All posts by Tom Pinkson


Hola Relatives – I am just back from a rite of passage vision quest with my 13 year old grandson and some of his buds. They all passed their tests during their fasting time on solo deep in redwood canyon forest by gurgling creek. Each boy-growing into-teenager-towards-adulthood, faced and met their challenges of fear being alone in the dark forest, not eating, no technology to distract, no fire at night, no one to talk with, just alone with self.

Each wanted to release certain energies (our Death Arrow work around the Sacred Fire), connect with or strengthen other positive energies (the Life Arrow they made on quest) and hoped to learn from nature how life works. Each got what they sought along with one who a month ago on a drum journey with me had the lion come to him as a power animal and wouldn’t you know it – a mountain lion came and paced around his tent staring right into the entrance!

Each boy got good mojo on this adventure and I gifted them each with a bear claw necklace made by my brother-in-law, the bear being symbolic of going within (introspection) and doing the work of the “looks-within place” as the bear does each winter in its gaining-within time of hibernation.

Great Gratitude for being able to share the kinds of experiences that have been so meaningful in my life with my three grandsons and their compadres.

All Blessings to all the young ones coming up who need initiatory rites conducted by their elders to help them move into adolescence and meet the challenges of this vital time of life in a healthy and skillful wisdom-way.

What is an Elder?

During a retreat I was leading on “Shamanic Wisdom for Fruitful Aging” at a retreat center in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains outside of Tucson the question arose of what exactly is an “elder”. Here are my thoughts. See what you think.

First off it is important to differentiate being old from being an elder. Growing old is a biological process that happens naturally for all physical manifestation from the smallest to the largest, from atoms to galaxies. From my experience with indigenous peoples around the world I see that an elder is an older person who also carries wisdom within their being.

So what is wisdom? Wisdom recognizes that the Great Spirit, the Sacred Mystery, is present in every one, every thing, everywhere and all the time, always seeking to work for the greatest good but needing people showing up to do their part in bringing it to fruition. Wisdom elders live from that consciousness in all their relationships. They seek, cultivate and share the truth of wisdom and the wisdom of truth embodies in the quote below:

“According to the great wisdom traditions of the West – Christian, Jewish, Islamic – the heart is first and foremost an organ of spiritual perception. Its primary function is to look beyond the obvious, the boundaried surface of things, and see into a deeper reality, emerging from some unknown profundity, which plays lightly upon the surface of this life without being caught there: a world where meaning, insight, and clarity come together in a whole different way.”

True Elders carry the teaching stories, the ceremonies, rituals and values of the community to the next generation. They see the larger vision than that which just serves egos. They hold the welfare of the whole, the tribe, the community in their heart and prayers. They stand up for justice, for honor, for doing the right thing. They notice and stand up for the vulnerable, the underdog. They bring beauty, kindness, generosity, compassion, courage and wisdom teachings by which to meet life’s challenges skillfully and in ways that support the fullest blossoming and greatest good of their people, of Mother Earth, of the cosmos. They are a link with the ancestors.

Elders love, serve and remember what is important to maintaining healthy life and living for future generations. They serve Higher Will. They hold hope and vision for what can be. Elders are living embodiment of a commitment to carry their hearts through the world like a life-giving sun, shining so bright, on each and every one. They are channels of Great Spirit’s light and love, healing and forgiveness to their people.

They are the realization of spiritual maturity and spiritual intelligence using the last cycle of their lives to “Give-Away” all that they have learned and internalized so that their people might live on in a good way after they are gone. Wisdom Elders are what we can all grow to be if we hold that as an intention and do the work to make it be a living reality.

Great Gratitude to all the Wisdom Elders of our lives and throughout human history staying up at night to keep the fire going while others sleep. Un mil gracias!

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Invitation – Shamanic Medicine for Fruitful Aging Course

Invitation to help me get word out re. my upcoming Shift Network virtually delivered course on SHAMANIC WISDOM FOR FRUITFUL AGING, and, a chance for you to make some extra income.

