Spirit Talker Blog

Spirit Talker Book Cover 2

Lessons From a Spruce Tree (Winter 2017)

Winter, the time when mother earth slumbers and seeds dream beneath the snow of Spring’s new life, is a time for deep introspection, contemplation and meditation.  Certainly that has been the case for me during the long dark months here in the Canadian mountains, but now I suffer a growing impatience as the days lengthen and the snow melts.  Birds flock to the feeders and squirrels busily devour the remnants flung to the snowy ground.  Dark patches of earth appear from beneath the sheltering boughs of tall evergreens and magically spread across the forest floor, as the warming rays of the sun grow stronger with each passing day.  Here and there a green blanket of kinnikinic emerges, like a harbinger of the life yet to come.  In the larger clearings and wider trails the sun warms the surface of the snow, which then freezes during the still cold nights and in the early morning there’s a hard crust that accommodates walking on if you are delicate enough with your step.  In the sheltered places though I break through, often past the tops of my boots, and I’m soon reminded to pull the drawstring tight.

This morning, while the dogs take me for their customary perambulation, I am keeping an eye out for spruce trees.  Ironically, while surrounded by lush forest, most of it is fir, cedar and birch.  While harvesting firewood last fall I was tremendously grateful for the abundance of dead fir and birch, as they are by far my favorite wood for burning.  But, I now seek spruce trees for a different reason.  I have developed an appreciation for spruce pitch with which to make gum, sometimes called spruce candy.  I’ve located two trees very close to the cabin and one has a few branches accidentally damaged during last year’s sweat lodge construction.  It’s nothing serious but the tree has exuded a tiny bit of protective pitch where the branches were broken off.  As I pass I respectively pull off a tiny piece of the amber-colored sap where it has run down the trunk, just a small piece, about twice the size of a wooden match head.  It is a sufficient size for my stroll.  Thanking the old spruce, I pop the pitch into my mouth and gently let it warm, releasing the woody-sweet, pungent flavor.  There’s something about it that thoroughly intrigues me.  By most accounts it wouldn’t be considered a choice confection, certainly not the sugary, sensory overload of modern candy.  But, perhaps I take satisfaction in the knowledge that this wonderfully natural gift is loaded with healthy benefits.  Native peoples saved the lives of first Europeans by giving them spruce tea after some had succumbed to scurvy, as it is chock full of vitamins.  The fine, long thin roots have long been used as cording and weaving.  Spruce I learned holds a place of high esteem in the spiritual traditions of many North American first nations.

 ‘Spruce trees are mythologically important plants among Southwestern tribes, where they are symbols of the sky and directional guardians of the north.  According to Hopi myth, the spruce tree was once a medicine man, Salavi, who transformed himself into a tree.  For this reason, spruce trees are considered particularly sacred to the Hopis, who use spruce boughs to adorn kachina dancers.

 In the Pima flood myth, the father and mother of the Pima people survived the deluge by floating in a ball of spruce pitch.  Among northern tribes, spruce trees (like other evergreens) are associated with peace and protection.  Spruce is a particular symbol of good luck to the Salish tribes and spruce roots are used as fiber for weaving basketry regalia by many Northwest Coast tribes.  Northern Algonquian tribes used to bundle spruce and fir needles into sachets or herbal pillows to protect against illness.

 Spruce trees are also used as a clan symbol in some Native American cultures.  Tribes with spruce clans include the Hopi tribe, whose spruce clan is named Salab.  The Cherokee also have a Winter Spruce Dance among their tribal dance traditions’

 While I have been developing a newfound relationship with this marvelous tree, it is perhaps within this spiritual context that the greatest gift is bestowed.  From the Shamanic/Animistic perspective, spirit is inherent in all things.  It is to the spirit of a plant or animal that an acknowledgement of its gift is made when it is being used to sustain us.  In doing so a connection is made.  This connection is a spiritual conduit, the thread of connectivity that binds us within the warp and weft of existence.  The more we can experience this connectivity the richer our spiritual lives become, the broader our understanding and the greater our empathy and compassion.  Wisdom and compassion are the pillars of enlightenment.  So, whether it is the loving relationships we enjoy with our dogs and cats and horses or the empathic connection we discover with seemingly less sentient plants, crystals, etc. it all is a tremendous spiritual blessing that helps to complete our circle of spirit connectivity; helps us to become complete beings in balance with all our brothers and sisters within all the realms of existence.  And so, I am honored and grateful to the spruce tree for the opportunity it has given me to learn, however slightly, of its world, its gift and its spirit.

 It has been a wonderful experience that we all can share if we just open ourselves to be conscious of the spiritual possibilities present all around you within the natural world.  We are all related!

