About the Award
In 2016 The 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.
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.
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 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.
Make a Nomination
Each year the Society for Shamanic Practice honors an individual or group who has made a significant and wide-reaching contribution to the sharing of shamanic and indigenous wisdom throughout the world. We are interested in all forms of sharing this knowledge including writing, visual arts, music, student programs, etc. The recipient(s) will receive a one-time gift of $5,000, as well as be featured on the SSP website.
You may nominate anyone other than yourself or a family member. The nominee does not need to be a member of SSP and we invite you to make more than one nomination. We are unable to accept nominations of current or past board members of the Society for Shamanic Practice.
We are especially interested in those whose work is innovative and deeply inspiring with a broad reach. Nominees must have a website that clearly explains their work and vision. This is not a voting process and multiple nominations do not improve the nominee’s chance of receiving the award. All information provided will be kept private and used only for the purposes of selecting this award. Nominees and nominators may be contacted by SSP for additional information and verification.
The nomination window for 2020 is now open through October 31st, 2020. Stay tuned! The winner will be announced before the year’s end.
Gogo Ekhaya Esima | 2019
The Society for Shamanic Practice is thrilled to announce the 2019 recipient of the Eagle Feather Award.
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!