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The Alchemy of Erin Berman, Founder of Water & Bird

WATER & BIRD

In life, we have moments or what I like to call the “divine sparks” that lead us to something extraordinary. I crossed paths with Water and Bird not too long ago and was so intrigued to learn about medicine woman, Erin Berman and her ritual wear. Erin provides sessions for one to heal through her alchemy as well as a collection of textiles, kimonos and medicine hats.

In our interview below Erin candidly shares her journey healing her own self and the path that led to her profound work with helping others heal. Her creativity and background in medicine work led her to creating an arsenal of  ritual wear and medicine hats. Each hat in her collection is set with her alchemical intention for one to wear above their crown so that one to connect to their higher being. What a sacred gift we can give to ourselves!  Have a read and discover the light of Water and Bird below.

 

Hi Erin, we are thrilled to learn more about your work here at TJA.
Can you share a bit about your background? Where are you from and where and when did you first embark on the path of healing with spirituality and energy healing? 

Thank you and your community for having me here!

I grew up on a lake in Boulder, Colorado. I always could see energy and felt a lot, which manifested in not being able to cope well in loud restaurants or crowded rooms. I was not comfortable with physical contact by most people as a young child, feeling most comfortable when I was in nature, or writing in my journal. When I was 13, I became Buddhist – I resonated with the philosophy that life comes with suffering but there are tools anyone can access to live a more fulfilling life. So I became vegetarian, studied meditation and yoga, and read spiritual texts. I was a child who carried a lot of pain despite having a beautiful family and loving home which never made sense to me. I wanted to heal myself far before I knew about “healing work”. While I will forever be on this Medicine journey, my childhood laid a foundation of my own practice that has prepared me to be a vessel to work in the service of others.

Where was the name Water & Bird derived from? 

The name was gifted to me in a ceremony before I even knew what it meant or what work I would be doing. I had recently been initiated into a path of Medicine when suffering through a serious and mysterious illness. Water Birds represent beings that can transition between realms and the name resonated when it was given for its liminality. When I asked for how to be of more service in this work I was given Alchemy Healing. This surprised me because I had always been on a Buddhist and Vedic path. I didn’t know anything about Alchemy. Soon thereafter, I met a Medicine man from Peru who is part of an ancient lineage of Andean Alchemists, as well as had the chance to learn from a Master Alchemist. As I studied more, I learned the Egyptian’s animal symbol for Alchemy, the Ibis, is the water bird native to the Nile River. The Water Bird is also the healing guardian of the ceremony in which I was gifted the name. Both birds are symbolic of the renewal of life, visions and wisdom. I bring that energy into my work and honor the lineages that come before me. The list goes on and on with the synchronicities of Water & Bird in my life and the people it attracts. There really are no coincidences.

 

I read that your path with healing stemmed from suffering with OCD and
panic attacks, Can you share how this influenced your journey into healing?

I remember seeing and feeling energy from a young age as I mentioned, but I wasn’t able to integrate it in any kind of way that could serve myself, let alone others. Instead of aligning with the vastness of the universe, seeing the interconnectedness of all things frightened me and left me feeling out of control. This manifested as crippling OCD and panic attacks, so I would create rituals and ways of doing things to “gain control” rather than surrender to the beauty of the universe. I took multiple medications until I was 18 and realized that I was living dual realities – one path of a spiritual seeker and another of numbing myself through pharmaceuticals. So I quit all the medication that day. I had no side effects getting off of them, other than actually feeling the interconnectedness again. This time I had tools to witness myself in relation to existence. I began to use meditation and mantra as my “medication.” However, it still took going through a severe trauma, illness and another 12 years of deep studies with spiritual teachers as well as integrating mind, body and spiritual practices before I was no longer suffering anxiety. Now I can stay calm and just ride the wave of life like the buoy rides the tide. What changed? I have the utmost trust in the universe to provide me with abundance and bliss. I trust the universe better than i could ever trust myself to sort things out. OCD is about control and fear. So every moment I surrendered, I was chipping away at the OCD until I was so full of surrender, gratitude, and joy there was no room for the anxiety to live. I still have occasional days of feeling overwhelmed but I get back to my center easily and normally end up laughing at how silly my stress is. My journey started as wanting to feel the deeper expression of myself naturally and do whatever it took feel that way. Only after much time and a clear initiation did I find it was time to share those gifts with others.

Can you tell us about some of your most profound travels and most
impactful teacher’s influencing the work you now offer?

