View Full Version : Sun Bear, Swift Deer and other controversy

13-03-2011, 07:48 AM
Hi. I was referred to someone who does some shamanic healing work by someone I trust and was told this man is the real deal and is quite good.

I found out that at least some of his training came from a man named Sun Bear, aka Vincent Laduke, who has a rather controversial reputation. I'm not one to believe things I read on the internet just because they are there, but I'm curious what anyone else here might know about him and about some other things I'll mention.

A couple of years ago, I found a woman in my area who does "shamanic counseling". She was very nice, charged very little, and seemed quite genuine. She told me that her tradition came mostly from a man named Harley "Swift Deer" Reagan. When I went home and researched Reagan, I found out through some thorough research that he has lied and scammed about a number of things. I even tried to contact him at his home office or what not, and he refused to speak to me and everybody acted very strange about the situation. I then contacted the "shamanic counselor" who I was working with to ask her about it, and she got very quickly defensive and wouldn't explain or talk about anything.

The accusations against Sun Bear are much less substantiated than with Harley Reagan, plus I was referred to him(the man taught by him) by someone who knows him well and is someone I trust.

As I've progressed in my spiritual study and practice, I've come to realize that just because a person does some highly scandalous things does not especially mean that there isn't some very valuable spiritual insight there too, but I'm very conflicted about the whole thing.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? It's been troubling to me to find how much scandal and fakery there is in the world of spirituality and healing, and I'm having trouble sorting it out.

13-03-2011, 01:28 PM
Wow... I don't know Harley, but from a little bit of searching, it appears he's a liar, if not a pathalogical liar. Someone who lies to further his own reputation doesn't seem authentic or spiritual.

13-03-2011, 02:27 PM
Thank you for your response.

I would say, first of all, that you do have to be careful just doing a little bit of searching online. Sometimes the people who go "outside the box" get a lot of trouble for it, even people making up lies about them.

I do believe that Harley is, or at least was, a liar and con artist, as I did some pretty extensive research a couple of years ago when I learned about him, but the thing is...

There have been some pretty shady people in history who have gone on to do great things, be great spiritual leaders, and offer insightful wisdom to those who would look past their indiscretions...as far as I can tell anyway - but that's part of where my conflict lies.

I have been studying Theosophy, and some of its predecessors and offshoots. There is a lot in their texts that makes a lot of sense to me and also fits in with a lot of other well respected systems I've studied. However, Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, was supposedly involved in a number of lies and scandals. Other people related to the Society were also involved in scandals as well, but there are others who came out of it to become well known as great philosophers, spiritual leaders, etc.

So I guess I have a few questions for the people on this forum...

Does anyone know of Sun Bear and have verifiable evidence about some of the accusations against him(or proof that the accusations are not true), or a personal experience with him or the Bear Tribe that says there really is something real to his teachings? Or any other unbiased opinions about him or his teaching?

Second, what are people's opinions in general about situations like these? Do you think someone can be a liar and still have extensive wisdom to impart? What are your opinions about the development of "psychic" abilities and healing abilities in comparison with the level of moral character in a person?

13-03-2011, 03:59 PM
There is an opinion about 'plastic shamans' like Sun Bear and so on, where some native americans feel their heritage is being sold to outsiders for monetary gain. Others feel it is time for these teachings to be shared and even more so these days, as elders speak from their hearts.

A person may have wisdom and knowledge but personal integrity and honesty come into play when they take a teaching/sharing path. Along the line, they will be tempted by ego-trips and monetary gain and that's the danger point, where the lines of truth become muddied. It is very true that you should judge a person by their actions, not by their words.

I've seen quite a few spiritual teachers fall into this pit and it's a very fine line to walk. I think when there are accusations of trickery, etc, often it's because the person concerned feels under pressure to 'produce' and human fraility takes them into places they once would never go. Morality is not always a good guide... it depends what morality they practice and are influenced by. :wink: A person can be very 'moral' and totally closed to unconditional love, for example.

