Author Archives: JoAnne Dodgson

Vast as a Star

Vast as a Star

Everything is alive.
Everyone has a unique Song.
Every tree, every rock, every tiny grain of sand.
Each human, animal, plant, bird, bug, river, and fish.
Everyone’s Song radiates far beyond the physical body.

You are as vast as a star.

Every Song is connected in the web of life.
The web of life is interactive, dynamic, always changing.
Everyone’s presence, choices and actions affect the whole.
No failures, winners or losers, punishments or rewards.
Fighting, among humans, is highly over-rated.
The Universe doesn’t keep score.

We are always, energetically, touching others in the web.
Recognizing, interacting, sharing, choosing, communicating, creating, learning, discovering, expressing.

Life is a symphony, a wild, always in motion, curious, diverse, intricate, intimate, harmony-seeking dance.

Your Song is as vast as a star.
So is the Song of everybody else.
Every tree, rock, river, snake, spider, and grain of sand.
Every whale, coyote, human, sagebrush, hawk, and butterfly.

Your Song holds this remembering, seeing with the eyes of the heart.



What the Wild Ones Know

What the Wild Ones Know

In our years among the red rock mesas in Abiquiu, NM, we had daily encounters with coyotes, ravens, lizards, jackrabbits, and the many others who flew, crawled, nested, rooted, and migrated in these lands. My curiosity, love, and sense-awareness were enlivened by living close-in with the wild ones. All the while, my four-legged friend, Jasmine, was teaching me about being part of a pack.

One morning on our walk in the mesas, I had to return home before Jasmine was ready. Come-when-you’re-called was not a dynamic built into our relationship, much to my chagrin at times. Yet truthfully, I admired and cheered on Jasmine’s uncompromising canine spirit which needed ample room to roam.

So on this beautiful morning in the mesas, I tried to quiet my worries as I headed back toward home. Was I leaving my dog in danger? Memories of our wild dog encounters drifted through my mind. Being tracked by coyotes as Jasmine and I wandered through the arroyos. A mama coyote guiding a river of pups to higher ground. Jasmine and the coyotes playing together. Raven intervening on Jasmine’s behalf when she put herself right in the middle of the coyotes’ rabbit hunt. And the many many times I wondered if I’d ever see Jasmine again as she exuberantly ran up and over a ridge, bounding toward a coyote pack.

Jasmine was intent on claiming the mesas as her territory, even though the wild dogs were here long before we showed up. And still, something magical was happening. There was mystery in the connections being woven among us, something I couldn’t quite yet see.

When I heard Jasmine’s urgent barking, I instantly turned back. She was sounding an alert with her communication. The time on the clock and my scheduled meeting suddenly became much less important. I needed to see what Jasmine was telling me about.

Around the bend in the path came Jasmine, running full out with long-legged strides, galloping toward the gate in the fence. Behind her, surrounding her, close at her heels, was a pack of coyotes. I was awestruck by the beauty of the dogs running together. The coyotes’ thick fur flowed with the grace of their light-footed dance upon the red earth. Jasmine lead the way.

With a jolt of awareness, I realized Jasmine was running for her life. I stood in the middle of the path, clapping my hands like a drumbeat and calling out in a sing-song voice, “Hey, hey, hey.” The coyotes abruptly stopped in their tracks, watching, sensing, sniffing the air. Then they silently stepped away, disappearing into the sagebrush. Jasmine rushed past me to get inside the gate.

There was a cut on the inside of one of her back legs. My Mama Bear instincts, an immense protective love, came all the more alive. Jasmine gave me a few moments to examine the wound, then she wandered off into the fenced area around our house. No matter how many times I walked the three acres of land, calling for her, setting out water and food, Jasmine could not be found. She’d retreated into a secret den, tending to her healing in her natural canine ways.

