Spider Rock, Canyon De Chelly, Arizona, September 2018 (Photo courtesy Susan C)

Welcome to Lost For Words

After traipsing through life gathering a treasure chest of story fodder, my torrid on-again-off-again love affair with words is on again. This time, for keeps.

Lost For Words essentially offers spirited true stories about wide-ranging topics to keep life interesting. Having been through many proverbial dark nights of the soul, I have been fortunate to find my joy again and firmly believe there is always a light at the end of the tunnel if you know where to look.

These days I am a ‘for fun’ filmmaker, writer and editor for various online magazines including The Otherside Press and Paranormal Daily News. Should you need assistance with your next written masterpiece, please connect via my Contact page.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the following overview that explains how holistic health choices and the ancient world of indigenous medicine helped me heal old wounds and embrace life again. To the max!

Linda Summer

Don’t Die With The Music Still In You

Dr Wayne Dyer

My Shamanic Odyssey

In 2013, I took an extended leave from my civilian role with South Australia Police. After seven years of entertaining, at times disturbing experiences in the public service, I needed to rest, write, travel and heal some old wounds. Life finally caught up with me. And it had to change. Radically.

My GP respected my choice to explore holistic health pathways and was later amazed at how rapidly I recovered my health on all levels. (She also asked why doctors were seeing so many patients with stress-related issues from SAPOL. With respect to the Police Commissioner, politicians need to get their self-serving priorities right.)

We had many engaging conversations about life, love, health, stress – you name it – and how our personal ‘baggage’ compounds with each passing decade. I recall her saying that people in the 50+ age group carried the heaviest loads of unresolved ‘baggage’ and would be terrified of travelling down this path. It saddened me to learn that the majority choose prescription drugs to block out the ‘hard stuff’ and end up living increasingly depressed lives in their later years. She also encouraged me to write about my healing journey to help others find the courage to do the same. So here I am.

In The Beginning

For many years I had a niggling inkling that the mysterious world of shamanic healing would be a helpful pathway to explore. But it all seemed a little too spooky until I discovered books written by modern-day shamanic healers based in the US who were mentored by indigenous shamans.

I was particularly drawn to learning more about healing trauma with a process called ‘soul retrieval’.

Unable to find what I was looking for in my home town of Adelaide, South Australia which was awash with people calling themselves ‘shamans’ I began researching shamanic healing in Arizona and Peru.

Feeling more comfortable about a solo journey to Arizona, it soon became clear that I needed to journey to Peru, not just for healing but to experience some of the most extraordinary sacred sites on our planet – Macchu Pichu in particular. Fortunate to link up with a Peruvian tour guide who also happened to be a healer and ‘Inkapedia,’ off I flew to the great unknown.

Little did I know that this would herald the beginning of the end of life as I knew it. Peru is another story.

This story begins in Adelaide, post-Peru.

Andean Master Shaman at Salala – gateway to the remote, sacred Huaringas lagoons, northern Peru

Embracing The Unknown

Life began to unravel for all the right reasons upon my return from Peru. An Inka shaman called Raghida crossed my path a couple of months later in Adelaide. She ‘saw’ my spirit feathers and asked ‘who or what was stopping me from doing my work.’ Then she held an impromptu weekend workshop and proceeded to floor me with pertinent details about my past, present and future. Confirming what I already knew about my present circumstances but didn’t want to hear. And more. Woah! Was I looking forward to reading her book one day.

After thirty years of dabbling in spiritual realms full of woo-woo wannabes, Inka shaman Raghida stood in a highly-attuned realm of her own.

This profound experience turbo-boosted my resilience and helped me move through the ensuing loss, sadness, pain, uncertainty, anger, fear and frustration with grace, focus, strength and dignity.

The universe must have known I needed extra strong backup, so it also introduced me to former US attorney turned mainstream spiritual healer and teacher, Deborah King via her book Be Your Own Shaman.

Now here was a woman who walked her talk. How many holistic practitioners can honestly say that?