This course is going to provide the wisdom teachings and practices i have been gathering for over a half century working with indigenous peoples around the world applied specifically to the aging process and growing into a elder contributing meaningfully to family and community. I feel very good about what this course will offer to folks, many of whom have been asking me for years to do something like this, and I would really appreciate your support in getting word out about it to your people.

I am hopeful you will share this email invitation with your networks to the free call that serves to announce the course whose full title is: Shamanic Wisdom for Finding the Gold in Your Golden Years: Medicine Teachings for Guidance, Meaning, and Purpose. The call is scheduled for Saturday, April 8th at 10am PT.
Sharing is simple and people will benefit from the free content you would be sharing. Plus there’s a profit/revenue sharing opportunity for you too. You can earn a $103.95 commission if any of your referred participants choose to take the course that will be announced on the call.

If you are wiling to help me out as a partner in getting word out please let me know asap at and I will connect you with MaryKay Morgan who takes care of promotional relationships for The Shift Network. She will provide a link for you to enroll as a referral partner and once enrolled, she will provide you with promotional materials, ready to go.

Your cooperation and support in sending an email to your community means a great deal to me. It will help spread my work on creating the elder years into the most meaningful and enriching times of life growing spiritual maturation towards fullest blossoming and greatest good, as well as make easy revenue for yourself.

Thank you for considering my invitation and hopefully in supporting me in getting the word out to a larger audience that can benefit from what is offered.
With Great Appreciation – tom

“What Gets in the Way IS the Way – Shape-Shifting a Fear-based Paradigm of Aging to a Love-Based One

This article appears in: 2017 Catalyst, Issue 5: Transforming Aging “Like” The Shift Network:

(I was interviewed for – The Shift Network Transforming Aging Summit which was a big success reaching over 13,000 people. Here is a link to my audio interview – “What Gets in the Way IS the Way – Shape-Shifting a Fear-based Paradigm of Aging to a Love-Based One”.

Our elder years can present us with challenging experiences. Changes in our bodies and minds often feel unwelcome and can leave us struggling as some faculties diminish. Things just don’t seem to work as fluidly and easily as they used to. These are tremors that can shake us off our feet and undermine us at a time when we most need a strong sense of self and wellbeing in order to meet a radical set of changes to the very structure of our lives.

Think about facing the impact of retirement, loss of faculties, loss of home, the merciless onslaught of pain, and the dissolution of relationship and family as our spouses, partners and loved ones precede us in death. Think about facing these trials without our best self at hand — or worse, with a weakened or damaged remnant of self.

The good news is that Increasing research evidences that grounded spirituality is a resource that offers a guiding life-enhancing vision in challenging times through connection with something greater than ego self — something transcendent, boundless, ultimate… the Divine.

We all carry the seed-potential for growing into spiritual maturity but it needs proper watering to reach full potential. The gift of growing older lies in the opportunity to grow into our highest potentials of self-realization, exploring new ways of seeing and new ways of being. Aging and longevity can be an adventure of exploration leading to a new sense of self and purpose.

It’s about learning to use our minds to heal ourselves, to heal our relationships, and to create a sense of inner peace by opening our heart to our love-based essence, purpose in being, and knowing the truth of who and what we really are.

The mainstream Western paradigm of aging and older people is ageist and negative, leading to despair, depression and the waste of valuable wisdom. Indigenous wisdom ways from a shamanic perspective come from cultures that recognize and utilize their elders in socially integrative ways for intergenerational benefit. The “medicine teachings and practices” they embody constitute an understanding of deeper reality and how to access it for realizing our highest potentials as human beings.

A shamanic worldview and the practices therein offer ways for understanding the wisdom teachings of your life and for healing relationships from the inside out. They help you live from conscious intention in alignment with your life purpose, thereby creating a legacy of fulfillment by completing the assignments of your heart-path by contributing your gifts in a meaningful and fulfilling way.

