“When there is someone with a passion so deep that it burns their soul and they are able to do nothing other than follow and deepen it; when the insights they have had about our relationship with the natural world have shattered and opened them — these are the leaders and teachers we invite to Earthfire . . . to come and meet the incredible animals here and help them take their message out to the human world with the unswerving integrity that comes with a deep connection with the sacred, and with the natural world.” Susan Eirich
“A Walk on the Wildside was created so people and animals could meet in ceremony with the intention of rebuilding the bridge between species. Personal change has a ripple affect; what we heal in ourselves helps create shifts worldwide. During this year’s event all of the animals (and Windwalker in particular) took us on a powerful journey of personal transformation. When I return home my heart felt like it had been cracked wide open.” Rose DeDan, Walk on the Wild Side Retreat Leader
Earthfire Institute Current & Past Retreat Leaders
Ken Cohen: The Practice of Qigong; Awakening the Original Human Being - 2012
Ken Cohen, M.A. (http://www.kennethcohen.com/) is the world-renowned qigong and Tai Chi master who introduced these arts in U.S. medical school education. Ken has been practicing qigong since 1968. A dynamic and inspiring teacher, his work has been sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Mayo Clinic, Health Canada, the British Taoist Association, and numerous conferences. He is the author of The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing (Ballantine Books), best-selling Sounds True audio/dvd courses, and more than 200 journal articles on spirituality and health. In 2003, Ken Cohen won the leading international award in energy medicine, the Alyce and Elmer Green Award for Innovation and Lifetime Achievement.
Rose De Dan: A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild – 2010, 2011 & 2012
Rose trained in Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Levels I and II with Reiki Master Kathleen Wilk and in Master Teacher level with Reiki Master Mary Gallo. Additional training included the wisdom of Native American and Peruvian shamans, Tibetan Buddhist monks, T’ai Chi and Qigong instructors, and numerous animal teachers.
As a mesa carrier, Rose was fortunate enough to receive many Karpays (transmissions of power) directly from Don Manuel Quispe, Q’ero elder and Altomesayoq in the Andean Medicine Tradition. Don Manuel was a highly respected elder, believed to be the last who could speak directly to the Apus (mountain spirits). Other teachers include Alberto Villoldo, Jose Luis Herrera, Mary Blankenship, and Nipmuc medicine men Little Turtle and Sleeps with Eyes Open. In addition to her shamanic training and Reiki certifications, Rose has a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from Clark University and a background in graphic design. She enjoys blending all with her love of photography to create beautiful and unique gifts for animal lovers, Reiki and shamanic practitioners.
Susan Eirich: Writers Workshop & Connecting with Wildlife Heart to Heart – 2011 & 2012
“When I was about five years old I remember asking my mother about why animals didn’t have equal rights to humans. Studying for my PH.D in psychology, a scrawny kitten crawled on the farm where I was living and I experienced the deepest love of my life. I hadn’t even had an affinity for cats. It was the beginning of growing into an awareness of the profound connection that is possible with animals that continues to expand and amaze me.” Living with bears and wolves, cougars and coyotes, foxes, badgers, buffalo and more, Susan uses this unique opportunity to deepen and share her understandings of wild animals, with the goal of forging a richer relationship between these wonderful creatures and humans. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, she has taught at universities around the world, worked in maximum security prisons, developed a university counseling center, directed a Nature Conservancy Preserve, and lived in remote corners of Nepal, the Mid and Far East, the Northwest Territories and the Amazon rainforest. Her goal is always to see through other’s eyes as a way to enhance understanding between cultures, peoples and species. She founded Earthfire in order to give a voice to wildlife and help people find their own natural voice. As Executive Director Susan ensures that the focus stays on heart, soul and the animals, while still maintaining a viable, professional organization. She develops the educational programs, oversees animal welfare and personally researches and attends to all medical care.
Dwayne Harty: Painting Mammals of the Yellowstone to Yukon Wildlife Corridor – 2011
Wildlife painter, Dwayne Harty, draws his inspiration by immersing himself in the wilderness in order to study firsthand the wildlife and landscapes that inspire him. Dwayne has been creating paintings and dioramas for over 30 years.
