Our Teachers and Faculty

Mr. Cowan is best known for making accessible two treasures: the indigenous Huichol shamanic tradition of Mexico and an approach to deep healing with the spirits of plants.

Eliot discovered the spiritual healing potential of plants in 1986, after ten years of successful practice in Classical Chinese Medicine. Shamanistic approaches wedded with Chinese medicine to bring forth what he calls “plant spirit medicine”. Cowan’s work as a healer in that medium brings deep healing to many. He has trained hundreds in the practice. His workshops and talks, as well as his book, Plant Spirit Medicine, are open doors to the wisdom of plants and the entire natural world.

The wisdom and medicine of the Huichol people are thriving in the Sierra Madre, but they had been largely inaccessible to outsiders until Eliot Cowan received initiation as a medicine man and guide to apprentices in that tradition. After the death of Eliot’s first teacher, don Guadalupe Gonzalez Rios, further initiations were officiated by don Jose Sandoval of La Laguna, Mezquitic, Jalisco.

Mr. Cowan is now recognized as a Tsaurirrikame, or elder Huichol shaman. He has trained and initiated over twenty-five medicine people who are helping their clients in the U.S. and other countries.

Today Eliot serves his people as healer, counselor, public speaker, guide to apprentices, ritual leader, and worker in support of the Sacred Fire Community, the Huichol Community of San Andres Cohamiata, and the Blue Deer Center.

Read a recent interview with Eliot about his traditional healing work.

Read about the Pilgrimage Offer.

David Wiley is a Tsaurirrikame (Elder Shaman) in the Huichol Indian tradition of the northwestern Sierra Madre of Mexico and is a Quiapaquiz (weather Shaman) and healer in the Nahua Indian tradition of the highlands of central Mexico. In these roles he serves his community as a counselor, community and ceremonial leader along with being recognized as a spiritual conduit for the elemental deity of fire known by the Huichols as Tatewarí or Grandfather Fire (along with many other names in various other cultures).

To find out more about David’s work, please visit www.keepsthefire.org.

Eda Zavala Lopez comes from a long lineage of native women healers. A descendant of the Wari people she describes her knowledge of healing practices as being a part of her DNA. Her grandmother used plant medicines in a very natural way and Eda absorbed this directly and simply. She went on to study with native healers deep in the forest learning the intricacies of plant medicines and their properties from healers and the plants themselves.

Over a twenty year journey, Eda has supported and assisted Indigenous Communities’ efforts to protect the sacred rainforest, preserve traditional plants, perpetuate ancient healing plant practices, and empower themselves.

To stimulate interest and support for her Peruvian indigenous brothers and sisters and the treasures of the rainforest, Eda now travels to the United States and other countries sharing her experiences and knowledge. She participates in conferences, forums, workshops, and conducts group healing ceremonies, as well as personal healing sessions. She has also been closely involved with Native American healers and Elders, and sacred ceremonies.

For more information about Eda Zavala Lopez you can visit her website at EdaZavalaLopez.com.

Charles was born in 1967 and graduated from Yale with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. Growing up, he was consumed with questions like "Where did I come from?", "Why am I here?" and "Where am I going?" He is the author of three books -- The Yoga of Eating, The Ascent of Humanity, and, most recently, Sacred Economics, which Andrew Harvey has called "a brilliant and beautifully written book." He spent time as a Chinese translator, studied herbs, health, and nutrition and educated himself in Eastern spiritual traditions. In addition to writing books, he has frequent public speaking engagements at conferences and smaller events. He has taught at Goddard College and currently lives with his wife in Harrisburg, PA, where he contemplates a new book about "Story" and the building of a more beautiful world.

Thomas R. Porter (Sakokwenionkwas-“The One Who Wins”) has been the founder, spokesperson and spiritual leader of the Mohawk Community of Kanatsiohareke (Ga na jo ha lay gay) located in the Mohawk Valley near Fonda, New York since 1993. He is a member of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. (Akwesasne, also known as the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, straddles the New York State/Canadian border near Massena, New York.) He is married to Alice Joe Porter who is Choctaw, and has six children.

Tom "Sakokwenionkwas" Porter has been a nationally recognized figure in Indian Country since the 1960’s when he co-founded the White Roots of Peace, a group of Iroquois Elders who toured the country sharing traditional teachings and encouraging Indians to embrace their respective Native traditions. Recognizing that Mohawk language and culture were dying out, he also co-founded the Akwesasne Freedom School for grades K-8, with a curriculum entirely in Mohawk. Mr. Porter is recognized nationally as a compassionate and inspirational speaker about the destructive effects of substance abuse on Indian families, communities and nations. As an educator, Tom has taught a range of subjects at the Akwesasne Freedom School, Trent University, Akwesasne and the Tyiendinaga Reserve, and has worked as a cultural researcher and consultant for the North American Indian Traveling College. Mr. Porter is the author of the book Our Ways, a study of Iroquoian clan systems, published by the North American Indian Traveling College, and has received the Rothko Chapel Award for commitment to truth and freedom.

