Join Us For A ReVisioning Medicine Council For Physicians, Psychotherapists, Health Professionals and Healers
This is an invitation to ReVisioning Medicine Council to be held in Topanga, February 18 – 20, 2017.
Optional clinic day: February 21, 2017.
In the old days, when a people were gravely threatened, the Chiefs, Medicine People, Healers, Shamans, and Elders, the spiritual leaders of their communities, called Councils. They looked for solutions by aligning themselves with the ancestors, the natural world and their wisdom traditions. They were careful to consider dreams, signs, myths and stories.
Recognizing that illness is often the consequence of having violated the earth, the community and the spirits, they searched for systemic responses to assure healing. The spirits, animals and plants, even the elementals, communed with them, extending teachings, blessings and wisdom. The people gathered in times of crises; we are gathering now.
Deena Metzger has been speaking since the late 1970’s on the story illness is telling. In 2004 she provided the keynote address at the annual meeting of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) where she identified both medical practice and the earth as the patients we are called to heal. Since that meeting, a core group of physicians and healers have been consciously exploring ReVisioning Medicine. Karen Mutter DO and Kjersten Gmeiner, MD, and then Muz, Richenel Ansano, MAs, heard that call deeply and a vital, visionary circle of health professionals came into being.
- ReVisioning Medicine is a council that honors and relies on deep dialogue between medical and health practitioners and medicine people – healers, pipe carriers, shamans, energy workers, dreamers, story tellers, sound healers, indigenous elders and practitioners – as peers. To address and vision healing with heart, complexity and profundity, we gather a broad based healing community to inform and sustain each other, collaborating for the good of all.
- Over the years, working with patients who were not healing fully by conventional means, we have seen the extraordinary benefits of weaving spirit, earth and indigenous ways with medical ways. Healing ourselves, each other, the earth and medical practice simultaneously is the goal.
- Aware of the many problems and dangers of contemporary medical practices, ReVisioning seeks to restore and vision a new medicine that does no harm. We are very concerned with iatrogenisis. Too many are suffering the side-effects of prescribed medicines, and/or complications from medical or hospital treatments. One physician, using a short hand, referred to the majority of her contemporaries as practicing “pharmaceutical medicine.”
- ReVisioning recognizes that medicine, healing and culture influence each other through a constant dialogue. Actually medicine determines culture; how we heal manifests in how we live.
- Our medical practices need to change for individual, social and environmental health to improve and flourish. Medical practice itself is one of our patients. So we gather physicians who can carry seeds of change to create circles of support so that physicians and health practitioners can return to their original calling as true healers.
- In a circle of trust and camaraderie, ReVisioning allows each person to examine the difficulties of meeting the original call to be a healer. We will examine the increasing limitations and distortions imposed on medical practice by different aspects of corporate and institutional medicine, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and government. In addition, we have each experienced, participated in or witnessed unexpected healing events; this is a safe place to explore them and consider their import.
- In the intimate process of physician heal thyself, we learn and carry each other’s stories, what we have suffered and how we have triumphed, recognizing the healer in ourselves and each other. We imagine on-going alliances as we become true healers in a time of history that requires such transformation.
- ReVisioning Medicine is reciprocal medicine. Improvisational, impromptu healing teams gather around the patients and the practitioners as needed. In the last eleven years, we have learned that community is essential to healing, and that community, itself, heals. Such new communities, albeit far flung, continue to support each individual practitioner’s exploration and activity on behalf of a new medicine.
- ReVisioning is an on-going creative, collaborative process. In February 2014 the Core Group met with local physicians and some of their patients. This has been so successful and enlightening that we have continued to schedule clinic time after each ReVisioning Council gathering. The date is TBD.
- We seek “Volunteer Patients” to be the healing focus so that together we might discover the deep story of an illness and illuminate the coexisting paths of healing that extend beyond the “patient” to the people and the earth. Particularly attentive to and respectful of what the patient knows about his or her affliction, we listen carefully for the Story. We call this exploration Indigenous Grand Rounds.
- ReVisioning Medicine is in the tradition of Narrative medicine. From its inception, we have recognized that the entire Story of an illness includes personal, familial, communal, social, political and environmental histories in order for the healing path to be revealed. We seek to expand the narrow medical focus, looking beyond symptoms, the physical and emotional components, beyond testing, seeking many ways of knowing and a range of possibilities for treatment.
- Over the years, we have worked with such Volunteers who have been afflicted with various cancers, heart disease, leukemia (from playing in uranium tailings on the Reservation) Agent Orange poisoning, (Vietnam), chemical sensitivities, and other ailments. A good percentage of our Volunteers have been also been participants working in conventional medical fields. We always try to focus on someone whose affliction has ramifications for the society as a whole and to see how non-conventional ways of healing might inform us and the patient in new ways.
- A Volunteer Patient for Topanga 2014 was a forty-year old woman suffering extreme and chronic fatigue, depression and multiple digestive difficulties. Formerly an outdoorswoman, river/mountain/dog sled guide, she is a skilled and devoted naturopath, who in the past years had exhausted all conventional and traditional treatments to no avail. In December 2013, she had written that she had lost faith in healing. In February 2014 before our meeting, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. She believed, and ReVsisioning, concurred, that this was another factor in her illness, but there was not and could not be a single subsuming diagnosis. ReVisioning gave her an opportunity to explore the relationship between physical illness, emotional distress, personal history, ethical concerns and spiritual wounds. It also immersed her in a supportive and respectful community. She now had trustworthy peers and colleagues. After ReVisioning, she wrote:
“Something beautiful is happening. I cannot describe or explain it, but there is a river flowing inside me again, and the barren landscape that has been there for so long is shifting. The waters are beginning to flow, the ground is becoming dense with nourishment and new growth is germinating. That I can feel for sure. It is new life stirring before the birth, and it is giving me new purpose. All feels different.”
