A Healer's Path Comes Not By Chance

When describing someone steeped in the realm of Healing Arts, the word "path" seems to naturally make itself into the conversation.  In reality, said path involves not necessarily the focus on where the path leads, but more so a connection with each and every step, and conscious acknowledgement of when the path turns.  "Nothing happens by chance." It speaks to the oneness of all things and occurrences-- that our reflections always bring us back to kapwa  (togetherness/community) and the many facets of sharing ourselves with others. In walking a different yet parallel path of offering tools to better people's lives, I have been gifted with meeting teachers like Natividad “Nati” Delson.
Natividad Delson and the paw paw fruit (Photo courtesy of Natividad Delson)

Natividad Delson and the paw paw fruit (Photo courtesy of Natividad Delson)

Nati’s family is from the Mountain Province, Philippines: she born in Bontoc; her father, in Guinzadan; her mother, in Otucan. She now resides in the U.S. Nati’s unique story is that of a Philippine culture bearer and healer, more accurately expressed as an Integrative Wholistic Facilitator.

The first time we met was in Cotati at a qi gong and meditation workshop co-facilitated by Mamerto Tindongan (Lagitan) and Nati. I was one of two participants who had also registered for private sessions after the group gathering. The other participant worked with Lagitan; serendipitously, I was paired with Nati.  During that session I experienced her deeply informed skills as an integrative wholistic facilitator while she conducted a past life soul-clearing process. I experienced firsthand the profound and lasting inner peace as she and I-- and the Spirit Guides/Angels that supported us-- journeyed together in a powerful, gentle and, most of all, trustworthy sacred space.

In terms of affirming my own training in the healing arts, by providing a model, which resonates with my life experiences, Nati has grounded and continues to ground me in the fundamental universal principles of energy and energy healing.

On her business card, Nati labels herself as an Integrative Wholistic Facilitator and Educator.  “Many people refer to me as a healer but I’ve found myself energetically shying from that term because ‘healer’ or ‘healing’ implies that one is broken or incomplete. Yet Scripture tells us, ‘We are made in the image and likeness of God.’ Furthermore, ‘healing’ or wholeness or integration is not administered by me, but by the conscious choice of each individual to choose to live life connected and aware of her/his divine connection -- whatever spiritual expression that may be.”

Nati views her journey as one meant to support and accompany others to a greater understanding of who they are by providing insights, other perspectives and possibilities, with tools to help them release what no longer supports their life’s vision, so that they can embrace a life they truly want to live.  Since each individual is unique, she consults with others from the various perspectives of spiritual/ceremonial traditions, quantum physics, the psychological, physical and emotional.

The path to Nati’s current life is varied and interesting. She was born into an indigenous tribe from the Mountain Province of the Philippines, yet baptized in the Catholic tradition. As an adult she spent eight years in religious life as a Catholic Sister. Later, she was led to the world of metaphysics. Her desire to reconnect with her indigenous roots arose, which then brought her to the Native American traditions. It is not by chance that she is now connecting with her own heritage as a Kankanaey Igorot, the lineage and ”medicines” of both sides of her family. In this journey she has realized that “the Sacred is very much a part of one’s everyday life even if people’s experiences and labels for this essence may be different.”

Indigenous People of the Americas. (courtesy of Natividad Delson

Indigenous People of the Americas. (courtesy of Natividad Delson

One particularly significant crossroads, which influenced Nati’s multifaceted healing abilities, occurred in 1995 when she lost both her parents and youngest sister in a car accident. “Five months after, on Christmas morning, “I remember walking around in my living room when I happened across a book I had been meaning to read, The Wounded Heart. In the chapter entitled, ‘The Unlikely Route to Joy.’ I was drawn to this paragraph: Trusting in God involves the loss of our agenda, our flaming torch, so that we die to our inclination to live a lie.  It requires forfeiting our rigid, self-protective, God-dishonoring ways of relating in order to embrace life as it is meant to be lived: in humble dependence on God and passionate involvement with others.

Those words, “Trusting in God involves the loss of our agenda… so that we die to our inclination to live a lie” stayed with her.  It was during this difficult period of stepping into the role as executor of her parents’ estate that a business consultant introduced her to the metaphysical world of energy. From this turning point, she realized the importance of reclaiming wholeness with one’s entire being: body, mind, spirit, emotions, and energetics. From these personal experiences, she discovered her desire to bring these processes to others; thus, she began a new path of learning and sharing.