For further information, please see: http://www.mohawkcommunity.com/tomscorner.html

Chief Lyons is a faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Council of Chiefs, Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy). He has been active in international Indigenous rights and sovereignty issues for over four decades at the United Nations and other international forums. He is a State University of New York (SUNY) distinguished services professor emeritus of the University at Buffalo. He co-founded the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth with the American Indian Institute at Bozemon, Montana, and continues to serve on their board. Oren co-founded the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse program in 1983 and is chairman of their board of directors. He is chairman of the board of directors of Honoring Nation, the Harvard program for Native American economic development. He serves on the board of Bioneers an environmental champion of the earth. Chief Lyons is chairman of the board of directors of Plantagon International AB, the leader in urban agriculture, Plantagon is designed to meet challenges of compounding human population, finite resources and global warming.

For further information, please see: http://www.7genfund.org/chief-oren-lyons

Alison Gayek has been teaching Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan since 2002. She began studying with Eliot Cowan in 1997 and graduated from the PSM course in 1999. Since then, Alison has maintained a strong effective PSM practice. As a teacher, Alison teaches the PSM Practitioner Training Course, graduate clinicals and skills courses, and also works to teach, mentor, and support new graduates as they start their own practices. In addition, she is a qualified clinical supervisor and provides clinical supervision for students and graduates. Alison has continued her healing work through various pilgrimages with Eliot Cowan and David Wiley. She is a Quiatizques (weather shaman) in the Nahua tradition indigenous to Central Mexico.

Sherry Boatright is a Sacred Fire Community firekeeper in Carrollton, Georgia. She is a Quiatizques (woman bringer of rain or weather shaman) in the Nahua tradition of the central highlands of Mexico and a ceremonial leader. Sherry is the Director of Lifeways for the Sacred Fire Community and facilitates the Lifeways Ukalai Women’s Gathering.

Mr. Cowan is best known for making accessible two treasures:  the indigenous Huichol  shamanic tradition of Mexico and an approach to deep healing with the spirits of plants.

Eliot discovered the spiritual healing potential of plants in 1986, after ten years of successful practice in Classical Chinese Medicine. Shamanistic approaches wedded with Chinese medicine to bring forth what he calls “plant spirit medicine”. Cowan’s work as a healer in that medium brings deep healing to many. He has trained hundreds in the practice. His workshops and talks, as well as his book, Plant Spirit Medicine, are open doors to the wisdom of plants and the entire natural world. 

The wisdom and medicine of the Huichol people are thriving in the Sierra Madre, but they had been largely inaccessible to outsiders until Eliot Cowan received initiation as a medicine man and guide to apprentices in that tradition. After the death of Eliot’s first teacher, don Guadalupe Gonzalez Rios, further initiations were officiated by don Jose Sandoval of La Laguna, Mezquitic, Jalisco. 

Mr. Cowan is now recognized as a tsaurirrikame, or elder Huichol shaman.  He has trained and initiated over twenty-five medicine people who are helping their clients in the U.S. and other countries.

Today Eliot serves his people as healer, counselor, public speaker, guide to apprentices, ritual leader, and worker in support of the Sacred Fire Community, the Huichol Community of San Andres Cohamiata, and the Blue Deer Center. 

Read a recent interview with Eliot about his traditional healing work. 

Read about the Pilgrimage Offer

Scott Sheerin is a Mará akáme (shaman) in the Huichol tradition. He practices shamanic healing in Asheville, NC. He has been on the staff of Eliot Cowan's healing camps for 13 years. He is also a gifted musician offering healing and ritual music. His recordings are in use around the world helping to spread the energy of heart and fire wherever they are heard.

"With music it is very interesting, because you are opening up to a flow that is already present. And you are breathing and moving the sounds and notes out into the space around you. And so in a certain kind of way you feel how those sounds are – how they are flowing out and what they are moving up against – like how water moves against a shore – the contours that form." -- Scott Sheerin, from an interview in Around The Fire newsletter

Linda Felch is a Mará akáme (shaman) in the Huichol tradition and a Plant Spirit Medicine healer. As our Healing Camp coordinator she makes sure that everything runs smoothly in preparing for camp and while we are at Blue Deer.

Justin Starting is a Mará akáme (shaman) in the Huichol tradition. For many years he has taught the art of building relationships with the natural world through the practical skills of our ancestors. At healing camps he offers his program entitled Touch the Earth.

