Author Archives: JoAnne Dodgson

Do You Know Where You Are?

Do You Know Where You Are?

The hard-packed dirt road was a many-mile journey on bumpy washboard. The car jostled and creaked. My backbones felt rattled. The maps on the dashboard slid out of reach. The water jugs on the front seat tipped over.

Even so, everything quieted on the inside. A tidal wave of stillness washed over me, clearing my mind and opening my senses so I could breathe in every sight and sound and scent. My heart expanded into the spaciousness, the beauty and mystery in the land.

Entering through the north gate, I drove right by the campground where I’d planned to stay. Too many cars and campers. Too much protocol to follow. I sat in the parking lot at the Visitor’s Center while contemplating what to do. Then I drove on, exiting through the south gate. I felt called back to the mesas where I’d spent the night (a really cold night) last time I was here. (read story here)

As I headed toward the wild lands, I met up with an unexpected companion. Stretched out across the roadway, soaking in the sun, the snake offered confirmation of the direction I was choosing to go.

She was the first snake I’d seen this spring. And this was the second time since sunrise that I’d stopped at a crossroads, listening, watching, gathering information, waiting until I was clear about my next step.

I felt the exhilaration of homecoming as I made my way down the two-track road and parked in the wide-open expanse of the mesas. It was so quiet I could hear the grasshoppers’ wings. The view reached forever in all directions – sky, clouds, rocks, sagebrush, the spirits of the land. And me. Utterly at home. Peaceful and content. Out here in the middle of nowhere.

It was siesta time, as all creatures instinctively know, when the sun is high in the desert sky. Warm winds blew, rocking my car. I feel deeply asleep, nestled in a cocoon.


“Do you know where you are?”

I heard the voice before I saw him. He’d parked his Jeep nearby. I was surprised to see anybody else at my secret (so I thought) off-grid campsite. Was I in trouble? Was I in danger?

I told him we were on the mesas near Chaco Canyon. He told me about the GPS coordinates and the curiosity that drew him down this barely passable side road. So neither of us was lost. We were flourishing in the adventure.

“Are you an archeologist or just an interesting civilian?” he asked.

I had to laugh. Because Archeologist was something, way back when, on my list of things I wanted to be. Along with: Anthropologist, Astronaut, Veterinarian, Oceanographer.

Yet here I was in the middle of somewhere, on the land and in my life, without any need for a job title, without the structure of calendars and clocks, without an urgent list of to-dos.

Simply loving the earth. Loving being alive. Naturally being me.

This is where I am. And always want to be.

Wisdom of the Winged Ones

Wisdom of the Winged Ones

During springtime a few years ago, I was entirely enchanted by witnessing three different feathered families nurture the birthing of new life. Join me in the magic…

The nest is a sacred space constructed with pure focus and intent. The materials are gathered up, purposefully selected, and woven together in a unique and precise design. An organic sanctuary. A family home. A vessel to welcome and protect the new generation.

The eggs are laid and the nesting begins.

The elders’ presence, love and care nurture the transformations taking place inside a world unseen.

The growth inside the egg is guided by the ancient blueprint passed on through the lineage over time.

The warmth of the bird’s body, the information and energy being exchanged, nourish the promise of the continuance of life.


Then following their inner guidance, the baby birds make their way out of the eggs. With tender bodies and great tenacity, the little ones take the protective eggshell apart. The baby birds leave behind the entire universe they have known.


Timing and pace are different for everyone.

And not all life potentials come into physical existence.



There’s companionship in their journeys of growth and transformation. Day by day, the little ones come more fully into themselves, singing out, opening their wings, hungrily feeding.








And soon there comes a day when the callings to fly simply can not be ignored. Even when others aren’t ready. Some stay nestled inside, listening, watching, readying for their moment to take flight.









After a bold and beautiful leap from the nest, becoming airborne with the power of her own wings, she touches down for a soft landing on the earth. Finding her grounding in this wild new world, she lifts up again to fly.

Coyote & Magpie: Giving Us Wings

Coyote & Magpie: Giving Us Wings

In our recent Throwing of the Bones Ceremony in Pagosa Springs, there was helpful guidance from Coyote and Magpie about how we can navigate these changing times on the earth.

The medicines of Coyote and Magpie are being shown as our wings which empower us to take flight. These medicines are essential tools, gifts, and ways of being for making our way through the passages of change.

We have a choice, according to the spirits. We can give up and give in to the out-of-balance dynamics, systems, structures and beliefs. We can take a powerless stance, feeling inadequate and incapable of making any difference. Devaluing ourselves and life. Giving our power away. This approach is described as a crash landing, an inevitable flow into the destruction and extinction of our own and others’ lives.