I would forget about Sun Bear and focus on the person you were referred to... even a bad teacher can produce some excellent students. :wink:

13-03-2011, 06:34 PM
I personally have nothing against a Mystic or Shaman accepting money in exchange for information, though I myself do not engage is that activity.

For me it is the issue of accepting something that should be proverbially rendered to Ceasar rather than God. I do trade in cases where spiritual counseling is needed. As an example a person who approached me many years ago had a very serious spiritual problem, he also had a background in Physics. So I accepted him tutoring me in Physics in exchange for my addressing his problem.

I also feel that if one gives a person a fish he or she eats for a day. But one teaches them to fish they eat for a life time. Learning to understand your own unique access to the Spirit World pretty much resolves many of the common problems, some often visit Shamans and Mystics for.

Any thoughts?

15-03-2011, 09:06 PM
Hi - Saw your question about SwiftDeer, and wanted to chime in.

I've known SwiftDeer for about 10 years, and have worked fairly closely with him in some areas for the last few of those. I've also seen the stuff on the internet about him. Now, I can't prove that some of the things out there are wrong - for example, the Bullshido piece "proving" that his military and martial arts claims are all false - but I can tell you that I've been part of his dojo for several years, and he KNOWS martial arts. And, when black belts from other disciplines come visit his dojo, they respect him. I can also tell you from personal experience that some of the things you will find on the "plastic shaman" sites - about things that happen in Deer Tribe workshops, for example - are blatantly false. It's incredibly easy to make claims and assertions on the internet, and very hard to disprove them.

Sorry to hear about your experience calling his office - but if you led with something like "prove to me that you're not a liar", it's not surprising. He doesn't care about conciliating people. (The advantage of that is, he just doesn't put any effort into seducing you out of your money. He's less like a guru, and more like a cantankerous anti-guru.)

Chances are, if you focus on the question of who on the internet is telling the truth about him, you'll never be able to find "the" answer. However, if you have the opportunity to check out some of the teachings that he's put out, that could tell you what you need to know.

18-03-2011, 03:48 AM
Thank you, everyone. Sorry I haven't had a chance to respond. It's been a long week, but I'll get back to you all ASAP.

21-03-2011, 12:50 AM
PLEASE NOTE: To anyone casually reading this thread - I'm not sure about any specifics regarding Sun Bear or even Swift Deer, and if the accusations are wrong, I don't wish to further the bad talk. Research for yourself if you're curious.

ENYA - I really like what you had to say. It's definitely a very fine line and I've seen a lot of people fall into the ego trap. It's really troubling to me as this field(spiritual healing, metaphysics, etc.) has enough trouble earning respect as it is, and I agree that when someone enters a teaching path, or any path where they are looked up to in this field, they really have a responsibility to maintain a strong integrity.

If the controversy is only about charging money for these teachings, I don't have a problem with that if it's done in a reasonable way. My big problem is the supposed lying and criminal acts. As the remarks about Sun Bear are much less substantiated than Swift Deer and could easily be made up, I will not spread them, but he's been accused of some pretty bad crimes that have nothing to do with the teachings.

I also agree that even a bad teacher can produce a good student, so I'll have to work that part out. I've just been really disillusioned by a number of people lately who are supposedly very respected in their field of healing or spiritual teaching.

TRIAD - I was a little confused by part of your post. I do agree with and understand the "teach them to fish" metaphor. Although I don't have a full time practice yet, whenever I have worked with people I always give them lots of tools to use at home and teach as much as I can of how to resolve problems on their own. I'm appalled by any healer or teacher who holds back for the purpose of keeping them coming back to keep paying.

It's the Caesar/God metaphor I don't understand. I mean I get the proverb, but I'm not sure how it applies here. I think it's great when a healer is able to offer free healings, but a lot of healers train for a number of years just like other professions and don't have any other income. They need to make a living like anyone else, and if they were to work a different job and do healing on the side, they wouldn't be able to help as many people. An additional comment here - I don't much buy into the "Energy Exchange" concept that many modern healers use to explain why they charge for services. I really doubt if Jesus or any other great "free" healers throughout history were less effective because there was no monetary "Energy Exchange". But I do think it's perfectly reasonable to charge too. Also, shamans, wise women, witches, etc. were often paid by their tribe or village with food, services, etc. so that they could have their mundane needs taken care of and be able to focus on their craft. I don't see any difference in that and a healer getting paid with money nowadays so they can focus on their craft instead of working another job.

