Carlos Santana and the Shape-Shifting Wolf

After my daughter Jeannine died at the age of 18 in March of 2003,there were signs of her everlasting presence in my life. In the beginning of my journey, though I acknowledged these signs, I didn't develop a greater appreciation for what they communicated to me about the sacredness of the relationship that I developed with Jeannine until much later in my journey. Because of my ongoing relationship with Jeannine I have determined that we can receive clarity about our life transitions from all that is part of the universe.

One More Off The Bucket List

On July 27th of this year a friend and I went to see Carlos Santana in concert. My friend told me that seeing Santana perform live was one of the items on his bucket list. Though I knew that Carlos Santana is renowned as the greatest guitarist of our generation, I never listened that closely to his music. Needless, to say, he gave a mesmerizing performance, and motivated me to explore his music more closely.

Dreams of a Shape-Shifting Wolf


The following evening, I had a dream that I was standing outside of a chain link fence that had a very narrow opening. On the other side was a wolf that appeared to be slightly wider than the opening in the fence. Suddenly, he elongated his shape to fit through the opening and reach me on the other side. As he approached, I felt apprehensive, but that fear soon dissipated. He ambled over to me and stood to my left. He let me pet him; he appeared to be smiling. The first words that came to me as I awoke were: "shape-shifting." Interestingly, Carlos Santana's latest cd was titled "Shape Shifter." I knew then that I had to buy this cd to discover the teachings that awaited me. The one thing that I knew prior to this dream was that I had to “shape-shift” in order to embrace a new set of rules that has allowed me to develop greater clarity in my journey… thus far.

The Great Spirit Prayer


"Shape Shifter" arrived in the mail about a week after I ordered it. I opened up the cd and almost immediately discovered on the back of the cd liner notes, The Great Spirit Prayer, which was translated in 1887 by Sioux Chief Yellow Lark. The entire prayer may be found at through the following link:

 When I showed this prayer to a shamanistic practitioner who is a part of my support network, she immediately suggested that I research a Cherokee story titled "The Wolf You Feed."  There are several versions of this story; here is the one I found:

An elder Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. 

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith."

"This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too", he added. 

The Grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied... "The one you feed."

Retrieved from: 

 I re-read The Great Spirit Prayer again and discovered a passage that really further enanced the significance of The Wolf You Feed, for me . 

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy-myself.”

Grief: The Civil War Within

I have embraced Native American teachings during my journey following Jeannine’s death and they have been a key component of my ongoing spiritual development. On the surface, my dream and its connections to Carlos Santana, reinforce the path that I have chosen to undertake. However, upon further review, I believe there is more to learn from this experience. In the early phase of my journey, I experienced a variety of emotions such as: anger, fear, regret, self-pity. I also experienced some contradictory emotions such as joy and displayed kindness and love towards others, even though there were times that I felt totally untethered from others and myself. Eventually, I had to decide which set of emotions I had to feed. I could have decided to live my life in total pain and sadness or embrace emotions that would allow me to find peace and allow me to honor Jeannine. Eventually, with the love and support of others, I decided to feed those emotions that would allow me to experience peace and help others, in a world that was forever changed after Jeannine’s death.

The Wolf, Our Teacher

In Native American culture, the wolf is “the pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas who returns to the clan to teach and share medicine.” (From Jamie Sams and David Carson, Medicine Cards, p.97). Sams and Carson also go on to say: “It is in the sharing of great truths that the consciousness of humanity will attain new heights.” 

I believe that each one of us has a story to share, and in those stories are insights and truths that will help others who are going through transitions of any kind. Through our stories, we teach others, and in the process raise their level of awareness about connections and truths that will assist them in their journeys. We do not have to be great philosophers or teachers to contribute to the collective good; we just need to be willing to share ourselves with others who are traveling the same road.


God created a circle of light and love so vast, no one can stand outside of it.

- Carlos Santana



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About the Author
I became a parent who experienced the death of a child after my daughter Jeannine died of cancer on 3/1/03 at the age of 18. I am a retired addiction professional and am also an adjunct professor in the psychology and psychology-child life departments at Utica College. In 2007, I established Bootsy and Angel Books, LLC( The mission of Bootsy and Angel Books is to provide information, support, and services to individuals and families who have experienced the death of a child or other catastrophic losses. I have presented workshops at national conferences of The Compassionate Friends since 2008 and at gatherings of the Bereaved Parents of the USAin 2009 , 2011 and 2012. I have been a keynote speaker for national gathering of the Bereaved Parents of the USA in both 2011 and 2015. I am also the chapter leader for The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley. I have contributed articles to Living with Loss Magazine ,We Need Not Walk Alone, Hello Grief and Recovering the Self Journal. I have co-authored two books with Linda Findlay of Mourning Discoveries on navigating through grief during the holidays and pet loss. I am a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation and have also appeared on Healing the Grieving Heart and the Open to Hope Television show.. I am also a featured speaker, workshop presenter and coach for Aspire Place( You can also find me on Facebook at:
Grief In Action