Our Mentoring Lineage
Ravenwood uses the 8 Shields mentoring model. This model draws on many lineages: deep nature connection practices and traditional mentoring techniques from land-based cultures all over the world. Through deep nature connectionand mentoring, 8 Shields aims to support our human natures and original ancient adaptations, thus helping us to be healthier, happier, and better people.
8 Shields was founded by Jon Young through a long personal nature connection journey. Jon grew up in New Jersey, mentored in nature connection by Tom Brown, Jr. Tom himself had been mentored by an Apache elder known as Grandfather who had come to New Jersey to be with family. Tom took Grandfather’s teachings and, importantly, his coyote mentoring methods, and mentored Jon. Tom later published the Tracker and other books, and founded the Tracker School to continue passing on Grandfather’s teachings.
As Jon grew up, he found that most people around him did not connect to nature the way he did. He sought out elders, mentors, and community, that helped him develop and articulate his connection skills in the framework we now call 8 Shields. We are grateful for all the people that kept these ways alive and informed and helped develop 8 Shields through practice in community over the past 30 years. Some specific contributors include:
We honor Jon for drawing together many different global lineages of nature connection mentoring, and for articulating nature connection in an accessible way for modern times. Jon has published books and audio that help modern people come into better relationships with themselves, each other, and the natural world, primarily through the lenses of mentoring, tracking, and bird language.
Ingwe (born M. Norman Powell in 1914 in Kenya) was born to white British parents and adopted into the native Akamba tribe. Initiated into the Akamba sacred practices, he spent a lifetime serving as a sacred man for native African people. As an elder he moved to the United States with his wife and met Jon. We honor him for helping 8 Shields to deepened our tracking, vision quest, survival skills, mentoring, and many other practices.
Gilbert Walking Bull was a Lakota spiritual leader, grandson of Sitting Bull and descendant of Black Elk and Crazy Horse. He was selected at a young age to hold the spiritual teachings of his family line, and was educated in the traditional healing ceremonies and culture of many Lakota lineages. He deepened the mentoring culture, ceremonial teachings, and nature connection practices of the 8 Shields movement.
Aunty Mahealani, a Hawaiian native, is a Kumu Elele Na Kupuna, which translates roughly to mean that she is a messenger of the ancestors. We honor Aunty Mahealani for helping us step up our game in skills supporting personal integrity, becoming one’s best self, and deep connection to ancestors and place. Check out Aunty Mahealani online.
Jake Swamp was sub-Chief of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation. He founded the Tree of Peace Society and was a world authority on Peace and Cross-Cultural Understanding. Jake and his wife Judy brought the practice of giving thanks at the beginning of all gatherings and mentored 8 shields in many layers of building peacemaking culture.
Sobonfu Some was a native African, born into the Dagara tribe in Burkina Faso. Her name means “Keeper of the Rituals,” and her elders named her for her destiny of bringing her people’s teachings to the West. We honor Sobonfu for the many teachings she has shared, including a deeper understanding of the grief tending process and of feminine power and wisdom. Check out Sobonfu Some online.
Tom Brown, Jr. is the founder of The Tracker School, and served as a primary mentor for Jon Young through Jon’s childhood and young adulthood. We honor Tom for carrying forward Grandfather’s vision, transmitting Grandfather’s teachings and keeping the cultural thread of coyote mentoring alive today. Check out the Tracker School online.