Also, I guess I'm also not one to believe in the idea that a healer should discount all personal skill and only give credit to God. I realize that(in my personal belief system anyway) we are all a part of God and so in a bigger sense, the latter is true. However, unless a healer was just born with a tremendous skill they never had to work for, healers often train very hard for a long time to gain their abilities. They put in a lot of time and both physical and mental effort into what they're doing. This is a fine line because I do believe healers, ESPECIALLY healers, should be very humble about their work and should always work to clear themselves of any arrogance, high horses, judgment of others, etc., I do not feel that they should just negate the hard work and effort they put into their training. Nobody would expect a chiropractor or a neurosurgeon or a dentist to say that ALL their skill or effective treatments comes ONLY from God, would they? So why is it different when the healing involves very technical skills with subtle energy?

Just my thoughts. Would love to hear any other opinions or responses...

WOMANINTHEWORLD - I want you to know first of all that I'm not saying Swift Deer is a bad person, nor am I saying that his teachings are false or not useful. I honestly don't know either way. What I have seen of some of his teachings(which is only a little), does seem to be consistent with other reliable things I've read. However, this does not especially prove to me one way or another because anyone can easily read and learn a system and then pass off the teachings as their own. I'm not saying he's doing this, just pointing out both sides.

The biggest thing that troubles me are the allegedly false military claims. Although I can't say with 100% certainty, I did some pretty thorough research back then and I'm pretty sure he really did lie. Putting aside any issue of our government(that's a whole other story), I'm a huge supporter of the individual military personnel who risk their lives and I find it appalling and insulting to the people who really are or were there, for someone to lie about that(especially to further their own reputation). Also, I get the concept of not having to prove yourself to people, but from what I've seen he's talked in various media about the controversies around him, so why not take 5 minutes to produce some photo or scanned document to prove his military claims? OR if they were lies to begin with and yet he is "the real deal", then why not just admit to it, apologize, and move on? Everybody makes mistakes, but that's the key to me. I can respect someone even if they did something awful if they just own up to it and move on, but it doesn't seem very "real deal" to me to just ignore it.

Also, when I called his office, I did not just say "prove you aren't lying". I had made no decision at that point and I courteously told them I was interested in his teaching, but some of the things I read had troubled me and I was wondering if they had any information about the situation. I don't remember exactly what they said, but I remember getting a bunch of shady responses and just having a "bad feeling" about the whole thing. I realize a "bad feeling" is not proof of anything, so I can't really debate on that aspect.

I'm still not 100% on any of it, and I'm perfectly open to hearing someone give me some shred of evidence about something that would be SOOOOO simple to prove. Until then, I think he likely has some good teachings, but I can't abide having anything to do with that situation.


Any other comments or responses are welcome. I'm very interested in the phenomena of various people throughout history who essentially seem to be very spiritual and good while also being very morally dubious at the same time. Depending on what you believe, does God or Jesus, or the Ascended Masters, or angels, or spirit guides any other "higher beings" for good, so to speak - do they really bless, appear to, and teach people who later are found to have committed some terrible moral crime(major lies, sexual or violent crimes, etc.)? or did the crimes really not happen in these cases? or is the spirituality the hoax? or is it something in between?


21-03-2011, 04:51 AM
In my native american heritage, true elders and medicine people follow the sacred laws and traditions. When searching for a mentor or a healer you must use your intuition and follow what your heart knows.

A true and honest first nations teacher, guide or mentor, can either be an elder who has followed the traditional path, or an old medicine healer who has followed the correct traditional path - no one else, not even an individual who has the life path to heal is allowed to heal before they have completed their steps in their life journey, and completed many, sacred traditions. It takes years of ceremonial rites, traditions, and of following his/her spiritual path, to obtain that title, there are set traditions an elder or medicine barer must follow through to be respected as true. I will not say what those things are.

