I have followed two principal ancestral traditions. I have done a pilgrimage in the Huichol tradition. Huichol Indians live in Mexico and I did a proper pilgrimage where you fast and you go someplace and then you walk a long way without food or water and you make prayers to a sacred site. So, I did a pilgrimage but it took me 12 years to do a 6-year pilgrimage in Mexico and that has informed me in one way. And then before that and then after that, I have found teachers in the Lakota tradition and so I study and work with them. So sweat lodges in Temescal and prayer, that sort of connecting to the Earth, looking for how all of us beings on this planet are connected. I'm no greater than the tree, no more important than that rock, and we all need each other to survive and how do we do this together. But this kind of ties in with me being a librarian because I know that what our species needs to do is to learn how to be together and to share and to be respectful of things even that are other from us. What librarians do is they teach people how to share things like books and lights and chairs and computers and rooms and that sort of thing. And we have stories of the ancestors from many different cultures so we've become more aware of different ways of seeing the world. That’s what our species needs or we won't make it. So that’s my spiritual tradition and it's my work here.
Rachael Shea was raised in Worcester, MA, and attended Burncoat High School, University of New Hampshire, and earned her master’s degree at Columbia University. She is a librarian and has worked at College of the Holy Cross, Worcester State University, Clark University, and the American Antiquarian Society. In this interview she discusses growing up in the Burncoat area and the changes she has seen in Worcester. She also describes her spiritual life and her roles as Sacred Fire Firekeeper and as an instructor of plant medicine as well as her experience starting a women’s soccer team in 1979.