Lesson 5 – The Changer: Self-Awareness and Transformation


Free yourself from any behaviors or thinking patterns that diminish, limit, or sabotage your potential to develop your talents, achieve success, and enjoy life.


Perform a “rite of passage” to signify your commitment to rid yourself of addictive behaviors.

The Changer

This role is referred to as the “magician” in the traditional hero’s journey.  It’s a place of self-awareness.  This is the stage where you realize you possess the strength and wisdom necessary to bring about change.  These are qualities you had all along, but the act of the journey reveals them to you.  This is the place of realization and revelation.


Most everyone has habits detrimental to their well-being or is addicted to something.  Some addictions are more personally damaging than others, but every addiction has its corrosive effects—in many cases, devastating effects.  On the one hand, a preoccupation with playing video games may not be life-threatening, but still seriously interferes with family life or being engaged in more productive activities.  On the other hand, being hooked on drugs or alcohol has no redeeming features and eventually destroys one’s connection to life-affirming relationships and other expressions of personal vitality and competence.

Historical trauma can shape and foster many types of addictive behaviors.

Alcoholism is a common addiction in many Indian communities.   Alcohol and drugs are often used by people who experience a marginal status in society and suffer oppression from members of the dominant culture.

The Role of Ritual

A ritual is an activity having symbolic value.  A ritual may be performed to commemorate an important event, demonstrate respect, reflect tradition—along with many other purposes.  A special ceremony was held in 2008 to commemorate the rebuilding of the Celilo fishing village where Ed spent many of his growing up years.  Tribal people from many Nations gathered to witness this much-awaited event.   Drumming, singing and feasting were traditional activities that highlighted the dedication ceremony

A rite of passage is a type of ritual event that signifies a change of status in the life of an individual.  Every society uses ritual to recognize when an individual advances from one social status to join another.  Examples include initiation rites, coming of age ceremonies, school graduation, marriage, and funeral or death rites.

Many of the rites that move a person from one status to another take the form of a symbolic “death.”  For example, the ritualized “death” of a young person precedes his/her rebirth as an adult.  A rite of passage opens the door to self-discovery.  It helps a person focus on becoming whole and reinforces positive connections with other people.

Perform a Rite of Passage—Ritual Death of Addiction

“That river…it’s like it flows through our blood”  Chief Meanus, Celilo Village

Addictions are debilitating.  In the extreme, they are fatal.  Give your addiction a “ritual death” and resurrect yourself through a symbolic act.  Perform a rite of passage to symbolize your commitment to making changes in your life.  Your “passage” indicates  dramatic change—much like a pupae emerges from a cocoon as a beautiful butterfly, totally unlike its former self.

This is a suggestion for how you might proceed……..

  • Use the recipe for earth-friendly clay to model a symbol of your “addicted self.”  Fashion a shape that signifies your addiction or a shape that you associate with not living your “true self.”
  • Because the Columbia River represents a sacred and traditional source of life for tribal people, go to a place of moving water—a river, a creek, a streamlet.
  • Conduct your “rite of passage.”  Say a prayer, sing a special song, burn sweet grass, read a poem—or just sit quietly and contemplate the flowing water.  Do whatever is particularly meaningful for you.
  • When you are ready, sink your clay symbol beneath the water.  Speak aloud what this act of cleansing and ritual rebirth means to you and the people close to you.

Earth-Friendly Clay

  • 1 cup flour (not self-rising)
  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Mix ingredients in a saucepan over low heat.  Clay is ready when it rolls into a ball.  Keep clay fresh in an airtight container.  If you want color, add food coloring while mixing over heat.