Interview with Terra author of Soul Path oracle deck

Posted on May 19, 2022 by Dannika Soukoroff

"If you are lost, you will be given direction. If you are seeking answers, you will receive guidance. You will see that you can trust your inner knowing, and you will be invited to tap into your intuitive gifts and magic. Through these insights, you will experience the truth of your soul. The Soul Path oracle deck was created for seekers, wanderers, storytellers, mystics, outcasts, and rebels — and the shy, serious, and curious. This deck was created for YOU!"


Terra first came into our attention when we started carrying her oracle deck, but since we started following her and learning more about Terra she offers so much more than her Soul Path oracle!

           Soul path oracle

Terra is a Spiritual Advisor, Mentor, Best Selling Author, and Creatrix of the indie deck Soul Path Oracle, offering insight & inspiration for the soul’s journey.

"She assists people in aligning with their Soul’s purpose and potential for this life, encouraging clients to go within to discover the truth of who they are and tap into their personal power through a spiritual connection. Terra’s counselling skills paired with intuitive abilities offers a Psychospiritual approach to self-discovery and transformation."

We had the pleasure of chatting with Terra about her oracle deck, but also about her spiritual path and her offerings!

Gaia: Terra, tell us about yourself.

Terra: I have been intuitive since I was a child, however it was not something I always understood. One thing that has been a constant in my life is the strong desire I have to help others; I previously worked in social services for 7 years; primarily with high-risk youth, marketing & public relations within the music industry, and customer service at event venues. My own healing journey rekindled my love and passion for helping people in a soul-nourishing way and lead me back home to myself in my heart and the metaphysical world.

I love to dance! Movement feels liberating and an expression from the soul. I was an alternative performance artist and I am really looking forward to getting back into other avenues of performance art to have that form of artistic expression again!

Gaia: We were first introduced to you by carrying your Soul Path Oracle deck here at Gaia. What made you decide to create a deck of your own?

Terra: Tarot was my first love, I was very fascinated with the occult as a young child and explored pagan principles in elementary school…now when I think about it, it feels funny and strange to me what books were available in the library and that I had access to in an elementary school. The Internet was not really a thing back then.

Junior high is when I first started falling in love with tarot and throughout the years worked with many divination tools. Creating Soul Path Oracle was a dream come true! It is another way to support people in accessing their inner wisdom and trusting their intuition. That is why I created it.

Gaia: Why did you choose the name ‘Soul Path’ for your oracle cards?

Terra: To be quite honest the name is not something I spent a lot of time thinking about or choosing. The deck chose it’s name and there was no other name for it, it just was. Soul Path Oracle was created to be a faithful companion to the curious heart and offer support for soul’s journey.


Gaia: What were the main sources of inspiration for the themes are your deck? Are there any specific spiritual belief systems or philosophies that deck is influenced by the most?

Terra: There are many spiritual practices and ideologies that I resonate with and have inspired this deck and I would say the love and honour for the Earth, the cosmos and the universal energies of creation flow through this deck. The deck is separated into four different categories: Pathways, Spirit, Journey, and Energy. Pathways is based on the directions found in many Native American traditions, as well as alternate planes of existence. Spirit is associated with archetypal themes and spiritual allies to help you step into your personal sovereignty and feel empowered. Journey reminds us that it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey and is intended to guide you through life’s transitions. Energy includes the seven main chakras and four additional energetic vortices. When you become familiar with the chakra system and how it functions, you have a map to see how you are functioning internally and how in turn that affects your external world.

Gaia: Can you tell us more about Heather Brewster who illustrated your deck? How did you meet? How did you know she was the right one for the job?

Terra: I am so grateful to know Heather! Sometimes I honestly wonder if she a real person, or an angel in disguise. She is so sweet, kind, caring and any project I have ever worked with her on we have been so in tune and she can bring my dream or vision into an impactful representation!

I believe I found her work through another oracle deck and hired her to do some projects for my courses and when the deck was being created and I was starting to ponder who the artist would be, I knew it was Heather. When you know, you know. This deck is not just “my” deck. She is a HUGE part of it and I celebrate her and am grateful for her and this co-creation.

Gaia: Which card do you resonate most with in your deck?

Terra: That is a hard one, however I would have to say from an image perspective it would be Crossroads; that was one of the very first cards Heather designed and has always held a special place in my heart and for the messages. The Record Keepers for the activation because it guides you into your Akashic Records. There are so many amazing ones and are all powerful in their own way.


Gaia: I was reading on your website bio that not only are you a creator of this oracle deck but offer other services as an Intuitive Guide. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you offer?

Terra: My business has evolved so much over the past year and I am providing more high-level support through 1:1 mentorship. I have also added a year long group mentorship program for women who are looking for deeper levels of heart-based living and unapologetic authentic expression.

Gaia: What is entailed in your Akashic Record Training program?

Terra: I have two different levels of Akashic Records training. The first course Soul Guided is focused on you and your own healing journey. You will learn how to access your own personal Akashic Records to bring about growth and transformation in current life situations, past life healing and empowerment as well as becoming a master creator in the Akashic Field.

The second course Soul Guide, is where you will learn how to access the Akashic Records for others, for personal and professional purposes. You will be given techniques to help support others on their healing journeys, have group dyad practices and become a certified Soul Guide Akashic Records Practitioner.

Gaia: Besides literal services, what do you think you offer as a healing practitioner to people you are assisting on their healing journey?

Terra: I believe I offer clients hope, for what is possible, and encouragement along the way. I am also quite active on social media (primarily Instagram) and like to use that platform to share insight and inspiration and to provide resources to clients and the community there. I also have a monthly newsletter that provides resources for self-reflection.


Gaia: What is your mission on Earth?

Terra: My mission here on Earth is to inspire and encourage others to remember who they are beyond time and space, by making the journey back home to the heart. The path of the heart will reawaken you to the truth of your divinity and your existence here as that expression & embodiment of the divine.

Gaia: What have you learned about yourself by working with others on their healing?

Terra: Life can bring so many ups and downs, however there is an innate drive to push through and survive and I feel honoured to witness the transformation that can take place when working with others and have been shown that anything is possible and discovered my biggest passion is to empower others to become their own healer.

Gaia: What is your sun sign and do you feel you relate to it? If you know what your moon and ascendant signs are, do you feel like they reflect in your personality?

Terra: I have an Aquarius sun & moon and Virgo rising! I would say yes, yes and yes! I must admit sometimes my Virgo traits get on my nerves, but it is a nice balance to have with the double Aquarius.

Gaia: Tell us about more about the readings you offer and other products or services you offer?

Terra: I offer Akashic Records Readings, 12 month forecast tarot readings and Beyond Quantum Healing Hypnosis session. I provide sound healing sessions and group sound alchemy ceremonies using planetary gongs, crystal singing bowls and other sacred sound healing instruments, I also have an online community and monthly subscription called Soul Path Power, where we meet 4 times a month and do Full Moon and New Moon ceremonies, group readings and guided journeys.

Gaia: Where can we find more information about accessing your products and services?

Terra: You can find more information about myself and my services and products on my website.

Gaia: Are there any other personal spiritual practices you have? Do you mind sharing about them?

Terra: My spiritual practice is deeply rooted in the path of the heart and entering into heart coherence. Sound healing, meditation and heart activations are my go-to!

Gaia: Are there any spiritual philosophies, beliefs or paths you are drawn to that you would like to learn more about?

Terra: I am a stargazing dreamer and seeking to uncover the mysteries of the universe. I am intrigued by anything that has to do with our galactic history and comic connections.


Gaia: How do you think you have grown as a person in the last year?

Terra: I have learned my limitations, boundaries and what is truly important to me.

Gaia: What is one thing you would like to grow about yourself in 2022?

Terra: In 2022 I am devoting more time for myself to rest, be still and receive.

Gaia: What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?

Terra: Candles, incense & gemstone jewelry! Maybe a deck or two…I love oracle and tarot cards lol




Posted in decks, goddess, oracle deck, tarot deck, women

Meet Melanie Berndt...

Posted on May 06, 2022 by Dannika Soukoroff

My passion is to guide and support Women on her path of self discovery; to be witness as she explores all aspects of her Sovereign Nature and, to hold sacred space as she heals- transmuting her pain and suffering into gold (her greatest medicines and gifts); while respecting and honouring her personal journey and timing. 

My name is Melanie Berndt....




I have lived, transformed, and been many versions of Melanie in this life. 

I offer:

✨Shamanic + Energy Healing

✨Spiritual + Cosmic counsel

✨teaching and facilitating ceremonies that honor and celebrate the Sacred Feminine and the Blood (womb) Mysteries. 

I want to share with others, what I have experienced for myself as truly and utterly transformational. 

