Not everyone has a reindeer to call her own, but Newtown native Sas Carey does, in the northernmost region of Mongolia.
Why she was gifted a reindeer is only a small part of the story Ms Carey will share at C.H. Booth Library on Thursday, August 15, at 6:30 pm. She will be at the Main Street location for an author’s talk and slideshow on her book, Reindeer Herders in My Heart, Stories of Healing Journeys in Mongolia (2012, Wren Press, Vermont).
Every year since 1994, Ms Carey, who currently resides in Middlebury, Vt., has spent anywhere from 3 weeks to 6½ months at a time in Mongolia, devoted to providing “traditional Mongolian Medicine training, and laboratory equipment with training to clinics and hospitals, and vitamins, hygiene kits, and public health education to individual [nomadic] herders,” according to the www.nomadicare.org website.
“This connection [to Mongolia] is my life’s work,” Ms Carey said in a recent telephone interview, and one that she would never have thought to seek out, except for life experiences that led her to visit China and Mongolia 19 years ago with the American Holistic Nurses Association.
“I had never thought of going to Mongolia, I knew nothing about it,” she said. But when her feet touched the ground there, “I felt an energy connection, immediately,” Ms Carey recalled.
An energy connection is not unheard of in her life. Ms Carey, a registered nurse, founder of Nomadicare, educator, writer, and filmmaker is also a spiritual reader and energy healer.
She had never heard of energy healer until 1974, but as a Quaker and through her interest in medical intuition, had done a great deal of spiritual study. She decided that she needed to know about the physical body, as well, though, and at age 33, returned to school to pursue a degree as a registered nurse. It was while she was a nursing student that she began to experience severe headaches, Ms Carey said.
When she found no physical reason for or relief from the headaches, a psychic friend suggested that something deeper might be trying to come through. She began to record her first thoughts of the morning, in which she received messages about her own health and the health of friends and relatives.
“I was cautious in acting on anything, though,” she said.
It was not until 1986, working in a drug and alcohol prevention program for teens that she began to practice energy healing and do spiritual readings, said Ms Carey. It was a private client who insisted that she needed to go to China, where energy healing has been practiced for thousands of years, she said. That client’s urging came at the same time she was receiving invitations to visit China from the American Holistic Nurses Association. When she told the client that the cost of the trip was holding her back, the woman agreed to trade future energy healing sessions for cash.
“I loved every minute of that first trip,” said Ms Carey. “I listened to the people to try to learn what they needed and tried to help. When one doctor’s dream was to have a laboratory in her small clinic serving 2,240 nomadic herders, I found donated equipment and provided it. When I was asked to do a health assessment for Dukha reindeer herders and found scurvy, I took vitamin C to them.
“Meanwhile, I documented what I saw… What I found in Mongolia was nomadic life representing the unbroken history of 3000 years of accomplishing life’s daily activities without modern inventions,” Ms Carey summarized her experience.
Her work in Mongolia has been one of contributing western ideas and therapies that complement traditional Mongolian medicine.
“The main concept of Mongolian medicine is one of balance,” Ms Carey said. Under the tutelage of Dr. B. Boldsaikhan, president of the Union of Traditional Mongolian Medicine, since 1995, Ms Carey learned the science behind the energy transference healing she has practiced since the mid-1980s. “Positive ions come from the hands. When [the hands] are held over areas of illness, which emit negative ions, balance is restored,” she explained. Energy healing requires “an intent intention” and great focus, she said.
“Today Gosta requests a healing from me,” writes Ms Carey in her prologue. “He is suffering from liver disease. Energy healing, which Mongolians call ‘bio-energy,’ is well accepted in Mongolia as a medical treatment to achieve balance. I’m not at my strongest, having just ridden a horse over treacherous terrain for 10 hours to get to this settlement… I begin to run my hands six inches above his body, testing his energy field for hot spots…As I hold my hands above him and he closes his eyes, I begin to go with the energy and everything else disappears. A knowing force guides my hands. I jolt with energy… Mine is a responsibility to be true to spiritual guidance, not to know or force anything.”
Since her first experience abroad in 1962, as an AFS student to Denmark from Newtown, she has sought to be a part of the culture when visiting foreign countries, rather than a tourist. “From that one experience,” she said, “I have had a whole life of doing this stuff.”
Reindeer Herders in My Heart covers stories of her visits to Mongolia from 2003, the first year she visited the most northern border area of Mongolia, where the reindeer herders live, through 2010. It is about learning, sharing, and living a life in a world that is at once ancient and fast changing. It is a book about belief and acceptance, hardship and beauty in a harsh land.
“I have been guided to do this unusual thing, and I did it,” Ms Carey said. She hopes to share on August 15 her belief “about doing what you’re supposed to do in this world, even if it is a little out there.”
She will also share her thoughts on survival and the different cultures around the world that are disappearing.
“If we lose a culture, we will have something less to see,” she said. “The best I can do is video it, write about it, and talk about it, so that it is accessible to the outside world as well as the descendants of the nomads in Mongolia,” Ms Carey added to her thoughts on her book.
The book, said Ms Carey, is about honoring other people, cultures, and traditions — and about the thrills (and spills) of riding a reindeer.