About Laura Perlin
I’m a ritualist, practitioner, & teacher of esoteric healing arts working with tarot & divination, pathfinding & crossroads navigation, ancestral healing & reclamation practice, intuitive bodywork & energy body mapping, and resolution of mysterious problems (such as curses, blockages, spirit intrusions, fragmentations) rooted in the spirit world.
I believe that everyone has gifts to offer in service to the world, and that the full expression of these gifts is desperately needed to heal the many & deep wounds humans have inflicted upon ourselves & other beings. My mission is to support individuals and groups in accessing healing, integration, self-knowledge, self-honesty, self-expression, and highly aware & skillful self-leadership, so that these gifts can be expressed in their fullness. My work is rooted in animist sensibilities, liberatory politics, and a relentless commitment to joy, wonder, and curiosity.
My practice centers the ritual healing modalities into which I’ve been initiated by the spirits and by my mentors in Sakha Republic (North East Siberia, Russian Federation). I have also studied Ayurvedic medicine, marma therapy, energy healing, counseling, herbalism, massage therapy, and yoga therapy. I'm guided by my ancestors, my many beloved teachers (corporeal and not), and the precious fruits of my own process of healing & self-actualization.
Foundations & Early Years
My family migrated to California, USA from the Soviet Union (by way of Italy) around the time of my birth, and my ancestors of blood are of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jewish, Sakha, Roma, and Karelian origin. I grew up, and continue to live, on Ohlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Growing up, I struggled to understand my place as a boundary walker: navigating multi-national, multi-cultural experience as a multi-racial person working across mundane and spirit worlds. I was brought up practicing what Western pagans would call protective & manifestation magic, and was introduced by my mother to divination with cards at age seven or eight. However, I was unable to locate or claim these practices within my larger socio-cultural context. I was painfully shy, deeply socially awkward, and unable to inhabit any spoken language with the ease of a native speaker. As the oldest child in a family of refugees, I was raised to over-achieve, to be impeccably competent, to conceal the parts of myself that didn’t blend in, and to strive relentlessly for success & survival on terms defined by the materialist values of the dominant culture. It would be many years before I would reclaim practices of divination, nature mysticism, and communion with the spirit realm as keys to unlocking my purpose & greatest gifts.
My adolescence was characterized by rebellion and bold rejection of the norms & values of dominant culture. Something deep within me was fiercely committed to my own liberation, albeit not very gracefully. I dropped out of high school, moved out of my parents’ home at sixteen, and invested in my own idiosyncratic individuality. The haircut of that era remains today, although the sharp edges of my personality have softened.
After studying literature & modern languages at university, I became a teacher, and later an administrator, working in low-income urban public schools. I was driven to teaching by a love for the craft, as well as a deep need to do something useful, to somehow contribute to mend the tears in society. I had been told all my life that I possessed intellectual gifts, but I had no idea what I had to offer the world that was aligned with my values, or how to figure it out. I spent my summers in the wilderness, teaching & guiding groups of teenagers or young adults, or working on trail building crews in national parks, or on my own backcountry expeditions. I began studying & practicing yoga & meditation and studying Sanskrit & Hindu scripture. My life was enriched by arts & activism during the urban school year, and experiments in radical community & ecstatic transpersonal revelation in my wild summers.
Healing Myself, Gathering Tools
When I discovered Ayurvedic medicine, I felt like I had come home. I still remember the moment while backpacking through the Silver Peak Wilderness in southern California/Salinan lands, when the dense philosophical concepts in my book unraveled from the page & crystallized in my mind, offering a multi-dimensional framework for understanding the universe & my place within it. After a summer spent contemplating my path & building trails under the gaze of the mountain Denali/Koyukon, Tanana & Dena’ina lands, I left my job and immersed myself in the study of Ayurveda for three years.
Those years held the joys & pains of dramatic evolution and self-discovery. Everything that I was studying was applied in practice, first on myself & later on clients. I examined & re-examined my food choices, relationship to my body, sexuality, sleep habits, lifestyle & routines, internal self-talk, and core assumptions & beliefs. I began to unravel psychic wounds that had held me in their grip for decades, and unwound lifelong immune, respiratory, & inflammatory skin conditions. Ayurvedic medicine holds that all aspects of one's life are relevant to one's health & spiritual growth, and applying this principle to my life was always illuminating but not always easy.
