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painting by: Rablah Vincent


Sally Perry:

"Spirit Medicine"

an article by: Deborah Seymour-Taylor

When Virginia Beach artist, Rablah Vincent, met Sally Perry, the part-Cherokee Medicine Woman who calls herself "Spirit Medicine, she knew instantly she wanted to paint her. "Anyone can capture the physical person with a camera or paint brush," explained Vincent, "but I wanted to paint her spirit. I wanted to express what I saw when I looked deeply at her: a woman who is carrying something within her soul that will impact many people on the planet."


Thus, "Birth of Ideas," which was featured as a magazine cover, was created.
What the artist didn't know is that just one month earlier, "Spirit Medicine" had experienced a startling, spontaneous vision in which she was told she would soon give birth to "the universe."

It all began in mid-March 1992 in Swannanoa, North Carolina, at a sweat ceremony just south of Asheville high in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sitting in the lodge that night ,up to her hips in mud, with the  sounds  of the wind through the creaking scrub pines and a dog yapping somewhere far in the distance, " Spirit Medicine" remembers whispering one singular prayer: "Help me to know You, help me to experience unconditional love."

"Suddenly," she recalls, "I was taken out of my body up into the sky and I saw a minute trail of light left by my teacher, Beautiful Painted Arrow, and was told to follow it to the other side of the void, the home of formlessness. When I returned, I was pregnant with the entire universe in my stomach. I was then told to rest and in ninety days, I would give birth."                                                                                                                                               
But then, visions are not unusual for "Spirit Medicine." In fact, helping people to discover the visionary within has been a basic tenet of her teachings since 1981, and the culmination of an Inner journey filled with extraordinary adventures and shamanistic encounters that began more than five decades ago in rural South Florida in a simple tar paper shack with dirt floors and holes for windows and a Cherokee father who fished for a living. There, often alone and always knee-deep in fantasy, she would spend her days doing this-or- that, sweeping out the orange groves, or perched high in the twisted branches of the trees dreaming of something better. At the tender age of 16, with only $10 in her pocket, not nearly enough to afford a new suit to bury her father in the pauper's grave where he was laid to rest, she made a vow: to never again be too poor to help the people she loved.

And so it was that with boldness and persistence and the warrior energy of a true Medicine Woman, she moved to Virginia Beach and carved out a niche for herself as a beauty entrepreneur, opening the first total beauty salon in Virginia Beach in 1972. Sally Perry's Hair and Skin Clinic - a salon that would become legendary as the "Elizabeth Arden's of the East Coast" and would earn her the title of Hampton Roads Business Woman of the Year in the early '80s.                                     


But after a car accident in June 1981, a frightening "kundallni" experience caused her to peep through a keyhole to a strange new landscape within. Just months later, she would meet the renowned Native American shaman, Beautiful Painted Arrow, and begin an apprenticeship that would cause a radical shift in her priorities and alter her life forever. After a host of Vision Quest and ceremonial dances for days at a time with no food or water, she discovered her own gift of healing and was initiated into the "Medicine Way." Five years later, she began traveling and working with Alex Orbito, internationally know Philippine healer made famous in the writings of Shirley Maclaine - an experience that helped her to know the supernatural as natural and the extraordinary as ordinary."

Today, she is writing a book about her journey and conducting workshops, personal healing sessions and group Vision Quest in the mountains and deserts across the country, to help those who are ready to discover the vision they came to earth to live. "Each of us has come here to become one with the Great Spirit - to live in the realm of Spirit and yet remain connected and balanced within the realm of earth," she explains. "There are always helpers and signs along the way for anyone willing to listen. I am a keeper of ancient mysteries. My work is simply to assist people to understand and heal their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies at a deep cellular level so they can see the repetitive soul patterns that keep them from healing. For Instance, if someone has experienced many lifetimes where they were murdered or shot, severe traumas that lock into the cellular memory , I can help them see, hear and feel what created the pattern. Once there is understanding, they are able to move to another level."

Although she often works one-on-one with clients, many of whom eventually become her students in the "Medicine Way," her greatest joy lies in leading Vision Quests. The Medicine Wheel, an actual circle created on the earth and fashioned of stones and corn meal, is a "Temple" used to commune with the Divine. Native Americans traditionally used the wheel as a map to discover their innermost being. "The experience of fasting in nature in the center of a Medicine Wheel allows people to reconnect with their own personal visions. Where you are in the circle - the direction, whether North, South, East or West, can help you to open your perception and gain insight into your highest potential."

But most important, Spirit Medicine" hastens to add, the ancient ceremony of the Vision Quest has emerged once again at this particular time in earth's history for a very specific purpose. " Universally, we are undergoing a birth into a higher level of consciousness, all of humanity. The process of helping people give birth to their visions, both individually and collectively, is helping the planet give birth to the New Order. The Native American wisdom is re-emerging to midwife this birth. Shamans and medicine people are bridge builders that will give us the courage to step into the unknown. This is the purpose of my work ... and this is my greatest joy.


Deborah Seymour-Taylor, is a former magazine editor and a freelance writer living in Virginia Beach, VA




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