I spent 35 years of my life pretending to always be living in the light, Being for others, the lighthouse they needed when they lost their way, or their light went out; while keeping my own needs and tending of wounds undercover, hidden in the shadows. 

one of the greatest teachings I earned in the beginnings of my spiritual journey was that living only in the light was not only inauthentic and fraudulent; it involved much more effort with a lot less gain than meeting my darkness, living there, and embracing it with love and compassion. Understanding and honouring that I cannot carry one without the other.

Over the past 20 years, I have consciously explored and incorporated various ways to access, acknowledge, and embrace the totality of who I am. Though many years of exploring various alternatives healing modalities has healed aspects of these traumas, my most profound healing and evolution occurred while in training of Shamanism with my mentor and teacher, Pete Bernard of the 8th fire. 

As I began to explore different realms of consciousness, I learned how to access and heal the deeply engrained core issues and wounds stored in my being. 

I began to remember my wild essence, my untamed spirit, and my interdependent relationship to our Great Mother, Earth; To be witness and experience Her changing seasons within my own being; to feel the ebb and flow of my own internal waters in sync with the phases of Grandmother Moon; and to fully understand and know with deep reverence, 

I am connected to All that is. 

I too, am part of the One.

My desire is to support and guide others as they journey into this realm, where the potential for deep healing happens. This place where who we are told to be overrides and rules over who we truly know ourselves to be; where our pain, issues and wounds take precedence over our dreams and desires; and where our greatest teachings and wisdom reward us with the gifts of reclamation and the remembering our essence.

4 years ago I felt a deep, soul-full  longing to explore and heal wounds associated with my birth, my relationship with my mother, my womb and the inner sacred feminine. 

I answered this call. 

I, like the moon, had phased through much light and darkness ~ Shame and self loathing (not in Las Vegas 🤪), emanating the archetype of the sacred prostitute, feeling stuck and blocked in my creative potential; and enduring the extreme physical pains of unresolved trauma and emotional wounds through my monthly menses. 

On this Shamanic path, I healed and transformed my deepest wounds. I awakened to the innate wisdom, ancestral teachings and creative potential of my Womb; alighting my flame of passion for sharing the sacredness and healing powers of the Sacred Feminine and Womb Mysteries. 

I support and invite each woman to remember, reclaim, honour, celebrate and embody the beauty, power, potent healing, and medicines she carries as she journeys and transitions through her seasons and cycles of womanhood. (maiden. Mother. Queen, Crone)

For more information about who I am and what I offer connect with me via Instagram: @revelationsofaraspberrygirl and/ or contact me through link tree:

Posted in

Interview with Amber of Delicate Realms

Posted on May 06, 2022 by Dannika Soukoroff

If we’ve met in person, hello again! I hope you’ve been well. If this is our first encounter, allow me to share a few facts about myself.
Now, let me give you the REAL deets. I believe I’m on this planet for three reasons:

Art has always been my number one mistress, for the simple fact that making SOMETHING out of NOTHING gives me more joy than I have words for. Beauty is literal sustenance for me, as crucial to my survival as food and water (helloooo, taurus moon).

Sharing intimate moments with fellow tender-hearted humans keeps me optimistic in our turbulent world, which is why I LOVE pouring my soul into collaborations in the form of tarot readings, dreamy analogue photoshoots, and ~ coming soon! ~ handpoked tattoos.

Finally, nothing turns me on quite like cosmic inquiry, personality psychology, and esoteric spiritual practises— forever on a quest to know my Self, as an embodiment of divinity with infinite prisms."

 We have the absolute pleasure of carrying some of Amber's beautiful creations at Gaia!

Gaia: Amber!!!! So excited to be chatting with you.Tell us a bit about yourself. Background, upbringing, interests….

Amber: I was raised in Kamloops BC, and had a really lovely childhood surrounded by fostered animals, four brothers, and a powerful single mom who took care of all of us. I was a very creative child, and showed a lot of the same interests that are now the focus of my life. From the earliest age I remember wanting to be an artist when I grew up, and I was always interested in magical subjects, sprawling out on the floor looking at pictures in the esoteric tomes on my mom’s bookshelf– books about psychic phenomena and witchcraft, fairytales and other fantastical subjects. I loved playing classical piano, singing and playing acoustic guitar in music recitals. As a preteen I would play ‘photoshoot’ with friends, emulating fashion editorial pictures, thinking of how we could stage creative scenes in our backyards and bedrooms. I was definitely interested in beauty, the arts, and the mystery of life even then– it’s funny how we intuitively gravitate towards our soul's callings as children.

When I was 19 I moved to Vancouver, craving a big city experience, and started studying at Emily Carr University of Art and Design where I graduated with a BFA in photography. I became enthralled with film in my second year of study, and pursued the analogue medium through to the end of my degree. Most of my photographic work was about the reclamation of the feminine, and exploring different archetypes of womanhood through cinematic inspired images. I really believed (and still do) that beauty and softness and sensuality have a place in feminist work, which ran counter to the literature I was reading at the time.

About five years ago I moved to Victoria, and that’s where I’m living now!

Sharing a charming two-bedroom garden suite with my partner Clark and our cat Malik. For the past year and a half I’ve been building a small business/brand that combines all of my creative pursuits into one eclectic container known as Delicate Realms. It includes my artistic practice, making and selling artwork and creations in markets and shops across BC, my analogue photography services, and tarot readings that I offer to the community. When the pandemic hit I realized that I couldn't keep working for other people and pushing my dreams to the back-burner. Like I said, I’ve always wanted to be a career artist– unfortunately, between toxic relationships and needing to pay bills, there were a few years where I just didn’t believe in my ability to make that dream come true. Now I’m working harder than ever to make it happen! Delicate Realms is an extension of me, and the freedom and joy that I feel getting to ‘do me’ for a living is immense.

                         And then the moon

           'And then the moon' collage card by Amber (We stock this card).

Gaia: What are some of your first memories of creating art?

Amber: I’ll share a vulnerable memory of creating art, because vulnerability is one of my core values and I believe we all need to start sharing the more tender, uncomfortable aspects of ourselves.

I remember being in daycare, so maybe age 8 or 9, and a few of us were seated around a table drawing. I didn’t know what to draw, so I looked over and copied the artwork of the girl beside me. It was an ocean scene with fish and flowing seaweed. She called me out for copying her, and I felt so embarrassed and ashamed! For not being able to come up with my own unique drawing at that moment. I think the wisdom/lesson in this story is profound, and still so relevant for me. Often I fall into a trap of not trusting my creative voice, or not believing I have anything ‘original’ to say. I think a lot of artists feel this way, and it’s a journey everyday to open up to my inner vision and trust it without judgment or comparison. Especially in the days of social media, where it can feel like everything has been said, and not only that, but that everyone is saying it better than we could! We have to start trusting ourselves and sharing our unique stories. I have a long way to go, but I’m committed to the process.

Gaia: What kinds of mediums do you like to work with?

Amber: As a mixed-media artist I’m voraciously curious, constantly exploring new mediums that call out to me. One of my main artistic pursuits is film photography, for the eternal love of polaroid and 35mm alchemy. I also love to draw and paint, although I would really like to work on my painting skills as they aren’t quite up to snuff. Analog collages make me super happy– I love the process of rearranging materials on a page until I get the goldilocks feeling. Beading is very meditative, and making daisy chains brings me a lot of joy. I’ve recently begun exploring block printing, and I’m already head over heels for this medium. Carving images into linoleum is very satisfying, and the end results always delight. I have exciting plans to work with up-cycled vintage fabrics, and have a few tote bag designs on the go currently. Two mediums that I’m DYING to explore are ceramics and tattooing. I always wanted to make pottery in school and never got the chance, so I’ll probably take classes at the local community center when I have more time in my schedule. Tattooing is something I’ve wanted to get into for a long time too, specifically hand poking as I feel called to the gentleness and tradition of that method. Tattoos have completely changed my relationship to my body, and have helped me see myself as a work of art and a vessel to be cherished. I would love to be able to offer that medicine to others.

                            Self portrait

                             'Self Portrait' by Amber, Delicate Realms

Gaia: What inspires your art?

Amber: Oh man, the well of inspiration runs deep! I’m drawn to the naive playfulness of folk art, the floral patterns and repetition of whimsical motifs, the disregard for realism. Counterculture and the 60’s flower child movement influences my life in general, psychedelia but in a way that isn’t so in your face. Fairytales and folklore, magical animals and mysterious entities. Women are a huge inspiration in my life and in my art-- the powerful nature of a woman, her creative power and connection to the moon and the earth. Outer space and starry skies are always in the back of my mind– wildflowers too. Wicca was the first spiritual realm I ever sought out/encountered as a young woman, so the reverence and worship of nature is probably the most consistent inspiration that weaves through all of my creations.

Gaia: What is one of your favourite pieces of art you created and why? 

Amber: One of my favorite pieces of art is a mixed-media collage I made in the spring of last year– I actually consider the moment of its creation to be the birth of Delicate Realms. The piece is called ‘Moth Mother’, and the reason I love it so is because it is a near perfect representation of what lights my creative fire. A goddess and a magick moth, starry skies and folksy florals, a symmetrical yet imperfect placement of dried flowers I foraged in the garden. It was created in an evening of pure play and exploration, and led to an ‘aha’ moment of feeling the culmination of my inspirations come together in a piece of art that felt like me and my inner world. I want all the art I make to evoke this feeling!