How? By learning to use the heart and soul as organs of perception and insight, which Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux Holy Man, eloquently articulates from an indigenous perspective:

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the Universe and all its powers and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit and that this center is really everywhere; it is within each of us.”
— Black Elk, Oglala Sioux (1863-1950)


Spring Sutra

when i first got up from bed this morning i could see pink and white blossoms on the peach tree outside the bedroom window
little buds emerged from barren branch bringing rebirth of life from the womb of the Great Mother

every year after a dark and cold winter the cycle repeats itself
“Hello – I’m here!” it says in a wondrous display of creative intelligence that awakens bees to buzz pollinating flowers unfolding in miraculous colors, shapes and fragrances

the power behind it all, the power within it all, invisible to the naked eye
its presence all around

the Huichol People of north/central Mexico call the power “Takutsi Nakaway” – Great Grandmother Growth
this is her time, her season, today her birth-day

It is our time to welcome and celebrate her gifts, warmed by the lengthening days of light
listening, reflecting – “what seeds do i want to plant in the garden of my life?
what qualities of consciousness, mind and being do i want Grandmother to help me grow and blossom at this precious time to be alive?”

a time to choose wisely
a time to face challenges with positivity
a time to think with a good heart.

May it be so for Fullest Blossoming.
Greatest Good
Spring Blessings All-WaysIMG_3778


Responding to the Horror of Orlando w/ the Light of Love

Like many of you i have been taken to a place of deeper listening in response to the horror of what happened to innocent people enjoying an evening out for fun and pleasure.
I listen to the feelings of helplessness, sadness, the wondering of why such horrible violence and as one friend asks – “How can our peaceful souls reach these haters? Can our prayers dampen the festering of more hate and violence?

My listening brings me to this – I can only start with me. I believe that on some deep level of being we all chose to be born and live in these very challenging times of transition where evolutionary pressures are forcing all humanity to expand consciousness from the small ego-identified self with its fear-based sense of separation to a higher experience of our true Self – the part of our being that is at One with all of creation.

Evolution is asking us to realize that what we do to another in judgment and action, what we do to the Earth, what we do to animals – we do to ourselves, to our children and our children’s children. It is not just a matter of stopping the evil other, the haters, for the violence, fear, judgment, ignorance and reactivity lives in me as well though on a more subtle level then that of overt killers and causers of mayhem. As Malcolm X said years ago, when we do not face our own personal, historical and cultural shadows, “The chickens come home to roost”.

To speak truth means to acknowledge my country was founded in the violence of slavery and genocide to indigenous people of this land, not to mention the second class citizenship of women denied the right to vote about decisions effecting their lives. As for the violence in the world, we, the United States, are not just the main perpetrators of violence we are also the biggest seller of arms in the world fueling the madness. Our corporate-greed, consumer-capitalist culture with its emphasis on materialism and individualism underlies and feeds the violence, and is itself a manifestation of having fallen asleep to the true nature of reality and the true nature of our own being and to the true potential of what we can create in this life.

Evolution is asking us to ask ourselves – “How can I create a response to the fear, despair, anger, confusion, grief and sadness in a way that grows me in the direction i want to grow and that addresses the ignorance and reactive violence so rampant in society and the world?”

How can it be other than a Wake-Up Call for us all to heal the wounds of separation. To be channels for healing light and love that we took birth to be.

I think we are being pushed to see through and dissolve the the shell/husks that cover and obscure the truth of our interconnectedness and interdependence upon one another. I think we are being asked to raise the sparks of light-filled divinity within us towards a consciousness recognizing we are all children of the One God/Goddess Creator of the Universe.

It is said in an old holy book and by mystics through time and culture that God is Love and that Those who love know God.
Our faith is being tested. What do we truly believe in when the shit hits the fan? What if anything do we have trust and faith in the dark times?