This VP’s healing began when she wrote the desperate letter asking for help and continued through the ReVisioning weekend and beyond. The ReVisioning weekend was critical and what transpired before and afterwards was in accord with the healing principles we explore and practice together. Putting her “On the Hill” to quest helped complete the healing cycle and confirmed the power of land based medicine.
- ReVisioning in Minneapolis 2015 was unusual because of the number of medical people attending who also asked for healing for themselves. The Volunteer Patient had been Director of Volunteers for the American and International Red Cross. She presented a family history of cancer and its healing that had not been perceived wholly before.
- One participant, a director, trainer and facilitator in the field of Mind Body Medicine and children’s mental health, revealed a story of governmental / institutional mental and medical abuse. She had suffered many ills over many years including being the victim of nonconsensual radiation experiments. ReVisioning Medicine provided the platform for her transformation from a victim of a system to a forthright witness to its violence and exploitation.
- We have received confirmations from two Volunteer Patients for this year. Both of them, are, independent of their own work with their illnesses, devoted to the wisdom and healing power of Story. We expect our work with them, individually and together, will be profound for them and also for us as we have the opportunity to enter very deeply into the reciprocal nature of healing at its best.
At ReVisioning we have addressed and continue to address the following questions:
- Can medical people also be medicine people?
- How can we restore the role of community as integral to healing?
- Can physicians and health practitioners serve the community in the best ways that medicine persons served their tribes or indigenous communities?
- Can we speak openly, honestly and from the heart about the grief and vision we carry about contemporary medical ways and healing?
- Can we examine, together, what we want to change and what we must reject?
- How do we determine the entire story of the illness or the affliction so that we can truly open the door to healing, which also implies wholeness?
- How can we be as skilled in accompanying patients who are dying as we are in pursuing healing?
- How can we include the conversation around death and dying in the healing process?
- How can medical practices be informed by spirit and earth centered practices?
- How can we incorporate indigenous wisdom traditions, ceremonies and rituals into medical treatment?
- Can we begin to create medical practices and treatments that do no harm to people or the environment?
- Can our souls bear it, if we can’t?
- How do individual, cultural and global healing intersect?
- How can we restore right relationship with the Earth as essential to healing?
- How can we bring ReVisioning understanding to medical training?
- What is our calling as healing presences at this time in history?
ReVisioning Medicine seeks to bring medical wisdom together with time tested indigenous ways and contemporary vision. Based on Council principles, everyone’s unique intelligence, medicine tradition and wisdom are appreciated. Cooperation between western medicine and non-western healing practices is implicit in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but these are still parallel systems operating from different perspectives. A new collaboration is essential.
ReVisioning Medicine is a spirit-based medicine, as healing is a spiritual practice for medicine people. It promotes alliances between the patient and physicians, healers, the family and the natural world. Such partnership has major implications in terms of diagnosis and treatment, as does including ritual and ceremony in the healing process.
If we are free to think differently about the nature of illness and healing, as well as the relationship between common illnesses and modern life, we must seek alternate interventions, invent and re-discover alternate treatments that do no harm to individuals or the planet.
Integrating the old, old medicine of Story and right relationships and respect for the communities of all beings can bring us back into alignment and health. Aligning medical and medicine ways heals community and many of the grave ills and illnesses of modern life. ReVisioning Medicine is, we believe, more than the next step after CAM; it is, we hope, the future.
ReVisioning Medicine in Topanga, CA, February 2017
We have been meeting in Topanga for over ten years. The land has supported and held this work with love and generosity. The animals on the land are a constant presence in the work.
With the help of the land, the animals, and the Ancestors, we expect this gathering of medical and medicine people from across the country and even the world will deepen our understanding of how we may collaborate to create and restore a medical/medicine culture that seeds health in every interaction.
Deena Metzger will be leading this gathering again in alliance with Kjersten Gmeiner, MD, Karen Mutter, DO, and Muz, Richenel Ansano, MA, formerly of Global Medicine Education Foundation and now Director at National Archaeological Anthropological Memory Management of Curaçao. Joining them will be Marc Weigensberg, MD, Tobi Fishel, Ph.D. Lawrie Hartt, M.Div., Sharon Simone, Ed.M, and Danelia Wild, dedicated healers and musicians who have been carrying ReVisioning Medicine since its inception.
To reserve a space and for more information, including fees, interested parties please call or write Kjersten Gmeiner, M.D., 206-679-5429.
We are honored to be involved in this work, and hope you will join us.
Peace and Blessings,
Deena Metzger, PhD
Kjersten Gmeiner, MD
Karen Mutter, DO
Richenel Ansano, MA
Lawrie Hartt M.Div.
These include: Thinking About Healing; Illness Heals the World; On ReVisioning Medicine and the Possibilities of Miracles; The Soul of Medicine (Deena’s address to the AHMA in 2004); Illness Can Heal the World and Healing in the Community. Her books related to healing include, Tree: Essays and Pieces, a journal of surviving breast cancer, Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice of Healing, and From Grief Into Vision: A Council.
Note: Kjersten recommends that everyone read the Soul of Medicine, which in its way started this entire path: http://deenametzger.net/the-soul-of-medicine/