                     Moth Mother

   'Moth Mother' Collage Card by Amber, Delicate Realms (We stock this card).

Gaia: How did you get into reading tarot?

Amber: I started dabbling in tarot maybe five years ago, pulling a card a day and reading its meaning in books, solely working on memorizing the cards. When covid hit and I got laid off from my job as a metaphysical shop manager, I finally had the time to devote myself to both art and spiritual exploration. I started studying tarot and the qabalah everyday, gobbling up as much information as I could about the esoteric meanings of the cards, their magickal correspondences and correlations to astrology and the qabalistic Tree of Life. I’ve really dedicated myself to the discipline of tarot for the past two years, reading for myself and friends, and about 6 months ago I began offering readings to the community. It’s completely enriched my experience of the cards, and I feel like I’m really able to help people with this medium which is unbelievably rewarding. 

                           Amber tarot

                                            Amber reading tarot

Gaia: What decks do you like to work with?

Amber: My go-to deck for readings is the Centennial Edition of the Rider-Waite-Smith, for a few reasons. One, the images that Pamela Colman Smith created are so richly layered with symbolism, and have ample opportunity for interpretation and intuitive resonance. Two, it was the first deck I was ever drawn to as a small child, and it speaks to my subconscious in a way that other decks don’t. Three, Smith was an incredible artist and clairvoyant, and I love connecting to the spirit of this amazing woman every time I pull a card! The centennial edition is specifically my favorite, because it is her original design with hand-drawn lettering and the muted colors that she herself preferred.

My second favorite deck is probably the Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini, simply because the artwork is gorgeous and I feel like if you don’t have an emotional response to the visuals of the cards, it is probably not a good deck to use!

Gaia: What are some tarot decks you know of that you would like to try working with?

Amber: I’m looking forward to working with the Enchanted Tarot (1990 edition), a recent birthday gift from my partner, as I really admire the artwork and writings of the couple who created it (Monte Farber and Amy Zerner). I’ve heard lovely things about the Motherpeace tarot, and while I don’t read with the Thoth tarot, I do get a lot of value out of Aleister Crowley's occult teachings, and I believe there's an amazing amount of depth that can be accessed through working with that deck.

Gaia: Do you believe that buying your own tarot deck is ‘bad luck’ and that they have to be gifted?

Amber: Absolutely not! This might be my Aries Sun talking, but if I want something, I go out and get it for myself and I encourage you to do the same. If you wait to be gifted a deck, you might be waiting forever, and the tarot is too beautiful to miss out on just because of superstition! 

Gaia: Do you ever think about designing your own tarot deck?

Amber: Oh 100%! I have biggg dreams for future decks, lots of ideas bouncing around my brain for both tarot and untraditional oracle decks. The thing is that I would want to do every card justice as far as capturing the complex layers of meaning and symbolism. So it won’t be a project I approach lightly, and I’m waiting for the right moment in my life to be able to sink into that work with 100% of my energy available for it. Also, I feel like I’m still exploring my voice in the realm of visual arts, and I’ll want to be more confident and clear in the expression of vision when the time comes. But definitely keep your eyes peeled for Delicate Realms decks in the future. ;)


Gaia: Are there any other personal spiritual practices you have? Do you mind sharing about them?

Amber: My spiritual practices really vary depending on where I’m at in my life, ebbing and flowing in phases as I age. In my mid-twenties I was diligent about observing every full moon, going out in nature where I could moon gaze until I felt my consciousness shift. That practice has fallen away over the past couple years, but I do still track the moons with my handmade lunar calendars, and carve out moments of time on new and full moons to do some introspective journaling and visioning. I’ll do occasional pentagram rituals if I feel like I need to banish unwanted energy. I’ve always kept altars in every apartment I’ve ever lived in– nothing fancy, just intentionally decorated surfaces to lay foraged flowers or rocks or tarot cards; whatever magical objects happen to be speaking to me at the time. Because Wicca was my first foray into spirituality at a young age, it definitely infuses itself into most of my practices. There is always an awareness of the aliveness of our universe, the existence of divinity in every living thing, and it feels like that’s only becoming more ingrained in my being as I age. Sometimes the smallest actions can bring about this feeling, like when I’m foraging flowers to press in books, or meditating on an image in my mind of an animal or plant or cosmic phenomena, most likely to be translated later into artwork. And of course reading tarot for myself is a consistent practice, always in awe of the sense of presence it brings, and opportunity for reflection that it offers.

                   Moon phase calendar

    Moon phase calendar by Amber, Delicate Realms (Seasonally stocked)

Gaia: Are there any spiritual philosophies, beliefs or paths you are drawn to that you would like to learn more about?

Amber: There are so many beautiful spiritual practices that intrigue me, it’s hard to find the time to learn about them all! I’ve been self-studying qabalah for a couple years now, after being mesmerized by an image of the Tree of Life and learning about its correlation with the tarot. It’s a deep and fascinating realm that one could really lose themselves in, as the system has many layers of complexity. If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘qabalah’, I'm referring to the syncretic system of spirituality that combines astrology, tarot, and ceremonial magick within the framework of Jewish mysticism. Occultism is one of my favorite things to learn, talk, and think about, and I’m keen to devote a good chunk of my life to diving deep into these subjects. I really admire Buddhism from a distance, although I’m honestly too hedonistic for it. I do resonate with a lot of the teachings though, and get a lot of value out of reflecting on impermanence, meditating, and connecting to my body and breath through yoga.

Gaia: How do you think you have grown as a person in the last year?

Amber: I think the biggest growth this past year has come from putting myself out there more in social settings and in the community in general. I’m quite introverted and it’s easy and natural for me to stay small and cozy in my hermitude, but in dedicating myself to Delicate Realms I’ve realized how important it is to make connections and be a part of the place you live in. The experiences of vending in markets, joining a book club, and giving tarot readings out of local shops have all really enriched my life this past year. Forcing myself out of the comfort zone continuously teaches me that we are all so much more capable than we think we are, and that any fear can be overcome. Conquering fear in general is an overarching mission in my life, from cold water exposure to psychedelic journeys to singing in front of strangers. If I’m afraid of something I’ll probably force myself to do it at some point.

                              Collage cards

Gaia: What is one thing you would like to grow about yourself in 2022?

Amber: I am actively working on my relationship to money and money management. It’s something I’ve shied away from my whole life, because of the discomfort it brings up in me, and because I haven’t wanted to admit just how ignorant I am around the topic. But leaning into my path as an entrepreneur and taking myself seriously as a small business owner is forcing me to grow in this realm, and I’m here for it! I’m also growing my relationship to wellness and cultivating healthier routines for my body. Commiting to a few months of regular practice at an ashtanga yoga studio, acknowledging and healing an addiction to sugar, exploring breathwork and vagus nerve stimulation– just to name a few! 

Gaia: What is your sun sign and do you feel you relate to it? If you know what your moon and ascendant signs are, do you feel like they reflect in your personality?

Amber: I’m an Aries Sun, Taurus Moon, and Leo Rising. I definitely relate to my sun, although I feel most connected to my moon and its placement in my 10th house. The Aries in my ninth house comes through in my thirst for exploration, drive and ambition for setting goals and starting projects, my headstrong attitude and sass, and sometimes a reckless rejection of practicality and risk in the decisions I make in life. The taurus moon reflects my deep need for everything to be beautiful and grounded, my penchant for creating cozy homes for myself and my partner, and also depicts my aptitude for an artistic lifestyle. It just feels like a very nourishing placement to me, and also makes me feel like I’m on the right track as far as life paths go. The leo rising is hard for me to speak to as it conjuncts my chiron and is therefore a little sensitive, but I think one might say that it comes through in the warmth in which I greet and relate to people, in my desire for harmonious interactions and displays of creativity, and maybe even in my appearance– I have long thick hair and bold brows which I’ve been told is a leo rising giveaway.

Gaia: Tell us about more about the readings you offer and other products or services you offer?

Amber: I currently offer tarot readings in the Victoria community, and online for folks living in different areas. My approach to reading is focused on helping folks find opportunities for growth and healing in challenging situations, and inspiring a journey of self-awareness and reflection within them. I also offer analogue photography services to womxn and brands seeking untraditional images of themselves or their products, with a focus on dreamy moods, storytelling, and raw ephemeral beauty. Lastly, I am constantly creating new things for wild, free-spirited souls! Art prints, pagan calendars, jewelry, tote bags— wherever the inspiration is flowing, that’s where I’m going. You’ll find me vending in markets on the island, and you can also find my creations in shops across BC, and on my website of course.

