The History Of Anima Center – Part 6 – by J. Wolf Hardin
Even before Kiva and Loba, the Center depended on more than myself for its survival – as a wild place, and a place of teaching. Names pop to mind like John, Gena, Redtail and Ron, who each in their own way and time contributed to paying for the land. And then there were those others who gave in order to help further our message and programs, once I got over my pride and started accepting financial help towards this work. The director of the Kingsley School for troubled youth near Washington D.C., Jim O’Connor, brought some of his charges out to the Center for counsel after watching my presentations, performances and workshops for several years. It was he who made the first donation, after insisting it was hard-headed of me to refuse help when my life was dedicated to helping others. And it was Jim who introduced us to our second ever – and now longest lasting – supporters, our dear friends the Nick Morgan family. There have been numerous people since, some of whom gave regularly for a matter of months or years, others who gifted us only once but at a special time when we really needed it to cover some unexpected expense. There was a long period where we would likely have had to do without internet, the composting latrine, even a running vehicle, without Glenn Henderson. Now Shay’s fervent support is proving invaluable, moving us forward with self publishing as well as trying to assist with every other of the Center’s needs. It’s is only because others give, that we have been able to restore this land and offer these services without ever insisting on payment for anything that we do. (This photo shows some of the rock borders I first put up near the cabins, which immediately began to collect new soil and seed… a first step in the greening of the Canyon.)
The intuitive explorations, clarifications, perceptual tools and counsel for action that arose during hundreds of teaching and counsel sessions, were organized in the late 1990’s into the book we now call The Way Of Animá. For any of you who don’t know, these short sections and aphorisms were arranged by topic, so that one could turn to a particular subject relating to their personal quandary or inquiry, such as Trust & Discernment, Love & Self Love, Honor & Integrity, Illness & Death, and Finding Purpose. By 2000, a lifetime of understandings had begun to coalesce into a cohesive holistic way of thinking, being and living. Then in the Winter of 2005, with the excited encouragement and awesome assistance of Kiva Rose, Animá was launched as an effective organized system, school and tradition. The accent over the “A,” by the way, was meant to help with pronunciation, but also to distinguish the teaching from the general term, the archaic or even Freudian lower-case anima. For any who might be unfamiliar with it, you can read detailed definitions in the materials and essays on the Animá site.
With the change in name, came an increase and shift in events, with each more focused and filling a different need, as well as a new expanded website with far more resources, and eventually our blogs. Most important of all may be the developing of comprehensive Animá Correspondence Courses, for the first time making it possible for people anywhere to work closely with us without having to necessarily ever come here. The Path Of Heart is built around self exploration, self-nourishment/self-love and finding one’s purpose in life, for both men or women. The Shaman Path is also for anyone, regardless of gender, who wants to intensely develop their awareness and other abilities, vision and wisdom, purpose and power. The Medicine Woman Core Path is similar to the Shaman Path, only with healing intent and practice as its foundation, and the Medicine Woman Herbal Path puts additional emphasis on healing with plants. We expect it to take at least another two years before all the curricula, readings, questions and assignments/practices are complete, with the most advanced students now driving the pace of their development.
The Medicine Woman Tradition has become an integral element of and vehicle for sharing the broader implications and benefits of Animá, and is mostly thanks to Kiva Rose’s passionate studies, experience and effort. As of 2006 we have included the Tradition in our name, and feature it on the opening page of our website, reflecting its increasing relevance and importance. No other healing system or modality so clearly bridges personal physical healing with taking responsibility for helping heal and even co-create our world. The first complete Medicine Woman book is hoped to be finished by 2009, and its early chapters have already been praised by the healers and visionaries we respect the most.
In 2007 Kiva prepared a grant with Denise Smith of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Partners In Wildlife program, the same program that had funded the building of a cattle-exclusion fence all around the property several years before. The grant reimburses us for any plants, seeds, tools and so forth needed for the further improvement of Animá Center property as wildlife habitat. Plant species have been selected that provide fodder for the local wild animals, but also for their ability to stabilize the river banks, or because simply because they are native types that were once here and should be here again to restore the overall balance. She has also taken it upon herself to reintroduce native plant medicines, species that besides serving the ecosystem, also have known medicinal uses. We’ve since joined the important United Plant Savers organization (www.unitedplantsavers.org) in support of their efforts to halt the plant extinctions and promote ecologically sustainable harvesting.
Two things have made it harder, rather than easier for us to outreach. One is that a large number of nature/ecology, self help and spirituality print publications have shut their doors in the past few years, reducing the number of venues for our articles and event promo. The other, is that the increase in spam resulted in many people installing spam filters that filtered out any announcements from “mail@” addresses. It was this fact that drove us to stop sending out group emails, and to establish our two blogs for notices instead. The result is a greater dependence on you forwarding our announcements and posting our flyers, and encouraging your friends to check out our opportunities. It seems entirely appropriate, however, that our effectiveness hinge on the active participation of what is a growing and diversifying Animá community.
Fascinating to us, are the ways in which Animá students and alumni are also staying directly in touch with each other, forming alliances, working groups and discussion circles, and thus re-creating a tribal (intimate, devoted, with shared values, purpose and work) community of folks living as far away as New Zealand. More and more they are finding others to do activism and healing with, to go on nature walks and enjoy the many simple, fine things in life.
One thing that donations don’t cover – and perhaps never will – is medical and dental expenses for the Center’s residents. We each committed to this place and mission with full knowledge that we would be without health insurance, and that we would be relying on natural forms of healing to survive to a natural old age. My liver condition has appeared as one of the most serious challenges so far, affecting my sleep, with anything that is stressful (from urban shopping center crowds to worry over not doing all we can to alleviate some personal or global ailment) making the symptoms worse. I, who have defined myself my doing the seemingly impossible for so long, have learned from the condition how to calm and pace myself, to expect a little less and rest a little more… things I could well have benefited by when I first came here nearly three decades ago.
(To be continued)
Categories: Anima's History, Jesse Wolf Hardin – Essays & Tales