Eliot’s Life

As a young man in college Eliot was fascinated by the ancient ways of indigenous peoples, so he got his bachelor’s degree in anthropology

Still fascinated after graduation, he did graduate work in ethnographic documentary filmmaking.

Later, in his back-to-the-land phase, he had a goat who fell ill. Even though the vet said she was incurable and would soon die, Eliot treated her the old way, with herbs. The goat was quickly cured, and he discovered he had a passion for traditional healing. That passion stayed with him his whole life and continued to bring him closer and closer to ancient wisdom.

After doctoring his goat Eliot had a few more successes with his homegrown herbalism, but in order to be really effective it was clear he had a lot to learn about health, illness and healing, so he began to look for a teacher.

Eventually he found the teacher he was looking for in the person of J.R.Worsley, the great English acupuncturist. Although Worsley was not an herbalist, he introduced Eliot to a way of healing that touched people’s spirit and gave them a richer, fuller experience of life. To his surprise, their symptoms improved or vanished as a side effect of that spiritual change.

Continue Reading…

Eliot practiced acupuncture, received a Master of Acupuncture degree with Dr. Worsley, and taught on the faculty of his college. Eliot noticed that the power of Dr. Worsley’s medicine arose from a non-Western view of healing and illness. The view is an ancient one, having been passed down in China from teacher to student for many generations.

When the time came to return to the U.S., Eliot promised himself he would find a way to heal with plants at the depth he now knew it was possible to reach. Once again he looked for a teacher to guide him, but he had no success until he began dreaming with plants and asking them to show him their spirit medicine. The plants responded with enthusiasm. They said they had been waiting 200 years for someone to ask for this kind of help once again.

Unawares, Eliot had stumbled across an ancient wisdom approach to healing, one that had provided for the local indigenous peoples for many generations until genocide apparently wiped it out.

The local plants instructed Eliot in their spirit medicine. He learned quickly because the plants found his ancient Chinese worldview a congenial language for teaching him. They said the Western view makes no sense because it doesn’t recognize the awareness and wisdom of plants.

Gradually Eliot introduced what he called ‘Plant Spirit Medicine’ into his healing practice. He expected the plants would provide healing comparable to what his acupuncture practice had provided, but the medicine of the plants exceeded his expectations. Eventually he set the needles aside and devoted his whole practice to the plant spirits.

“Could this medicine be taught to others? ” he wondered. Eliot experimented with teaching it, and found that others could indeed learn. In fact, many were eager to learn, so he spent more and more time teaching. He taught hundreds of people. Some became healers in their own right, others did not, but all benefited from seeing the world through new eyes, which were actually the ancient eyes of wisdom.

One day Eliot was sitting in a waiting room, reading a magazine which was mostly devoted to articles about an indigenous people in Mexico called the Huichols. He had never heard about the Huichols before, but when he discovered their healers view healing as a spiritual practice, he felt a lightning bolt strike his heart. Eliot felt he had to meet these people.

A year later he found himself in a small village in Mexico attending a ceremony led by an old master Huichol medicine man, don José Ríos, who was singing in the Huichol language. Although Eliot didn’t understand the language, he saw visions of the sacred places don José was singing about.

Before leaving the village, Eliot had two healing sessions with the old man, who knew all about him without Eliot telling him anything. When don Jose finished the healing work and put away his feathered wands, he said Eliot was clean, and that was just how Eliot felt…he saw with the eyes of wonder, like a little kid, yet he still had the experience of my years.

Eliot left the village knowing there was something important in the medicine of these people. After the death of his father it felt urgent to find an authentic medicine person who would teach him. Eliot looked for six years, and saw many interesting healers, but nothing clicked until he met a Huichol shaman named Guadalupe González Ríos, who recognized that Eliot had been called to the path of the Huichols – a people who have stayed true to their wisdom ways for thousands of years. Don Lupe took Eliot on as his apprentice. Now he was on my way to learning the ancient medicine that had touched me so deeply.

Don Lupe was a clever and difficult teacher, but with the help of the God of Fire, Eliot completed 7 years of apprenticeship and was initiated as a mara’akame, or medicine person in 1998. Eliot began to use his own feathers to bring miraculous healing to people.

After 6 more years of apprenticeship Eliot was given the rare honor of initiation as a ‘tsaurirrikame, or elder mara’akame. In gratitude he dedicated his life to making ancient wisdom available to modern people.

The Huichol people have remained faithful to their wisdom ways for thousands of years. Eliot saw that our abandonment of the hard-earned wisdom of those who came before us had created crisis in every aspect of our society and estranged us from ourselves, each other, and the natural world.

To help make ancient wisdom available Eliot has successfully apprenticed other Westerners as mara’akames. To those in need of healing Eliot leaves his legacy of the treasures of Huichol healing and Plant Spirit Medicine to those he has trained and apprenticed. People are still being guided on pilgrimages by Eliot’s successors so they can receive blessings from sacred sites. Eliot founded the Blue Deer Center as a home for the wisdom teachings and practices of many peoples. Until his death on March 5th, 2022 Eliot offered effective funerary rites, conducted weddings, practiced traditional Huichol healing, taught and practiced Plant Spirit Medicine and taught right relationship with totem animals. He also offered counsel to those in need of guidance. Eliot always continued to look for ways to help make ancient wisdom and healing available to modern people.