Tim's Thunderbird Trail

"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."

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Out of respect to those of you seeking to know more about me, I share with you the following information. I trust it will help you to better understand the true nature of being, my trail, the work that I do with people and the traditional practices and teachings I provide. As a thunderbird (shaman) I am simply a "spiritual helper" to people. Just a helper. Period.

I am originally from North Bay, Ontario, Canada. I was adopted as a child so my roots had always been a great mystery to me. But eventually I learned I have Kitchizibi (Great River) Métis, French-Canadian Voyageur, Algonquin and Huron/Wendat ancestry. I am a registered citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario.

Before I even knew what my helping role was 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, The Old Ones, within natural 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. As an adoptee, it was during this lonely time I began really searching for my identity and my Indigenous roots. For many years I took people canoeing, hiking & snowshoeing to all the beautiful places that nourished me. I wanted to help people see the real nature of Algonquin territory just west of Ottawa. But no trails even existed up to the wonderful medicine sites, places of power and thunderbird nests I had become intimately acquainted with on my healing journey.

So, guided by my own spirit, I began "scouting out" and constructing trails that would bring people to experience the good medicine of the land. I made the trails go up to the "high places"; beautiful scenic vistas where people could personally see 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 the now famous scenic Eagle's Nest Lookout. And now there's the Griffith Uplands Trail I scouted and created that goes up to a sacred thunderbird nest vision quest site at the top of Thunderbird Mountain.

Today my passion is helping people learn the value and hybrid nature of Métis spiritual knowledge and the great variety of traditional teachings within our worldview. My aim is to help others find and utilize thunderbird medicine ways that help us embrace our inherent human power and spirit. My ultimate hope is that people will learn to embrace the positive human nature within each of us to create better emotional stability, physical wellness, spiritual peace and resilient mental health. Well-being matters!

My knowledge is rooted in my life experiences and learning, my vision quests and most importantly the teachings, practices and ways I have learned from a variety of traditional knowledge keepers, elders medicine people and holy people. I have recognized that my quest to learn, embrace and use good medicine practices of 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 realize I have gained much and this is what I aim to share and 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 (spirit) helpers. Some of my most traditional knowledge comes to me directly from my Kitchizibi (Great River) Métis and Algonquin ancestors; the Old Ones. And then there are my own profound and powerful real life experiences with the thunderbirds.

The thunderbirds, avian helpers of the Great Spirit, use thunder and lightning to help people create change in life for their own well-being. I was taught, "Sometimes the weakest people need the strongest medicine." Therefore my practices draw upon the old ways of what is called thunderbird medicine. Long ago the Thunderbird Medicine Society was a group of medicinal holy people known as thunderbirds. Akin to shamans, these human thunderbirds 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 (The Old Ones) who, it is believed, intentionally come to help people in life as gigantic, wondrous, "Great Spirit Birds" - the thunderbirds.

I have learned that in human form a thunderbird (shaman) comes into being by having spiritual visions and earthly experiences with their avian helpers; the thunderbirds. And in addition, learning to become a thunderbird 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 Mishiginebik (Big Horned Serpent) was when I was fourteen. Mishiginebik appeared to me in a dream where I was swimming at the bottom of a deep lake in the Temagami Wilderness of Ontario. You can read this true story in my book, Quest for the Thunderbird Nest - Returning to Algonquin Spirituality.

 

As a young man eventually I learned that when a person dreams about and has experiences with the thunderbirds, and Mishiginebik too, this might indicate they could become a type of spiritual helper called a thunderbird (shaman). When I grew older I realized it was up to me to choose to step into this role, embrace becoming a thunderbird and "walk my talk" to share the traditional healing knowledge I had to learn, first hand, to use upon myself. To help me heal and become better, I first had to learn how to find my own inner spirit. Then I had to learn how to use it responsibly. As we all do, I had to first learn how to know - and trust - my own true nature and inner spirit as a person.

Thunderbirds are taught it's important to "share our feathers". These feathers, symbolic and metaphoric in nature, take the form of thunderbird medicine teachings, ancient bird shamanism, spiritual knowledge and wellness ways. All of this "good medicine" is intended to inspire, enlighten and empower others to see the importance of utilizing their spirit too - to find and follow their own trail; their own personal path in life.

From the all the hard and challenging 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: Our own negative thoughts and our own unbalanced, destructive, self-limiting beliefs. So now, as a thunderbird (shaman) this is what I aim to help people with the most - the hidden, deep, dark scary stuff.

The elders who have taught me upon my trail believe it's important today to help people re-connect with their own spirits. In this way people are more 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. Traditional thunderbird teachings, thunderbird medicine practices and bird shamanism ways help us take a good hard look - a bird's eye view - 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 traditional ways I've learned to utilize in my own life, and now share with others, are intended for all people. There are many pathways to the great stone thunderbird nest at the top of the mountain. And when we get to that high place it's okay today to use this inspirational, peaceful place of power to quest for vision and purpose to help guide us upon our path in life. 

Thunderbird medicine practices and bird shamanism ways are a very important part of my life. I'm very passionate about helping people learn how to embrace traditional knowledge and wise medicine ways. Miigwetch (thank you) for taking the time to read through all this. I hope it has illustrated a clearer picture about the nature of my trail for you. I welcome questions and I look forward to hearing from you.

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