This new age term of ego, is not the least of what you have to worry about when indulging with a powerful individual who practices bad medicine, or who has addict energies, there is nothing good to come from learning sacred native traditions from someone who has not completed their path fully.

I will say this, someone who truly follows the native way, will not ask for money, if they ask for anything, it would be a sacred offering to spirit, paying for spiritual practices goes against the traditions. Spirit does not ask for money. A real elder will also not go by the term "shaman", it is not the correct traditional term, and was never used in the past referring to native american people.

A real native american medicine person has no ego, as they have completed their spiritual work and are now of service to spirit. There are many of us young ones who try to find faster ways to become healers, as we are inpatient, and this creates a world of bad healers. A real healer will never offer healing until they are healed themselves, and it takes walking along the sacred road for a very long time in order to be fully healed. Some people think it is okay to just cleanse themselves, temporarily when doing healing work if they are not healed themselves. But a real healer will not take that risk.
A medicine person will never push their beliefs onto anyone. When you talk to them, it is often annoying how well they follow that ;) they will not tell you anything unless you ask, and even then, the forms of their advice make you think for yourself, because their role is to guide you, not preach or push it onto you, but to help you find your own experiences yourself. They will not advertise or preach. It would be surprising if i ever meet a real native elder who decides to create an internet site for themselves. The only ones i have met who have done so, have turned out to be very bad people.
There is a sacred law of not talking about sacred traditions, and to offer random classes, to random people, and advertise the spiritual practices, is wrong.

That's my tribal view on that topic anyways. Traditions and ways are a little different with native peoples all over the world, but not much, and anyone connected with the old ways should probably see it that way as well.

Also a good spiritual teacher will have a gold aura around them, especially around their crown chakra, if you can see energies.

21-03-2011, 04:57 AM
Nice post Ciqala...

29-03-2011, 02:17 AM
Ciqala, I have to say I really like what you had to say. I'm a little undecided or unsure on a few of the details, but overall I really liked it and you seem like a very wise and conscientious person.

I see a lot of healers who have problems with ego or other things because they have not gone through their training with a group with solid traditions or they just have not disciplined themselves enough, or various other reasons. I think it's very important for a healer or aspiring healer to constantly strive to be as selfless, compassionate, disciplned, and pure as possible. This is a difficult path and I see many who either do not stay on it, or never were on it to begin with(they think the knowledge of healing techniques is all they need). I see healers who have done a lot "clearing" in the beginning years of their training, but later on they become arrogant and think they don't need to watch out for negative aspects in themselves anymore and they stop doing personal, internal purification work.

I very much respect many native traditions and I'm a bit torn with the general idea of teaching these traditions to the masses, and how they are taught, etc. On one hand, I believe that certain parts of this wisdom are not especially "owned" by one tribe or group of people and that this wisdom is here to be accessed by whoever is ready for it, and that it resides in nature and spirit, and has been there since long before any group of people were here and therefore can be shared freely with anyone. On the other hand, I do see the other side of it, in that people can often misuse knowledge or wisdom and there is/was a very good reason for keeping it secret.

It's a troubling subject for me, hence the reason for this topic.

One thing I do not especially agree with, although I'm open that I might be wrong, is the idea that noone should do any healing work until they are "completely" healed themselves. I have seen a number of healers who continually do amazing healing and spiritual work, who are far from being "completely" healed themselves. I'm not even quite sure if I believe there is such a thing as "completely" healed. For instance, a modern herbalist might be incredible intuitive and incredibly knowledgable and be able to help many many people, yet still have many issues or arrogance, impatience, anger, depression, and so on. And although I realize energy can be transferred in certain cases and in certain ways, I think this hypothetical herbalist(or chiropractor, doctor, therapist, qi gong healer, etc.) has done much more good and helped many people to heal, and would not have if they had just avoided helping because they were not completely healed.