                         Choker by Amber

          Daisy Chain choker by Amber, Delicate Realms (We stock these)

**You could win this choker! Email us back by May 7th, 12:00am to entered to win a Sunflower Soul choker!**

Gaia: Where can we find more information about accessing your products and services?

Amber: Everything you need to know about me and my offerings you’ll find on my website, and my Instagram @delicate_realms!

Gaia: What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?

Amber: Books on wicca and herbalism, black kyanite, silver jewelry with carnelian and amber, large specimens of tourmaline and quartz, beeswax tapers, a set of runes (I’ve been wanting to learn!), and hand-made soap.




Posted in

Kari Johansen's Gaia Update: Empath focused content

Posted on April 21, 2022 by Dannika Soukoroff


                          Kari Johansen's Bi-Weekly Gaia Update 

I’d like to offer a series of supportive, perspective broadening & ideally, guiding, contributions for you through Gaia’s newsletter. This series, focusing on Empaths, the ‘Empath’ in all of us, Healing & Growth, will unfold with each entry…

From personal experience, being an Empath kinda… sucks!  Oddly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything though.

When I was a kid, I was called "sensitive" a lot, it was always said with a negative tone. Funny enough, they head no clue just how sensitive I was.  I could see and feel things others couldn't, that was clear to me at a very young age.

Based on the lack of interest or sympathy for my “sensitive” nature, I learned that sharing my perspective didn’t help my sense of belonging. For e.g. when I tried to tell my mom about seeing, hearing, feeling ‘stuff’ in my room at night, she barked back, "what are you telling me! You're crazy!?" 

I was ten. That was enough for my abilities to ‘shut off’ for several years, it was strange how they seemed to do so on their own. I took this as push to change, so I did my best to ignore my abilities if or when they showed up.

I was just a kid, I know now that ignorance was a form of lying to myself. I betrayed myself, in order to be who society & the people around me expected me to be.

Betraying your Self is the worst kind of betrayal.

My abilities began to sneak back in by my late teens. First shown to me through synchronicities, then dreaming the future in astonishing detail. The door finally re-opened with full acceptance & curiosity when I began studying Conscious Dreaming at 18. The point of no return was the day I was shown the book “Messages in Water” [Dr. Emoto, 1999]. The images spoke to me an undeniable Truth that, yes, I could feel, but what was more was the relief! Someone was proving (at least to me) that everything else I felt was not only okay, but worth acknowledging.

Like all Empaths, I’ve been one my whole life. What matters most is when we begin to acknowledge and honor our unique abilities.  My first Empathic experience in this life was as a baby. It was an emotional trauma I carried with me until I was in my late thirties. This is an example as to why Spiritual & Energetic Healing is an important part of an Empath’s Well-being, AND why we need to learn (once able) how to protect ourselves Energetically, both inside and out.  But one cannot do either without first, fully acknowledging & accepting their true nature.

… In what I’ve briefly shared here there are 3 Emotional traumas (with my mom, myself, as a baby) – and I wasn’t aiming to write about them!  (These have nothing on the more significant trauma’s I went through, nor are they to be compared to your own or what others have endured).  My point is this; for the Empath in all of us, Emotional trauma is common and it’s a given.  We’re taught to dismiss them, “grow thicker skin”, “get over it”, etc. But Emotional trauma is the most common root of illness. As one teacher of my teachers and mentor says, “illness takes root in our emotional blind spot”. That blind spot occurs when we ignore, band-aid, or ‘self-medicate’ an Emotion that was not honored in the moment – be that moment last week, 10 years ago, as an infant, or, in a past life.  Problems can arise in some of the simplest ways, for example;  A parent lies to as child, the child feels the lie, senses the truths in the situation, has responding Emotions to both the truths and the lie, neither of which the child is ‘allowed’ to honor… This (very simplified example) seeds resentment or a lack of self-trust, or both. Over years becoming stronger to shape parts of character, like anger, anxiety, and inability to Trust others. Unaddressed, physical illnesses manifest, like allergies, arthritis, compulsive disorders.

 I often say, life is a continual process of Healing & Growth and that Healing & Growth go hand-in-hand. These points are even more applicable to Empaths in order to be strong and ideally, Thriving in every way. I learned this by mistake. Starting with my personal journey to heal Physical ailments and chronic issues, then, Mental and Emotional struggles, traumas and PTSD.  All were Energetic and Spiritual at the core and inevitably, once one thing is healed there is always another just around the corner.

Healing is a process and Growth is the progress. Healing doesn’t mean there is something “wrong” with you, it means you’re on a path of discovery – willing to Grow… accepting you “don’t know what you don’t know” – even about yourself.

As my education and personal healing path in the Natural Healing Arts has unfolded over the past 24 years, a pattern has emerged. I call it the 7 Stages of Healing & Growth, and I guide many of my clients through them. For this newsletter series, I’d like to take a small journey through the Seven Stages with you. I won’t be able to go into detail in these articles of course, but at a high-level I’ll aim to provide a mechanism for personal transformation, at least in a small way.

Let’s get the ball rolling today with a couple of internal questions… It may be helpful to jot down your answers in a notebook and use the same book as the series unfolds.

Note: this is an exercise of total honesty with Self, and it is for you & only you:

  • Ask yourself (without judgement): When have I betrayed myself in a significant way? (i.e. lied to or ignored a part of my true Self)
  • What was my positive reason (at that time) for doing this? [e.g. to fit-in, feel loved, feel accepted]
  • How has this played a roll in my life? Does it still?  … (if not, go back to #1 & search, with curiosity, for something more significant. There IS something. Be 100% honest with yourself)

I look forward to this little journey unfolding over the coming months!  And please remember, I’m always here to help. I can be contacted for questions via my website &/or session booking:

My Best To You

Posted in education, empath, goddess

Interview with Marie & Travis of Althaea Herbals

Posted on April 21, 2022 by Dannika Soukoroff

Marie and Travis are an Herbalist dream team in Nelson B.C.

"Althaea is the Latin name of a plant very dear to our hearts, commonly known as Marshmallow. It can be translated to “healing plant” or “to grow, nourish and heal”. The work we do in centered around the health and healing of ourselves, our community and the wild, living world around us. The name Althaea Herbals encompasses the journey that we are on to bring growth, nourishment and healing into the world through the support of herbal medicines."

Both Clinical Herbalists & medicine makers, Marie and Travis offer their own unique tools in working with those are seeking to improve or manage health conditions from a naturalist standpoint. 


Travis Cartwright, D.Phyt, RHT

Travis is a clinical herbalist, herbal medicine maker, educator and co-founder of Althaea Herbals. He maintains a professional membership as a Registered Herbal Therapist (RHT) with the British Columbia Herbalists Association (BCHA). He received his formal education from Pacific Rim College and has furthered his study with The School of Evolutionary Herbalism.

Guided by nature, his practice integrates the holistic energetic system of Traditional Western Herbalism with modern scientific knowledge. Travis is honored to support individuals in their personal growth and healing with the use of herbal medicine. Travis lives in Nelson, BC, where he forages and prepares various herbal medicines, teaches and runs a clinical herbal practice.


Marie Zak, D.Phyt, RHT

Marie is passionate about creating a container for her clients to explore the deepest layers of themselves. She works with herbal medicines and somatic tools to support her clients to become fuller, more embodied versions of themselves. Marie’s clinical focus is mental, emotional and spiritual wellness, as well as psychosomatic conditions. 

Her love for nature and plants is woven into her clinical practice, classes and medicine making.

Marie completed her herbal studies through Pacific Rim College, and is a Registered Herbal Therapist with the British Columbia Herbalists Association (BCHA). She is the co-founder of Althaea Herbals. She completed her Somatic Relational Therapy training through Mariah Moser’s training, Opening to Grace.

We had the absolute pleasure of interview these two amazingly skilled and amazing human beings!

Gaia: Hi Marie and Travis, such a wonderful opportunity to chat with you both. Why don't you tell us a bit about yourselves... 

