lena RUARK-eastes, Founding Director, Program Director and Lead Facilitator
Deeply committed to the Earth Path, Lena is passionate about celebrating this life on amazing planet earth. Lena was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Lena graduated from University of North Carolina at Asheville with a degree in Cross Cultural Sustainability. She has her Permaculture Design Certificate, and graduated from the Regenerative Design and Nature Awareness Program at the Regenerative Design Institute.
She is the founder and director of Earth Path Education est. 2008, where we help grow a culture of listening to the earth as our wisest mentor through facilitating deep Nature Connection with children and adults and guiding girls through their Rites of Passage into womanhood. The programming she has designed and implemented for girls and young women is very unique in that the empowerment and connection begins when a girls is 8 and supports them for the next decade until they are 18 and taking a leadership role in the organization. Lena leads a transformative earth skills and ceremonial arts year long immersion for adult women called Women Rewilding. Lena has recently become a mother, and enjoys playing with her daughter Naia Grace on the homestead she tends with her beloved husband Sam, Earth Song. They also recently started a flower farm called Blossoming Hearts and can be found singing to the plants, making bouquets, planting more fruit trees and falling ever so madly in love with the great mystery of the natural world. Lena’s passion for travel, indigenous rights, traditional ecological knowledge and cultural and ecological health and regeneration is coalescing in her joining Inchanted Journeys as a guide on the Guatemala Eco-Adventure & Service Trip – March 2019.
She co-founded of School of the Traveler, a backpacking and cultural guide organization in Copper Canyon, Northern Mexico. Lena is a proficient Spanish speaker. She has guided university students on trips to the mountains, rivers and caves of North Carolina and beyond, through the highly respected UNC Asheville Outdoors Program. She empowered youth working with Free the Children– the largest youth-led organization in the world– as the Regional Network coordinator for the Southeast.
In 2013-14, Lena directed a Nature Awareness Program through the Riekes Center on Human Enhancement and guided Silicon Valley youth into the redwoods and into greater nature connection. Lena loves mentoring, singing, lightning bugs, growing food, foraging, running, dancing, ancestral crafts, deep breaths, bringing people together and waterfalls. Lena has taught music at the Children's Earth School and Spanish, Music, handcraft and Nature Connection at The Learning Village in 2015-2017. She initiated and annually organizes Soil Sisters, the young women's program for the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference and the Moon Maidens young women’s program at the Spirit Weavers Gathering.
Aixa Acosta "Amankay"
Born in Neiva Huila, Colombia on December 23, 1975. From a young age, Aixa’s interests have revolved around the research, recovery, understanding, and sharing of the ancient wisdom and medicines of the South and North American indigenous communities. This work and research has taken her from the heart of the Amazonian rain forests, to the peaks of the Andes, to the plains of South Dakota – in order to directly understand the use of natural medicines and ancient healing methods.
She is a devoted Sun dancer, Moon dancer and Medicine Woman, who works to awaken the consciousness and the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Condor Eagle, bringing the understanding of all Native American traditions to blend in harmony and respect.
Aixa is an Energetic Healer, Certified Massage Therapist, Herbalist, Birth and
Postpartum Doula, Placenta Specialist, and Doula Trainer, who has dedicated the last
20 years of her studies to the ancient traditions related to healing womanhood.
As an ordained Minister of the Native American Church and the Universalist Church
and Founder of the Inti Runa - People of the Sun American Church, Aixa performs
traditional native social blessings such as weddings, blessing ways, Moon planting,
coming of age, naming ceremonies, sweat lodges, Traditional Medicine Ceremonies
Aixa was a board member of the Inti Wayna Foundation (Children of the Sun)
www.childrenofthesunfoundation.org in Peru, Colombia and the United States and of
the Greenway Foundation in Massachusetts, USA. These institutions support and
encourage young people from the Amazon to study and learn from their elders and
medicine teachers. The foundation's aim to restore dignity to the communities who
have inhabited the South American continent for thousands of years.
She is co- founder of the Fundación Inti Wasi- Casa del Sol (Inti Wasi-House of the Sun
Foundation) in Colombia. The mission of this foundation is to promote the local Native
communities economic, social and spiritual development through the recovery of their
traditional ways. The Fundación Inti Wasi leads and organizes several national and
international annual gatherings in Colombia, Central America, USA, Canada and
Europe, such as Vision Quests and Condor Eagle Gatherings. At the moment she is establishing the Inti Runa NAC in South Florida.
Growing Goddess/Moon mystics/nature sisters facilitator
Marianne has a joy for working with girls and supporting a magical connection with the earth. She is an IMW-Certified Modern Wisdom Practitioner, KRI-Certified Aquarian Teacher of Kundalini Yoga, Shamanic Energy Medicine Practitioner, Ancient Wisdom Teacher and Spiritual Counselor. She is also a Certified Reiki Master and Teacher, Certified Cranial-sacral Therapist and has studied Medicinal Aromatherapy and Polarity Healing. Marianne works with individuals and groups, teaches a number of tele-classes around spirituality and healing, co-facilitates seasonal cleanses as well as co-teaching the 2015/16 Modern Day Priestess Training. She is also the Director of Certification and Director of Sacred Ceremony for the Institute of Modern Wisdom as well as a member of the Elder Council and Practitioner Core.
