Editor’s note: Open Doors is a series in which photojournalist Anna Solo visits the homes and workspaces of fascinating Seacoast people.
Raven Marie Redfeather says that as a little girl she was highly empathic and clairvoyant, sensing other people’s feelings and trying to “rescue everyone all the time.” In adulthood, due to a combination of factors, she lost that spiritual connection and prioritized marriage and children, wanting only to be “an incredible mother and wife.” While she feels that raising a family was rewarding, she also describes that part of her life as her “Stepford wife” period. “I was asleep at the wheel,” she says.
Years later, she found herself with three children, a marriage that was falling apart, and an advanced case of Lyme disease that had gone undiagnosed for two years. After five years of taking high-dose antibiotics that didn’t work, she took matters into her own hands. Raven describes the time of her illness as a wakeup call that helped her reconnect with herself and discover her true calling: the healing arts.
After reading “Perfect Health” by Deepak Chopra, she saw an Ayurvedic doctor who suggested transcendental meditation and yoga as a way to heal herself. Soon after, Raven went to her first reiki talk and began a study of the healing traditions and medicine of the Q’ero (a group of native people in Peru), as well as Peruvian shamanic medicine.
Now certified as an angelic reiki master and initiated as a shamanic healer, Raven practices and teaches in Portsmouth. She relocated here from Durango, Colo., a year ago after several of her children moved to New England and had kids of their own. While she wanted to be closer to her family, it was the ocean, brick walks, colonial and victorian homes, and the antiquity and history of Portsmouth that drew her to the Seacoast specifically. When she’s not healing others, she’s painting, hiking, practicing tai-chi, and spending time with her family.
Her one-room workspace is as soothing as her voice and demeanor. Soft music plays continuously, a salt lamp radiates warm light on one side of the room, and artifacts that have been collected over the years are neatly placed around the space. Plants complement the soothing atmosphere and act as absorbers of negativity. Hanging on the wall is a drum — an important tool for creating a rhythm during light body and soul-retrieval work.
Raven works largely with bird medicine, so birds and their feathers are a motif. Owl and raven artifacts are scattered around the space, and she wears a feather in her hair. Raven uses smoldering sweetgrass to “open” her sacred space and attract high vibrational beings — symbolic energies like coyotes, jaguars, our ancestors, and the mountains, all of which are meant to bring wisdom. A mesa (a collection of healing stones wrapped in a textile) is placed below a bed where her clients lie during their sessions, intended to capture all the hardships they want to get rid of.
Raven has much more freedom now than when she was in “complete giver mode.” At that time, she says, her daily routine included activities with her children followed by preparing dinner, dressing nicely to greet her husband when he came home from work, and then eating with the family. Today, Raven begins her mornings with a cup of dandelion tea with a dash of coffee and a card reading in bed. In addition to running her own practice, she works part-time at the Herbal Path pharmacy. She has achieved a balance of self-care and care for others, and most of her clients are interested not simply in healing, but in transformation.
On days when she sees clients, Raven typically sees only one per day, as her sessions last up to four hours and take several hours of preparation. Prior to a client’s arrival, she calls in different archetypical energies to create a positive space and then grounds herself by meditating. When a client arrives and lies down, Raven creates a noosphere, opening up the eight chakra, located above the head. She says her approach is holistic and, after a session, she usually feels rejuvenated and “zippy.”
“All healing needs to take place in a sacred space,” she says. “When I work in this sacred space, I’m channeling energy and centering myself. For me, it’s not something separate.all photos by Anna Solo