Marie: I’m one of the founders and Herbalists behind Althaea Herbals.
I grew up here in Nelson with my five siblings, parents and dogs. It was a full and busy house, infused with a mix of love and conflict. My parents are very Christian, which was hard for me, especially once I hit my teens as I wanted the freedom to explore my own path. I was so lost during this period; I knew I
wanted something different but didn’t know what that was. Once I graduated from high school I started traveling and getting to know parts of myself that I hadn’t been allowed to explore when living with my parents. I fell in love with the practices of yoga, and eventually settled down in Victoria to study deeper. Yoga was the modality that opened me up to other holistic ways of living, and eventually I ended up studying holistic nutrition and herbalism at Pacific Rim
College. Once I completed my herbal training I moved back to Nelson to start my practice and study Somatic and Relational Therapy. Most of my interests are centered around nature and holistic living. I love cooking beautiful food, making
medicine, and spending time in nature. I’m fascinated by human consciousness and development, and love modalities like astrology and human design that connect the dots between the cosmos and human

Travis: I grew up in Red Deer, Alberta, a place that can be a challenging place to live for a person sensitive to the natural living world. As a teen and young adult I found sanctuary amongst the trees and wetlands and spent plenty of time traveling the extensive pathways and parks scattered throughout the city. I found
comfort in these places but knew little about those that lived around me. The forest was like a sea of green, rather than a diverse array of unique individuals.
One day, while visiting Kerry Wood Nature Center, a hub a part of the Waskasoo park trail system, my friend and I discovered and purchased a local medicinal and edible plant book. Outside the center, we identified our first wild plant, Yarrow, and learned a few of the plant's medicinal uses. Since this moment,
I have been infatuated with medicinal and edible plants.Upon graduating High school, I soon left Red Deer for Calgary. I worked at a local health food store for a few years where I learned some basics of natural health. Driven to learn more, I studied Herbalism with Wild Rose College, in their last in-person classes before they moved online. Seeking further herbal studies, I discovered Pacific Rim College in Victoria, BC. I relocated to Victoria, having never visited
before, to study western herbal medicine. I worked at a natural health clinic in Squamish, BC after graduating from school. While I was working,
Marie was still studying. We dated long distance, but visited each other regularly. When discussing our future, it became clear we both wanted to settle together in Nelson, BC, her long time home, where we
now practice herbal medicine. My interests are primarily focused around living a life in relationship with the natural living world. Herbalism is one of the aspects of a broader life practice that also happens to be a career choice. A large portion of my time is spent hiking, cultivating and foraging food and medicine, and more recently practicing archery to prepare for hunting.

                             Travis and Marie

Gaia: What prompted you to study herbal medicine?

Marie: My herbal studies were a byproduct of being in nutrition school. I knew nothing about herbal medicine until, in my first semester in college, I had to take a couple herbal elective courses. It was in those classes that I fell in love with the practice of herbalism, and after a few semesters I switched programs to become a Herbalist.

Travis: It’s difficult to determine what exactly prompted me to study herbal medicine because there seems to be a number of things over an extended period of time that lend me to this world. The innumerable hours spent
in nature inspired me to get to know the individual plants and mushrooms I encountered regularly. I learnt a few interesting medicinal uses but it remained that, just an interesting piece of information. It wasn’t until I began working at a natural health store that I began to recognize the medicinal value of herbs.
There were many stories shared by the customers and coworkers telling of the ways herbs helped them through various health challenges. While working at this store I began consuming and experimenting with many different herbs and supplements to get to know them. When I experienced my own serious health
issues I worked with herbs, supplements and conventional medical treatments. It was a difficult time but I made it through and healed. Not long after I decided to fully commit to studying herbal medicine.


Gaia: Did you find in pursuing your path of herbal medicine there was conflict with any beliefs or lifestyle you were brought up with?

Marie: My world view has changed dramatically from what I was taught as a child. As a kid I was taught that nature belongs to humans, and that humans are separate from plants and animals. Now I see through the lens of animism and vitalism; there is an intelligent force that animates all things. We are all micro
reflections of the macrocosm, and innate connected to one another. This lens informs the way that I work with plants and people.

Travis: Not at all. Looking back, I feel as though the path of herbal medicine has been a blessing and guide. Growing up I didn’t have any strongly held beliefs besides the felt sense that mine didn’t reflect those around me. I felt like I was in conflict with the culture I was embedded in, and herbal medicine has been a
guiding light towards what felt true, that helped form and clarify my current beliefs.

Gaia: How did you know herbalism was for you?

Marie: I felt it so strongly. The plants brought me so much joy, and there was this magical quality about them that I was drawn to. I make most of my big life choices based on feeling, and this was certainly one of those

Travis: I didn’t conscientiously know herbalism was for me. It was more of a slow process that pulled me in further and further to the point I’m at now, where it basically forms most of my lifestyle, identity and cosmology.


Gaia: As a Registered Herbal Therapist what does your job look like? What do your patient sessions look like?

Marie: My practice is different then most RHTs because I approach my work from the lens of Somatic and Relational Therapy. Patients come to me wanting to work on embodiment, nervous system regulation, boundaries and other mental/emotional/spiritual themes. We spend the majority of the session exploring these layers and we incorporate plant allies to support them in their processes. It’s been beautiful bringing these two unique modalities together to help people become more connected to themselves and the magical world of plants.

Travis: I am somewhat of a generalist in my practice. I welcome people of all sorts with a variety of health concerns. I offer containership for those who are seeking a safe and comfortable place to assess and reflect on their personal health and their broader place in the world. Clients who work with me value
working on the multiple aspects of one’s self, including emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing. With my support they are able to transform longstanding conditions that haven’t been adequately supported or assessed by any other health modalities. I offer a new perspective through the lens of Traditional Western Herbalism while taking into account modern medical diagnosis and therapeutics. In my sessions I review past medical history, current health & life circumstances and broad energetic patterns to offer customized lifestyle adjustments, dietary recommendations and herbal therapy. With my support my clients are empowered to integrate and implement deeper shifts they desire into their lives for long term change.

Gaia: Where do you source the herbs you use for your preparations? Why is it important for the product and for yourselves that you source the herbs the way you do?

Marie & Travis: We source our herbs as locally as possible from a variety of locations. Many of our herbs are grown by Micheal Silver, Earth Temple Farms, in Meadow Creek. We grow some ourselves, and ethically wildcraft many of them. Those that we can’t find locally we source from organic growers as close to home as possible. It’s common for Herbalists to import their herbs from overseas, which ends up being much more affordable with no cost in time. We choose to make our own medicine because our focus is on forming direct relationships with the land in the plants. It is important for us to have a direct relationship with the plants we work with and the land in which they live. We can ensure there is integrity in the growing practices and the foraging is done ethically. We have consistently observed the medicine that we make tends to be better quality and more potent than herbal medicine we find on the market. It’s really hard to do that without touching, tasting and communing with the live plants. We’re happier with the quality of the medicine that we make than we have been with most other products on the market. 

Gaia: What are a few of your favorite herbs to work with and why?

Marie: A few of my favourite herbs to work with are Hawthorn, Reishi, and Tulsi. Each of them for completely different reasons. Hawthorn is my favourite cardiotonic, that supports the physical and emotional heart. Most people feel
more heart centered while working with Hawthorn so I often give it to those who are moving through grief or overwhelm, and have lost their heart connection.
Reishi is one of my favourite mushroom medicines. It’s medicine is quite earthy and grounding; I work with it when people’s nervous systems are burnt out and frayed. It’s also a great immunomodulator, meaning it supports healthy immune function. It’s generally quite well tolerated.Tulsi is another lovely nervous system support that helps to clear mental fog and scattered thinking. It can help to clear the mind, improve focus and relieve anxiety.

Travis: Skullcap is a mint family plant we grow in our garden and source from Earth Temple Farm. It’s one of my favorites because it is consistently helpful and safe in most cases of anxiety, stress, and insomnia, while also being helpful to restore a “burnt out” nervous system.Yarrow is a common wild and cultivated plant, found in many parts of the world. The plant has a long history of use amongst many different cultures. It is a polycrest herb, meaning that it is therapeutically useful in many illnesses. It can be used internally and externally. If I was to work with only a few plants, Yarrow would be one of them.

                               Inner sanctum salve

Gaia: What’s your favourite type of preparation to make and why?

Marie & Travis: We make a lot of tinctures, which are potent alcohol extracts of herbs, they're our favourite to make. Tinctures are our most used and preferred medicinal preparation we provide for our clients. Tinctures are a highly concentrated alcohol and water extraction. The high concentration of herbal medicine means one can consume a relatively low dose of a tincture to receive medicinal benefits. The water and alcohol act as a solvent that extracts a wide variety of medicinal compounds, and often compounds that don’t extract as
well if prepared as a tea. The alcohol in a tincture helps to sanitize and preserve the medicine for many years, whereas dried herbs often degrade quickly and should be used within a year or two.

Gaia: Have you come across any herbs in the Kootenays that you haven’t found anywhere else?

Marie & Travis: Not yet! Many of the herbs that grow here can also be found on the West coast and/or in Alberta. The Kootenay area is very biodiverse, which makes our lives somewhat easier because we can stay close to home to access the numerous wild herbs we work with.

Gaia: Do you think natural medicine and allopathic medicines could ever come together and offer a more balanced and cooperative approach to healthcare?

Marie: For sure, many of our patients are on medications or working with other practitioners, and oftentimes we are able to co-create a protocol that is supportive for them.

Marie & Travis: Yes, of course. Many of the folks we work with are also working with a variety of healthcare professionals, and consuming a variety of medications and supplements as well. Herbal medicine provides a lot of support for people's health where other forms of medicine don’t. I believe herbal medicine should become much more widely available and accessible for folks because there are many gaps in other medicinal practices that herbal medicine can help in, as there are also gaps in herbal medicine that other practices can provide support for. It’s really about the person who needs help. Often people require multiple health care strategies to receive the best possible care.