Deborah is a highly accomplished author who has mastered the art of making every word count. Another of her books worthy of mentioning is The Truth Heals – What You Hide Can Hurt You. A must-read for anyone. Healing journey or no healing journey.

Be Your Own Shaman inspired me to enrol in Deborah’s online Life Force Energy Healing (LFEH) course. This also connected me to a study group of compassionate, understanding souls from all walks of life which I really needed amidst my unfolding healing journey – and the beginning of the end of my long-term relationship.

My healing studies were so nourishing and strengthening that I went on to complete four LFEH levels and also gained my Initiate in Training certificate. This provided a credible foundation from which to build my own holistic haven when the time was right. But I had a whole lot of healing to do, so I focused on that instead.

Rising From The Ashes

Being new to the holistic healing world, I was surprised at how many practitioners resided in my hometown of Adelaide. I also noticed a boom in ‘weekend certificate healing courses,’ some of which claimed to be all an aspiring practitioner needed to start a business.

Fortunately, my discernment radar was in fine form. My intuition to guided me to three experienced healing practitioners: sound therapist Patricia Blythman, holistic practitioner Carolyn Pedlar and wellbeing mentor Erika Klement, all of whom utilised shamanic practices together with other honed skills and gifts.

When you feel ready to deal with and release your personal ‘shite,’ (we all have it, especially 50+ men and women), I highly recommend you connect with these wonderful women – or holistic practitioners of their ilk. Embracing wholefood nutrition and regular exercise also fast-tracked my recovery.

Remember Who You Are

February 2014, I resigned from my job and experienced a slow, painful death of my first long-term relationship, leaving behind my house and everything in it apart from personal belongings. Faced with redesigning my pulverised life, I learned to embrace the unknown. Trust that all would unfold as intended. View life as a blank canvas waiting to be filled with new experiences and dreams come true. Accept all the ‘hard stuff’ since my late teens as mini-movies that now serve as a Pandora’s box of wisdom, strength and hindsight.

‘Little Bird ‘ by
Artist Sharon Bosmoore

I also immersed myself in screenwriting studies, drafted a feature-length screenplay called Woo Woo World – a spiritual comedy, of sorts. I wrote, produced and directed short (experimental) film Good Medicine which attempted to convey a message about the unacceptable male suicide rate in Australia, shamanic healing and soul retrieval.

My film featured a medicine woman called Kachina, inspired by a captivating portrait of ‘Little Bird,’ by spiritual artist Sharon Bosmoore. Little Bird initially arrived via email with a pertinent message: ‘Remember who you are.’

Sharon said she was ‘impressed by spirit‘ to create this painting and for reasons unknown, sent it to me. I connected with Little Bird instantly and felt a deep sense of comfort, healing and strength from just looking at her. I also interpreted her to be an Inka medicine woman and bought the original painting from Sharon soon after.

Little Bird became the signature image for Good Medicine.

Where Crows Fly…

2015, I temporarily relocated to Sydney, New South Wales, unsure of where to settle. Sydney was ok for a holiday but I didn’t want to live there again.

Embracing my newfound freedom, vastly improved health and energy levels, I also noticed the appearance of crows. Daily. Often in the most unlikely places. Then, feathers appeared. Constantly. I now have enough feathers for a significant headdress.

“It takes enormous courage to find the gifts in the ‘dark journeys’- however when we do – we can rewrite our stories of pain and trauma, and turn them into stories of empowerment and liberation.”

Beata Alfoldi

Well aware that my healing journey would be an ongoing work in progress, I breathed a sigh of relief when I found Peruvian trained, ‘modern medicine woman’ Beata Alfoldi. She helped me recalibrate my emotional strength following my relationship breakdown and associated shite that went with it.

One of the things I love and respect most about shamanic healing is that it encompasses healing on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – which enables you to recover and embrace life again. Illness on any level need not be a life sentence. Healing, in my experience, is essentially about taking responsibility for your health, life choices and wellbeing, not becoming addicted to therapy, therapists, doctors and drugs.

