Hello, and welcome to the world of feminist shamanism! Whether you’re looking for basic information about shamanism in general, specific information about feminist shamanism, seeking a shamanic teacher, or searching for a good shamanic reading list, it’s my hope that you’ll find whatever information you’re looking for here on this site. There’s a lot of it available, but please don’t be overwhelmed by that. Take your time, browse around, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can always email me with questions using the site’s contact form. I’d love to hear from you!
Scarlet Kinney & Standing Bear
In July of 1988, I survived a sudden shamanic initiation trial by fire during a propane explosion in which I was severely burned. In response to the trauma I was experiencing during that event, my spirit left my body and fled towards the relief of death. Floating serenely in a vast, dark space towards an arching doorway through which brilliant light was shining, I calmly welcomed death, which seemed preferable to dealing with the horrific injuries my body was sustaining.
My way towards death was suddenly blocked, however, by five large, looming shapes. Having been raised Catholic, at first I assumed that they were angels of some kind, but as I gazed at them in wonder, their indistinct shapes slowly clarified into the forms of huge grizzly spirits. The largest of them, who later identified himself to me as Standing Bear, Chief of the Bear Spirit Clan, spoke. I immediately recognized him as someone once known, but long forgotten. He asked me to “return to the body”, as there was a “work” his clan wished me to do for them.
From the depths of my being came my answer. I said “Yes. I will return to the body and do the work you’re asking me to do.”
He replied that he and his four helpers would facilitate my healing from the severe burns I was sustaining. He leaned towards me, and pressing his forehead against mine, somehow transmitted from his consciousness into mine what I could only identify at the time as a long series of incredibly fast-moving, densely compressed images. He then asked me to look down at my body, which was trapped in the inferno far below us. As I did so, he touched my heart. At his touch, I felt a profound compassion for the body’s suffering that mysteriously compelled me towards it at a very high rate of speed, literally slamming me back into it.
I got myself out of the fire and into a shower in another room, to try and put out the flames, then ran from the building, tore off my still smoking clothing, and ran into my neighbor’s house, where I turned the cold water on in her shower and stood under it, trying to soothe the fire that was consuming me.
Thus began my journey into the realm of shamanic power and healing. Standing Bear and his four helpers remained visible to me throughout the next months as I endured a very painful healing process in the burn unit at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. Always nearby at all times, moving their hands over me, chanting, their great hearts beating in unison like a great drum, they facilitated my physical recovery.
Standing Bear and his four helpers are still with me and have sustained and guided me through several additional levels of shamanic initiation. During the more than two decades since the fire, I have done my best to honor the pledge I made to Standing Bear during those crucial few moments when I first encountered him while out of my body. The pledge involved using my skills as an artist and writer to offer others glimpses of shamanic reality and to bring forth a new shamanic path for women that was encoded within the many images he transmitted to me. Over the years, those images have slowly unfolded and become part of my conscious awareness. Many of them have become shamanic paintings, like those below, some of which are available as archival quality giclee prints.To view them: http://thestandingbear.com/store-fine-art-prints
. Some have become books, such as my three-part mythic memoir, about the long journey that finally led me to a shamanic path. The first book has been completed and will soon be available as an eBook. To read excerpts: http://thestandingbear.com/store-books
. Currently at the printer is the first in a series of “Small Teachings,” an 80-page purse-sized booklet titled “Shamanic First Aid for Today’s Woman.”
Although small in size, the booklet is rich with simple feminist shamanic fixes for common issues faced by today’s women. It offers teachings, guidance, visualizations, breathwork exercises, and affirmation chants which will help you deal with the stresses of today’s world, and includes a six-page index so that you can quickly look things up on the go. It will be available for purchase beginning March tenth, and all but fourteen of the first run have been pre-sold. To reserve a copy for yourself, use the site’s contact form
to let me know, and I’ll notify when the booklet is available for sale. A great many of the images Standing Bear transmitted to me have organized themselves into the feminist shamanic teachings I now offer women.
My journey was initially fraught with vulnerability, conflict, self-doubt, and emotional volatility (note that grizzlies are not known for their placid temperaments!) made the more difficult to handle initially because I had absolutely no frame of reference for understanding what had happened to me. But as the years have passed, that journey has also been rich with experiences of power and healing, of great beauty, and of potent, numinous dreams and visions that have helped sustain me throughout the most difficult times.
During this time, I have had two Native American teachers, both women. My first teacher, with whom I studied for three years, was of Mohawk/Huron/French ancestry. Eventually another teacher appeared—my present mentor, a spiritual elder from one of the Maine tribes, with whom I have had a deep sisterly relationship for several years now. In addition to these experiential studies in shamanism, I decided to earn an M. A. in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis on Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, as I felt a need to ground my personal experience in a broad, pan-cultural understanding of mythic and shamanic realities.
It was never my intention or something I understood to be part of my calling to become a shamanic teacher or public figure in the world of contemporary shamanism. However, following my break with my first teacher, I was left in such financial straits that I was forced to teach in order to survive and hold onto the property I had purchased to create a teaching center for her. In the years since then I have taught countless shamanic workshops, worked with scores of shamanic clients, and have created two types of long-term shamanic training programs, all of which I have deeply enjoyed. However, my primary shamanic commitment to Standing Bear and the Bear Spirit Clan is to use words and images to offer others experiences of shamanic consciousness. As my financial situation has stabilized and my shamanic calling has matured, I find myself becoming more focused on that aspect of my calling. The imagery transmitted to me by Standing Bear continues to open and unfold and is more and more taking the form of paintings, sculpture, writings, and performance pieces with original shamanic songs and chants.
This means that as my shamanic practice deepens, I am becoming more of an introverted, reclusive shaman than I am an extroverted, public-oriented shaman, except when teaching or performing. (I was raised on the stage, so I am very comfortable with being public in that regard, and totally enjoy presenting my work as performance art.) However, when not wandering the forest or coast, I spend most of my time in the studio painting and sculpting, or in my office writing, which keeps me very much out of the public eye.
Because I have experienced a great deal of hardship and long periods of social isolation here on the Maine coast, I have often wanted to move to a more shamanically active or aware locale. (The most common response when I mention shamanism is “What’s that?”) However, my guidance from the Bear Spirit Clan over the years has consistently been to remain where I am, as Standing bear has informed me time and again that my “shamanic energy is needed at this particular place on earth to maintain balance and harmony among the many volatile energies inhabiting it.” When I am not creating shamanic art of some kind, I can often be found maintaining that balance during long medicine walks in the coastal forest or along the rocky shores of the bay near my home.I have created this web site, along with my music CDs, fine art prints and writings, as a kind of bridge between my deeply private creative shamanic process and you, in the hope that you will be able, in viewing or reading or listening to my work, to experience for yourself some of the wonderfully healing shamanic energy that informs and supports the work.I also hope that you are inspired by my story and by my work to remember who you are; to remember what your sacred responsibilities as a woman have always been, and still are; to find within yourself the strength to act upon those responsibilities, for our Mother the Earth is in great distress.
The indignities and outrages to which Earth is daily being subjected are echoed daily in abusive actions towards the women who are human manifestations of her sacred Self. Ultimately, we must heal ourselves and take back our feminine spiritual power and “Mother Rights,” in order to accomplish our current task of restoring balance between the archetypal Feminine and Masculine principles, and between women and men in these times.
Helping women remember how to do this by means of imagery, words, music and feminist shamanic experiences is at the heart of all of my work.