                               Calm waters

Gaia: Are there any other spiritual practices you have? Do you mind sharing about them?

Marie: Most of my spiritual practices are centered around the plants and communing with nature. I often do new and full moon rituals, plus meditations, yoga/dance classes and other practices that connect me to my body and heart.

Travis: Nothing specifically. Although I have an animistic type of world view, meaning that I perceive a type of immaterial life force that animates all. Each individual being has this life force flowing through them, yet there is a unique expression of each individual based on their constitutional/elemental makeup. By working with plants directly the uniqueness of that being can help shift our being, consciousness, constitution makeup and teach us about the archetypal qualities they express. Essentially, interacting with nature is my spiritual practice if I have one.

Gaia: Are there any spiritual philosophies, beliefs or paths that you are drawn to that you’d like to learn more about? 

Marie: I love learning about how different cultures from around the world relate to plants, spirituality and our place in the world as humans. I’m especially interested in Celtic traditions.

Travis: I am very attracted to Alchemy. Alchemy is a direct study of the transformational cycles and patterns of nature. The practice of alchemy is not limited to the physical and the alleviation of physical suffering, but also the evolution of the soul and transcendence of spirit. It ties into herbalism well because herbal medicines work on the multiple levels of being, and by working with alchemical principles and practices I believe I can provide greater depth of healing for myself and the people I work with.

Gaia: How do you think you’ve grown as a person this last year?

Marie: This last year has been many big shifts for me that have helped to trust, know and value myself on a deeper level than ever before. The process of working with Travis to create Althaea has been a huge learning process that has been fun, and hard, and frustrating, and satisfying all at the same time.

Travis: This year has taught me the value of compassion, devotion and conscientiously created routine. In my practice I encounter many folks of many backgrounds and experiences. They often shared challenging aspects of their health and personal lives. By being there during peoples vulnerable moments I have developed greater compassion and care. As an entrepreneur it has been challenging deconstructing the self limiting habits and routines that have gotten in the way of me being a committed and involved herbalist and business owner. By conscientiously devoting myself to the practice of herbalism, my partner and my own personal development I have begun creating better daily habits that help me to focus and commit to the things that mean most to me.

Gaia: What is one thing you’d like to grow about yourself in 2022?

Marie: Trust is a big one, I have a hard time just letting things be. My capacity for trust has deepened over the years, but I still have a long way to go.

Gaia: What is your sun sign and how do you relate to it? If you know what your moon and ascendants are, do you feel like they reflect in your personality?

Marie: I love astrology and feel very connected to my chart. My sun is in Gemini in the 12th house, which tends to be curious people who are quite sensitive and have a natural interest in otherworldly things. My ascendant is in Cancer (tender, emotional, mothering) and my moon is in Capricorn (ambitious, earthy,


Travis: My sun is in Aries, a sign associated with the qualities of fire, activity, passion and independence. My moon is in aquarius, a sign associated with the qualities of being observant, unique, and caring of others. I have an ascendant scorpio, and scorpio tends to represent the qualities of being mysterious,
individualistic, passionate and authentic. I do feel like I embody a lot of these qualities.

Gaia: Tell us more about the products and services you offer.

Marie: My favourite way to work with people is through my embodiment container, Sanctuary. It’s 4-12 weeks of somatic work and herbalism to deeply support people to heal patterns held in their body and nervous system. We also have a sweet herbal product line, which can be found on our website, and we offer classes and plant walks.

Travis: I offer clinical herbal consultations where I assess one’s health from a medical point of view as well as through the lens of vitalism. I use both conventional diagnostic information and the unique energetic characteristics of the health condition and person to develop a customized herbal protocol. In addition, I provide basic nutritional and lifestyle advice. Teaching is a major part of my work because so little is known, in the general public, about the herbal
medicine and the healing potential they provide. We offer classes on plant identification, medicine making, therapeutics and in depth herbal studies.
We also have a sweet herbal product line, consisting of herbal syrups, salves and tinctures, which can be found on our website, and we offer classes and plant walks.

                              Inner light

Gaia: Where can we find more information about accessing your products and services?

Marie & Travis: The best place is through our website, and we’re also fairly active on Instagram, @althaeaherbals.

Gaia: What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?

Marie: Tarot cards and all the books :)

Travis: Books!

We will be doing an Instagram live with Marie & Travis of Althaea Herbals on Saturday, April 23rd at 1pm PST @gaia_rising_metaphysical 

Posted in

Interview with Stacey Arseneau, Nelson School of Yoga

Posted on April 07, 2022 by Dannika Soukoroff



Meet Stacey Arseneau. Yoga teacher, Yoga teacher educator & trainer, and owner of Nelson School of Yoga. 

"A grassroots Yoga studio located in the heart of downtown Nelson BC Canada. Hatha Yoga, Pranayama & Meditation practices for the beginner to experienced student. A Yoga centre that provides a space where people of all levels and abilities can come to learn and practice the teachings of Yoga. Classes range from Hatha to Vinyasa to Yin Yoga. With experience beginning in 2003, Nelson School of Yoga is registered with Yoga Alliance at the 500hr level including certified Yoga Teacher Trainings, ongoing continuing education, workshops and led classes. Join a community of connection, conscious evolution and realness."

Find us nestled in the Kootenay mountains amongst glaciers and the interior temperate rainforest. Find us at Herridge Place, across from The Best Western, along Nelson's Baker street. Dive deep into practice, contemplation and community led by Stacey Arseneau E-RYT 500, YACEP.

We love Stacey's space, it is so extremely inviting. There is a strong presence of Goddess & Divine Feminine energy that feels supportive in one's practice. Please enjoy our interview with Stacey as we learn more about her, her practice and her offerings.


Gaia: Stacey! We are so excited to be interviewing you. Please tell us about yourself.

Stacey: I grew up on the east coast in Bathurst New Brunswick. My roots are French and indigenous (Mi’kmaq and Inuit).

My father and mother are both strongly rooted in the east coast way of life and we would spend weekends out in the forest hunting, and connecting to the changing seasons. It’s here I began my inner journey with meditation and my connection to myself in a deeper way.

I have always had an appreciation for nature and the harmony it brings. I slowly made my way across Canada, to Montreal in 2001 and to Vancouver in 2003 as I was curious about the culture and lifestyle outside of the humble province of New Brunswick.

Gaia: How did you first get into Yoga?

Stacey: I was going through some big changes in Vancouver and started exploring my own personal growth.  I was looking to find community, a healthy balance and a grounded way of life that would nourish me in ways my previous lifestyle couldn’t provide. I was tired of the culture of grasping and indulgence and was needing to feed my soul. Yoga for me was a profound shift in my relationship with myself and the external world. In 2003, I dove into the practice, excited for knowledge and something new. It ended up transforming my body, mind and nervous system in very remarkable ways.

Gaia:  At what point did you decide to become a teacher? What prompted you to become a teacher & study yoga more deeply?

Stacey: I was frequenting a few studios in Vancouver, enjoying the different vibes, techniques, styles, and communities. In 2009, I took a 200 hour teacher training with Shakti Mhi and was able to expand through the rich history, philosophy and practice that is Yoga. I was fortunate to meet amazing practitioners to study with who helped stoke the fire of my journey and guide me toward teaching. I pay reverance to Chris Richardson, Christine Clancy, Mugs McConnell and Lalita.


Gaia: What do you feel you offer as a yoga teacher?

Stacey: I have a diverse history! I have overcome addiction, trauma, mental illness, and hardships. The practice has kept me grounded and focused. When a student comes to class, or I work with someone privately, we explore concepts like trauma theory, body biomechanics, having compassion for our emotions and Yoga philosophy. We manipulate the nervous system for positive change. There are parts of ourselves in everyones journey. We must come to know that we are not separate and are all reflections of one another.

Gaia: What are a few of your favourite yoga poses and why?

Stacey: This varies greatly depending on life events and how the body changes over the years. There are times where the simplest pose allows for connection. In a twist, I can connect to the present moment. In forward folds, one practices introspection. In backbends, one reflects on the past. That being said there is so much more to this practice than what meets the eye in physical postures. Outside of this Asana, we observe and quiet the mind and connect to the heart. Yoga is the stillness of mind fluctuations. The Yoga sutras tell us that Yoga begins now, in this present moment.

Gaia: How do you feel yoga helps you grow in your life?

Stacey: Yoga can be seen by many as a fitness routine. The 8 limbs of yoga offer a guide to live a happy and whole life. We learn the Yamas and Niyamas, we have a framework in which we can relate to others, our own desires, and tune our nervous systems towards contentment.

Gaia: Tell us about your studio.

Stacey: Nelson School of Yoga is warm and welcoming Shala. I was so fortunate to find a space that had great natural light and is walking distance to most amenities. I designed a modest room with warm colours, rainbows refracting through the windows, and a sense of clean, modern pop design.  Somewhere anyone could feel comfortable and tap into the beauty of the mountains out the front windows. I’ve brought my library of books to share with the students. The alter is adorned with flowers, candles and the smell of incense.  Its a fun loving revenant space that feels like home. Tea is always on :)


Stacey: What is your vision for your studio & what do you wish for your students?