Winter view from out home

                                                                 Winter view from our home

Touch The Earth


“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 

― Albert Einstein

How is it that humanity has fallen so far from evolving toward the compassionate, enlightened ideal described here by Albert Einstein? Some could say that we’ve fallen victim to the prolific propaganda of commercial media - the daily barrage of advertising and programming specifically designed to generate the drive towards over-consuming non-sustainable lifestyles and it’s destructive consequences. Or perhaps we could site the ever -increasing need to labour longer for less and the lack of time and energy left for introspection. Certainly these are all valid factors but they are still only symptoms of a greater illness and that is our inability to see others and ourselves in a spiritual perspective. We cannot have a complete comprehension of anything when we are only presented with a partial view. Today’s world is engineered to create efficient, obedient workers necessary to maintain the wealth of an increasingly oppressive corporate oligarchy whose sole motivation is profit and greed. From the early stages of our educational systems to the content of television programming and now to computer gaming, everything we are exposed to draws us further away from an understanding of an intrinsic and vital aspect of our very being – that of an eternal spiritual entity enjoying a temporary physical existence. This devolution has been happening ever since our ancestors began the gradual move away from direct dependence upon the earth’s bounty in tight-knit agrarian societies who bartered with other communities and more into dependence upon a system of the exchange of capital. Increasingly man began to view the surrounding natural world as a commodity to be exploited for personal profit rather than as being a complex system of symbiotic inter-dependence. When our ancestors viewed the earth as a sacred mother who gave them life, they also saw that all beings were equally dependent - bound up within the web of life – fellow brethren within the perpetual cycle of existence and as such they accorded the necessary reverence and respect. But with the collapse of such a lifestyle this attitude became less and less to where we now sit upon the brink of global climatic catastrophe, perpetual wars, economic disparity, poverty and suffering.

Einstein also said that to continue to do the same thing while expecting a different result was insanity. Now we seem content to apathetically sit back and hope that the very people who engineered the conditions that created this dysfunctional system will somehow be motivated to correct the result of their avaricious pursuits. This is akin to believing that slaughterhouses work in the best interests of the cattle. If we are to reverse environmental and societal degradation we have to first adopt a dramatically different view from the conventional. We need a paradigm shift of consciousness back toward the reverential perspective our ancestors held toward our precious earth – that of the ‘Sacred Mother.’

To do this we first must acknowledge that sacred component within ourselves. In India when two people meet they greet one another with the word ‘Namaste’. While it has been interpreted here in the west as both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, it holds a much, much deeper meaning. One short literal translation could mean ‘The spirit in me acknowledges the spirit in you,” serving as a reminder that the true identity of an individual lies beyond the physical façade we present to one another or that we ourselves see everyday in our mirrors. Likewise, ‘spirit’ in the west has come to be associated with a negative and ghostly connotation thanks in part to the media programming mentioned earlier. But when we realize that we are not just the being of physical sensation – the creature of emotional extremes of joy and suffering, love and loss, work and leisure, we can begin to discover a great unfolding of enlightened consciousness. We see that spirit exists within us, guiding us and is the nucleus of spiritual energy that is, in fact, our true identity. It has been so since before time, in myriad forms. With this realization one can then more easily see that all beings shelter a similar energy within their corporeal forms and that these temporary existences are but an illusory flash in cosmic time, a brief expression of existence before moving on to other incarnations. 

The Lakota say ‘Mitakuye Oyasin’ which translates roughly as “we are all related.” This reveals the ancient reverential perspective that indigenous peoples held toward all things and many people still do today. Spirit resided within all creatures and also within every blade of grass, every bit of earth and every body of water, in fire, in the air, in the heavenly bodies and in the directions. This is the view of Animism, often described as ‘nature worship.’ While this is true to some extent, Animism can best be described as ‘seeing no separation between the physical world and the spiritual world.’ What a beautiful enlightened view to have! Imagine how differently we’d treat other beings and the planet if we could only adopt such a perspective. Herein lies the solution to contemporary man’s dilemma.

We can start to reawaken this primordial intrinsic awareness within us and then learn to expand our compassion outwards to encompass all of creation. While Animism affords us the perspective necessary, the methods of its spiritual expression can be found within the nature-based traditions such as Wicca and Shamanism or Tengerism. These ancient paths allow us to tap into the spiritual forces that surround us at every moment, harnessing them for the betterment of all beings, and what better use of such practice than the strengthening of our connectivity to the spirit world and the multitude with whom we share it. 

This is not some esoteric endeavor requiring some secretive rite of passage or ceremonial induction, for you are already there – spiritual beings waiting to awaken to your true enlightened nature. There are numerous methodologies and cultural variations of these traditions. Somewhere there is a method, a path that will call to you once you allow yourself to open to the limitless possibilities of the spirit world. Explore some of the numerous techniques for awakening your inner Shaman. Take yourself out into nature; seek out a secluded, quiet place. Let it call to you and invite you. Offer your respects and a small offering of your choosing (usually some sage, tobacco, cedar or some organic gift you have created) and be very reverential and honest and sit upon the earth and allow yourself to be open to what the Sacred Mother has to teach you. Be patient and persevere. Seek out others on the path and share your insights and questions and, when ready, your wisdom. Together we can generate the positive energy needed at this critical juncture in our human evolution to reverse the negativity of the past and awaken the spiritual consciousness that will usher in a more enlightened age – for all our relations.

