Month: August 2020

Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass

Cover Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass:

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

By Robin Wall Kimmerer, Milkweed Editions (October 15, 2013)

What a wonderful find! In Braiding Sweetgrass the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, unites science and spirituality into a beautiful tapestry showing us our need for both science and spirit to survive on this earth — and for the Earth to survive us.

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist and a professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York. She is also an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Kimmerer embraces the notion that plants and animals serve as our oldest teachers. Read the book and you will better understand why she inspired me to write A Healing Message of Thanksgiving.

A Mother’s Work

Kimmerer’s writing is beautiful and evocative.  More than once, I found myself with tears in my eyes.

The chapter “A Mother’s Work” centres around the raising of Kimmerer’s two daughters. She talks about all that she wanted to teach them while also restoring her pond.

Kimmerer spent years clearing out the vegetation and making her pond sustainable again. This one paragraph truly affected me:

“The pond has shown me that being a good mother doesn’t end with creating a home where just my children can flourish. A good mother grows into a richly entropic old woman, knowing that her work doesn’t end until she creates a home where all of life’s beings can flourish.”

Kimmerer emphasizes how important we are in nourishing life beyond our homes and within all species. I hadn’t thought of it quite like she explains here.

A Proven Path towards a Sustainable Future

I feel in these unsettled times, this book weaves a solid path forward. One we can follow to rebuild ourselves as people — along with our environment. The path Kimmerer lays before us is built upon the natural history of reciprocity, responsibility, and hope. It’s a concept we can all learn from the plants and animals around us.

Her message throughout this book rests on the simple concept that —

If we only take what we need and find a way to restore what we take, we can once again take care of the Earth and the Earth will take care of us.

Kimmerer has mastered weaving together her extensive scientific knowledge of botanicals with her indigenous philosophy to inspire us to do better at taking care of our world. She did me.

She is a great storyteller. I often got so caught up in the story that, only afterwards, did I realize how much I had learned from Kimmerer. It was an easy read for me because it is so well written.

Cover Braiding Sweetgrass

Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving

Throughout the book Kimmerer places parts of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving address. It is a prayer we can all live by and I encourage everyone to live by this prayer. I reprinted it in my blog post A Healing message of thanks giving to encourage everyone to share with others.

I also want to mention the undertone for the name of this book. In Canada, the indigenous peoples consider sweetgrass as sacred. This book is sacred to me as it gives us a clear path forward to sustainability.

I recommend Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants  to anyone interested in creating a more kind and sustainable community and world. I believe Braiding Sweetgrass is a “must read” for individuals and business leaders alike.

Meanwhile, take care. Call me if you need me to help.


A healing message of thanks giving

Indigenous Spirituality Symbol

“To encourage the process of healing at a global level, we must first change the one thing over which we have real power: ourselves.”

The Dance for All People

Knowing that we only have power over ourselves, how do we go about healing the world?

We start with right now.  Right now, we can do one thing that when combined with other people doing one thing can make a difference.

That one thing can be as simple as

    • Taking time to say a healing prayer to the Universe every night.
    • Volunteering to help your community.
    • Keeping calm and positive despite what is happening around you.

Let’s not have all these negative stories paralyze us to think we cannot make a difference – because we can.

A message of thanks giving

When I read the Haudenosaunee prayer of thanks giving in Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer — I felt inspired to share.  I copied it here from the site.

In her book, Kimmerer shows us our need for an exchange of mutual benefit in our relationships. Being in a reciprocal relationship with everything we encounter — the water, the land, the plants, the animals, and the people – can heal us.

Respecting what each has to offer will guide us to a more caring and loving world in which we live. This is one thing we all must do for a better world.

I share the Haudenosaunee message here as we have much to be thankful for and much to protect and respect as we go about our daily lives. This is a great message to repeat in a group – as “now our minds are one.”

Hiawatha Belt

Hiawatha Belt

Greetings to the Natural World.

The People

Today we have gathered, and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters

We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers, and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish

We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans, and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here, and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty, and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages, and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers

Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon

We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how-to live-in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator

Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.

Indigenous symbol of cultures

Educational Sources

The Canadian Encyclopedia provides an educational portal for parents and teachers. You can find information and a workbook for downloading at their Indigenous Perspectives Education Guide. This portal is in addition to their Haudenosaunee article.

The Smithsonian Institute also has a guide for educators. You will find it at Haudenosaunee Guide for Educators.

Prayer Sources

You can find this Haudenosaunee message of thanksgiving online at various sites. Like I stated, I first read it in Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. In addition to her book, I’m recommending two sites specifically for you to go and gain further knowledge about giving respect, healing your soul, and keeping peace between nations.

“The World Prayers Project is a nonprofit, educational, public service organization whose founding objective is to gather and present historic and contemporary World Prayers in a unified, multi faith archive on the Internet.”

As stated above, I copied the prayer from the World Prayer site. You can find more inspiration here to help you move into a more positive direction or to inspire you further in your quest of a more caring and loving life.

