California Shamanism: BearMedicine & BearDoctors

with Carol Proudfoot-Edgar & Susan Gilliland

July 11  - 13

          Earth Retreat Center, Ben Lomond (Santa Cruz County) CA

This workshop is one in a series focusing on the special medicine of the Califonia Earthscapes. Foremost among California Medicine men and women are the BearDoctors. In future weekends, there will be work with Rattlesnake, Deer, Hawk and Whale medicine ways.

BearMedicine is unique because the BearDoctor is both a generalist and a specialist. It is from this perception that our Ancestors left us the stories of how Bear was appointed to assign all other animals their tasks in the world. Bear is the Guardian of the Council of Animals; the Keeper of the Way of Harmony and Balance. In ancient times, when testifying in courts of law, one swore not on a Bible or some book but on the Paw of a Bear. And as the Supreme Guardian of the Forest, Bear can teach us how to live in the wilderness: both within and without.

Discoveries throughout the California landscapes reveal the image of Bear in stone, human hands reaching out to touch this Power. Touching this Power was to touch a manifestation of the Spirit who accompanied the soul from Birth to Elsewhere. Drawings on hide reveal ceremonies of Autumn and Spring during which one merges with and dances to honor Sacred Paws. Graves are found in which a young human child is held by a bear; side by side their skeletons speak stunningly of our similarities. We understand now the dance-song: “Bear you are I; I am You”.

As long as humans walked the California landscapes, so too has Bear walked with and among them. As long as Bears travel these landscapes, so too do Humans seek to follow and learn of their medicine ways. Tracking this great spirit, and practicing this medicine, is not worshipping Bear but recognizing this Being as a Great Guardian, Teacher, Healer and one whom we are called upon to take care of too.

Focusing on gathering this medicine in July offers special seasonal affordances: in the coastal mountains all have come into maturity and the land is full of the Sun’s power focused within plants and creatures. We can flower and mature ourselves –gather our personal teachings from which to harvest our medicine in the Fall; to share with others during the following long Winter. Bear Medicine focuses on this exquisite sensitivity to Earth's cycles and the manifesting powers of each season.
Late Spring and Summer are the vision questing times; the nights of the Long Dance; the days moving round the Cosmic Tree. Summer finds healers learning how to develop or with what to replenish their Doctoring Kits. To travel to new places – learning special dances and songs that will become part of the BearDoctor’s role as ceremonial leader. “In the time of Sweeping Sun, we paint our Bear faces, strike the foot drum, and visions do come.”

I have been teaching BearMedicine for twenty-one years and although I sometimes feel like an aging, cranky, gray-tangled hair Bear, most of the time I am Cub to Spirit, finding new meaning to a song sung for twenty years; my feet making deeper soul tracks in the Earth in this year's round dancing. Every Circle with which I work, something unexpected and mysteriously delightful presents itself for our edification. I feel so blessed to have been called forth by MotherBear and equally blessed to be able to share with others Her ways. Thus, if you have participated in prior BearMedicine retreats, rest assured we will be exploring areas new to you. And if this is your first time doing BearMedicine, you might want to explore my website, check out my articles found in the site’s BearCave, and meander around through the various stories and sacred places at

One of the things very different this year is the Place where we will be circling – and encircled! It is called the EarthRetreat center and is located in the Santa Cruz mountains. I have always thought that shamanic ways and methods are both place dependent and place independent. The place independent shamanism is best known today as ‘core shamanism.’ But as with so many significant evolutions in spiritual practice,  over the last 10-15 years we have become so ‘place independent’ that we have forgotten we are even Place Dependent (namely, we have to have a home for our bodies! We call this home Earth. )

At the EarthRetreat, we have the opportunity to ground ourselves once again in the specifics of Place. As Bly said “the soul loves detail” and here we can ensoul ourselves with the type of details that are essential to the ways of BearMedicine. We are around the elements and beings so connected with BearSpirit: hollowed out great trees in the Mountain, water and stone mingling, soft Fog of the in-between worlds, the low growing shrubs from which poultices are made, all this together perched on the top of the mountain where the Redwood seems indeed the Cosmic Tree of Life that Bear crawls up and down: bringing news of the Sky People and shouldering newly arriving Descendants. Here on the Perch we see Sun setting in the West and can follow the trails the canoes made as they paddle departing souls to where is Sinking Sun’s Home.

We invite you to come walk together and to Walk with Bear.


Early registration is advised as this workshop is limited in number.If you wish to register, contact the Coordinator:
Pirkko Miller, Email:

Early registration is advised as this workshop is limited in number.
Arrive Friday July 11 at 5 pm
Depart Sunday July 15 at 3 pm

Costs of the Retreat

Cost is based on choice of lodging and includes tuition & meals.
1)Private Rooms (if available) = $420
2)Dorm Lodging and meals = $370
3) Camp sites = $325

All the lodging is quite comfortable and the camping sites are flattened and prepared for tenting.
Individuals commuting will be required  to pay $260.

To register, send either the full amount or a nonrefundable deposit of $130, to Pirkko.
Make the check payable to Shamanic Visions and mail to:
Pirkko Miller
P.O. Box 193
North Webster, Indiana 46555

Complete payment is due by June 1, 2008.
Scholarships: through the generosity of others, partial scholarships are available. You can apply for a scholarship by contacting Pirkko for an application.
If you are someone who can assist others, consider a tax-deductible donation made to Shamanic Circles. You can send this donation to Pirkko who will then forward it to the Treasurer for Shamanic Circles (
It is through this cycle of giving and receiving that we thrive as a community.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or call Pirkko.
Phone # : (574) 834-3460
A month before the workshop begins, a letter will be sent about how to prepare for and what to bring to the weekend. You can explore Carol's other teachings and writings by going to her website:

Registration Form for

Shamanic Visions Workshops with Carol Proudfoot-Edgar



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Enclose check with Registration Form and Mail to:

Pirkko Miller
P.O. Box 193
North Webster, Indiana 46555