I was delighted when Jasmine appeared around sunset. She was resting beneath the branches of a juniper tree near the house. As I walked toward her, she raised up on all fours and stared intently at me with wildness in her eyes. She seemed to be assessing if I was friend or foe. I gently spoke and joined Jasmine beneath the juniper tree, breathing in the soothing evergreen fragrance. As I pet Jasmine’s velvety ears, I could feel the tension in her body melt away. Eventually she walked with me back indoors, her tail wagging. She was ravenous. I too enjoyed a feast in celebration of her homecoming.

Yet the question that had been gnawing on me all afternoon kept me awake much of the night. How could we co-exist on the land – Jasmine, the coyotes, and me?

What is the part that each of us had in this communal place we call home? As unique individuals? As members of diverse species? As co-creators of life?

The next morning, I gathered up my medicine bundles and walked out on the mesas by myself. I wanted to hold a ceremony with and for the Coyote Nation, to deepen our connection and communication, to explore this question I couldn’t answer on my own.

I needed Coyotes’ input on how to weave balance and harmony in our relationships. Because my Mama Bear protection didn’t only wrap itself around Jasmine. I loved the coyotes too. As well as the many others on the mesas. Ravens and Red Rocks. Sagebrush and Snakes. Butterflies and Monsoons. Elk, Praying Mantis, and Piñon Pines. They were my friends, teachers, companions and guides.

Sitting on a boulder with a horizon to horizon view, I gave offerings and made an altar for our ceremony. I reached out to connect with Coyote Nation, honoring the wild dogs in the sacred smoke of the ceremonial pipe, and offered up my question as a prayer: How can we co-exist on the land?

Somewhere in our conversation, Coyote let me know that they are hunters. They were very clear about not being interested in acquiescing, in giving up their natural ways, in being forced to become something they’re not. I shared my deep respect, appreciation, and understanding. I asked if Jasmine could please not be the target of their hunt. I asked if we both could continue to walk about on the lands as I understood we were moving around in the coyotes’ territory. I appreciated this gift of being on the mesas which so enriched my life and fed my heart and spirit, and the life and heart and spirit of Jasmine too. I respected Coyote’s thriving existence in this ecosystem. Jasmine and I were the newcomers. I wanted to be respectful guests, visitors, lovers of this land, travelers passing through, not intruders or a threat.

I can’t say an immediate response came from Coyote in any form of English words. There really was no binding contract to be made. No one was entitled to take power-over anybody else, to judge or confine, to recklessly disregard.

We were weaving fibers of connection, making structures in our web, fiber by fiber, sharing by sharing, asking and listening, step by step. There was curiosity and clarifying of our purposes and passions. And we were all sitting in the mystery of what would happen next. There were many unknowns. There were boundless potentials and possibilities in how our relationships would continue to be woven, in what would unfold in the days, weeks, months, change of seasons, new cycles and generations to come.

That’s the organic aliveness of the natural world. That’s the wildness of the wilderness. That’s what the coyotes know, live, experience, and express. That’s what I wanted too. Joining up with it all. Being part of it all. With respect, appreciation, and love.

That was my quest on the mesas – weaving harmony in the connections among a curly-tailed dog, her person, and a wild coyote pack.

That is my quest for this lifetime – being a weaver of webs of balance.

That is my dream for the now and the future of our earth – to find our way back home, as humans, to our natural belonging, our heart-centered ways of living, collaborating and connecting in the extraordinary web of life.

With gratitude for my beloved Jasmine and Coyotes, the exquisite teachings of the wild dogs,

Manaole U Manaole,
from my heart to the heart of the mother earth to your heart,


Plant Spirit

Plant Spirit

Osha Root is my cherished remedy during cold and flu season, for allergies and toothaches. Osha grows high in the mountains near my home in New Mexico. Osha has long been a traditional remedy for the peoples living here. Osha is also known as Bear Root because of the bears’ medicinal use of this plant. Bears eat Osha when they come out of hibernation to cleanse their digestive systems in preparation for springtime feasts. Bears are also known to chew on the root and rub the mashed plant and juices onto their fur.

To bring Osha into our lives, we must meet her where she lives in the mountains. She doesn’t grow well in farms, gardens, or pots on a shelf. When wild-harvesting Osha (and any other plant), respectfully ask permission and only remove the plants who are willing to come. If we over-harvest Osha, this plant too will become extinct. Osha has purposes and relationships in the web of life beyond the healing gifts being offered to us.