Their quote by Mahatma Gandhi is worth repeating here:

“Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads, so long as we reach the same goal?”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Dance for All People

“The Dance For All People is drawn from an age-old tradition of the Great Basin/Plateau indigenous peoples which was practiced for the healing, restoration and renewal of Mother Earth and all her beings…The Dance is about each individual taking personal responsibility to make this mission of healing and renewal for the good of all a part of their daily lives.”

This quote says a lot abut how to live your life — taking personal responsibility. On this site, you’ll find beautiful Native American art accompanying the words. to this thanks giving message.  Additional information on this site will help inspire you to honor our world even more today than you did yesterday.

I encourage you to explore these sites and others.

I also encourage you to read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I will finalize my book report soon, so you know exactly why I recommend this book to you.

Let’s keep doing what we can to make this world a more loving and caring environment.

Meanwhile, if I can help you in your healing process, give me a call at 1 (416) 203-2744 or email me at

I now serve clients from around the world in our clinics. As due to the pandemic, my practice has moved our clinic treatments online. I continue to conduct personal long-distance healing around the world. I’m here for you.

Take care of yourself and remember —

Now our minds are one.


P.S. When we live by this prayer – we can make the world a better place. Let’s be the change.


Be the change for healing

Hands giving high five

Be the change for healing

Dear Readers,

From my writings, you can tell these last five months have me wondering about our world today and what it will be like tomorrow. We are surrounded by dire headlines, protests, and disasters all over the world — natural and man-made. The results are emotional and physical chaos for us and mother earth.

My hope is that we will be able to take advantage of these times resulting in huge CHANGE. I also hope that out of this emotional, physical, and spiritual chaos — we can move into a period of great transition.

So now what do we do?

To my mind, we need to

“Be the change we want in this world.”

If we want a sustainable change, we must first heal ourselves and that means loving and being more compassionate to ourselves. Science shows that for best results, treat yourself like you would treat a trusted friend.

This article on change and self-compassion can help. Check it out at Greater Good Magazine.

What do we want?

Let’s facilitate these unprecedented times as a turning point to

    • a more accepting and reciprocal world order,
    • a deeper belief that everyone is our equal, and
    • an appreciation for what a person has to offer the world — big and small.

Let’s live and work for the greater good of humanity. Like I said last month, It’s survival of the Kindest.

What we have learned

One thing that the pandemic has taught us is the importance of front-line workers. From trash haulers to store clerks to delivery drivers to doctors – we’re all important to keep our community safe, clean, and profitable for all. By “all” I mean every one of us — regardless of our race, gender, faith, and any other differences we may have.

Another item I hope everyone understands better is that we are one world. We can no longer shut our borders, build fences, and do our own thing. A nation’s actions of sacrificing nature and people are felt around the world.

Now more than ever I believe we understand that we are all — in it together.

The Birth of a Nation

Sikh activist, lawyer, and Revolutionary Love Project founder, Valarie Kaur gave a powerful speech at a New Year’s watch party on December 31, 2016. It was a prayer for America — and is appropriate for any nation in the world.

She blew me away with her insight. Kaur brings in a whole other layer to Survival of the Kindest.

Kaur asks us not to look at our future as dark, but rather as a labor of love. Instead of a tomb that kills us, it is a womb that’s nurturing us. At this moment in time, we are in labour. We are preparing for our birth – of a new world. Kaur tells us to actively push through the fire of hate and breathe in the power of love.

Kaur’s website declares that

“Love is a force for social justice.”

I found the transcript of Kaur’s speech in a Washington Post’s article about it at “Breath! Push!” Watch this Sikh activist’s powerful prayer for America. Check it out if you want to understand her message fully. Hit the play button to watch her prayer.

Love and Kindness

If each of us actively works in harmony to make this world a better place, we can lead our nations to the real natural order of communities — survival of the kindness.

In Kaur’s Ted Talk, 3 Lessons of revolutionary love in a time of rage, Kaur describes the three areas in which we must love fully – ourselves, others, and our opponents.

She asks us to “know no stranger.” Kaur warns that when we see people as “bodies” and not as our brothers and sisters, it becomes easier to accept policies “…that neglect them, that incarcerate them, that kill them.”

If we look at everyone as our sister, brother, uncle, or our aunt – we will listen to their stories. Through their stories we will get to know them. They no longer are strange to us. Sage advice.

Now when these same people need healing, we can tend to their wounds to help them heal. Even the people who have hurt you. Now you know their stories. Now they are your brothers and sisters.

You can help people heal. Know that is what I do. The more of us out helping others to heal, the better the world will be.

With love and kindness for everyone – no matter the colour, no matter the country – everyone is valuable. Everyone is equal. This includes you and me – all of us. As Kaur reminds us — we must “breathe and push” to love ourselves. We must push our nations to love everyone. We must change.

A Sikh prayer

Kaur began and ended her speech with a prayer. I want to pass it on in its translation.

“The beloved community belongs to divine Oneness, and so does all that it achieves.”

Take care. Be kind. Love all.

~ Ellen