Tim's Story: Finding the Thunderbird Nest

"I walked up the mountain to find my way.  I trusted the tall tales of the ancient trees. They told me to follow the animals to the medicine places and the stones of the Thunderbird Nest. Like a little pine I stood alone atop that place of vision and I grew cold. Then a great bird - grey as a storm cloud - hatched inside my heart. My spirit flew free and I soared like a Grey Thunderbird high into the sky." -- Tim Yearington

Out of respect to those of you who are seeking to know more about me, I share with you the following information. I trust it will help you understand the purpose of the work that I do.  

I am originally from North Bay, Ontario, Canada. I was adopted as a child so my roots have always been a great mystery to me. But I did finally learn I have Mohawk and Irish ancestry on my birth mother's side. On my birth father's side I have Algonquin KitchiZibi (Great River) blood and Métis/French Canadian roots. It's with this mixed ancestry I say I'm a "mixed-blood" person.

Ever since I was a boy who loved being out in the wilderness, I knew I would become a person to teach Algonquin knowledge. Today my passion is helping people learn how to embrace the wonderful teachings of my KitchiZibi ancestors. This matters to me because we need to remember that we're all "Native" to the earth. Mother Earth is home to us all; each and every one of us.

Before I knew what my purpose was as a knowledge keeper, I had many things to learn myself. And I still am. I spend a lot of time out on the land - out in the bush - so to speak. Here I get deeply engaged in my learning guided by the spirits of the land: the stones, plants, trees and animals; the crawlers, the walkers swimmers and flyers. An Algonquin elder once said to me, "The word eagle and the word ego sound very much alike. There's a fine line between fearlessness and foolishness." So very true.

After the death of my career as a commerical artist, I went back to what I knew best and became a wilderness adventure guide. For many years I took people canoeing, hiking & snowshoeing to all the beautiful places that inspired me. I wanted to help people see the medicine of traditional Algonquin territory just west of Ottawa. But no trails even existed to all the medicine places and sacred nests I had become well acquainted with.

So, inspired by my own creative visions, I began "scouting out" and constructing trails that would bring people to see the good medicine of the land. I made the trails go to spots where people could personally experience the union of the earth and the sky. One popular trail I created is the Manitou Mountain Trail. Found just west of Ottawa near Calabogie, Ontario, this trail network includes scenic Eagle's Nest Sacred Site which is also a lookout. And there is another trail I scouted and created that goes to a sacred place called Thunderbird Mountain; but that's another story... you'll have to speak with me in person about that one!

Today my passion is helping people learn to use the power and medicine of the Thunderbird teachings. My aim is to help others find and utilize the Great Spirit that soars high within each of us by sharing traditional knowledge that helps us know our shared human condition. My ultimate hope is that people will learn to embrace the good medicine within each of us to help create personal wellness, outer well-being and inner peace.  

My knowledge is rooted in my research, experiences, visions and most importantly the lessons, ways and wisdom I have learned from a variety of traditional elders, medicine people, knowledge keepers and holy people. I have recognized that my quest for medicine ways has taken me my entire life. Upon the trail I have endured many sacrifices and have lost many things. But for all that I have lost, I do understand I have gained much. All I have gained is what I passionately share with others today.

Some of my knowledge is based on my very close relationship with the earth - like a snake - and my experiences with animal manitou helpers. I will also admit to you that some of my most profound knowledge comes to me directly from my Algonquin ancestors who are The Old Ones. And then there are my own profound and enlightening experiences with the Thunderbird.

The Thunderbird, a messenger of the Great Spirit, uses thunder and lightning to help people create changes in life for their own greater good. I was taught, "Sometimes the weakest people need the strongest medicine." Therefore most of my practices draw upon the ways of what is called "Thunderbird Medicine". The Thunderbird Medicine Society was a group of knowledge keepers, medicine men and holy people. These people didn't gather roots and bark for their medicine; theirs came directly from the Great Spirit and the Sky World in the form of ancestor spirits called Grandfathers who, we believe, intentionally come to help us - in spirit form - as Thunderbirds.

I once learned that a Thunderbird medicine person comes into being by having visions and experiences with their spirit helper the Thunderbird. And in addition, learning to be a Thunderbird medicine person also involves learning about and working with the medicine of snakes and serpents; things that aren't too fun and are very challenging personally. My very first dream of the Mishi-ginebik (Horned Serpent) was when I was fourteen. This being, Mishi-ginebik, appeared to me in a dream where I was swimming at the bottom of a deep lake in northern Ontario.


I didn't know it at the time but eventually I learned that when a person dreams of Mishi-ginebik (and Thunderbird too) this may indicate they could possibly become a medicine person later in life. When I grew up, I realized it was all up to me to choose to step into this role, embrace Thunderbird medicine and walk my talk to share the traditional knowledge I'd learned to use myself to now help others become balanced, strong and well in life.

Thunderbird people are taught to share their feathers. These feathers take the form of traditional knowledge, medicine ways and ancient teachings. All of this "good medicine" is intended to inspire, enlighten and encourage others to see the importance of utilizing their spirit to follow their own medicine trail in life.

From the work I've done upon my own medicine trail, I now understand that true self-awareness and self-empowerment typically involves facing that monster serpent that exists deep within each of us. As a Thunderbird myself, this is what I aim to help people heal the most - the hidden, deep, dark scary stuff.

The Elders I've met on the trail believe it's very important today to help people re-connect with their own spirits again. In this way people are motivated and can become empowered to bring balance and happiness back into their lives. I believe it's getting more important that we honestly re-assess our direction in life. Indigenous knowledge helps us take a good hard look at how we're really doing - and where we're headed - here on Earth.

As told by the Anishinaabe prophecy of the Seventh Fire, there is a time soon coming over the horizon when we will have to make a vital decision between living harmoniously with Mother Earth or technologically against her. The Thunderbird ways I've learned to utilize on my own trail and now share with others are intended for everyone. There are many trails to the sacred nest at the top of the mountain. We are all entitled to embrace and use the wondrous power of our own spirit to help us get there.

The Thunderbird Nest teachings are a huge part of my life and I'm very passionate about sharing this knowledge with others. Miigwetch (thank you) for taking the time to read all of this. I trust it has painted a clearer picture about myself for you. I do welcome questions so I look forward to hearing from you!

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