Currently in private practice outside Asheville, NC, Marianne weaves together an immense toolkit of modalities, including intuitive guidance and holistic consulting to support individuals and groups at the level of mind, body and spirit to hold each one in remembering more fully who they are. Marianne offers private sessions, distance sessions, Shamanic Energy Groups, Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Classes. She also offers Land Ceremonies and Blessings as well as Rites of Passage for various stages of life.
Alinahh Ever is the founder & coordinator of The Faerie Kin, a troupe of magical stiltwalkers & ground fae who spread joy through song, dance & stories, and raise awareness about ecological issues. She also is founder & coordinator of Singing Alive Appalachia and loves to share songs, especially with young people and families. She has interacted with children of all ages, leading classes in prejudice reduction, singing, drumming & rhythm, creating earth mandalas, crafts, puppetry, and earthskills. She is past director of Children's Global Pleace Project in Asheville which taught Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Heartmath, and conflict resolution to public & private schoolchildren. She ran a play center for young children in Floyd, VA and brought children into the woods, sharing information about wild edible plants. She directed an story & puppet-based alcoholism & drug prevention program for elementary children in San Francisco. Alinahh has been a facilitator of Growing Goddess camp for young women in the Asheville area for the last 5 summers. She has a Master's in Education from San Francisco State University.
Luna" Ray is a teacher of yoga, a workshop and retreat leader, kirtan musician and recording artist, and an activist for conscious and empowered community collaboration. As an advocate for wellness and spiritual growth, Luna works with the deep intention of inspiring and encouraging humans to cultivate an awareness of their inherent wisdom. Luna believes that by coming together, and using the tools of yoga, including mantra and meditation, we are led to our hearts deepest desires, and we build the strength to act upon them.
Educator, adventurer, wild-crafter. After graduating from Warren Wilson College 12 yrs ago, I’ve traveled around north america living/teaching/seeking traditional and modern wilderness skills. Without the confines of a normal american schedule (time), I am gifted the opportunities to learn from the seasons, plants, animals, hunger, community, youth and elders. I live outside, cook on fires, gather my resources, and am currently working on plans to remove boredom from our collective experience. This summer I will co-host the Earth Walkers and Wild Woodsmen overnight camps.
I've been guiding adults and children through wilderness, fostering deep nature connection for over a decade. My gateway into Earthskills was through wild food foraging, quickly branching into friction fire, tracking, hide-tanning, and much wandering; currently, I'm focused on folk herbalism, tenkara fishing, and indigenous wisdom and healing. I graduated from Appalachian State University with a double major in English literature and Agroforestry. I'm also a certified Wilderness First Responder, Outdoor Emergency Care and Swiftwater Rescue technician. Professionally, I wear different hats throughout the year, working as a river guide, ski patroller, forager, field instructor, and coyote mentor. Most recently I became the father of a baby boy named Sylvan! I am excited to be joining the Teen Backpacking Camp in August!
AMY UMA THOMPSON, CAYUR., LMBT, B.A.,
Uma Thompson has been practicing holistic health care for close to two decades. She has a deep commitment to support wellness and radiant health on an individual and planetary level. She and her husband are Co-Directors of Living Alchemy Ayurveda, an integrative wellness practice dedicated to personal and planetary health, through Ayurveda, Herbal Medicine, Yoga, Bodywork, and Wilderness Immersion.
Uma has a special love and passion for women’s wellness as connected with the natural world. In college, Uma majored in Women’s Health and Ecology. Her thesis entitled Color the Moon Red, is a journey focused upon the connection between the menstrual cycle and the lunar cycle and an invitation to connect more deeply with the cycles of our bodies and the cycles of the earth. While in college, Uma also helped to lead programs bringing girl’s into nature, during their pre- teenage years, to help them find deeper meaning and connection during these transition years.
Uma is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, Ayurvedic postpartum doula, yoga teacher, massage therapist, and herbalist. She specializes in women’s health, and also has her own personal website with her specialty in women’s and family wellness at livingwellwoman.com. She has created wellness programs for menstrual health, optimal fertility, a happy, healthy pregnancy, and honoring of the postpartum window afterbirth.
Uma is also a wilderness guide, through many years of training at Sacred Passage, based in Crestone, CO. Uma has experienced, and helped to facilitate, many deep immersions and rites of passage in nature. Thus, a greater vision has emerged that true wellness is wholeness and can only come through a reconnection with the natural world. It is Uma’s underlying intention to serve as a bridge for reweaving the web of planetary interconnection, with a special focus in creating meaning rites of passage for girl’s to connect with their bodies in nature.
sam ruark-eastes, Treasurer
Sam is currently the Executive Director of the Western North Carolina Green Building Council. He has dedicated his career to ecological and community sustainability through his work with non-profit organizations, local governments, small businesses, and conferences and events. He has served on the board of three non-profit organizations including Daily Acts, The Arthur Morgan School, and the Environmental Education Council of Marin. He enjoys gardening, beekeeping, fermentation, yoga, hiking, swimming in mountain streams, and sharing life with friends, family, and his beloved wife Lena Ruark-Eastes.