Dwayne’s paintings are categorized into the following genres; landscape and wildlife along with dioramas and murals. Dwayne likes to avoid physical minutiae and surface detail in order to convey the transitory and ephemeral. His aesthetic concerns- such as the shifts in color, temperature of light or how light illuminate the underside of an animal’s coat – are those of an impressionist although his work is realistic.
Since the fall 2010, Dwayne has been living in the Jackson Hole area, Wyoming and is the artist in residence at the Murie Center, in Grand Teton National Park. He was formally trained at the Arts Student’s League in New York City and mentored by three of the 20th century’s important wildlife artists: Bob Kuhn, Robert Lougheed and Clarence Tillenius. He has a particular gift for the subtle colors found in nature and the natural behaviors of animals in all their moods. His ability to paint animals in their habitats has ked to commissions to peint dioramas for several major museums and park interpretive centers. Dwayne has the trained eye of a scholar and an impressionist’s touch which he developed by going to Europe to study the work of the great Bruno Liljefors and by following the footsteps and canvasses of North America’s great wildlife artist Carl Rungius from Yellowstone to Yukon.
Polly Klein: Tonglen Healing Arts for Animals – 2011
Polly Klein is a nationally acclaimed animal communicator and healer. In her private practice, Tonglen Healing Arts for Animals, she works with all varieties of large and small animals, bridging the gap between people and their animals. She sees clients in her office and offers distance consultations with clients throughout the world. “I’m truly blessed. I am able to provide a service that benefits others while doing work that sings to my soul. I’m continually inspired by the great love I witness between humans and animals as well as between the animals themselves.” Polly began her professional career as a mental health counselor working with families who had children living with cancer. She has always been interested in connections.; connections between mind, body and health, between our daily choices and the environment, and between various spiritual traditions. “As a student and practitioner of shamanism and Buddhism I’m challenged to find ways to walk in the world knowing that all of my actions have a direct effect on everything around me, and that I am accountable for these actions. This awareness is what inspired me to teach at Earthfire, where I would have the opportunity to help guide others to see how their actions and choices effect the natural world, and more importantly help them put into action a plan to be better stewards for wild animals and their habitats.” “I believe we are motivated into action through our personal experiences. We are at a point in history where animals and our planet need all of us working to protect, restore and conserve habitats and resources. The tricky question is how to balance the needs of all concerned parties in a compassionate manner.” In addition to her telepathic communication practice, Polly is also a Reiki Master Teacher, a certified large and small animal CranioSacral Therapist – Diplomate and a certified small animal massage practitioner. She teaches classes in animal communication and Reiki through Tonglen Healing Arts for Animals and as an adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University. Polly regularly collaborates with veterinarians and animal behaviorists. She lives with her furry, feathered, finned and human family in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, just outside of Seattle, WA.
Bernie Krause, Ph.D: Sounds of Nature: An Introduction to Recording Wild Soundscapes – 2011
Since 1968, Dr. Bernie Krause has traveled the world recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. Working at the research sites of Jane Goodall (Gombe, Tanzania), Birute Galdikas (Camp Leakey, Borneo), and Dian Fossey (Karisoke, Rwanda), he identified the concept of biophony (a/k/a The Niche Hypothesis) based on the relationships of individual creatures to the total biological soundscape within a given habitat. Krause was Scientific Director (appointed by NOAA) of the operation that rescued
Humphrey the humpback whale from the Sacramento Delta (1985) using processed feeding sounds of the same species to lure him to the ocean. Through his company, Wild Sanctuary, he has recorded over 50 natural soundscape CDs, and creates interactive environmental sound sculpture commissions for museums and other public spaces throughout the world. Utilizing proprietary delivery technology, his sound sculpture commissions can be heard at the American Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC), the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Chicago Science Museum, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (near Mystic, CT), the California Academy of Sciences, and many other venues. During his life as a professional studio musician, he and his late music partner, Paul Beaver, introduced the synthesizer to pop music and film. Their work can be heard on over 250 albums and 135 feature films released between 1967 and 1980. These include Apocalypse Now, Rosemary’s Baby, and recently Shipping News, Castaway, Duma, and Where the Wild Things Are.