Tip: You always know you are with an attuned shamanic practitioner when the drum beats of its own accord.

And an unexpected re-connection with an old friend living about an hour north of Sydney on the Central Coast, provided a welcome distraction, new adventures and eventually, a new home. Thank you Jack.

Surrendering to the universe and trusting the unknown began to feel like a whole lot of fun!

‘Lone Crow’ appeared out of nowhere when I arrived at the Painted Desert, Arizona and made his way to the car where I shared my water with him.

What Is Shamanic Healing?

2016, an online shamanic study course with US based Peruvian curandero (healer) and transpersonal psychologist don Oscar Miro-Quesada caught my eye. Initially dubious, I also knew that my chances of learning about the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition and ancient Peruvian healing arts in Australia, were nil.

“When we surrender the need to figure it all out and cultivate the ability to let it all in, our earth walk becomes a sacred dance of healing service on the planet. More than the world needs saving, it needs loving.”

Don Oscar Miro-Quesada

Thankfully, a string of serendipitous events also assured me that don Oscar’s teachings would be a wise investment. For example, I naively wondered how relevant his ‘Hummingbird Medicine’ teachings would be in Australia given that Hummingbirds don’t live here. That same afternoon, I spotted multiple images of hummingbirds on a stack of boxes at a store entrance.

Later that evening I caught a glimpse of a David Attenborough documentary. There he was marvelling at the magical world of hummingbirds. And the following day, I passed a clothing shop displaying a blouse covered in colourful hummingbirds.

And after my first profound session with don Oscar via the internet, I sat on a rock overlooking a shimmering waterway. Seconds later, a crow flew past so close that I could almost touch him. This was just the beginning of many more serendipitous events that continue to unfold to this day.

(If this resonates, I highly recommend you begin with don Oscar’s engaging book Lessons in Courage.)

Opening The Floodgates

Don Oscar’s private study group included many traditionally trained therapists from whom I learned so much more. They also inspired me to share a significant personal story about a tidal wave of devastating events in my late 20’s that came close to killing me. If a shamanic practitioner had crossed my path at that desperate time, life would have taken on a distinctly different tone.

“Contemporary psychotherapy has, in most cases, forgotten that it’s about soul. Not about fixing things. Shamanism is a soul-based therapeutic approach to healing. It honours whatever the person is experiencing, no matter how distressing, traumatic or painful it may be because it plays a very important role in that person’s life. Underneath the experience of fragmentation and breakdown, there is breakthrough to another level – a rite of passage – an initiation.”

don Oscar Miro-Quesada (Sounds True interview)

Learning to Perceive Adversity as a Gift

Western medicine commonly treats mental illness with psychotropic ‘bandaid’ drugs that not only shut down your spirit but significantly increase the risk of suicide, even if suicide was never on your radar. It’s also a lucrative world for both the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry and their prescribers whose collective actions are creating a whole new world of preventable mental disability.

New York-based Dr Peter Breggin, known as the ‘Conscience of Psychiatry,’ aptly labels psychotropics as ‘psychiatric cocaine.’

Thankfully, increasing numbers of drug labels now carry suicide warnings. Which makes me wonder why intelligent doctors would still prescribe them. In recent years I have heard stories from old friends who have struggled with depression and antidepressants for decades.

The sparkling new Royal Adelaide Hospital has an overflowing drug withdrawal section for anti-depressant patients who need to change their medication? It horrifies me to know that the health care system allows this to happen.

A Blinkered Shrink

My one and only shortlived experience with a psychiatrist in 1990 is worth revisiting. In short, a psychiatrist dismissed my traumatic experiences completely because she didn’t have the education or spiritual capacity to understand them. Instead, she prescribed deadly drugs for my grief which knocked me out and led me perilously close to death by suicide – and I was never suicidal to begin with. If it wasn’t for my (then absent) mother acting on her intuition to intervene, I wouldn’t be here writing this story.