Gaia: I wanted to create space that felt cozy and could only fit a limited number of students per class; this way each teacher has time and energy to focus on every student. It’s created a community of joy, compassion and acceptance. Often we chat, laugh, and share before and after class, and it makes my heart sing. I wanted to create a community, a lifestyle, and a safe place for everyone to do the work, and to find their own inner joy and light through Yoga. 

Gaia: Are there any other personal spiritual practices you have? Do you mind sharing about them?

Stacey: I’m a regular meditator and perform indigenous practices such as offering and smudge. Connecting to nature is important for me.

Gaia: How do you think you have grown as a person in the last year?

Stacey: I took the leap of opening the Shala 20 years into the practice.  It was a monumental undertaking and I feel so blessed to have done so. I have had to be vulnerable, understanding, immensely patient, and often stoic with the challenges that come with starting and running a business in todays politics. Luckily everyday is filled with lovely shiny people who come to the studio with an open heart!

Gaia: What is one thing you would like to grow about yourself in 2022?

Stacey: I would personally like to take a slight step backwards to finding work/life balance and have a bit more space for myself within the week.  Now that the school is growing and glowing, I would like to take some more time for nature, cooking, and spending time with my partner and daughter in the beautiful place we call home.


Gaia: What is your sun sign and do you feel you relate to it? If you know what your moon and ascendant signs are, do you feel like they reflect in your personality?

Stacey: I do appreciate others commitments and interest in astrology. I personally don’t have much of a relationship to my signs, but have a deep reverence for sunrises, the lunar cycles and seasons. It’s undeniable to say we are not affected by the universe around us. I’m a Capricorn, isn’t that obvious?!

Gaia: Tell us about more about services you offer?

Stacey: I offer 200 and 300 hour Yoga Alliance accredited teacher trainings as well as private one-on-one sessions in alignment, emotional release, philosophy and spiritual guidance. The school hosts a number of dynamic workshops from holistic accounting to conflict resolution. My heart is so full to know that my humble space brings so much positivity to our community.


Gaia: Where can we find more information about accessing your services?

Stacey: On Instagram @nelsonschoolofyoga as well as The best is coming in for a lovely class with any of our yoga alliance accredited teachers!

Gaia: What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?

Stacey: Definitely Triloka incense, Himalayan salt lamps, beeswax candles, and braided sweetgrass.

Posted in

Interview with Sarah Salter-Kelly author of Trauma as Medicine

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Dannika Soukoroff

                           Sarah Salter-Kelly Trauma as Medicine

Sarah Salter-Kelly is a local author who her book 'Trauma as Medicine' in 2021.

"In Trauma as Medicine, Sarah Salter Kelly shares her experience of her mother's kidnapping and brutal homicide as an inspiring example of how to distill trauma into medicine on a personal level. Chapter by chapter, she invites the reader to take their own journey of healing."

'A riveting read. Sarah really grips your attention every step of the way with her personal stories. Her approach is very relatable and easy to understand. A great book for those who are dipping their toes in their own healing, as Sarah creates a clear and easy format to understand tools of healing, stages of healing and how to work with them. Also a great read for any veterans on the healing path, as everyone can use a reminder or a different perspective in our continuous healing and growth. This book is for everyone.' -Dannika,Gaia Rising

We had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Sarah about her and her book!

Gaia: Sarah, such a pleasure to be chatting with you. Why don't you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your background?

Sarah: I grew up near the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton Alberta, spending most of my free time playing in the ravines, hiking the trails, and jumping from the cliffs. This amounted to a lifelong love affair with nature and a desire to seek the edge of possibility.

Gaia: The main trauma you talk about personally in ‘Trauma as medicine’ is the experience of your mother’s kidnapping & homicide. Was this the first major trauma you addressed in yourself? Did it bring attention to other traumas in your life that were hidden in the shadows?

Sarah: Rape and Murder were the most obvious, and because of the extreme nature of this trauma it cast a shadow on the ones that were not. What I’ve noticed through the years is that it is difficult to acknowledge the power the smaller ones hold over us. We must convince ourselves that they’re relevant, and worthy of our attention/intention. Our bodies of course know this, but our mind needs to get on board. The first significant trauma for me was leaving home/being kicked out at 15 years of age. I was determined to be my own authority, unwilling to subject myself to my parents’ unreasonable expectations, and I refused to ask for help – with the fear that it would not be given. Given my age, lack of skills and development, this meant I went from the suburbs to the downtown core (of Edmonton, Alberta) and a lifestyle that was precarious and oftentimes dangerous. This took years for me to address as I couldn’t rationalize that it was traumatic, because I felt it had been my choice. Ironically, the self-determination and connection to Spirit that I gleaned from those formative years were what supported me in facing the devastating challenges of losing my mother to homicide.

Gaia: What was the hardest part for you personally in getting started with your healing of this trauma?

Sarah: Any sudden death leaves us grappling for a foot hold on reality, because everything that we knew to be true no longer is. There were so many hard parts, but if I am to narrow one down to the hardest in getting started, it would be making a choice to stop everything else in my life and let myself feel/grieve. After Mom’s body was found and we had a funeral, I had gone back to my retail job selling CDs/tapes in the local A&B sound music store. Three months later I recognized I was so overwhelmed with grief - every day - and I needed to be with the truth of what was coming through me. I could not fake or pretend that I was okay, and I didn’t want to.  I quit my job and went on medical EI for a few months. This set a precedence for choosing what my body was telling me over the expectations of what the over culture dictates as permissible or expected.

Gaia: In your book, you create a framework for individuals to use in their healing, without revealing too much to our audience, can you talk about one of the eight foundations you laid out, and explain how it helped in your experience? If it was a particularly difficult step for you, could you explain why?

Sarah: Intention is where we begin and is of the utmost importance. We can heal anything. There is nothing too big; which is why I share; to give readers/listeners an opportunity to say 'heh if she can do that, I can do this'. Set the bar high and all obstacles will be transformed. My intention was freedom. In as much this included not only addressing the grief and trauma around her death but finding compassion for her perpetrator. In time this included getting to know one of his family members. What is hard is that it is uncomfortable. This isn’t bad, it simply means we are growing.

Gaia: Spiritual bypassing is a term that is becoming a growing topic in the spiritual community. For those who do not know what ‘spiritual bypassing’ is, in a nutshell, spiritual bypassing is a defense mechanism in which we avoid confronting our uncomfortable feelings or shadows. Example: ‘Well this really bad thing happened to me, but everything happens for a reason.” Others can also weaponize, either unintentionally or intentionally (depending on who they are and where they are at). Sometimes it may be used to promote acceptance or some people might use it to establish dominance if they feel threatened. Example being “That really bad thing happened to you, but the universe has a plan and everything happens for a reason.” Your book strongly shares the sentiment of ‘everything happening for a reason’ and finding ‘purpose in the trauma.’ How can the reader walk away confidently knowing the difference between spiritual bypassing and these principles you are teaching as a means of true healing?

Sarah: I love Everything Happens for a Reason and I believe it 100%. What happens with Spiritual Bypassing is people forget the AND that is tacked on to the end of that statement. For example, Everything Happens for a Reason AND this includes all my anger, uncomfortable feelings, emotions, grief and rage. They are a part of the main event not separate from it. We cannot harvest the teachings of trauma if we have not digested it and told the truth to ourselves about what impact it has had on us. We need to tend to and acknowledge victimization, face fear and express emotions as these each hold purpose in our greater understanding of who we are. They push us to let go of control and grow. We are not meant to override our emotional response by tacking a positive affirmation on to it and ignoring what is present in our being. We need to notice what we feel AND that somehow, even if we don’t understand it there is a reason for it. Both are true.

Gaia: What does forgiveness look like to you, and how do you know that you have ‘arrived’?

Sarah: Forgiveness is a practice, a way of living and being in the world. I am certain it is not a place we arrive at permanently, or something we can hold on to indefinitely. We humans change with the cycles of the seasons and the stages of our lives, which generate different perspectives on what has come to pass, and this means we often have to forgive an old wound, again. Super frustrating when we want to be done, yet this is the truth of the human condition. I think the most important part is that we initiate the practice, as it generates freedom. For me this is the act of letting go of blame and opening to the inquiry of why these profound teachings have come into my life. The first time I felt completely free from being haunted by my mother’s perpetrator was when I accepted that he was one of the greatest teachers in my life.


Gaia: Shamanic themes and altered states are consistent themes in your book. How did you come to the conclusion that these are valuable practices for healing trauma?