Bernie was a key figure in implementing natural soundscapes as a resource for the National Park Service and has authored the educational manual for the NPS educational staff which resulted in a recent book/CD, Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of Natural World (Wilderness Press, 2002), and has just completed the manuscript for his new book, The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places, to be published by Little Brown in January, 2012.
In 2006, Krause led three teams to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge collecting soundscapes from three different sites the material from which will be utilized for science and the arts. Supported by Harvard Institute for Music & Brain Science (where he serves on the Board), Stanford, the University of Utah, LucasFilm, and Google, this natural soundscape work, the first of its kind, will be experienced in a number of public venues.
Harvey Locke: Harvey Locke is globally known for his work on wilderness, national parks and large landscape conservation from Yellowstone to Yukon and beyond. Named by Time magazine as one of Canada’s leaders for the 21st century, his resume is filled with premier publications, keynote speaking engagements and leadership and advisory roles for some of the most well-known organizations in the conservation field. He is now playing a leadership role in a global effort to unite efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change with nature conservation. A passionate advocate for wild nature, he joined The WILD Foundation as their Vice President for Conservation Strategy in January, 2009.
Susan Marsh: Writers Workshop – Wild Creatures Guides to our Creative Source – 2011
Susan is a naturalist and award-winning writer in Jackson, Wyoming. She has 30 years’ experience as a wild land steward for the U.S. Forest Service. She was drawn to the wild from an early age, and animals were her primary conduit to this place of beauty and mystery.
“I have always associated animals with wilderness,” she says, “even if the wild was only a five-acre patch of second-growth forest, where I grew up. As a child when I looked out the window and saw quail or a fox I knew all was right with the world — there was still a place for these creatures. Not too many years later, they were gone.”
This loss of the wild and affinity for animals has driven Susan’s life-long path. “When I was in high school I planned a career in marine biology. The ocean seemed to ask for my help and I knew it had to be saved. But I balked when the biology teacher wanted me to collect a moon snail off the beach and put it in a jar of formaldehyde. ‘You have to be hard-noised if you’re going to be a scientist,’ he told me. That was the end of my career as a biologist.”
Susan has led workshops on writing and experiencing the natural world for Casper College, Grand Teton Natural History Association, and The Murie Center, among others. Her essays have appeared in Orion, North American Review, and numerous other journals and anthologies. She edited Stories of the Wild (The Murie Center, 2001) and is co-author of Beyond the Tetons (White Willow, 2009) and Targhee Trails (forthcoming in 2011). She received the 2003 Neltje Blanchan Memorial Award, awarded by the Wyoming Arts Council.
Michael Rhodes: Talking with Nature – 2012
Michael Roads, from Queensland, Australia, discovered at an early age he had the natural ability to communicate with nature and go beyond linear time and space. After becoming spiritually awakened in 1986, Michael wrote about his metaphysical experiences and has since published 13 books, translated into 16 languages, including the best-selling “Talking With Nature – Journey Into Nature, A Michael Roads Reader”. 2012 marks his 21st year of traveling around the world giving profound and hugely popular talks and 5-day Intensives on unconditional Love and the metaphysics of Nature. He offers clear insights and relates his unique, experiential truth in a powerful, no-nonsense format, offering pathways to our deep spiritual connection with Nature, with Self, and with awakening to our Divine potential. Please visit www.michaelroads.com for more info.
Blaze Schwaller: Honoring Totem Animals Through Painting – 2011
I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon in my hand, and from the very beginning, animals were my subject of choice. Horses, wolves, bears, tigers – these animals populated my dreams, danced in my head, and gave me a sense of comfort and companionship even when I was alone. Even my make-pretend friends were animals growing up!
As I entered adulthood, my connection with animals took on a different flavor. My dreams became very specific, with crows talking to me at night and giving me insights on how to get through the next day with greater ease. Upon waking, their advice always proved to be true! Daily encounters with crows, chipmunks, foxes and raccoons were the norm for me, and I felt special connections with each individual animal, and also somehow to the whole of their species. Intuitively, I gained insights and inspirations from them, and began to look for ways to honor their gifts through my own actions.