I have traveled through more than 30 countries, each with its own mythology, spiritual lens, and unique culture that have impacted me. However, my visits to India have provided the most transformative experiences thanks to humble, kind and generous teachers. These were Swamis and Gurus living humble lives and offering simple yet transformative teachings through yoga, Pranayama, mantra, and meditation. Some are well known in India, others I would never be able to find again. They drilled daily practice into me, and also the release of expectations or judgement which is important in the work I do now. I also lived in Jerusalem for a year because I wanted to study with the mystics there. At first, I was turned away from learning the high level practices until I spent more time studying the foundation of these teachings. So I was in classes 10 hours a day, 5 days a week before I began to learn the inner dimensions and Kabbalistic meditations. These techniques combined with the Vedic teachings are most impactful for the work I offer. I will also say that many of my teachers are not physical beings on this plane, and that what I’ve learned from my own experience, dreams, and journey work have been my greatest teachers and direct gifts to share. When I am aligned, energy flows through me and I am really just grateful to receive it.

How would you define the Water & Bird Alchemy :: What does a
healing  session provide? 

Water & Bird Alchemy Sessions allow people to tap into their own healing potential using the laws of nature, which do allow elements to transmute, not just transform. My group sessions combine Vedic and Buddhist meditation and breath work along with some journeying. Individual sessions are unique to each individual but include a combination of massage, reiki, craniosacral therapy, tuning fork vibration, and sacred plants I work with. These help facilitate stuck stories to give way to narratives that can serve us. I talk about Alchemy in the spiritual sense, and turning the things we are given in life to challenge us and help us grow (lead) into the things in life that bring us joy and allow us to reach our full potential (gold). In this Spiritual work we shift our narrative to see our challenges as the teachings we were given to help us achieve our Bliss. When you follow your bliss, everything gets so much easier. But regardless of working with with a group or 1-1, I help people uncover traumas in the body and in doing so we release the energy that story is holding. My role is to be the vessel for that facilitation. I don’t like the phrase “healer” or “healing” or “healed” as much as prefer to think of this work as returning to our true spiritual essence, cleaning out all the junk. Picture a very clear, pure light that has been dulled with a lot of debris. This is our essence. It is always brilliant but we need to do some serious scrubbing to see it again, and it takes our eyes time to adjust to the light. I’m more of a facilitator for light to flow than a healer.

What inspired the Water & Bird ritual wear?

What inspired the Water & Bird ritual wear? 
I’ve always loved textiles and weavings for the stories they tell. I’m a storyteller, through and through. Once when I was traveling for a few months in India, I bought beautiful silks and designed kimonos. I found a tailor on the street to sew them for me and wore them throughout my journey with simple tunics and pants and sandals. The kimonos felt like magic to me and other people loved them and asked me where to find them so I began that process in the States. Creating clothes that allows us to harness a sacred energy is not any idea I dreamt up. We see sacred clothing for ritual throughout human history – across cultures and religions. I design a Ritual Wear line that allows people to feel like they can step into the sacred in their day to day life. I also founded and ran a creative agency for most of my twenties. Through that work I saw the transformative power of helping everyone (from individuals to larger brands) tell their unique story. When you take control of your narrative, I believe you can completely reshape your understanding of the past and co-create the future. This is part of the Alchemical process of transformation, and it begins with story.* I want to inspire people that they can wear clothing that allows them to connect to the alter that is their body no matter the occasion.

What does a medicine hat session provide? 

Medicine Hats were dreamed into creation by the magical milliner, Willee Roberts, of Hampui Medicine Hats. He has had his own beautiful journey that brought him to his path of sharing Medicine through hats, however we met a couple years ago and had a cosmic connection. It made sense to create a collaboration of Water & Bird hats. Hats begin with prayer and intention to be a tool of transformation. The brim provides protection for your body, mind, and spirit, and the crown supports a connection to Source. The Medicine Hat sessions involve being clear about your prayers, intentions, or what you would like to call into your life. Every part of the hat is customized to support the manifestation of that prayer and it’s our daily practice to ensure that each Medicine Hat (like the rest of the Ritual Wear) is made in an energetically aligned way. When you have a session you set your intentions in motion and then solidify them by wearing them on your most elevated and sacred crown Chakra.

 

Can you share an outline of your personal daily practice?

Each morning I go to my alter, sage and recite mantras. I pray. Then I do some combination of Pranayama, a kundalini Kriya, or deeper mantra work before sitting in meditation. I try to sit 20-40 minutes before having a cup of tea (I gave up coffee two years ago) and starting my day. I incorporate movement into every morning as well – Ashtanga or a run. I travel a lot, so it can be hard to keep to that schedule, but mantra, meditation and movement can happen wherever I am. To me, meditation is like plugging into source to recharge your batteries and without it I will feel my energy is much lower and more scattered. One of my teachers says, “You can’t stay clean off of yesterday’s shower.” And another, “Practice, Practice Practice and all is coming.”

 

What feels most joyful in your life momentarily?

My partner and I just planted a garden. I love my plants. We live in a craftsman home built from reclaimed redwoods and I joke that there is more room in our home for books and plants than people. But having a garden to nurture and harvest has shifted my connection to the Earth. Just looking out the window brings me a lot of joy.

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