I think overall the world is a much much better place because of various ancient wisdom and knowledge that has been shared in recent years than if it were all still kept secret. If everyone with flaws(which is almost everyone) just sat around never trying to help, then noone would ever get any teaching or healing. I'm not a typical Christian, or maybe even a Christian at all, but I do believe Jesus existed and that at least some of his tales are true, and even Jesus had flaws/doubts/etc.

So I can see both sides of it, and I'm undecided on ALL of it, but I think there may be some middle ground. I do very much like your post though.

On a side note, I love your comment about healers with websites. I'm not completely opposed to a healer having a site, especially if it's just for basic information, convenience, contact info, etc. but I do have to say that many times when I see a healer with a website it really turns me off if it is at all about "them" and "how good they are".

29-03-2011, 02:52 AM
Thank you, everyone. Sorry I haven't had a chance to respond. It's been a long week, but I'll get back to you all ASAP.

Are you talking of the author, Sun Bear, who wrote "Medicine Wheel- Earth Astrology" ?

29-03-2011, 02:58 AM
Yes, Summerland. That's the guy I'm talking about.

29-03-2011, 03:33 AM
Yes, Summerland. That's the guy I'm talking about.
I have a couple of his books, but have not read them for many years. The problem that I have with following any one person's teaching is that all of the answers that we need are inside of us. I have had a medicine man do a ceremony for me once and he was successful. However, he made no claims and did not fit much of Cigala's criteria. My friend has knowledge of many things, but yet I have counseled him on a few matters.

01-04-2011, 08:02 AM
Summerland, I definitely agree that in some sense all the answers are inside us. I think it's more the "true us" where these answers are though, and most people do not have the ability to consciously and purposely access their Higher Self, True Self, etc. So a lot of what I read, study, learn from others, is the knowledge and techniques that may allow me to act consciously from that higher part of myself so that I then CAN find all the answers within myself.

I also agree that I do not like to follow only one teacher(or method, philosophy, religion, etc.) and I think that's partly where the inner wisdom comes in - of finding what resonates with you in whatever you happen to be listening to, studying, or learning, and what does not.

17-04-2011, 11:56 PM
It is a difficult thing to point out the erroneous ways of others. However, the level of deception that exists in todays world is overwhelming and confusing. Perhaps it is the duty of those who see the deception to bring it out. If you examine the site of Harly Swift Deer you will see that he has taken bits and pieces of information and pasted it together in a fictitous collage of supposed sacred knowledge offered by the Cherokee. Through research you will find that the Cherokee deny his use of this knowledge and deny that it is part of their tradition. He has mixed hindu, native american and south american knowledge with pop psychology. Is this true teaching? do the elders really give him advice?

He further confuses people by taking it to Europe and perpetuates the myths and misrepresents our true First People's teachings abroad. These are shameful actions.

I apologize for my bluntness but deception is damaging to true spiritual seekers.

21-04-2011, 06:56 AM
I do believe healers, ESPECIALLY healers, should be very humble about their work and should always work to clear themselves of any arrogance, high horses, judgment of others, etc.,
This to me is so very very important of a point. It is a very elusive thing as well, because i may have the appearance of humility, may truly think myself humble even, but the ego or whatever you wish to term it is so subtle and unconscious that it can sneak up on us.

I myself am not a healer, at least not at this point, or do not consider myself as such, so perhaps it is not my place to say what is what, however just from my personal inner struggles i have gone through ebbs and flows and ups and downs that bring me around again to this challenge of getting over myself to be clear enough to feel like i am 'progressing' in any sense.

I can only imagine that with some success would come greater challenges in the form of flattery from others or yourself. There is a side of me which i sometimes refer to as the 'impostor', who looks, smells, feels, sounds like the real thing, but when discerned clearly is missing some heart,(yet may appear to be heartfelt) some intangible thing that does not quite ring true.

I find the quickest way for this to happen to me, or for me to 'do'? this.. is when i start feeling myself too much, basically losing the humility. A recognition and respect of other people as equal in Spirit should be foremost of concern, imo, when focus wanes, and it becomes too self absorbed, this is lost. True empathy is one of the primary hallmarks in my opinion. Not the sappy sentimental kind, but the "I feel a connection" kind. "The best kind of patience is humility," as the saying goes.