Book launch clipping

The book launch in Clearwater went very well.  

Thanks to all who attended and all the positive feedback I have received.



Welcome to my new web site and this, my new blog. Blogging is something new to me and as I learn it’s potentials and limitations I hope you will bear with me. I wanted to have a forum on which I could elaborate further upon the subject matter of my book ‘Spirit Talker –The legend of Nakosis’.

First, a little about how Spirit Talker came into being. I say ‘came into being’ because in reality it was very much a process of what I can only describe as ‘magical manifestation’. While I sat at the computer, often in the dead of night, with the intention of writing a story, I soon became more of a witness than a participant as the words unfolded before me, my fingers struggling at times to keep up. When the creative flow began to ebb with the dim light of dawn on the horizon and my eyes screamed for sleep, I would sometimes, under a sense of obligation, attempt to push the story line a little further to perhaps finish a chapter or complete an event within the text. Come the next writing session I would review this past effort and quickly realize that it was not coming from the same source and I would quickly delete it - it just wasn’t Nakosis!  Now, at the risk of sounding new-age and cliché, I have to say that when I was in the proper state of receptivity the story unfolded with smooth, flowing ease and took me on its magical journey with complete amazement. It was very much as though I was reading a book, not writing one. With that came my total surprise at events taking twists and turns that did not appear to be coming from my conscious desire to create them. In this regard, I have to say that being a part of that creative process was a truly remarkable and enlightening experience. We’ve perhaps all heard authors say that at times the story writes you and not the other way around and until now I have never attributed much to that expression.

 So, then, where does this story come from? Is it latent within the deep recesses of my psyche? Is it is a culmination of sights, sounds, scents, perceptions and experiences from earlier in life - characters and scenarios from all the books and movies I’ve enjoyed stashed away in my subconscious, resurrected through the discipline of writing? Perhaps. However, some people believe that every one of us has an inner Nakosis; a somewhat more enlightened version of the physical façade that we see in our mirrors, just quietly lurking beneath the monotony of our daily existence, longing to emerge. I believe we tap into this in our more introspective moments, when in meditation, prayer or trance for example. When quietly sitting within the beauty and silence of nature, our inner clocks slowly attune to the rhythms and energies of the earth and in that moment we can sometimes feel the presence and the power of the sacred, both within us and without us. More importantly we don’t discern any difference, as the dualities of our ‘make money’ lives no longer apply in these moments of natural, spiritual connectivity. Nakosis espouses this message constantly throughout the narrative of the tale. If he has one message it is to regain that oneness by acknowledging the inter-connectedness, the inter-dependence of all things; to cease seeking separation from what we are intrinsically a part of.  

Possessed of such insight and understanding one cannot conscionably cause harm to any other being, realizing that by doing so one disrupts the harmonious balance of one’s own existence. Our happiness, our peace and security are at once the same as that of all things within the great circle of universal life. We then see that the only ‘right’ way of being is living in a manner that respects the equal right of all other beings to the same qualities as ourselves, namely the right to life and the right to share the rich bounty the sacred mother earth provides for all her children. It is only when we begin to harbor such a view that we witness the unfolding of the spiritual powers around us, within every animal, bird, insect, tree, rock and drop of water. Everywhere we see, as Nakosis did, there is a power, a real creative magic that infuses all things equally. This is Animism –seeing no separation between the physical and the spiritual worlds. Our distorted perceptions create the barriers that prevent us from fully embracing this truth. Shamanism is the practice that allows the experience of spiritual connectivity to arise and dismantle the façade of dualities - good and bad, rich and poor, material and spiritual, man and animal, that inhibit our spiritual growth and prevent us from becoming fully integrated within the sacred circle of life.

Humanity has largely become a cog in the wheel of industrialization, a rung in the ladder of corporate profit. We have sacrificed our vital life’s energy, our spirit, our time and now even our Sacred Earth to the god of capitalism and greed. Only by reawakening our deeper spirit selves will we access the power to return our planet back to the balance we need to survive.

This is the purpose of ‘Spirit Talker- The Legend of Nakosis’. While it is a work of fiction and spiritual fantasy the basic truths that the young Nakosis uncovers are very relevant, timeless and necessary. It my sincerest wish that at least a few of you will share his understanding and work toward making this world a better place for future generations and, as Nakosis would say, “for all our brethren”.

 July 22, 2014