this #54 c 2005 russ reina
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a firetender?
(Most images you see on this website can be found in larger format  in the Galleries or Slide Shows. If you'd like one or more for your own, e-mail me.)
Acknowledging MAUI
Some Background
          There's Something Here for You...
          Expand Your Vision of Healing
          This Started in an Ambulance
What This Site's About
Articles on the Healing Arts
A Most Unusual Rejection Letter

Art  For  Healers  Galleries - intro


      Images for Healing
        Dalai Lama Comes A-Callin'! (slideshow)
        Galleries/Slideshows on MySpace

Music and Videos

The heART of the Healer Workshop
Counseling and Creative Services
a firetender's blog


Copyright Information

Wopila Cepa!
(in Lakota; A Big Fat Thank You!)
for being part of the journey.
I'm glad you're here!

My name is Russ Reina, and I refer to myself as "a firetender."
I really hope this "firetender" thing catches on. Here's my Vision:

It's a hot, midday on a Boulevard teeming with pedestrians. A distressed cry goes out: "Firetender!" From  all four directions come people to the stricken one, each saying, "How can I help?"

Get it? It's not really about ME.

This web site is my way of sharing my experience in the healing arts. It began when I was 17, in 1969, working as an Orderly in a nursing home.   "firetender" is the metaphor I use today that reflects  who I wished to be then and aspire to be still; one who tends the fires of spirit when called upon.

So there's no confusion, I'm a Brooklyn born Italian and have no Native American blood -- though my spiritual Unci (Grandmother) has called me a WOPaho
firetender is based on my experiences living and working with her traditional Oglala medicine family on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota at various times during the 1990's: Chips  (a truncated geneology  is here.) I tended fire for their sacred ceremonies. Terminally diseased people  were healed.

(Quoting John Lame Deer, from the book "Lame Deer - Seeker of Visons" :
"One of our greatest Souix holy men was old Chips. Without him, maybe our religion would have died out. During the darkest years he kept his vision alive, worked it for the good of the people. He was a real wicaasa wakan. If he hadn't taught us, there would be no be medicine men left among us now. He did it almost all by himself. Well he passed the power on to his son, Ellis Chips, and he is a good man. But the real power of the old holy man went to his grandson Godfrey.")

I was graced with a glimpse into indigenous ways of healing, passed down over perhaps hundreds of generations. Through these times, I learned some of the ways that connection plays a role in transformation of illness into health.  Within it, I had an elemental experience of preparing sacred space so that others may live. The lessons learned there were ancient concepts with very real applications in today's world; even in a Cardiologist's office!
The family I worked with modeled the art of building "One Mind, One Heart" for everyone involved in the healing process. Healing was never presented out of the context of community. My experience was a potent revelation to me of how far away and quickly we have travelled from the ways healing was practiced for millennia before it got Westernized, Mechanized and Litigation-driven. Medicine was once person to person; not something "delivered".

But even more indicative was their emphasis that (paraphrasing Godfrey Chipps, the Yuwipi Man):  it's not about you being healed, it's about you deciding to live.   I learned that to be a healer is to be a vehicle, NOT a Director with a Capital "D", and the will of the person seeking healing is paramount to the end result!

For a better understanding of my relationship with my Lakota teachers, 
please read my article A firetender's Lesson  (Part I). You can easily get to the full series from there. I respect and credit my influences, and DO NOT  in any way present myself as an authority in ANY indigenous people's medicine. I only have my own to offer.

Once I got out of the ambulance, I was introduced to fire through this family. Working with fire is working with both the seen and the unseen, with a primal force that moves freely, slips in between and through all worlds, affecting everything it touches as it does so. Most important, it's all about the moment. And
within the context of sacred ceremony, each moment is focused on strengthening the intent of the participants to effect healing.

In sacred ceremonies, the firetender is  that chips chipps oglala medicineperson who prepares a sacred, safe and nurturing space for forces of guidance and healing to visit. That's what this site's about; that's what I've prepared for all of us. Did you catch that? In the sacred space I create, I make sure there's room for me, as well!

When I'm tending fire for an Inipi (commonly, but inaccurately described as "sweat lodge") and someone calls out "firetender!" my attention immediately moves to the moment and seeks the place that I can contribute. I know I'm being called upon to do Something, but my purpose as firetender means that my focus becomes, "Where do I fit in, as only I can, in service to healing?"

It's a "What will you have me do?" sort of thing.

This site is meant to reach firetenders like myself -- of whom there are many! No, there's not a course, diploma, secret handshake or that secret little tatoo. You know who you are. Maybe you'll find a part of yourself here.

Can you see what's going on here? I'm hoping you'll enjoy this, my Mission Statement, and that you'll take the time to develop one of your own. Find a metaphor in your life that captures what it is you came here to do. Explore how it came to you and what it expects of you as well. It gives you something concrete to come back to during times of doubt or exhaustion. It gives you things to remember. Perhaps most important, it is the foundation upon which you build everything that follows as you gather and use new tools. As you can see, it doesn't have to be prefect, but it's got to ring your bells!.

So, let us who express ourselves as vehicles through which healing energy flows, no matter how that manifests
, come together in community so we can learn from each other!

Mitakuye Oyasin!