I would find a file with my name on it in his computer, but it would not render on the screen; he gave me particular instruction that a red duffle is very important. I texted and checked in with him shortly before Thanksgiving, not sharing the dream; he had a more open demeanor than his usual grumpiness and made short mention of making time to talk at a later time, which I welcomed. My mom called me frantically Jan 4th, 2021, asking me where his will was. It turned out he had been in the hospital for the past month, and no one had told me. He passed away on the 6th. He had no will and left a major financial mess that he’d sheltered my mom from, as well as the seriousness of the cancer he had been living with. Everything he had told me in the dreamtime was true, even the computer file with my name on it that was corrupted. While trying to sort through and find ways to access his accounts online, my mom dropped a red duffle in front of me, and told me she and my brother put all his papers that were in his office in that bag. In it, I found a little password journal in which he cleverly entered his passwords in an unobvious, but nerdy way, to keep them secure. It got me started to help my mom the rest of that year to settle everything. At the end of 2021, I dreamt my ancestors told me that I was to walk on earth as them—sometimes my dreams now are not visual, but spirit just talking to me. I set about to honor their message, keeping myself open to ways I would and could do what they offered. A few months later is when Ate Leny sent out the call for our pinoy community, to gather to court our Indigenous soul. For the next year, we would center part of the community experience around the Babaylan book, and I found this to be the perfect opportunity to organize around moving through the material: in relationship.

Faith is a risk, not a security. Haiku by Raena Wilson inspired by Sister Mary John Mananzan’s quote. Photography by Raena Wilson

As I read stories and reflections, I experienced it as music in my body. I felt a series of drops in tension in my body for each wisdom I took in. For all the harm and wounding I have experienced in relationship, moving in survival mode, to continually following calls and initiations in my experience to grow my consciousness towards healing awareness, each time meeting the next step and relationship that supported healing, the very last gnarly bits of tension and internalized beliefs around all the make-wrong to my way of being on this earth were met with connection and grounding here. In my senses, heart, mind, soul, I resonated with:

  • making contact with and being guided by your sariling duwende, your inner trickster, as a valid source of wisdom and way of walking—I felt a welcoming of my inner experience, rather than a discomforting relationship with it
  • I had always described my experience of time as spherical and not linear, all threads happening at once, but had never received a mirror to that until I read, “The Filipino notion of time is mythical, nonlinear, celebratory — the convergence of the past and the future into an eternal present, where everything occurs all at once, clues us in on why the Filipino index of happiness is high; why we find humor in the most dire situations, why we suffer long. This is also why our critics castigate us and try to whip us into more disciplined habits, only to be continually frustrated.” p33
  • Sister Mary John Mananzan’s reflection that “faith is a risk, not a security”p64–which makes faith feel more accessible to me and helps me deepen contact with my inner warrior.
  • The offering that the definition of “wild” that we work with is: “in its natural state,” which reflects the acceptance of nature, also a valid source of wisdom.
  • The importance of our myths to connect us with our ancestors’ wisdom and guidance. Particularly the one that grounds healing for me is the one in Back from the Crocodile’s Belly, that reflects Why Bathala Hides Inside the Stone. pg46-63 In that story, I see our ancestors’ cleverness and resourcefulness in surviving by going underground, keeping wisdom inside the stone, the talisman, leading from behind as shown when the Three Persons in One God want to baptize Bathala, and Bathala finally “agrees,” the trio not understanding they were actually baptizing Bathala with the power of Bathala himself. I giggle with delight about that part, and I also see how the wisdom of “hiding” has been present in my walking—that it was not just a survival mechanism I adapted to personal trauma, but that it is also inherited and expressed in my body through ancestral adaptation to trauma. It put a different light on all of my survival mechanisms, that brought my awareness to where the actual roots began. Equipped with this knowing, I could now empower myself to use the wisdom consciously rather than be driven by it unconsciously. I had come by my struggles innocently. Naming it is liberating.
  • there is no Indigenous Filipino word for “spirituality,” because one’s spirituality is not a separate experience from being a human. This has been a tacit, unnamed knowing for me—something I’ve lived experientially, and explored more deeply as I’ve attuned my second attention. There’s such a paradigm of keeping them separate in this Western culture—I have clients who ask me how do they pursue or practice peace or healing or elevation when they have such disruptions and pains in their lives, how do they “make time” for it, or how do they feel well in their lives, and my reflection always comes to some version of: your spirituality isn’t separate from everyday living, you can tune in with your attention wherever you are, the meditation lives within you, your very personhood is the portal —if disruption or pain comes into your meditation/attention practice, it is part of your meditation, you haven’t failed at it! In fact, you’ve entered the portal of your beingness! Your spirit! Eventually, with this approach, with support and ground, these things flush out, motor out, and one finds they have naturally arrived at some overriding sense of grounded wellbeing, without having made it a task or goal to check off and achieve, and without excluding their human nature, but including it.
  • sitting in ceremony with everyone of us grown from the same root, I feel all the loose threads of unmet energy my whole life taken up and connected to the threads of others in kapwa. It is a tangible, affirming whole-body experience.
  • sitting in small group ceremony, it is even more intimate, and my connections with each in my group have transformed me as well, as I feel a foundational belonging, even in the arising of differences, there is acceptance and love and curiosity, and I realized how, I am actually here to be disruptive, as a catalyst, and that I had been holding it back from a make-wrong energy that blocks me from flowing. We had a discussion of this in one meeting, how disruption is deemed as “wrong,” in our society, but in liberation movements, it breaks locked up systems that no longer serve and stimulates growth. Accepting the disruptor in myself helps me ground more into my experience and calling.