When I recovered and confronted the psychiatrist about the devastating impact of her drugs, she dismissed me all over again. And completely missed my diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. That was diagnosed by transpersonal psychology friends several years later.

And for the record, Post Traumatic Stress is not a debilitating life sentence. But that’s another story.

That said, I accept my chosen path and embrace the invaluable hindsight that adversity has gifted me along the way. These days I also perceive mental ‘illness’ as mental ‘injury’ from which we can fully recover. With the right help. That said, there will always be people who prefer the psychotropic drug option and I wish them well. However, it should be mandatory for health professionals to provide information about alternative health pathways to ensure patients are able to make fully informed decisions about managing their mental injury.

Learning to Beat My Own Drum

Parallel to my studies with don Oscar, I befriended Medicine Crow, a local native American shaman. How uncanny that he lived a few suburbs away. He introduced me to his sacred drum circle teachings, inspired me to beat my own drum and co-facilitated my first vision quest in April 2018 with his counterpart Two-Crows. (Yet another story.)

After embracing the art of navigating the unknown and learning to trust, I knew I was in the midst of something worth writing about one day.

‘Tis common knowledge in the indigenous world that when a human steps onto their shamanic path, the animal kingdom draws closer. I can certainly vouch for this. In the past year, eagles have appeared more frequently, often with a crow in pursuit. And what’s with all the Kookaburras?

Birds of a feather flock together. My kooky friends paid a special visit on the eve of my flight to Arizona, USA.

Answering the Call of Arizona & The Hopi Lands

May 2018, I connected with native American ancestral wisdom teacher and healer Adam Shield of the Feather. The Arizona desert and Hopi Lands had been ‘calling my name’ since the beginning of the year, and my ‘on hold’ draft screenplay also ended in Arizona. I couldn’t possibly finish an authentic account of Woo Woo World without experiencing this sacred land in person.

How uncanny, then, that Adam mentioned he was facilitating a retreat in Sedona, USA in late September and invited me to come along.

I instinctively knew I had to be there and that connecting with Adam at this time was no coincidence.

The Autumn Equinox Convergence retreat proved to a most enriching and grounding experience. Over three engaging days, I found Adam to be one of the most articulate, authentic and highly attuned teachers I have ever had the honour of meeting and learning from.

While a more detailed account is yet to be written, I will share that the retreat began with a fire ceremony and ended with a sacred medicine wheel. This prompted me to recall the moment my personal journey into this sacred world began. It was in the early ’90s, Sydney, Australia when a friend gifted me a dreamcatcher. I didn’t know what it was but instantly felt a powerful connection.

The dreamcatcher awakened something I didn’t understand and compelled me to learn about Native American culture.

The journey that followed and continues to this day brought much-needed solace, healing and strength to my deeply wounded spirit. It opened a significant door to a far wiser world that played an integral role in restoring my faith in humanity and life itself.

And of course, Great Spirit and Co had the ultimate ‘unseen’ hand in orchestrating the whole event. (While I struggle to connect with religion and the concept of God, I feel at home with Great Spirit because I know that a spirit world exists.)

Rise of The Wakadoos

The retreat also inspired me to change my screenplay title to Rise of the Wakadoos. And I can’t help but have a quiet giggle about naming myself (in jest) ‘O Winging It One’ when I decided to produce Good Medicine. Seems fitting that I should meet a brother called Shield of the Feather.

I look forward to sharing future photo-blogs of my spirited Arizona adventures – a road-trip to the Hopi Lands with travel buddy and photographer Susan. Interestingly, the first winged-ones to greet me in the sacred lands were a convocation of eagles, a hummingbird and a lone crow! In that order.

Until next time. Be good.

Original Hopi symbol for Peace, Prosperity, Fortuity. One of over 5000 significant ancient glyphs at
Tutuveni, Hopi Lands, Arizona, September 2018

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