Deanna Jenné is an initiated Mará akáme (shaman) in the Huichol tradition and weather worker in the Nahua tradition, both rooted in Mexico. Deanna co-facilitates the Sacred Fire Community's Sacred Emergence: Initiation Into Womanhood program. As initiated Fire Keepers, she and her husband, Gary, are growing and maintaining a Fire Community in Mesa, Colorado. Deanna is available for healing sessions and consultation. Please contact her at 970-241-7256.

Flor is a native Venezuelan with a background in dance. She is a graduate of the 200 hour DY Life of a Yogi Teacher Training (DYRT).

"I teach as I keep learning from my beloved Guru. I regularly attend Sri Dharma’s Master Class where I continue to learn how to ~copy the teacher~ I truly believe in Compassion, Honor, Non Violence and Respect for all beings. It is a need for me to keep passing his teachings on to others as they have forever changed my life."

Liz is an experienced registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) through the Yoga Alliance. She graduated with her certification in 2008 from the Sivananda Ashram in the Catskills.

Liz believes that the body is the temple to the soul. By using the breathe as a tool to practice the pranic exchange we can heal the body, raise our vibration and expand individual consciousness in the journey towards self realization.

Andrei Ram-Om maintains the tradition of living the life of a Yogi, while living in the ordinary world. He has been ordained by Sri Dharma Mittra to continue passing the living Yoga practices and to share them with others worldwide.

From an early age Andrei had strong insights, visualizations and special experiences, which make him realized of the non-physical aspects of reality and divinity.

Many years of intense self-yoga practice and devoted dedication to serve his guru as full time karma yogi led him to became the senior teacher at Dharma Yoga Center for many years.

Following the unifying dharma to promote coalition of all yoga styles, back to its universal nature: Union, Oness, Yoga; he has had the chance to collaborate with other traditional lineages, through organizations such as: “The Art Of Living Foundation” of Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, “The Self-Realization Fellowship” of Paramahansa Yogananda, and some others.

With unwavering loyalty to the traditional yogi lineage, Andrei translates the ancient wisdom of the Yoga Science to the most contemporary way of living; offering effective tools from the mat practice to be useful in the “every day” living challenge. Andrei Ram travels the world leading yoga workshops, retreats and “Self Realization Immersion Courses”.

Ram stands up daily to become an embodiment of dharma (righteous duty, that which upholds and supports) for the sake of Ultimate Liberation for all living beings in Divine-Union.

For more information about Andrei Ram go to
www.innerparadise.org

Colette Ruoff is an organizational consultant, executive coach and Plant Spirit Medicine healer. Colette has more than 10 years of experience working in corporations as a Banker and Investment Manager. She earned an MBA at NYU in Economics and is a certified Gestalt Psychotherapist, and Certified Coach.

For the last 15 years she has worked as an Organizational Consultant and Coach for McKinsey & Co., WPP, J&J and Ernst & Young. In recent years she has started to work with non-profit organizations and triple bottom line companies including BALLE, New Island Capital, and the Sacred Fire Foundation.

Colette is actively involved in her community as a Plant Spirit Medicine healer and is the founder and Director of SageArts, a non profit organization whose mission is to create and deliver intergenerational arts projects that encourage social inclusion and dignity for elders and people in hospice care.

Born and raised in NY, Colette now lives in the Hudson River Valley of NY among the ancient Catskill Mountains and Shawangunk Ridge.

Thomas Jaggers is an organizational consultant, facilitator, and community organizer and activist. Thomas has more than 10 years experience working within and consulting to the non-profit sector. He has been a Director of the Academy for the Love of Learning, a Santa Fe-based educational non-profit, is the co-founder of the grassroots anti-nuclear organization, Nuke Free Now, and is the Community Relations Director of the Mogadao Institute. He is also a Qigong instructor, and Board member for the Mogadao Institute, and is a Board member for Arts of Nature, a Santa Fe nature-based educational organization. Most recently, Thomas has been bringing his focus to community organizing around Rights of Nature in northern New Mexico.

In all of his community organizing he brings a particular interest to the creation and facilitation of forums in which the local community can more fully participate in the democratic process. And in all of his work he creates spaces in which all voices can be heard and in which people can safely speak and act from their hearts.

Born and raised in England, Thomas has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 2004. He has lived in a consensus-based co-housing community, with his two children, for more than 10 years, and previously lived in two spiritual communities in Europe.

