"I went 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 find the lost crest of the thunderbird nest. Like a little pine I stood atop that place of vision and grew cold. Then a great bird - grey as a storm cloud - hatched inside my heart. My spirit flew free and I soared high into the sky."
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 to better understand the nature of my trail and the work 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 Algonquin Kitchizibi (Great River), Mattawa Métis, French Canadian Voyageur and Irish ancestry on my biological father's side. I am a "mixed-blood" person.
Before I knew what my role was in life I had many things to learn. And I am still learning. I spend much time out on the land, out in the bush. Here I become deeply engaged in my learning guided by the spirits of the land: the stones, plants, trees and animals; the crawlers, walkers, swimmers and flyers. This also includes ancestral thunderbird spirits, called the Old Ones, within thunderstorm phenomena.
After the end of my career as a commercial 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 nourished me. I wanted to help people see the nature of traditional Algonquin territory just west of Ottawa. But no trails even existed up to the wonderful medicine sites and places of vision I had become intimately acquainted with on my healing journey.
So, guided by my own healing journey, 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. Found just west of Ottawa near Calabogie, Ontario, this trail network includes scenic Eagle's Nest Sacred Site which is also a lookout. And of course there's now the legendary Griffith Uplands Trail I scouted and created that goes up to the sacred thunderbird nest vision quest site at the top of
Today my passion is helping people learn to use the wonderful teachings of the thunderbirds. My aim is to help others find and utilize the Great Bird that soars within each of us by sharing old traditional knowledge which helps us value our inherent power and spirit. My ultimate hope is that people will learn to embrace the positive medicine within each of us to help create better emotional stability, physical wellness, spiritual peace and resilient mental health. Well-being matters!
My knowledge is rooted in my life experiences, my vision quests and most importantly the teachings, practices and ways I have learned from a variety of traditional elders and medicine people, holy people and knowledge keepers. I have recognized that my quest for good medicine has taken me my entire life. Upon the trail I have endured sacrifices and hardships and have lost many things. But for all that I have lost, I do understand I have gained much and this is what I aim to teach people about as best as I can.
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 traditional knowledge comes to me directly from my Kitchizibi ancestors who are the Old Ones. And then there are my own profound and powerful experiences with the thunderbirds.
The thunderbirds, avian helpers of the Great Spirit, use thunder and lightning to help people create changes in life for their own well-being. I was taught, "Sometimes the weakest people need the strongest medicine." Therefore some of my practices draw upon the old ways of what is called "thunderbird medicine". The Thunderbird Medicine Society was a group of medicine and holy people. These shamans didn't gather roots and bark to prepare their medicine. Their healing came directly from the Great Spirit and the Sky World in the form of ancestors called the Old Ones who, we truly believe, intentionally come to help people in life as gigantic, wondrous, "Great Spirit Birds" - the thunderbirds.
I once learned that a thunderbird or bird shaman comes into being by having visions and experiences with their spirit helper the thunderbird. And in addition, learning to be a thunderbird shaman 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 Mishi-ginebik (the Horned Serpent) was when I was fourteen. Mishi-ginebik appeared to me in a dream where I was swimming at the bottom of a deep lake in northern Ontario. You can read this whole story in my new book, Quest for the Thunderbird Nest - Returning to Algonquin Spirituality.
I didn't know it at the time but eventually I learned that when a person dreams of Mishi-ginebik (and thunderbirds too) this may indicate they could possibly become a type of bird shaman called a thunderbird. When I got older I realized it was all up to me to choose to step into this role, embrace being a bird shaman and "walk my talk" to share the healing knowledge I had to learn first hand upon myself. In helping me become better, balanced and well I first had to know myself. As we all do, I had to truly know - and trust - who I've become today.
As thunderbirds we are taught "to share our feathers". These feathers take the form of traditional knowledge, spiritual ways and healing teachings. All of this "good medicine" is intended to inspire, enlighten and empower others to see the importance of utilizing their very spirit to follow their own personal path in life.
From the hard work I've done upon my own healing trail, I now understand that genuine self-awareness and self-empowerment typically involves facing that monster serpent that resides deep within each of us. As a thunderbird/bird shaman this is what I aim to help people with the most - the hidden, deep, dark scary stuff.
The elders I've met on my 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 healing and happiness back into their lives. I believe it's getting more important that we honestly re-assess our direction in life. Thunderbird medicine and bird shamanism actually helps us take a good hard look at how we're really doing, and where we're going, here on Earth.
As told by the Anishinaabeg prophecy of the Seventh Fire, there is a time soon coming over the horizon when we all will have to make a vital decision between living harmoniously with Mother Earth or technologically against her. The bird shaman ways I've learned to utilize in my own life, and now share with others, are intended for everyone. There are many trails to the great stone thunderbird nest at the top of Bird Mountain. And when we get there it's okay to use this inspirational, peaceful place for our vision quests. That's what it's there for!
Bird Mountain is a very important part of my life. I'm passionate about guiding people with a desire to go there and learn about it. Miigwetch (thank you) for taking the time to read through this. I hope it has illustrated a clearer picture for you. I do welcome questions so I look forward to hearing from you.