Eagle Feather AwardRecognizing Outstanding Contributions to the field of Shamanism
Anyone practicing shamanism at any level owes a tremendous debt to the rare, true shamans who serve their communities by healing the sick, providing leadership, protection, teaching, and spiritual guidance. All of us owe a debt to the shamans who have carried ancient teachings forward and who have, many times, rescued and preserved ancient lineages from extinction. The Eagle Feather Award is Society for Shamanic Practice’s small way of expressing gratitude and support to the world’s shamans. The recipient receives a $5,000, no restrictions award.
SSP’s Eagle Feather Award honors an individual or group anywhere in the world who has made significant contributions to the field of shamanism. It aids and supports skilled practitioners of the shamanic path who are engaged in important service projects and who have ongoing responsibilities to their communities, and to the web of all life.
More than anyone else, the shamans understand, and work deeply with, the life-sustaining connection between human beings, the natural world, and the spiritual realm. They show all of us the way to repairing the rift between ourselves and the web of life, and they teach us how to be in right relationship with life and with one another.
The eagle is revered across many cultures as a powerful embodiment of Spirit and emissary of wisdom. Whether soaring over the plains and coasts of the Americas, the craggy hills of Celtic lands, the fjords of Scandinavia, or the forests of Central Asia, the Eagle is central to shamanic peoples’ stories and beliefs. The eagle inspires in us the courage to see and shed our lowest fears and desires. It reminds us of Spirit’s fierce grace and limitless blessing. The eagle calls us into (or back into) connection with Creation, Creator and one another.
Announcing the Recipients for 2021
As the Society for Shamanic Practice continues to expand so does our awareness of shamanic-based leaders within communities across the globe. A big and heartfelt thank you to the 70+ submissions that came to us for this year’s Eagle Feather Award. Thank you for sharing your testimony of the leaders who empower your community. We kindly ask for your resubmissions next year.
The two recipients of the Eagle Feather Award for 2021 are the Hmong Shaman and Herb Center and Orland Bishop.
Please see below for more information on the recipients.
Congratulations to the first of our two EFA recipients this year!
Thank you for contributing your wisdom to the field of shamanism!
Orland Bishop was born in the country of Guyana, South America into an Afro-Guyanese family with family lineages to West Africa, India and Scotland. These family heritages influenced his awareness of and attraction to the rituals of the culturally diverse country that is Guyana. Orland was born the sixth of seven children in the Water Year of 1966, in a community on Demerara River in Guyana. Water was and remained a source of visions for what emerged as his practice and work.
Orland is the carrier of the Ancestral Pool, a memory of the Ceremonial Knowledge of Water that serves as a divination and prophetic rite and ceremonial ways of knowing from West Africa. After a gap of four generations, the Water Wisdom was returned through him in a radical submersion in the Atlantic Ocean at 7 years of age. This path remained open and serves as guidance for him to many other places and communities of practice in the world.
Orland was formally initiated into ceremonial practice of the Zulu Inyanga, Healers of the Moon, Tradition by Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa of South Africa in 1998 and over the many years until his death in March of 2021. He is also initiated into the Kontemblè Tradition of the Dagara of West Africa through his mentors and friends Malidoma Patrice Somé and Sobonfu Somé both of whom are now Ancestors. Orland is also initiated into Palo, an African Diaspora Spiritual Practice from the Congo honoring the Ancestors, Forces of Nature and Powers of Places.
Orland lives in Los Angeles and is connected to networks of social, cultural and spiritual communities serving the Sacred Ways. He is the Founder of Shadetree Multicultural Foundation working with human and community development for cultural healing. Orland is the author of The Seventh Shrine, Meditations on the African Spiritual Journey from the Middle Passage to the Mountaintop. He narrates and navigates the Ancestral Soul Journey through the prophetic realms into current realities. He is the Presiding Priest of the Aquarian Gospel Temple and the Black Gnostic Studies founded in 1941 in Los Angeles by his Mentor Dr. Alfred Ligon, an African American Metaphysician and African Gnostic Priest.
Orland Bishop welcomes the opportunity to join this community of recipients of the Eagle Feather Award and the honors the carriers of all traditions of Shamanic Wisdom.
For more on Orland’s work please follow the links below.
Please watch this video interview that SSP Board Member Jose Stevens did with Orland Bishop in January 2022 after Orland was awarded the Eagle Feather Award.
Congratulations to the SECOND of our two EFA recipients for 2021!
HMONG SHAMAN AND HERB CENTER
Thank you for contributing your wisdom to the field of shamanism!
The Hmong are an ancient civilization dating back thousands of years before the Common Era. When the first Hmong refugees arrived in Minnesota from southeast Asia in 1976, many converted to Christianity because it was difficult, if not impossible, to maintain their cultural traditions. A healing and cultural center in Saint Paul, MN has been the dream of the Hmong refugee community for decades and is long overdue.
The Eagle Feather Award will facilitate this dream by helping to establish the Hmong Shaman and Herb Center (HSHC), where new generations of Hmong, and the larger community, can come together in one networked location to appreciate, learn about, and access Hmong shamanic and herbal practices. The award will also be used to honor specific practitioners.
Currently, all traditional healing in the Hmong community is done at home and mostly in an in-person consultation and/or healing ritual. The HSHC will be the first of its kind to invite both the healers and the patients to a neutral facility away from home where practitioners can network with potential patients, provide shamanic and herbal resources and offer referrals, all without disturbing traditional animistic Hmong home life.
The HSHC will also be a place where shamanic practitioners and herbalists can provide continuity for those of the younger generations, many of whom no longer have a spiritual understanding of traditional practices in their households.