Sarah: I have thirty years of experience in utilizing altered states for personal healing, as well as guiding others in my private practice or through workshops/training. Altered states give us an experience of direct revelation where we can feel for ourselves the spiritual nature of our existence inclusive of our connection to Source. Whether this is through the use of plant medicine or shamanic journeys/trance – both are viable tools in helping us remember we are our own authority on healing. Trauma is not something that can be addressed by putting it into a box, these practices help us to incorporate the mythic/energetic/spiritual nature of what has come to pass so we may begin to determine their purpose and meaning. In my book I reference the use of the Underworld as a place where we can imagine that our trauma is hanging out. A landscape that we can invent and connect with through the use of our imagination. In doing so we do not have to cut off or get rid of any parts of our trauma, there is room for the whole thing, and in time when we are ready, we can develop the relationship with it that supports transformation.

Gaia: Would you be open to sharing about a power animal that you work with and what it represents in your life and healing journey?

Sarah: Almost thirty years ago I felt a connection with Wolf. Perhaps it was also because I was reading Women who run with the Wolves at the same time. Either way I used to go out at night under the full moon in the golf course that was in Edmonton’s river valley and pretend to be a wolf. I would ask Wolf to help me shape shift and I would walk through the edges of the open spaces on all fours, smelling wind, feeling the spirit of the land and learning to determine if I was safe. When I felt I was, I’d dash out into the wide-open greens, jumping, skipping and playing as wolf. She is the power animal I reference in Trauma as Medicine for helping to shift the paradigm of victim/prey into personal power. I feel her guide me in stepping into leadership as well as to willing to face/eat any heavy energy on my path - with an open heart.

Gaia: What other books or resources would you recommend for healing trauma, plant medicine and shamanic journeying?

Sarah: Books for trauma I would recommend includes, 'Healing Trauma: Walking the Tiger' by Peter Levine,'The Body keeps score' by Bessel Van Der Kolk & 'In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts' by Gabor Mate.

As for Shamanic Journeying – most of my knowledge comes from direct experience, however these books are great: Starhawk’s Spiral Dance (journeying is called trance), Nicki Scully’s Alchemical healing or Power Animal Journey’s, Sandra Ingerman's Soul Retrieval.

Plant medicine: I first started experimenting with psychedelic’s thirty years ago and am comfortable with how they work in my body. My preference has been to explore their ceremonial aspects with others, rather than read a book. As I share in Trauma as Medicine this included venturing to the Amazon on five occasions. That being said I am presently reading 'Fly Agaric, a Compendium of History, Pharmacology, Mythology, and Exploration' edited by Kevin Feeney – which is fascinating book on the use of the infamous red capped mushrooms. And have just purchased Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World by Paul Stamets!


Gaia: Could you explain what “wholeness” means in terms of being healed from trauma? Do you think that we can be completely whole in our lifetime, or does it take our whole lifetime to create wholeness?

Sarah: I think we are whole already. However, we tell ourselves stories all the time that make us believe we are not – stories that are most often related to our trauma. Some of these include why we are not worthy of love, what we are ashamed of, or what we are afraid of – to name a few. This energy negates our capacity to feel into our wholeness. Into the truth of what is present. We need to change the stories; it is actually that simple (and that hard.) To recognize our wholeness includes the experience of our challenges. Instead of allowing them to make us feel separate from ourselves, we can learn to metabolize them and open deeper to who we are.

Gaia: I fully agree with the sentiment of “you are not what has happened to you”. Why do you believe we can easily get caught up in making our stories our identities?

Sarah: Honestly Dannika, I think it is a natural stage in healing. In the acute phase, right after we go through trauma it overwhelms our whole identity. We do not know who we are anymore – and the truth that something horrible happened to me, needs to be felt because it is real. Its energy is dark, heavy and charged, and we carry this around with us, it becomes a part of the stories we tell. However, in time the charge lessons, and we gain more perspective, where we can start to realize that there is more to who we are than what happened to us. We recognize we have a choice in who we are, and how we live, that is not dependent on what was or was not done to us.

Gaia: Our ‘feelings’ can sometimes feel like our gut or intuition. How do you differentiate between your feelings and your grounded sense of inner knowing?

Sarah: I need to have practices in my life that keep me grounded, such as meditation, gardening, and physical exercise. This way I am cleaning my energy body regularly and addressing or allowing for emotions to move through me when they arise. It becomes easy to tell the difference between a sensation that is intuitively guided and one that is just an emotional reaction/response with this practice.

Gaia: You mother’s assailant was a first nations man. Finding this out about your mother’s story prompted a further journey into learning about Peter Brighteyes’ life, upbringing and history. Through your discoveries you learned how colonialism, racism, present day legislation & the systems in place that still affect first nations peoples, had a great impact on Peter Brighteyes. You were able to arrive at a place empathy learning about how him being in and out of the system, abuse & intergenerational traumas greatly impacted Peter and created the ‘evil’ in him that you believe led to him murdering your mother. Can you talk more about the process of how the empathy developed over time? What were the challenges of stepping into empathy?

Sarah: The word I would use is Compassion or shared humanity. This is such an important part of Trauma as Medicine. When we decide in our own bodies, that we are willing to heal at all costs, Spirit/Source/God brings us the teachings that we need to support this outcome. Of course, the challenge is sticking to it and being willing to face what comes, because it is going to be difficult and uncomfortable. For me, this meant I needed to let go of my need for Peter to be the Bad guy and start to wonder who he was as a human – other than a murderer and a rapist. For he was also a son, brother, father, friend and member of Saddle Lake Cree Nation. This was not easy. However, my mother’s spirit is very pushy - she was life Coach and believed there are no accidents - so I decided to listen to her. This coupled with prayers and ceremony, led me to stay curious and follow my intuition. It took years and has amounted to the soul work I’ve come to this planet to do. 

Gaia: You also developed a friendship with Peter’s sister. Can you explain how that was essential for your healing personally? 


Sarah: This has been totally unexpected and one of the most soulful relationships in my life. Because it is hard. Because it makes me confront and be with the trauma of colonization and recognize the role my ancestors had to play and learn to be an embodied conduit for change. Together – Marilyn and I - offer story share talks at conferences or events on lived reconciliation. We have probably done this about 20 times since 2015 and each and every time I feel I learn something new, my energy body heals deeper, and I am inspired by what we generate together as possibilities for simply listening to the other.

Books I recommend for learning more about the First Nations experience in canada: 21 things you may not know about the Indian act: Helping Canadians making reconciliation with Indigenous peoples a possibility By Bob Joseph, Half-Breed by Maria Campbell, Stolen life by Rudy Wiebe & Yvonne Johnson, Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King. Most importantly read the reports from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that includes first hand stories, history and calls to action that still have not been mandated.

Gaia: What is your hope for humanity and the Earth?

Sarah: To become sustainable people and live in reciprocity with Mother earth, each other and Spirit.

Gaia: Are there any other personal spiritual practices you have? Do you mind sharing about them?

Sarah: Mediation, Yin Yoga, sharing Haywahrikuy gratitude offerings with the land (I have been studying the energy healing tradition of the Q’ero people in Peru for 16 years) and time outside physically challenging myself.

Gaia: Are there any spiritual philosophies, beliefs, or paths you are drawn to that you would like to learn more about?

Sarah: I would like to go to Ireland, Scotland and England to listen to the land and learn more directly from teachers of the Shamanic lineages native to those lands. About 65% of my ancestry is from there.

Gaia: How do you think you have grown as a person in the last year?

Sarah: This book birthing has initiated a whole new journey, which coupled with the teachings of covid times is really profound. I trust myself more than ever before and feel willing to show up and be present with what is here.

Gaia: What is one thing you would like to grow about yourself in 2022?

Sarah: Quite literally my arm strength with my weights practice…And to generate an international presence in sharing Trauma as Medicine!


Gaia: What is your sun sign and do you feel you relate to it? If you know what your moon and ascendant signs are, do you feel like they reflect in your personality?

Sarah: I am a Scorpio Sun with an Aquarian Moon and a Libra rising. They – along with the rest of my chart – vastly reflect how I exist in this world. I need things to be in balance, at peace and diplomatic, not always an easy task yet that is the determination of the Libra influence. I am fiercely independent in my spiritual nature and have had learn to forge my own path in relation to energy healing and digesting trauma, here is the Aquarian moon. The intensity of my life and my desire to go into the dark, be with truth – no matter what - and not waste time with small talk is my Scorpio Sun.

Gaia: Tell us about more about the readings you offer and other products or services you offer?

Sarah: Private sessions in person in Grand Forks or on Zoom. I teach Trauma as Medicine retreats – there will be one in Kaslo in September – and have an online mentorship 12 week program which follows the book also beginning in September. Every full moon I host an online shamanic journey. Come April I will be doing a Trauma as Medicine book launch event for the Nelson area at Soma Yoga studio!

      Sarah poster

Gaia: Where can we find more information about accessing your products and services?


@sarahsalterkelly (Instagram)

Gaia: What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?

Sarah: Oh easy – Beeswax candles, new set of cards on mystical astrology, incense, and I need some statues – Green Tara, Kwan Yin, Isis and Ganesh.

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