In addition to physical healing, my life has been touched by the Spirit of Osha. Among the diverse plants I share in ceremony and healings, Osha is the one to whom people are particularly drawn. Osha brings us the medicine of living wild and free. With respect for her own existence, Osha holds her ground with unwavering commitment. She is unwilling to be domesticated. Boldly claiming her wildness. Clear about her belonging. Rooting where she flourishes and thrives. Interwoven in intimate relationships all the while abundantly free. Whether we encounter Osha in her mountain homelands or in smudging ceremony or by chewing bits of the root or sipping warm tea, the physical medicines and the Spirit of Osha infuse us.

In a spirit journey many years ago, Osha instructed me that I needed to get to know her as a living plant. Up until that moment, it hadn’t even dawned on me that I only knew Osha as the dried pieces of root I bought from herbalists. So if I was wandering around in the mountains, I could easily walk by Osha without recognizing her. I would have no idea I was in the presence of my cherished friend and healing ally. The Spirit of Osha was requesting that I see her, that I understand more fully who she is. I asked Osha to show me her living self and I saw a leafy green plant, fern-like, feathery and light, with white blossoms. So very different, so much more to all of who she is, than a chunk of hardened root.

Osha had something to teach me about relationships. About remembering that even when there may be a particular aspect of someone’s existence that is familiar or named (e.g., the root of a plant, the job title of a person, a medical diagnosis), that the whole of the being needs to be remembered, held in my awareness, and seen.

This sacred plant from the mountains has shown me about relating Wholeness to Wholeness, Respect to Respect, Freedom to Freedom, Heart to Heart.

Bear Root has taught me about honoring the vital ecosystems, the essential nature of family, community and home, in which plants (and people and birds and fish and animals and insects and rivers) live.

Letting Go: A Sacred Task

Letting Go: A Sacred Task

When trees drop their leaves in the Fall, the trees simply let the leaves go. No effort to keep everything in place. No fears. No resistance to the unfolding changes.

The trees let go of the leaves because it is time in the natural cycles of life. Of the trees. Of the leaves. Of the earth. Of the wildly intricate flow of relationships in the extraordinary web of life.

The leaves have been essential for the trees. The leaves were created by the trees. And still, there comes a time for letting go. Without judgments. Or disgust or frustration. Or disrespect or disregard.

The letting go is just as sacred and vital as the birthing. The letting go unfolds with connectedness with natural cycles, appreciation, and clarity about purposes.

In the releasing, the leaves drop to the earth and are carried in the winds, feeding soils and waters wherever they land, providing nourishment and homes for creepy-crawlies and tiny winged ones. And there’s more to the story of the life of the leaves that exists in the mystery beyond what we can see.

Open your heart and spirit to the Trees as guides, teachers, companions, and friends. Ask them to show you the art of letting go, the healing and growth that are found in letting go with awareness, connectedness, gratitude, and love.

Manifesting: It’s a Mutual Thing

Manifesting: It’s a Mutual Thing

My bundle of sage was dwindling. This particular sage plant offers medicines for smudging ceremonies. I’ve heard this plant called Indian Sage, Buffalo Sage, Dakota Sage, but the sages labeled with these names in herb stores were not the plant I was looking for.

To find a place to wildharvest the sage and replenish my herb bundle became a passionate quest. The lands near my home in New Mexico were abundant with desert sagebrush, an intriguing yet distinctly different plant. So my search ended up taking me across state lines into the mountains of southern Colorado. Intuitively I headed toward an ancient rock formation which holds stories of indigenous peoples who lived there in centuries past. I felt I’d find sage in the wilderness lands surrounding the sacred site.

Walking among the towering pines, I shared a gift offering with the land and spirits to request their help in finding and harvesting the plant. I’m looking for Sage became a silent chant, a drumbeat setting the rhythm for my explorations around the land.