The Eagle Feather Award will help the HSHC to create printed material and online information in both Hmoob (the Hmong language) and English. The HSHC hopes to advance the progression of its practitioners through legislation that will formally recognizes and licenses practitioners of Hmong shamanism and herbalism.
For more on the Hmong and the Hmong Shaman and Herb Center, follow the links below.
Please watch this video interview that SSP Board President Jaime Meyer did with Tzianeng Vang of the HSHC in February 2022 after HSHC was awarded the Eagle Feather Award.
Support for this Program
Without generous financial support we could not offer this award and the continuation to do so. We wish to profusely thank our Sponsors ($5,000+): Sandra Hobson of the Hobson Foundation (program founder) for the ongoing support of this program; Addison Fischer for his generous contribution of the 2019 award and beyond, and our Supporters ($1000-$4,999): Tom Cowan, The Power Path School of Shamanism and Jaime Meyer. Click here to make a contribution.
Ongoing Thank You to EFA Recipients
In 2016, Society for Shamanic Practice began honoring outstanding members of the shamanic community with the Eagle Feather Award, a $5,000 unrestricted award recognizing an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the field of shamanism. The award aides and supports skilled practitioners of the shamanic path who are engaged in important service projects and who have ongoing responsibilities to their communities, and to the web of life. Our continued thank you goes out to the following recipients.
Ohki Forest | 2020
Thank you for contributing your wisdom to the field of shamanism!
Of Canadian Mohawk descent, Ohki is a vision-holder & spiritual teacher who has lived in Chiapas, Mexico since 1985 where she collaborates with indigenous Mayas through her organization, Red Wind Councils.
When Ohki was a small baby, a thunder-fireball fell on a centenary oak & her house. This was the first of a series of unparalleled signs that took her to meet shaman-teachers who shared with her that she had been chosen by the great Powers to learn ancient Medicine ways.
Initiated into the Wolf Clan of the Iroquois Long House in 1980, Ohki’s illuminating vision is the return of Council Ways through which all people can reclaim & renew the natural dignity, balance & justice that is the true dreaming of the Earth. Since 1985, Ohki has built & sustained 3 Medicine centers in Mexico & the U.S. dedicated to the renewal of indigenous spirituality & ancient Native teachings.
Trained & initiated by Maya, Canadian & Mongolian shamans, she has taught Shamanic Earth Ways, Women’s Medicine practices & Spiritual Warrior/ess training for over 30 years in North America & Mexico.
“As a warrioress of life & death I am, & will always be, in constant spiritual resistance against ignorance, humbly striving to bring back the great laws of Earth.” -Ohki Forest
Gogo Ekhaya Esima | 2019
The 2019 recipient of the Eagle Feather Award was Gogo Ekhaya Esima. Gogo Ekhaya Esima is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist in the mental health field, a trauma survivor, a Spiritual Coach, and initiated healer in the South African Sangoma tradition. She is trained in Trauma Informed Practices and blends these techniques with shamanic healing for a wholistic approach to mental wellness. As a trauma survivor, her personal struggles led her to traditional methods of healing. Sangomas are well known and highly regarded in South Africa as professional healing practitioners. Over 60% of the population still consult with Sangoma medicine people for physical, psychological, and spiritual healing. Sangomas use a form of spiritual mediumship by communicating with the ancestors to give messages and heal.
You can learn more about Gogo’s work through her links below, and by reading our award interview with her.
Mona Polacca | 2018
After sifting through many highly-qualified nominations, The Society for Shamanic Practice awarded the 2018 Eagle Feather Award to Mona Polacca of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers – a group of spiritual elders, medicine women and wisdom keepers founded in 2004.
Mona Polacca is a Native American spiritual elder from Arizona. She has worked to further social justice for indigenous people from an early age. She is an author in the field of social sciences, has held posts of responsibility as Treasurer for her tribe, served on several committees for Indigenous Peoples within the United Nations and is widely known for her leadership in the Native American revitalization movement.
Bhola Banstola | 2017
The 2017 winner of the Eagle Feather Award was Bhola Banstola, a 27th generation medicine person from Nepal. For many years, Bhola has taught extensively throughout the world. Recently he has turned attention toward making ethnographic and shamanic healing documentaries to preserve his traditional ways and to educate those who are interested.
Nepal has been rocked recently by disastrous earthquakes and, very recently, floods. Bhola is actively engaged in helping his nature-affected brothers and sisters as best he can. SSP is delighted to support Bhola’s work and vision, and by extension the people of Nepal, at this time. Read our full award interview with Bhola here.
Two quotes from Bhola
“I believe that the shamanic path is the most democratic path. Anyone can practice this way and take this practice a way of living life. One should be very sincere, one should take it as a daily practice with great discipline. It helps us to be always connected with the spirits of nature and with yourself too.”
“If you want to be a shaman, having a human teacher as a guide is a must, as human teachers show you the best way to explore and work with the spiritual worlds; and they can teach you how to perform healing rites and rituals as well.”
Joseph Rael | 2016
We presented the 2016 Eagle Feather Award to Joseph Rael (“Beautiful Painted Arrow”), an eighty-two year old author, healer, mystic, and teacher who travels the world establishing his uniquely beautiful “sound and peace temples.” When he is not traveling and teaching, Joseph makes his home in Colorado on the Ute Reservation. He is of both Ute and Picuris descent and belongs to both tribes. Learn more about Joseph and his work here.
SSP Board members Lena and Jose Stevens traveled to Southern Colorado to present the award to Joseph in a short and lovely ceremony. At that time they recorded an interview with him containing nearly an hour’s worth of wisdom and humor. Congratulations, Joseph Rael, and thank you!