I think there is a necessary sort of vigilance in this. However, to keep it on topic, perhaps there is a certain amount of risk involved in trusting any healer, but at the same time intuition & instincts i would put as primary to consider following when deciding upon one.

I have tremendous respect for the shamanic path. I'm honestly not entirely sure why, maybe it is due to my personality and personal preference, but it has always seemed one of the most real of Spiritual paths to me, though i do not claim to know anything of it.

Having said all this, i think some healers, of whatever variety are more suited perhaps to certain people than others; maybe some are "better" also, not on a personal level, meaning just more effective in general. Some are also probably either kidding themselves to some degree or outright frauds. Especially in the shamanic area, i think it is wise to be aware of a person that claims to be such, as there is not to my knowledge any universal certified shamanism degree that can be checked in some database of accredited shamans. I may be wrong in this.

On the other hand, if a person calls themselves a shaman, just because they may not qualify in the minds of others as one, does not mean they may not have something of value to offer.

Some questions maybe to consider; what seems to be their intention, do you feel they are sincere, energetically, what is the vibe you get from them, do you feel their is a compatibility between the two of you.

Also, ask the Universe for a sign, then pay attention for an answer. Just a suggestion that may work.

I have tried going to 2 or 3 different healers in my life, due to lack of follow through on my part, it never went beyond 2 or 3 sessions, so i do not have a lot of experience myself. Also, i do not understand if you are talking about an 'apprenticeship' or are wanting to 'be healed' though i suppose both would be ongoing processes and go hand in hand as well, as someone has mentioned above.

As also has been said, if i feel the intention is pure, then other what may seem to be flaws should not too harshly be judged, as no one is perfect in my opinion, and in the end, if they get the job done, then that speaks above whatever other issues one may have with them. I would be wary in fact, of anyone who comes across as infallible.

1Love ~

02-06-2014, 09:49 PM
i can only offer my impressions....i met sun bear. i know there was a lot of controversy coming from full bloods because sun bear embraced whites and allowed them to sweat together. they felt he was giving away his culture.

all i know is he had a gentle energy and a sincere desire to help people.

Raven Poet
08-06-2014, 03:38 PM
As a past master of self-disillusionment, I feel for you and your conflict over what and whom to believe.

I've had some of the most amazing teachings from a street person drinking a bottle of cheap booze but who talked to me because I shared a smoke with him. How "credible" might he be seen because of what he was doing and how he lived his life? To some, not very - yet his words and insights blew my socks off.

I've also known of "elders" (they don't deserve a capital E in this instance, according to my pouting self) who target lovely young women looking for spiritual guidance and offer their "services" ... only if the woman gets in bed with them. Years ago, I myself was propositioned by one "elder" ... it took about twenty three showers to get the filth off of my skin after that.

It all goes back to the universal truth - humans are humans. Some let ego control their actions and intentions; some do their spiritual growth work and truly live as instruments of a higher power (whatever you call "it"). I've learned to trust my spidey senses, and if someone's energy feels disturbing, I trust that and withdraw respectfully. And if someone's energy feels kind and gentle, I can feel safe with them.

In my part of the world, Elders are not supposed to go around calling themselves "Elders". Something about that title that can get people into trouble with their egos. They permit others to call them Elders, but they don't prance around with a big head over their title, and they DON'T ask for money. They accept money - because of course, Elders have to eat and put a roof over their heads too. But if the first words out of an "elder's" mouth is fee, then that can be seen as a warning sign. They ask for Asemaa (Tobacco) but never money - that is to be offered, and should be offered, as a gift from the seeker.

08-06-2014, 03:44 PM
raven poet

we too offer tobacco as a gift.

i think you're very wise to recognize teachers come in all shapes and shortcomings.

i met an old yaqui man and we had wonderful talks. he was an alchoholic and looked like a street person.

in our history, there was a priesthood called the nikitani. they started out good but ended up becoming all unbalanced. they used young girls and boys.

humans are humans.

as my mama used to say, 'don't judge a book by the cover'.....