American Indian mystic, Joseph Rael, describes his life and ours as if it were an ongoing school in which we learn how to develop and use visionary and spiritual powers. His story is filled with magic, tragedy, mysticism, and metaphor and he ties it all together with his uncanny ability to make sense of all the seemingly random events of life.
Joseph Rael, whose name, Tsluu teh koy ay, given to him as a child at Picuris Pueblo, means “Beautiful Painted Arrow,” is widely regarded as one of the great Native American holy men of our time. He was born in 1935 on the Southern Ute reservation to a chief’s granddaughter and a Tiwa-speaking Picuris native. At about age 7, shortly before his mother’s death, he went to live in Picuris near Taos, NM, where his visionary powers were developed until, at about age 12, he began to assist the village holy man in curing practices.
He was educated both at Santa Fe Indian school and public high school before getting a BA in political science from the University of New Mexico and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For a number of years he worked in various capacities in Indian health and social services in both New Mexico and Colorado.
At age 45 he quit his social services job to devote full time to teaching and following his visions wherever they might lead. In 1983 Joseph had the vision to build a Sound Peace chamber, a kiva-like structure where people of all races might gather to chant and sing for world peace and to purify the earth and oceans. He built the first such chamber at his then-home, a trailer park in Bernalillo, NM, and shortly like-minded people began to build Sound Peace chambers in other locations.
At present, Sound Peace chambers have been built around the globe. Writes Joseph, “My vision is that through sound we will bring about peace and other important vibrations. Sound can teach us a way to create without destruction.” Meanwhile, Joseph began leading ceremonial dances, based on his visions, with participants from all races and nationalities. “When you dance you are expanding the vibrations of insight and manifestation,” he writes. “I created three dances — the long dance, the sun-moon dances and the drum dance—for these spiritual gifts.”
Joseph teaches that “Every dance, every ceremony, is both for you and for the cosmos.” In 1999, Joseph retired from active leadership of the dances he had begun, turning them over to a new generation of his students. Joseph Rael is the author of a number of books, including Being and Vibration, Way of Inspiration, Ceremonies of the Living Spirit, and House of Shattering Light, and Sound: Native Teachings and Visionary Art, He is also an artist. His paintings, like his ceremonies and teachings, are based on his visions. They have been called “portal” art, because they open a doorway into alternate dimensions of reality. As a Native American elder Joseph Rael has spoken before the United Nations and addressed a conference of military officers at the Pentagon on the role of the warrior in the modern world. More about Joseph Rael’s life can be read in his autobiography, House of Shattering Light.