Grand Spotlight: Mary Standing Otter and the work of Otter Lodge

Mary Standing Otter is the main Mama Shaman at Otter Lodge, a Woman’s Circle exploring the Feminine Mysteries. Sisters in Circles grew from the experiences and group work of the members of Otter Lodge.Truly a system of shamanistic exploration and initiation, Sisters in Circles shares esoteric teachings and healing techniques in 4 workshops. If you are a spiritually-inclined woman in the West Michigan area (or anywhere for that matter, Mary will travel!), I recommend checking out their website and their blog Teachings from the Mother Lodge. While I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mary Standing Otter, I do know some of the women who have worked with her and how grateful they are for her wisdom.


So you want to be a witch*
a bruja*
a medicine woman*
a wise woman
a healer . . . . . 
Sit down outdoors with your spine straight and your shoulders back.
Open your chest and clear your throat.
Speak from the simple silent soul place deep in your belly.
Speak to the earth
to the sky
to the wild ones and
to the world.
Speak to the ancestors and say :
Make me a witch
a bruja
a medicine woman
a wise woman
a healer . . . . .
Pull out one hair from your head,
one small symbolic bit of self
lay it on the ground and say Good Bye.
Don’t look back.
Ride the wildest roller coasters
sled down hills that are a little to steep
a little to fast
a little to icy.
Learn to breath when you’re frightened,
sing when you’re tired,
laugh through tears and
comfort a loved one when there are no answers.
Learn to laugh loud and change gears on a steep hill without rolling back.
Get a good car and sensible shoes.
Grow your hair long, brush it often and
bathe in honey, flower petals and sweet oil.
These are essential skills because
Spirit will strip you of pride
so that you may know power.
Spirit will strip you of pity
so that you may reach into any hole,
no matter how deep,
and help another to begin climbing.
Spirit will lead you,
eyes open and hair flying
head long into the stone wall
of your own foolishness and
knock loose the broken shards
of your old self
so that they rattle around in your skull
go liquid and settle in the base of your brain
to drip down through your body
flow out your feet
and fertilize flowers on the footpath.
Spirit will drop you into the lap of trouble
with only one tool in your pocket
And your wisdom will be judged by how long you search
everywhere but there
for just the right cure.
Spirit will furnish you with a sticky page photo album
complete with perfect pictures of every scabby knee,
every broken heart,
every callous word,
every wasted moment,
and it will fly through the pages and flash by your face like an old silent movie
whenever you are about to screw up through arrogance.
Bind it in your favorite color.
Place it with your Holy Books.
Learn to think while you are falling
and believe in Magic strong enough
to turn the rock surface hurtling toward you to cool water.
Close your eyes,
point your toes,
raise your arms,
straighten your spine,
hit the water clean as an arrow shot
and remember that sometimes the only difference
between falling and flying is the way you land.

So, you want to be a witch
a bruja
a medicine woman
a wise woman
a healer . . . . .

Learn to recognize the enemy,
sleep sitting up,
face everything,
walk away from anything,
pee in the woods,
efficiently pack a suitcase and
sing a Sacred Self song

Learn to be helpless and helpful
fulfilled and a walking void
a midwife and a funeral directorand then,
you may begin . . . . .

“The path from that first [Purification] Lodge to this moment has been very full and has seems longer than 24 years. I have trained with several teachers; some were benevolent and helpful, others were caustic and abusive of their position. But I was hungry to learn so I learned from all of them. The knowledge I gained made the difficult times worth the work. For a long time I learned because I was simply too stubborn to suffer for nothing and not yet wise enough to end the suffering.”– Mary Standing Otter


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