Each time I am taking in these stories, each time I am sitting with kapwa, I am more affirmed: oh my god! I have never been a wrong being at all! This has only ever been an expression of indigeneity pouring through me! I’ve only just been being… Filipino! The make-wrong tension I have internalized drops away being held in these mirrors and connections in community that puts me in a deeper listening with our ancestors as well. I did not need to “believe who I am”—that is something that has actually always been there; what I needed to do was extract all the internalized voices of those out there who were not me that were burying who I am. Who am I without all the noise of those disconnecting voices of disbelief and make-wrong and impossibilities, and further held and mirrored in community that is grounded holistically with the long line of wisdom that came before us and are still us and will continue to be us reaching forward in time? Free. Relational wounding needs relational healing, and for me, the alienation wound lived within me at a global level. Connection is a healer.

Why Decolonizing and Dismantling Settler/Colonial Mindset
I worked as a practitioner at a metaphysical shop and center one summer. A man associated with the center had occasion to sit with me, and we’d have meaningful discussion about spirituality. He is white, and he shared with me that he was very drawn to Native People’s spirituality. I reflected back my continuing realizations and unlearnings in my own decolonizing journey—that part of the responsibility of appreciating the wisdoms of others’ Indigenous roots is to look at one’s own roots and re-member and acknowledge how one got to the land they dwell upon today, through their own ancestral history. He responded, “well, there’s not much there—Nothing good anyway!” I shared then, recognizing his calling to Native wisdom, that he must realize that part of that wisdom is that our selves are not limited to the edges of our bodies and individualized experiences—modern Western mindset and culture typically limits our awareness and sensibilities to such, and I sense the callings of those who innately can feel so much more, but have forgotten just how they might “know”—it is through their very own roots that vibrate in their very own bones! And without the realization and recognition, ownership, the seeking, even through others’ Indigenous roots, will not be satisfied without the grounding and reconnection of their spirit through their own bodies’ roots. The Iroquois word, longbody, expresses this wisdom that our Being includes the energies and actions of our ancestral lines, both healed and unhealed—our longbody includes our past generations, as well as our future generations, our environments, our communities—and if we are in resistance or denial of, or we are not in re-membering or acknowledgement and integration of, even the ugliest acts in our ancestral history, that energy lives as a shadow in our energy field—material that will drive us unconsciously. As I spoke these words, I saw gravity claim his body as he relaxed and sank deeper into his chair with his vocalized realization, “ohhh… you’re right…” I understood that he grounded his wisdom and connections then, taking it in. Internally, I blessed the possibilities opening up in the grounding. And this is what happens when we deepen our roots, widen perspective, and integrate responsibility—we open to greater possibility, become more curious, compassionate, connected, open to actualized unity that includes differences. Here then, we can also be in right relationship with our callings to others’ Indigenous wisdoms as well. Authentic and compassionate appreciation rather than an entitled appropriation. I also acknowledge that I am descended from not only conquered peoples of the Philippines, but also from those that gave themselves amnesia to their ancestral connections who also came to Turtle Island and conquered violently, setting in motion a foundation for a society that is forever extracting from the land and its peoples and nature without regard to right relationship—that I have lived as a settler with less awareness here for a time in N’Dakinna, and, deepening awareness in my life journey, I strive to aim my energy towards increasing re-membering in order to be responsible, working to lessen harm, within myself and in community and nature. At the same time we are accessing this increased curiosity, compassion, connection, lifting awareness and consciousness, we are also opening deeper access to our inner landscape from and to the heart center. Deepening access to your inner landscape this way also will re-connect you to the outer landscape, nature and all its inhabitants, from the heart center. I see Ate Leny say and write often, “The future is Indigenous.” I love these words. It needs to be, this is where our humanity, access to our humanity and connections to all, lives.

