About Ray

I was born, nurtured, and grew up in the beautiful State of Vermont.  I do not care for winter's cold, but the quiet snowscapes are tranquil and beauty deep.  Rural Vermont clears your mind and heals your spirit, and is still my heart home.  My father was an intuitively brilliant healer of cars, machinery and houses. My mother grew from her limited experiences as a young country bride into a spiritual leader in her church groups.  She had no use for "fire and brimstone" teachings of some Sunday School teachers and thus guided me into spiritual rather than fearful directions.

I discovered in my early twenties that none of my friends thought about things like God, existence, spirituality.  Fortunately I was mentored by many, including a young priest who did faith healing and introduced me to the idea of the great expanse of the Holy.

 I had some physical problems as a child which were eventually taken care of, but they left me hesitant to assert myself.  I began to grow up when my Father died when I was 16.   In  high school and college I worked in a restaurant and became comfortable with many different kinds of people.  I loved cars and when I was 15, I bought my first car, a 1931 Plymouth.

One of the gifts my mother gave me was the oft stated assumption that I would go to college.  So I entered the University of Vermont, with $100 in the bank.  I graduated with a BA from UVM, cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa.  The Chairman of my department  recommended I apply to The Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.  Two years later I graduated with an MBA.  There I learned that I am good at anything involving people and their behavior.  Manufacturing, not so much.

Shortly after graduation, a classmate offered me a job in RCA's international business.  I moved to New Jersey and worked 11 years in international financing,  marketing, planning and training.  I traveled to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, as well as Switzerland, Holland and England.  I was instrumental in the introduction of color television to Argentina and later to Mexico.

Then my life shifted back onto my main path, though it did not feel so at the time.  My addiction to alcohol and to Valium left me severely depressed, broke, unemployable, and I would have been homeless if my oldest sister in Vermont had not taken me in.  Desperate, I called Alcoholics Anonymous and began a slow recovery, finally becoming sober and clean in May 1976.  AA is a spiritual - not religious - program, an important distinction in recovery.  It has been an amazing journey.  It forced (enabled) me to develop an inner spirituality that I probably would not have achieved without my desperate need and Alcoholics Anonymous. 

After progressing in recovery, I began to sponsor newer members and this led to counseling.  I worked 3 years as a Director for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, in Burlington, VT, and then 14 years as an officer at the Vermont school for citizens with mental retardation.  I met Mary Albee who became my partner, best friend, and wife.  She modeled Abraham Maslow's Unconditional Positive Regard.  In 1982 we founded The Center for Human Potential.  I counseled evenings until going full time in 1993.  We and other therapists in 1996 founded Associated Psychotherapists of Vermont.  I currently serve as Vice President.

In the 1980s I read Michael Harner's book, The Way of the Shaman..  Michael Harner, Ph.D. is an anthropologist who was introduced to Shamanic journeying in Peru.  He brought the practice back to the Western world by founding the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (FSS). His book spoke to me instantly.  I took the Basic Workshop with Michael Harner in the 1996, but couldn't do more with it then.  In 2009 I made a decision that I wanted spiritual activities in addition to AA.  In September 2009, a colleague offered me her Inner Theater program.  The results were unexpected -  I regained two soul parts I had lost as a child.  In October 2009 I went to my first FSS advanced weekend workshop in Shamanic journeying.  It was life changing.  I knew I was on the Shamanic Path. I continue to take FSS and other Shamanic workshops.  I am trained continuously by the Compassionate Helping Spirits I meet in Drum Journeys, in the Shamanic Drum Circles I host each week.  I live in gratitude for how my life continues to expand spiritually. 

-Ray Lincoln Merrihew