Or we can activate the medicines of Coyote and Magpie to set the momentum of change in another direction. We can participate in the dying away of well-embedded patterns of judgment, violence, and fighting against nature. By releasing these heavy weights, we free ourselves up to take flight – with passion for living, with a sense of adventure, with wonder about what lies ahead beyond the known horizon.

Coyote Medicine

Coyote is a teacher about perseverance. For many generations, humans have tried to eliminate coyotes. Yet the coyotes haven’t accepted this agenda for their lives. Even with harsh judgment and extensive harm directed against them, the coyotes haven’t gone to war against the humans.

They simply go about being Coyote.

Coyotes flourish and thrive in all kinds of climates and terrains. They have accomplished this by staying true to themselves, by seeking the passion of their own existence. Coyotes haven’t given in to others’ harmful agendas. Coyotes do not define themselves by judgments, misunderstandings, and fear.

Coyote is calling us to claim the passion for our own existence, to seek the aware and awake knowing of who we really are, of who and what the earth really is, and the gifts of life itself. There is purpose in our presence on the earth and in the web of life. No better, no less, than anyone else. Our inherent connectedness and belonging have been forgotten and left behind.

Coyote guides the way to live this remembering, to live centered in the genuine and unique expression of our humanness – unencumbered by internal or external judgments, disrespect, and fears.

Coyote is calling us to be innovative and ingenious, to be adaptable to changing climates, to openly explore the diverse terrains, relationships, and ecosystems of our lives. Coyote shows us the way to join up with the web of life that we naturally are a part of – rather than separating, disconnecting, damaging without regard.

Coyote calls us to find our pack, to generate collaborative relationships, to explore together this time of flight into the mystery and the making of the new.

Coyote is guiding us to communicate with each other, with all forms of life, about what we discover and how we find our footing as we move through endings, step into the new, navigate challenges, and rebuild our lives and our world.

Flourishing and thriving are personal and collective endeavors filled with unshakeable passion for the living of life.

Magpie Medicine

Magpies are always up to something. They are playful, intelligent and curious. They have an intricate and imaginative language, sharing about their observations and discoveries. Their brilliant feathers have a shimmering radiance, a hint of the magic raining down from their wings.

The medicine of Magpie is vital for our flight into and through these changing times on the earth. Magpie medicine is also essential to hold as you navigate personal changes (e.g., health, home, relationships, births, deaths, other life transitions).

Magpies are guides to awakening our sense of adventure, feeling our curiosity and delight, remembering the magic and mystery that are always around.

When we approach changes as hardship and drudgery, as tedious burdens, as something to be dreaded and feared, these energies and emotions will flavor all that we do, all that unfolds during the process, and where we end up.

When we approach endings and beginnings, challenges and the unknowns, with a sense of adventure about what we will encounter and who we will meet, about what we will learn and discover and decide to conjure up – these are the energies that will color our thoughts and emotions, shape the actions we take, guide the course of our flight, and be imprinted in all that unfolds.

Magpie is calling us to awaken our wide-open curiosity, our playfulness and love for adventure, and the seeking and making of magic.

Magpie shows us that if want to build a world filled with harmony, joy and love, we have to be feeling these energies, remembering and living them, honoring and recognizing them, and communicating harmony, joy and love while we’re building.

So when you find yourself mired in the muck of taking yourself and life too seriously, bring Magpie medicine alive. Remember the times in your life that you approach changes, challenges, and the unknowns with a sense of adventure, with curiosity and wonder, with openness to the unfolding. Heading off on a roadtrip. Planting a garden. Meeting new friends. Beginning an art project. Playing music. Baking a pie. Watching the sunset. Creating a ceremonial altar space. Opening a new conversation. Witnessing the growth of your children and grandchildren.

Let the remembering fill and flow through you – embody the medicine of Magpie – and bring this into the current circumstances.

Whatever is alive inside you ripples beyond and touches everyone and everything. So even in such a seemingly simple moment – remembering the feeling of open-hearted curiosity, the adventure and magic in life – you’ve created a shift that radiates on and on, flowing from the inside out.

Manaole U Manaole,

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

Seeds of Change

Seeds of Change

She came on the waters, traveling many miles and many moons on a wooden raft bound with sinew and vines. Attentive to every sound and sight and smell, she searched along the shore for signs of the villages she’d seen in her dreams. Grandmother knew the people were hungry. She’d seen the rippling effects of their fears. Guided by her visions, she followed the currents of the wild waters, carrying bundles of ancient medicines for those calling to her.