Jeannie is the director of Living as Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to seeding a culture of the Heart on the planet, inspiring, teaching and supporting people to live from their essence as Love. A year before the birth of her daughter, Jeannie was plunged into a dark night of the soul that culminated in a radical shift of consciousness. She is known for her fearless clarity, tender mercy towards humanness, and a juicy, poetic and often humorous style that draws from Advaita Vedanta, Sufism, Christian mysticism and the ongoing revelation of fully engaged living. Residing in Colorado, she travels widely in the U.S. and Canada, bringing a down-to-earth embodied teaching of living as love.

Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower, R.N., is founder of Weeds, Leaves, Seeds & Shoots, an Herbal and Wild Foods Consulting business; she is also author of "Healing the Injured Brain: Overcoming the Fog, the Fatigue and the Forgetfulness” and Plant Life, a 3 in one self-help, plant I.D. recipe book, soon to be published. In her consulting, she combines natural wellness in traditional and eclectic herbalism with evidence-based, health-oriented community outreach programs.

Charlene O'Rourke, Taoyewakanwi-Her Ways Are Sacred, is an Oglala Lakota woman who follows the spiritual and cultural beliefs of her ancestors. She has served as a ceremonial musician and singer for different types of events and ceremonies over a span of 40 years. Charlene is also a professional composer and performer. She is currently working with NASA on a project studying the Indigenous Lakota Star Constellation. A motivational speaker and an International Certified Addictions Counselor and Community Specialist and Consultant, she serves Native communities and works in federal and state prisons.

Click here for more information.

Dr. Gary Reiss holds an LCSW, PhD., and is a certified trainer in Process-oriented Psychology. Gary has a private practice in Eugene and Portland, Oregon, and teaches Process oriented Psychology worldwide, now actively teaching in 17 countries. He is a senior faculty member at the Process Work Institute, and brings 40 plus years’ experience to his work. His specialties include family therapy, sex therapy, working with coma patients, Worldwork in hot spots in the world, organizational development, and integrating Process work with different spiritual traditions. He has published 10 books including The Dance of Sex; Dreaming Money: and Families that Dream Together. His latest book is Love, Power, and Wisdom.

Will Patterson, of Tea Thyme Herb & Fruit Farm, has been raising honey bees for over 20 years. His grandfather sparked his interest in bees when he was a young boy in Pennsylvania. Now his many hives are vital to pollinate numerous fruit trees on the farm. His gathered honey and pollen go into the Tea Thyme's specialty mustard. Sharing his knowledge with clients when installing bee hives has become a large part of his business. You can find Will, his honey & fruit products at the Round Barn on Route 30 in Margaretville from May through October. farmforbees [at] gmail [dot] com

Diane Longboat is from the Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan, from Six Nations Grand River Territory, Canada. Diane is the leader of Soul of the Mother, a dedicated team of spiritual leaders and healers seeking unity of the human family and building peace. They travel amongst First Nations and globally, to carry the Sacred Fire for the transformational healing of self, community and the Earth.

Dr. Jody Noé is a traditional Cherokee medicine holder and Naturopathic Doctor. In 1987, Dr. Noé was accepted as an official apprentice by Crosslin F. Smith, high medicine person of the Keetoowah Cherokees of the Western Band, OK. Traditional Cherokee medicine uses plants, earth, air, water, and fire (heat) along with rituals and prayers to invoke spirit and healing.

In her Family Health Care practice in Connecticut, Dr. Noe also specializes in integrative oncology, HIV/Aids and chronic disease. Dr. Noé facilitates integration of mind, body and spirit, which requires patient participation in their own healing process.

Gail Whitlow is Mohawk, born into the Bear Clan of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). Since she was 25 years old, her life has been dedicated to fostering traditional ceremonies that allow connection to Spirit. Gail is the 13th Grandmother on the Turtle Island Council. She is a strong presence in the Grandmothers movement worldwide, and has been instrumental in creating the Grandmothers Circle the Earth Foundation. As medicine person working with visualization tools and traditional healing methods, Gail is led by guidance from the spirit world to connect with ancestors and animal totems. She owns the Ancestral Voices Healing Centre in Ohsweken, Ontario on the Six Nations Reserve.

John is the owner of Catskill Fungi whose mission is to empower people through Fungi via outdoor guided mushroom classes, cultivation courses, educational talks, private consultations, mushroom art, and mushroom health supplements which he makes from mushrooms he grows on his family farm in the Catskill Mountains. He served on the Mushroom Advisory Panel for Certified Naturally Grown to help develop the standards for ecological practices in mushroom production. John is the President of the Mid-Hudson Mycological Association (MHMA), and a member of North American Mycological Association (NAMA) as well as Amazon Mycorenweal Project researching the utilization of Fungi to remediate oil spills in the Amazon Rainforest. His goal is to educate and inspire people to pair with fungi so we can improve our health, our environment and our communities.

CatskillFungi.com