While her maternal grandfather was a moncapia, (priest/shaman) in the village of Otucan in the Philippine Mountain Province, her mother was strongly influenced by Belgian priests and sisters, and she was baptized Catholic at a very young age. Nati’s mother was taught to believe that the prayers and traditions of her ancestry were not of God, and Nati often heard her mother refer to her grandfather as a “pagan priest.”  As a result, Nati and her siblings were raised with very Catholic perspectives and an appreciation for the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, plus a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother – “Mama Mary” as her mother called her. Later, when Nati lived as a religious sister with the Daughters of St. Paul, her personal connection with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist deepened.  After some time with the Daughters of St. Paul though, she became restless, and Nati found herself conflicted whether to continue on or not. Ultimately she chose to leave religious life.

Nati and the author at Center for Babayan Studies Ohio Symposium, 2015 (Photo courtesy of Lisa Suguitan Melnick)

Nati and the author at Center for Babayan Studies Ohio Symposium, 2015 (Photo courtesy of Lisa Suguitan Melnick)

Nevertheless, she remained very involved in the Catholic Church-- in a parish that was very charismatic, with strong focus on family, community and an openness to viewing spirituality from different perspectives.  “Eight months after my parents and sister’s deaths, during Lent, I heard Fr. Patrick Brennan say, ‘God’s will is not so much in the tragedy that happens but in the Life that comes from it.’  From there I began the search for this life.  My path has evolved because of the grace of God/Creator/GreatSpirit/Kabunian/Universe. In hindsight I can see that God’s will dwells in the life that we choose to co-create from our own tragedy.”

In 2000, she began her various certifications in the field of energetics from a metaphysical perspective, spiritual companioning/direction from a Christian perspective and shiatsu from traditional Japanese and Chinese medicine perspectives. From there she was led to the Lakota tradition and began praying in the “inipi” (sweat) lodge. This led her to a four-year commitment as a Spirit Dancer, then a Sun Dancer. She was also initiated within the Q’ero Andean Munay-ki Rites and as a Mamao in her own indigenous Kankanaey traditions. 

Nati’s ancestral roots have always been strong within her -- just expressed in different ways. Even though the doctrines within the Catholic Church brought up many conflicting questions as she opened up to other ways of thinking, feeling, and perceptions, the sacraments within the Catholic traditions established a strong connection with the Trinity (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and the Divine Mother.  It is not by chance that the concept of the Holy Trinity is very interrelated within the indigenous philosophies of the cycle of Life; furthermore, she links Mama Mary with Mother Earth and feminine energies. 

The numerous conversations I have had with Nati over the past year represent one path in the grander picture.  In May 2015, the Center for Babaylan Studies held its Symposium in Ohio: Mabungang Panaghinabi/Fruitful Conversations. The theme was “Bridging Indigenous and Christian Traditions of Spirituality” and Nati was among the presenters invited to share her wisdom and stories with us.    Late one evening, we decided to walk the quarter-mile along the dark road back to our cabins rather than ride the shuttle with the group.  Our original stated intention was to discuss the co-creating of this article. Instead, our conversation threads spanned from ancestral messages we receive to childhood experiences, all of which, including inspiration for this story, had been brought to light during the workshops of the CfBS symposium.

Nati recently reported that last Thanksgiving while driving back to her current home in Reno, she stopped to visit a wonderful Lakota Elder, Basil Brave Heart and his wife, Charlotte.  She said, “It is not by chance that at the time I was there, Jesuit priests--one a Sun Dancer—visited.  It is not by chance that we had beautiful conversations around theology--especially the Trinity-- sacredness, ceremonies, sacraments, breath of God/Creator, healing, Life.  It is not by chance that during my visit I also had the opportunity to pray on Tatanka Ha (Buffalo Robe) with my Sacred Pipe and to attend morning mass with Basil, and to receive the Holy Eucharist.”

Nati’s Thanksgiving story shows how the elements of her life continue to converge in variations of time and space, as in the image of meditative concentric circles.

Contact Natividad “Nati” Delson at: https://www.facebook.com/abundant.lifespring

Natividad “Nati” Delson plans to attend the 2016 Third International Babaylan Conference
co-created by Kathara Pilipino Indigenous Arts Society and the Center for Babaylan Studies to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia September 23-25, 2016. The theme: “Makasaysayang Pagtatagpo (Historic Encounter): Filipinos and Indigenous Turtle Islanders Revitalizing Ancestral Traditions Together.” For more information, please visit the website: http://www.babaylan.net/events/2016-third-international-babaylan-conference/

Lisa Suguitan Melnick

Lisa Suguitan Melnick

Lisa Suguitan Melnick is a professor at College of San Mateo and teaches in both the Language Arts and Kinesiology divisions. She is the author of #30 Collantes Street (Carayan Press, 2015).

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