Drawn to the laughter bubbling up from beneath a canopy of trees, she came upon a group of children playing where the river meets the land. Chanting her Greeting Song, Grandmother drifted into the cove. With wide-eyed curiosity, giggling and holding each other’s hands, the children waded into the waters. The young ones pulled the raft into shore, staring at the old woman who’d come from Upriver. With long silvery hair and green eyes shining like stars, the old woman was unlike anyone they’d ever seen.

The old woman and the little ones were soon playing together like long-lost friends, splashing in the waters, painting their faces with mud. The children drank in the grandmother’s love as if they were famished. They breathed in her joy, filling themselves up. They devoured her stories and songs.

When the sun began to soften the late afternoon sky, Grandmother waded into the river. She listened to the currents pulling at her feet. When she gathered a bundle from the raft, her every move was followed by a circle of curious young eyes. Sitting on a boulder, the old woman cradled an emerald green turtle shell in her lap. The children gathered around, trying to get a closer look. Humming softly, Grandmother lifted up layers of furs to reveal a mound of woven pouches tied with ribbons of vines tucked inside the bowl of the turtle shell.

Grandmother gave every child a woven pouch. She told the children stories about the sacred bundles of corn they cradled in their hands. The children listened intently to the instructions for planting. Grandmother taught them the old ways of blessing the soil, of calling in the sun and the rains, and sharing offerings of gratitude for the Spirit of the Corn.

The children danced in celebration, feeling abundance take root and come alive inside their own knowing. With the gifts of the corn, they would always be fed – all the people, all the land, would forever be fed. With Grandmother’s corn, even their dreams would have space to grow. No more empty bellies and hungry hearts.

Gently holding the pouches, the children ran back to the village and exuberantly shared all they had learned. Doubts and suspicion instantly erupted. Fears infiltrated the village, rolling like shockwaves through every dwelling on the land. The children were scolded for being gullible, for speaking nonsense, for telling lies. They were reprimanded for breaking the rules and talking to an Outsider. They were punished for carrying something so dangerous in their hands.

The village leader demanded that all the pouches be collected and immediately brought to him. Everyone in the village was required to watch as the corn bundles, one by one, were thrown into the fire and the children, one by one, were threatened into silence. The corn was never to be spoken of again. There was not to be another word, not even a whisper, about the old woman who came from Upriver. None of that was real. It never even happened. It was simply to be forgotten. That’s what the children were told.

Grandmother heard it all in the winds and knew the time had come to continue on her way. She’d watch over the village for the many generations to come. As she drifted downriver, moving farther out from land, the sounds of someone humming caught her attention.

Drawn back by the song, Grandmother floated into the secluded cove. There was Wakena, a child from the village, barefoot in the rippling waters, digging a hole in the mud. Sensing somebody’s presence, Wakena quickly glanced over her shoulder. She feared she’d been discovered in this now forbidden place.

Seeing the old woman on the raft, Wakena took a deep breath. Her body flooded with relief and delight. A greeting passed silently between the old woman and the girl. The warmth of their welcoming was held quiet inside the instinctual protection of the unexpected crossing of their paths.

Wakena waded in the river toward the raft. She opened her hands, reaching toward the old woman, wanting Grandmother to see. Nestled in the girl’s muddy hands was the bundle of corn, still wrapped in the colorful weaving and tied with a ribbon of vine.

The eyes of the elder and the eyes of the young one met in a steadfast embrace. Their deeply felt trust, the alliance of their ageless wisdom, held the promise of the remembering to come.

With Grandmother watching over, Wakena walked back to shore to finish her digging in the place where the river meets the land. She set the corn pouch deep in the muddy hole, burying the bundle beneath handfuls of pebbles and leaves. She filled in the hole and patted down the mud, securing the corn’s safekeeping.

Wakena pressed both hands into the clay, leaving her print, sealing her agreement. She leaned in close, her nose touching the wet earth, whispering her promise to never forget, to someday return, to always remember the gifts of the corn and the old woman with eyes shining like stars.

Wakena walked up the path toward the village, turning back just once to wave a muddy-handed farewell. Grandmother continued her journey along the wild currents of the river, carrying bundles of ancient medicines, seeking those calling to her.

Words as Sacred Medicine

Words as Sacred Medicine

Ka Ta See is a medicine storytelling tradition. Inside this ancient and enduring way of life lives the understanding of the healing power of words.