After college, I began tattooing and painting as a career, and have found great joy in sharing my love of animals with my clients. Hearing their stories of connection with wild animals or domestic ones always warms my heart, and using the art of paint or tattooing to honor the animals is particularly rewarding for me. I hope to help others connect more deeply to our wild brothers and sisters through my art, and help them express themselves through their own art. We are all connected, and painting is a medium that transcends words – a painting’s message can be felt viscerally by all that look upon it. I love to inspire people to love and appreciate animals with my artwork, and to help others do the same as they learn how to capture animal spirit in their work.
To see paintings or tattoos by Blaze: http://www.ebschwaller.com orhttp://www.spiritgallerytattoo.com/tattoos/Blaze_Schwaller/
Jean Simpson: Connecting with Wildlife Heart to Heart – 2011 & 2012
When Jean was five he drew a picture of himself walking in a park in France with animals following him. His mother said they always did. Studying to be a vet in Paris, he realized that he wanted a deeper relationship with animals than that would allow. He moved to the Rocky Mountains and taught himself how to train wolves through living with and understanding them. This led to a career training wild animals for movies, where he developed techniques based on reward and an amazing grasp of each species and each individual of that species. In 1989 he founded The Wild Bunch Ranch so that he could train based on his unique understanding of each species, and each individual of that species. He has trained and consulted on feature films, documentaries, commercials and still shoots, and worked with many of the most famous wildlife artists and photographers in the country. He is known in the industry for his humane training methods, his safety record, the beautiful condition of his animals, and his ability to get outstanding performances from them. Jean brings his talents in understanding and handling wild animals to Earthfire, as well as serving as consultant on animal welfare, safety and animal home design. To see how he works with Humble Bumble, the learning-disabled grizzly bear, or Pinkerton the blind lynx, is an enlightenment. The knowledge and thought he gives to designing homes and playgrounds for the animals gives us delightful insight into their emotional and physical needs and pleasures.
Penelope Smith: Wildlife Communications Retreat – 2010 & 2011
Communicating with animals telepathically throughout her life, Penelope Smith discovered in 1971 that animals could be relieved of emotional traumas and other problems through the same counseling techniques that helped humans. The training and experience that have contributed to her success are her educational background, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the social sciences; years of training and experience in human counseling, nutrition, and holistic body energy balancing methods; research into animal nutrition, anatomy, behavior, and care; plus the firsthand education from the thousands of animals she has contacted.
For over thirty years, Penelope has been the founding pioneer for the field whose name she originated, interspecies telepathic communication. Author of the popular classic books in the field, Animal Talk, When Animals Speak, Animals in Spirit, many audio recordings, and editor of Species Link magazine, Penelope has held the hub of the growing community of animal communicators world wide for decades.
Penelope’s visionary work has been featured in newspaper and magazine articles, numerous books, and on radio and television, in the United States and abroad. She has developed tried-and-true telepathic communication techniques, which complement current scientific knowledge and traditional methods. Her methods foster people’s ability to understand and communicate with animals on many levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. As the world’s leading teacher of basic and advanced interspecies telepathic communication, she has helped launch the careers of numerous professional animal communicators. Penelope feels that the sacred connection we make through telepathic communication with other species is essential for human wholeness. She believes that everyone is born with the power to communicate with other species, and that, although it is long lost for most people, it can be regained for the benefit of all beings on Earth.
Aidan O’Sullivan: Inhabiting Our Wild Nature Through Qigong – 2012
Aidan O’Sullivan has been a teacher and student of Tai Chi, Chi Kung and energy medicine for over 20 years. He brings a wealth of information and experience to his teaching and he has a particular interest in chronic pain and moving with old injuries. He has also been a student of optimal nutrition and the movement of chi for wellness and vitality after his own experience of long-term illness and stressful life transitions. His work is also grounded in earth-shamanic practices and he weaves the spiritual, psychological and physical seamlessly in his classes. His classes are suitable and beneficial for people of all abilities and levels of fitness.