I found feathers. I listened to the ravens call and watched turkey vultures coast high in the winds. I shared quiet companionship with rabbits and deer. I welcomed the sight of the ancient crumbling rocks, feeling embraced by the presence of my old friends. But Sage was nowhere to be found.

Late in the afternoon, beginning the hike back to my car, my mind got consumed by distracting chatter. Had I come all this way only to return home empty-handed? I should have talked with an expert who really knows about plants. Am I just wandering around following my heart, aimlessly getting off-track?

Slowed by depleting tugs of doubt and disappointment, I stopped and stood still in the middle of the path. I breathed in the pines. I felt the earth beneath my feet. I remembered what I had come there to do.

“I’m searching for Sage,” I explained to the trees. I took a few steps into the meadow. “And Sage is searching for me,” I said, playing around.

I loved the feeling of this new possibility: I’m looking for Sage and Sage is looking for me. Instinctively we now were joined in the hunt, both seeking and searching, reaching out to meet up.

I walked on through the meadow, moving in rhythm with renewed curiosity and intent. Something lying on the ground near a tree caught my attention – a collection of bones bleached white by the sun and nestled in the earth. I leaned in to take a closer look.

And there by my foot was a sage plant, graceful stems of tiny mint-green leaves reaching out in all directions, soaking up the sun. I glanced around and discovered yet another plant and then a whole cluster and then even more. Sage plants were flourishing in the meadow. How had I not seen them before? We crossed paths in the closing steps of my journey, coming full circle, not far from where I’d started my search.

Sage taught me something essential about manifesting: It’s a mutual thing. It’s embodied in connection. What we seek we will find when we know (without a doubt) that it too is seeking us – be it a plant or a friend or abundance or love. Manifesting is a birthing, a calling-into-existence, an intimate weaving of the choice and intent of everyone and everything involved.

Holding that Births

Holding that Births

Pythons have the ability to squeeze the breath of life away. And Pythons are one of the few snakes who stay with their eggs to nourish the birthing of new life.

Mama Python wraps her body around her eggs, holding so close that the imprint of her scales are left in the tender egg shells. Her python body creates a sacred circle of protection. The movement of her breathing and the warmth emanating through her skin nourish the transformations unfolding in the unseen realm inside the eggs.

Python guides us to take a closer look at the places we’re constricting ourselves, others, and life itself.

What are you holding back, shutting down, and stifling in your body, heart, emotions, and spirit? Are you squelching your own and others’ dreams?

How are you keeping life itself imprisoned with blindly-adopted beliefs and limited points of view?

What is not being given enough space to breath? Your creativity? The giving and receiving of love? Curiosity? The callings of your heart?

Mama Python shows us the gifts of holding that feeds and births new life.

See yourself as the Mama Python who creates a sacred birthing space. Claim the potentials for growth, change and manifestation that you are holding. Dreams for your life? Changes in health? Cultivating loving relationships? Nurturing your children, grandchildren, the earth, and the legacies you are leaving for the generations to come?

Are you willing to stay with and hold these potentials – remembering, watching over, feeding and nourishing until the birthing occurs? This is the medicine of Mama Python. She wraps herself around what she wants to grow. She stays with – holding, nourishing, protecting – not rushing or judging the process of change. She honors the innate wisdom in the flow of creation. She welcomes the emergence of new life.

See yourself in the center of the sacred circle of protection. Who and what nourish you in your process of growth and healing? Who are your midwives, the holders of sacred space? These may be other people, your own love for your own self, your non-human companions on the earth, and places and activities that generate a sacred space – so you can breath, find your way, expand all the more fully into who you really are, and bring to life what it is that you seek.

Python: One of the spirits who offers guidance in Throwing of the Bones Ceremony.

Python Medicine Card – Learn more here about Medicine Card Readings

& our Medicine Card Deck being birthed in collaboration with PattyMara Gourley.

Unleashing Love

A Gift For You!

A Gift For You!

Sign up for my newsletter and join me in creating a heart-centered world.   As a welcome gift I will send you a copy of my eBook Unleashing Love: Medicine Stories to Feed your Spirit and Awaken Your Heart.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required