Crocodile illustration by Raena Wilson

Walking with the Mystery
As described, I am spiritually feral—not in religious instruction—and I have had deities from different lineages connect and form relationship with me, communicating wisdoms on Creation and Consciousness—Kabbalah wisdom was transmitted to me from my teens on; to this day, sometimes spirit will still communicate with me in Hebrew letters, and I will ground the message in my everyday waking and walking. I have received Sanskrit, though it is more difficult script to translate visually into something I can look up and verify. I chuckle to myself now as I write this, realizing, I am meant to attune to their vibration, not their physical structure, to understand it. As well as Kanji and Chinese scripts. Energies of different lineage wisdoms are transmitted to me. When I am working with people on their behalf, their ancestors will show me the ceremonies of their lineages, and it is fortunate when some of them remember and find it recognizable, verifying the vision, which helps keep me in check. However, I do not presume to propogate wisdoms through those lineages’ ceremonies. This is the same with what comes through me through my ancestral spirit connections—I have a sense I do some version of “hilot” that is driven by a divine dance with spirit to touch others with energy and medical intuitive guidance, without the manipulations. I touch points, and the feedback I receive is that they feel like I am still there holding them even after I have moved away, and how did I know their pain? My Lola, I am told, performed healing touch, and I wonder if that was hilot. But I will not call what I do hilot, I wasn’t taught it directly from a human teacher of hilot, and it is not quite the same. I also feel the callings from my Celtic and Nordic roots. The experiences received expand my awareness and understanding, and I share messages as a bridge. I define humility differently than the dictionary and the general population. It is not to lower one’s Self in subservience below others. If we look at the Latin root word for humility, which is also the same for human, it is humus, meaning soil, ground. To me, to be in humility is to be grounded in what actually is, authentic to the moment. The art of being human then is to be able to increasingly be with what is arising in the moment, challenge or opportunity, with support, groundedness—humility. This decolonizing journey has been a grounding of my being, extracting those harmful cultural signals which perpetuate a holding against nature from one’s embodiment and psyche. There is “East,” “West,” and to my mind, indigeneity is human. Even from the seat of Western civilization, we have the myth of Chiron—remembering myths are our maps of wisdom from the ancestors—who shows us how to heal the split in our human psyches by reclaiming instinct as wisdom. I create ceremony and facilitate healing as directed by spirit in the moment, and sometimes they bear repeating, but it is not for the purpose of creating rote rituals, but for meeting and midwifing the moment. I feel the sacred cosmic fool, rebel, trickster within me who is compelled to assist in breaking chains, to liberate through first finding the ground, and then proceeding with curiosity, novelty, adaptability, finding fluidity and flexibility, which are also necessary functions of humans for growth and evolution, transformation. In my continuing decolonizing journey, I seek to understand ways of reconnecting people’s hearts to the land and its peoples, through helping them reconnect to the heart of their inner landscape, as I am in this process myself, to keep grounding. Spreading my roots, liberating them from binds that have excluded nature, human nature, as a source of wisdom, helps me to have deeper connection with heart and spirit—in relationship to my self, other, community, nature and the divine, in widening circles of connection. “I am ‘one’, it takes ‘one’ to know ‘one’.”—it seems to me that one is one if they are driven by a calling to the point that they cannot not follow the calling. That this calling will continually stretch the canvas of pains across the frame of one’s body to the points of ecstatic understanding and humility—from understanding all the different ways one can be harmed or do harm in relationship, in family systems, in societal systems, to understanding how a human being heals and becomes whole—in order to increasingly walk as a human being who is in alignment with grounded spirituality, that serves justice, body, heart, intellect, and spirit holistically and communally in connection with the land and all its beings.



I honor the connections that have nourished me with impactful reflection, grounding support, and allyship in my decolonizing, healing journey, however brief or on-going: Kevin Ross Emery, Ate Leny Strobel, Ate Lily Mendoza, Marguerite Rigoglioso, Susan Morgan, Chad Gillette; my small group Pagsuyo pamilia, Jaisa Sulit, Bee Pallomina, Marisse Roco, Thea Pepperl, Kim Pega, Jane, Irene Gregorio, Katrina Arriola, Paul Jochico; Jordan Grinstein, Rob Stewart, Valerie Lofaso, Jenn Guerrero, Tim Harris.

I acknowledge the land upon which I journey in this moment, N’Dakinna, the UNCEDED territory of the Abenaki, Pennacook and Wabanaki Peoples past and present. I extend heart and express gratitude and honor to the land and waterways and the people who have stewarded N’Dakinna for generations. May we each keep developing consciousness in relationship with self, other, community, nature, and the divine so we are increasingly dwelling with the land and its people in right relationship and action, accurately acknowledging and honoring the human history connected to these lands and the hardships endured due to the loss of unceded homelands.

*https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140131130630.htm — this notes a study of autistic children who process more information than their peers. I intuitively reason that this finding expands to the larger population of neurodivergent people.