Words are a form of communication that we generate with our breath, with the very breath of life. Like whales singing. Elephants trumpeting. Coyotes howling. Owls calling into the night.

Our words flow in waves of energy. Our words are infused with the vibration of our own creation. The energy in our words begins on the inside and radiates out. This is one of the ways, throughout every day, that we are co-creating life, relationships, and our world.

The words we engage with (speaking, writing, reading, thinking) shape how we feel in our inner worlds and what we contribute along the fibers in the web of life. We’re not only touching the person we’re speaking with or thinking about, or the place or experience we’re remembering. We touch all life, nearby and far away, with the energies carried in the vibrations of our words.

Our human-made world is flooded with harsh, harming words and warring debates that we readily have access to, that we’re affected by, that we’re addicted to, and that we may be contributing to.

Imagine a world in which words are honored as sacred. In which we understand our power to use words as medicine. Healing medicine. Purposeful. Intentional. Aware of the effect.

Words have the power to evoke awakening, for us to see and be seen. Words have the medicine of inspiring rejuvenation, weaving collaboration, exploring diverse perspectives, knitting together broken fibers, generating integrity, creating love in relationships, expressing genuine emotions, delving deeper into questions, and seeking understanding.

Each of us has the power to reclaim the sacred medicines of our own words. This is a natural human gift.

Honoring words as sacred medicine begins on the inside…

What words do you use to talk to yourself? About yourself? About others? About current or past life circumstances? About your dreams? About life itself?

What are the words you choose to speak or write? What are you sharing? What is the purpose? Have you considered the rippling effect?

Honoring words as sacred medicine then expands beyond…

Imagine the world we’ll have when we stop arguing and debating, when we no longer chop life apart into hierarchies of better-than and less-than, into the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”

Imagine the world we’ll live in when we’re not using words to do harm in order to feel “powerful,” “right,” and “in control.”

What will we talk about?

What thoughts will occupy our minds, bodies and hearts?

How much more quiet, stillness, listening, observing might there be?

What questions will we ask?

What innovative conversations will we have?

What new territories will we explore together?

What new words will we conjure up?

Words as sacred medicine…explore the potentials of bringing this alive in the everyday moments of your everyday life.

Share your stories and discoveries. We’re in this together.



Living the Way of the Circle

Living the Way of the Circle

The elders in the Ka Ta See lineage describe the way of the circle as how they construct their relationships and have maintained their way of life for tens of thousands of years on our planet. The tribe continues living ka ta see, living in balance, through countless generations and all kinds of challenges and change.

In this tribal way of the circle, the feminine is in the center and the masculine is the line around the circle. A sacred space. A protected space. A loving and respectful relational space which nurtures thriving, well-being, uniqueness, aliveness, and heart to heart connections.

In this way of life, everyone is seeking the living of their Song. And everyone wants this for everybody else. There is a continual process of awakening and discovery, of honoring and fostering personal empowerment inside the web of relationships. The way of the circle holds unwavering awareness of the intricate fibers of connection being woven with those nearby and far beyond. With the trees, waters, and land. With natural cycles. With humans, ancestors, and spirits. A dance with life itself.

The circle is a non-hierarchical existence and relational structure. For those of us thinking, reading, writing, and speaking in English, when we’ve been influenced by the ways of the Westernized world, we need to stretch way beyond our socialization and limited beliefs which habitually position everyone and everything inside a hierarchy.

When living the way of the circle, there is no better-than or less-than. There is no evaluation of who is worthy of Love or not. In the elders’ native language, there is no word for “judgment.”

In the tribal way of living in balance, the feminine holds the center of the circle. In the physical realm, this is the women and children in the center of the circle. Women hold the center. Who they are, how they are feeling, being, thinking and relating, radiates into the whole of the circle, touching everyone and everything.

The masculine is the line around the circle. In the physical realm, this is the men who are protecting, watching over, taking actions to care for the well-being of the whole of the community. They are attentive and tending to the health and happiness of the women and children in the center. The masculine generates, protects, and holds a sacred space for the flourishing and continuance of life.

The way of the circle is rooted in the honoring of the feminine. Without the feminine, without women and the next generations, there is no continuance of life.

The way of the circle is rooted in the honoring of the masculine. Without the masculine, there is risk of desecration of the center that holds the blueprint for life.

Living in the way of the circle calls us to reexamine our beliefs about the feminine and masculine, to reconstruct our relationships within ourselves and with others, and to reconsider how we can rebuild our lives and our world…from the inside out.

To be continued ~ there’s so much more to share!


Unleashing Love

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