College's classes promote 'earth-based spirituality'
By EILEEN SCHULTE
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 4, 2000
Nine years ago, Kimbo Snyder attended a Renaissance festival in Minnesota and chanced upon a Native American medicine woman from the Ojibwe tribe who changed the course of her life.
The medicine woman even took her on a vision quest.
Snyder fasted for six days, ventured out into the isolated Minnesota woods and built a fire at the base of a mountain. On the first night, she saw nothing out of the ordinary. But on the second night, she said, she saw strange animals: ostriches and bears who walked up to her and offered words of wisdom.
She said she saw their tracks the next morning.
Her experiences inspired her to earn her bachelor's degree at the College of Metaphysical Studies and become a teacher.
Hoping to introduce more people to Native American customs and wanting to offer programs to people who already study Native American spirituality, she came up with the idea for a program at the college called Native American Wisdom Week: An Exploration of Earth-Based Spirituality.
"There are a lot of people who are getting back to an earth-based" spirituality, said Snyder, who is 36 and about to become a grandmother. "They are finding peace just connecting with the earth. It's that joy of seeing that butterfly and appreciating it."
The president of the college, Paul F. Daniele, agrees.
"There's a spiritual awareness now," he said.
Some of Daniele's ancestors were Native American. Although his mother's ancestors came over on the Mayflower, some married members of the Mohawk tribe based in the New York area.
"Lots of Americans have Native American blood," he said.
The program begins today and runs through Nov. 12. It includes workshops, services, ceremonies and other events led by guest teachers from throughout the United States.
There are full-moon, sacred pipe and healing and celebration ceremonies. A man named Running Wolf, also known as Serge Martel, will teach shamanic touch, a way of using energy to heal people, pets and plants.
Running Wolf also will teach a class concerning the Native American Spirit World, explaining prophecies foretold by various tribes, some of which have come to pass and others of which are just beginning to unfold.
Stan Seacrest, the owner of the Drum and Rattle Trading Company in St. Petersburg, will teach a class in drum-making.
On Sunday night, participants can play their new drums during a Drumming on the Beach event in which participants will play their drums, rattles, rainsticks and other noisemakers.
Native Americans believe drumming creates energy.
Also, a Native American woman named Sweetgrass, who is an elder in the Apache tribe, will teach a class called Sun Bear's Medicine Wheel. The function of the medicine wheel is to help create sacred space. Sweetgrass will describe its use and the meaning of its various positions.
The classes are open to the public and cost $40 to $200. To register, call (727) 538-9976 or pay at the door. The ceremonies, including a Veterans Dance, Drumming on the Beach and a potluck dinner, are free.
Through the program, Snyder hopes to get people to "think from a place of love rather than fear."
"One of the biggest things in Native American spirituality is that we're all connected," Snyder said. "They have a saying in the Lakota language, Mitakuye oyasim. We are all related."
If you're interested
The College of Metaphysical Studies will present Native American Wisdom Week today through Nov. 12 at the campus, 18514 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. The program seeks to help participants explore the pathway of Native American spirituality and strengthen their connection to Mother Earth by way of classes, ceremonies, talks, services and other events. Some are free; others cost $40 to $200. All events and classes are open to the public. Reservations are preferred, but you can pay at the door. To make a reservation or for program times and dates, call (727) 538-9976.
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