I believe we are being called back home into the wisdom and courage of the heart, to show up in love and with love and be love and extend love and that when enough of us make this a priority in our daily lives the planetary energy field will reach a critical mass and shape-shift from a fear-based world to a love-based world where all people can live in healthy, life-sustaining and life-enhancing harmony and balance with all of creation. We may not see it in our life time but the existential opportunity is here for us now in our response to Orlando and all other manifestations of fear through reactive violence bred by thought-forms of separation that close the heart and shut down the flow of love.

We are the ones to make a difference!

May we take heart with compassion for ourselves, for each other, humbly acknowledging we need all the help we can get.

May we support one another in opening to receive and give help as it flows in our hearts whenever we take time to attune with the powerful transformational force of infinite love that is our true essence.

May it be so today, this very day that we are given to make a difference.

Spring Equinox – The Garden of Creation

Welcoming in the growth power energy of new life rebirthing from the dark of winter we are given opportunity to consciously choose what seeds we want to plant in the garden of our lives.  In support of your reflection and with great gratitude for the opportunity to be alive for another spring and to choose what we want to plant, cultivate and harvest, I offer the following thoughts:

The Huichol goddess of this birthing energy is Takutsi Nakaway and it is from her womb that this wondiferous new-life power pours up into the trees and bushes bringing forth miraculous buds that turn into amazingly beautiful blossoming flowers on into fruit and vegetables that in turn feed more life.

Recognizing the role of seeds in this process the medieval mystic, Meister Eckhart, noted that pear seeds grow into pear trees, apple seeds into apple trees and that we human beings have God seeds within us.

From the world of the mystic to that of Quantum physics which offers the understanding that we live an infinite cosmic sea of teeming particles that carry energy that can create either an attractive or a repulsive gravity, depending on whether its pressure is positive or negative.

The arrival of spring gives us opportunity and responsibility to choose with careful intention what seeds we want to have empowered by the growth energy pouring up out of Mother Earth and, what kind of energy do we want to water those seeds with, positive or negative, attractive or repulsive?

It can be helpful in contemplating what seeds you choose to grow to remember that the equinox medicine is about balance between dark and light, night and day, thus it offers opportunity to look at your life examining what is in balance and what is out of balance that needs to be addressed.

May you and your loved ones and Mother Earth and Creation be blessed by the seed choices we make honoring the Gifts of Grace New Life Energy.




Dr. Bill Thomas ~ The Eden Alternative

Dr. Bill Thomas

Dr. Bill Thomas is an author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging. Best known for his health care system innovations, he is the founder of a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) which works to improve the care provided to older people. He is the creator of The Green House® which Provider Magazine has called the “pinnacle of culture change.” Dr. Thomas also developed the Senior ER model of care and is now working to transform the acute care services provided to elders.

Announcement: Turning Point, CEN’s Quarterly Online Journal!

Dear Tom,

This project has been in formation for many months and represents CEN’s commitment to developing online learning environments that foster deep dialogue around issues that matter most to us, our planet, and our co-evolving future.

Our premier issue, entitled Climate Change: A Crucible of Transformation, offers thought-provoking perspectives on this crucial issue and highlights the dedicated work of CEN’s Elders Climate Action initiative.

We are newborn in this endeavor with dreams for both artistic and literary expansion and inter-generational outreach—and we look forward to your feedback to help us grow. Note that there is an invitation to post your thoughts on the comment section at the end of each article.  Please let us know how we might make this journal relevant to your interests and sensibility. 

Please share with your friends by simply forwarding this email with a personal note! Newcomers can easily sign up under the Subscribe tab on the website. (If you received this email directly from CEN, you are already subscribed.)

The CEN Journal is waiting and is just one click away: Turning Point

We hope you enjoy your visit and hope to meet you in the conversations that ensue.

Joseph Jastrab

“May we act in Beauty, act from Inspiration, act Together”

Conscious Elders Network