Returning to San Francisco, I thought I had my path figured out. In 2015 I co-founded the Embodiment Arts Collective, an interdisciplinary healing arts & events space rooted especially in queer, diasporic, and outsider communities. My private practice and teaching focused especially on marma chikitsa, the traditional energy medicine of India, and also included counseling, herbalism, and bodywork. The education I pursued at this time in business management, operations, and marketing challenged me to manifest in my values in a way that provided both integrity and livelihood.
My ancestors made themselves known unexpectedly. As a light-skinned person who had by now assimilated my speech into an American accent, my complex familial identities were buried & subsumed under decades of political repression, the cultural homogenization of sovietization, and the traumas of displacement & migration. I didn’t feel that I could rightfully claim Sakha indigenous identity as a settler/refugee living far from my ancestral homeland on lands wounded by empire & colonialism.
My ancestors, however, were explicit in their instruction. My grandfather and grandmothers appeared, as clear as any living human, and told me that I was theirs in this life, that I had a duty to become Sakha. A responsibility to live on my ancestral lands and speak my own language. To write books. To practice & embody the medicine of my ancestors.
This all felt true, and still I sat with it for some time, assimilating its weight & potential before acting. My spiritual practice, by now well rooted in dharmic practices such as puja & japa, began to transform. I built new altars and spoke to my ancestors regularly. My ancestors had promised that they would arrange the trip for me, and that ‘someone else’ would pay for it. Overcoming my fear & vulnerability, I launched a successful crowdfunding campaign, and embarked on my first trip to
Sakha Republic, a vast place with a majority indigenous population, few roads, and a preserved arctic indigenous culture.
I went without expectation, with no plans and no one I knew to meet me. It really was a leap of faith, to fly seven hours east of Moscow based on guidance from the spirit realm, not knowing who would catch me when I landed and whether the landing would be soft.
That first trip changed my life. Within hours I had met true friends, mentors, spirit workers. I was fed, and housed, and overwhelmed with gracious hospitality. The spirits who had called forth this journey made all the necessary arrangements through the magic of coincidence & synchronicity, and I came to understand that I was perfectly taken care of; all I needed to do was show up. I met shamans and traditionalists of many types, visited sacred sites, studied my indigenous Sakha language, and watched my own capabilities as a healer & teacher expand with each initiation, as I opened with increasing trust to channel the forces who had waited so long to work with me & through me.
Now I travel to Sakha Republic regularly, spending seasons there once or twice a year. It is no longer new; it is home, and thus filled with the mundane activities that make up regular life. I continue to be involved in teaching & learning, practicing ritual & esoteric arts, spending time with the land & my mentors, and supporting local activist efforts around sovereignty, environment, and language preservation. I often tell people that having started as a practitioner of mind-body-spirit healing, I have leveraged my focus towards the spirit part of that triad, emphasizing healing work performed in conjunction with ancestors and spirit helpers of blood, land, & vocation.
I am honored to travel widely offering teaching, ritual, and facilitation. Recently I have presented at PantheaCon, Souldust Compassion Camp, and Groundswell Community & Retreat Center. I continue to see private clients for tarot readings, ritual healing work, and intuitive counseling in person and online.
Called by my Sakha community to do so, I am developing a special trip: a pilgrimage to Sakha Republic that will launch in 2020. This trip, designed for flexible & respectful travelers, will visit sacred lands, shamans & keepers of traditional arts, and will offer immersion in an ancient indigenous culture that has continues to live the old ways in rhythm with the land & the seasons.
Also in response to the needs expressed by my community, I am currently in the process of translating into English a book on Sakha shamanism. This will be the first book offered on the topic in English, and one of few books on shamanism written (and translated!) by an indigenous person inhabiting the culture about which she writes.
My gratitude to the many beings, named and unnameable, who have fed & nurtured me and enabled me to walk this path. At my best, I am a clear channel for the forces of healing & love who guide my life & move through me: gratitude to them. Along with my parents, family, spirit family & friends, I have benefited from the care & guidance of many teachers, mentors, and elders. Please attribute all of my failings & rough edges to me, and any wisdom & grace you may find in my work to those who continue to create, sustain, and transform my life & work.