Tim Yearington Shamanism: Teachings, Stories Practices, Courses

                Tim's Trail to Learning

"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 understand the nature 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 Algonquin Kitchizibi (Great River), Mattawa Métis and French Canadian ancestry on my biological father's side. Therefore, I am a "mixed-blood" shaman person.

But before I knew what my role was as a shaman, I had many things to learn. And I am still learning. I spend a lot of 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 ancestor spirits within weather 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 medicine of traditional Algonquin territory just west of Ottawa. But no trails even existed up to the places of power and sacred sites I had become well acquainted with.

So, inspired by my own shaman 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 the thunderbird nest vision quest area atop Bird Mountain.

Today my passion is helping people learn to use the wonderful teachings of bird shamanism. My aim is to help others find and utilize the Great Bird that soars within each of us by sharing old shamanism 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 create strong mental health, better emotional balance, wellness and personal 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, 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 many sacrifices 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 share with others 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 power 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 shaman (a medicine person) comes into being by having visions and experiences with their spirit helper the thunderbird. And in addition, learning to be a thunderbird shaman 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 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 medicine person. And when I got older I realized it was all up to me to choose to step into this role, embrace being a shaman, and then "walk my talk" to share the things and knowledge I'd first had to learn to use upon myself to help me become better, balanced and well.

As bird shamans we are taught "to share our 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 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 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 balance and happiness back into their lives. I believe it's getting more important that we honestly re-assess our direction in life. The teachings of shamanism can help 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 shamanism ways I've learned to utilize in my own life and now share with others is intended for everyone. There are many trails to the thunderbird nest at the top of the mountain. We are all allowed to embrace and use the great power of our own spirit to help us get there.

Shamanism is an ever important part of my life today and I'm passionate about teaching it to others with the desire to learn. Miigwetch (thank you) for taking the time to read through this. I hope it has illustrated a clearer picture about myself for you. I do welcome questions so I look forward to hearing from you.

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