My name is ShuNahSii Rose and I believe, implicitly, in the power of story to redirect humanity and mend the broken world. It is my honor and my pleasure to welcome you to our online home and to have this little window of time to sit and share part of my story with you. If you are considering working with me personally, or genuine participation in our community, it is useful to learn about the ways that my story, my ancestors and teachers, shape my/our offerings and ethics. Thank you for being here, and thank you for listening.
For your convenience, I have chosen to offer information on my background in various sections across the site, in part so that training or experience that is relevant to areas of service I provide can be easily accessed with little time. In part so that this place, this telling of story, is freed up from the expectation of brevity and can allow for a genuine introduction. In a culture that does most everything at breakneck speed, it is an act of power to slow down and prioritize genuine connection. Things of value, including understanding, are not possible without investment, particularly the investment of time and effort. I personally believe there is no way to convey the merit or potential compatibility of a spiritual ally or teacher in a couple of paragraphs.
If you want my shorter bio, a synopsis of my training as it relates to herbal healing, or the history of my work with youth, they are at your fingertips so feel free to mosey along. If you are curious to know a bit more about who I am and how I actually came to do what I do, settle in for an intro to my earliest teachers, my family and the family of creation.
My story of nature-based practice begins as a little girl within my family of origin under the care of my mother, my maternal grandmother, and the earth herself (yes, even in inner city Chicago). People are often inclined to skip over these chapters of my "training" and rush on to more renowned or public teachers I have worked intimately with over the years. While several amazing and generous teachers shaped my path indelibly, and I will love and honor them forever (and I talk about them here), what they had to offer would have had nowhere to land and truly root in my being had it not been for the foundation laid by my family: a foundation of respect for spiritual and cultural diversity that centered the old ways of People of the Earth.
My grandmother was the daughter of Polish immigrants and carried with her a wild, feminist leaning, bent on many of the old ways: celebrating the seasons, honoring the ancestors, praying to a female face of god, and listening for clues and guidance from dreams and the natural world. We have always been a family that centers oral cultural traditions, and I was the chosen "ritual and story keeper" of my generation when I was just five years old. As is true in tribal communities to this day, I was chosen because I expressed a passionate desire and obvious aptitude; I wasn't made into something, I was supported to simply become more fully who I already was. At this time, I began some of the most important "training" of my life: lighting candles for my ancestors, hearing our stories over and over to learn them "by heart", making regular offerings to the birds and the winds, and doing simple rituals to bless and maintain the sanctity, or spiritual hygiene, of the places we lived. Learning these practices and having them integrated into daily life at such a young age normalized nature-based spiritual traditions. Hearing and honoring the wise guidance of the birds and winds, or gone-before-ones, was not metaphor, it was life and this is still true for me today. The ancestors, unseen benevolent spiritual forces and the voice of the earth herself absolutely guide my daily life.
My grandmother spent her early years in Oklahoma, on the land that held, and still holds, many Native peoples who were displaced from their ancestral lands by the incessant violence of U.S. policy. As an outsider and immigrant kid herself, she was welcomed into communion with these peoples. It never occurred to her to hate them or reject their invitations to learn about their ways; she was grateful, relieved, honored. Many years later, once I was in her care, my grandmother shared stories of her experiences and I learned of the ways they shaped her. While the Native people of Turtle Island that she got to sit with had their own widely varied and distinct traditions, there were many, many ways that those traditions mirrored and felt similar to the old ways, the spiritual ways, of her own people. My grandmother was able to see and honor both the distinctions and the commonalities.
The perspective that my grandmother developed and imbued in me permanently shaped me and to this day shapes what I have to offer as a spiritual ally or teacher. People of European descent, mixed descent, or those of us raised in the disconnect of the modern West, absolutely need to find the paths to reconnecting with our own ancestors and our own ancient traditions as People of the Earth. These traditions undoubtedly exist and I personally see it as our responsibility to reclaim our roots. This reclamation empowers us to take our necessary place as People of the Earth, working to protect her in these times, without appropriating other peoples' cultural inheritances or traditions, because this perpetuates violent systems that are the undoing of everything beautiful.
I had no idea, as a child of five, how deeply intertwined my initial spiritual training was with the tradition of social justice that my ancestors were steeped in; our approach to spirituality was a very practical one. Having practicality ingrained in me so early set me on a lifelong quest to be a truly useful part of the healing that needs to happen in our time. It was viscerally clear to me that the disparities people faced, the devaluing of our beautiful earth and the violent nature of the over-culture were absolutely unacceptable and had to come to an end. The intersection of spiritual practice and a longing for social justice that my family gave me seeded a relatively unique set of tools, or perspective, for an inner city white girl growing up in the U.S., but this intersection is central to all People of the Earth. It is normal to long, and act, to protect what is holy.
While my grandmother shared with me many rituals, stories, and ways to create sacred ambiance in celebration of the seasons, it was my mother who called forward my fierce love for the natural world. She would endanger her life to help a tiny animal in trouble, or be in absolute awe of the beautiful patterns the clouds made across our inner city sky. An indigenous premise that I hold most closely to my heart that guides my principles and my activism is "relations not resources". While this way of seeing and being has always been loud and clear in my bones, and was corroborated by my family, I first heard it put quite this succinctly by David Archambault II, the elected chairman of Standing Rock Sioux Nation during the infamous period of Standing Rock resistance of the Dakota Pipeline. "Relations not resources" is not something, I believe, that children learn simply through talk. They learn this way of life by witnessing the consistent actions of their people. Actions demonstrate values. Honoring all of creation is reflective of a system of values that is absolutely essential to these times. If we claim the true scope of our history, we find this perspective, this system of values, in earth honoring ancestors from every single continent. Again, claiming our own ancient and ancestral earth honoring traditions is a viable path to the restoration of Sacred Balance.
In 1979, when I was sixteen, my family was suffering deeply. My mother was deteriorating from alcoholism and my grandmother, living in material poverty, had already lived through the violent death of her youngest son. In a time of heartbreak and upheaval, the grace of the heavens moved and I found my way to a tiny alternative high school for under-resourced inner city girls. It was here, at Chrysalis Learning Community, that my world, my education, my understanding of community and my training in social justice blew wide open in the most beautiful ways. My deeply spiritual nature and innate longing for a just world were welcomed and, maybe even more importantly, honored as absolutely interconnected and useful to the world.
The connections and the resources that were made available to me in that tiny church annex building were the wind beneath my wings in ways that I couldn't even begin to understand at the time. I experienced real education, unwavering community, and the invitation to be fully who I was. The people, the teachings, the honesty, set in motion a a winding journey that would become a lifelong path of spiritual service. I took off running and never looked back.
You can find more here about the next period of my training, my teachers and experiences that laid the foundation for a path of feminist nature-based spiritual service outside of organized religion. Again, thank you for being here.