Progress Report for the Cuyamungue Institute

by Laura Lee, Director of Outreach and Development

Paul and I were looking back on the last two years of our volunteering for CI, and taking stock on what on our very long to-do list we have checked off. While this list continues to grow (outpacing us by a mile) Here is a progress report and thanks to all those who have supported CI in so many ways. Please see the extensive list of contributors at the end of this article.

On your next visit to the CI, you will notice the facilities have undergone a bit of a make-over over the last two years, including the addition of a new building! The CI Website has grown with new features (and more planned) including listings of teachers and workshops at CI, around the country, and abroad. The calendar was filled with workshops and events, and our once a month Santa Fe gatherings – the work has been very well received and attended by locals. Two long-time teachers began trials for new studies to document the safe, natural but profound physiological shifts that occur during practice of the Cuyamungue Method, and CI received added exposure with new books and publications.

As we gear up for a dynamic 2014, it’s been encouraging to review the progress of the last two years in detail.


When Paul and I arrived at CI in April of 2012, we had the funds in hand to focus on upgrading the facilities to get ready for the workshop season. Some improvements were cosmetic, some for better use and flow of space. For the grounds and infrastructure, the long winding gravel road was regraded and repaired with loads of new gravel where heavy rains had washed it out. A new swinging gate was added to the entry at the road. Paul added rocks along the walkway to the kiva for better water protection and aesthetics, and flagstone at the entry to kick off shoes. The cracks in the adobe of all seven buildings were filled, and all the flat roofs were sealed and coated to keep them watertight. The sagging porch roof of the bunkhouse was propped up with temporary beams. The aging septic system was pumped and is now on a regular maintenance schedule. Lynn Brewer raised the well pipe to prevent ground water infiltration, and capped the well head with a lock to better secure it, a service he kindly donated. We registered the well, and in the process discovered we had just protected CI’s abundant water rights. Dave Sharp donated his services to assess the drinkability of the water with a test for iron bacteria and the results were positive. We located a local source for water purified five ways. We reconfigured the pathways to make them safer to walk, and added dozens of solar lights. We invited a local snake expert come out to educate us. He walked us around the property and pointed out active pack rat nests.”Snakes follow the rats, so keep the rats away,” he said. With the help of some local kids Paul soon had the nests eradicated. Packrats had been nesting in particular in the art shed. That inspired us to purchase a big metal storage container to store all the things that had ended up in the shed. Thanks to Ryan Headrick who painted it to blend in with the adobe. Thanks to Sherry and David Nighteagle who bought yard tools and pruned tree branches for the addition of the two new composting bins donated by Alan and Abby Ismond.

We repurposed some of the buildings. The Casita and Kiva East are now dorms with two and three beds. The main building now has sleeping quarters for one. The bunkhouse got a rustic table and chairs, and now sleeps five, with additional portable cots for the porch. In the main building, Paul replaced old, out-of-kilter wooden screen doors with new metal security screen doors to better keep out critters. The two bathrooms and everything in them were painted, and we added new towel hooks, bigger mirrors, and a shelf under the mirrors. Paul reconfigured the kitchen to accommodate the new full-size stove donated by Jackie Haworth Hoy and microwave donated by the Nighteagles. When Paul wanted to expand the kitchen, he found matching cabinetry at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. The addition of a row of cabinets and cupboards and counter tops, where only a folding table stood before, added much needed storage and prep space. We set up a recycling bin. Cynthia Devlin donated the entry art featuring three buffalo (not knowing at the time that the Buffalo was a particular favorite of Felicitas). We created a library/lounge/bookstore section, repurposing the former dining table, and adding additional library tables and chairs. New bookcases house the bookstore. Ken Sharp partially donated the beautiful new ten-foot long dining table and chairs, which now allows a full workshop to comfortably dine together. We put many of the artifacts from Felicitas’ personal collection on display for all to enjoy. Her puppet collection, many of them handmade, hang over the sofas. The glass case is full of her pottery and pottery shards found on the land. I wanted newcomers who walk into the reception area to immediately see those things that readily define CI’s founder as anthropologist, linguist, folklorist, art collector, and all around remarkable woman.

Throughout the workshop season it was gratifying to hear from visitors and attendees how bright, welcoming and comfortable CI is. One of our workshop participants, Santa Fe sculptor Laird Hovland, donated a tall metal sculpture based on sacred portions, which Paul installed at the entrance to the main building.

In addition to two workshops, Paul and I held several complimentary “Open Kiva” afternoons to introduce locals to what we are doing here. In a couple of hours, we had a tour, a brief introductory lecture on the postures, a session in the Kiva (with wonderfully profound trance experiences) followed by a late lunch. Several of those attending went on to volunteer and attend workshops. I included the experiences reported in one of these afternoons in the article that I was invited to write for Sacred Hoop Magazine (see article in this newsletter)

Other workshops included one from Nick Brink, and Belinda Gore conducted Teacher Training. Belinda introduced us to Pojoaque Pueblo Governor George Rivera to renew the very positive relations that CI and the Pueblo have had over the years, and we took time out with her and her husband John to hike around Abiquiu, visit an Indian fair, and enjoy Santa Fe. Soaking in the mineral springs of Ojo Caliente helped recharge our batteries, as did several days camping in Chaco Canyon with Cynthia Devlin. GB Cornucopia, a park ranger specializing in the archeoastronomy, spent time with us after hours talking about his 25 years, and favorite theories, of this remarkable ceremonial site of the Anasazi.

Paul updated the look of the website, adding new features such as a button for donations via Paypal (hint: you don’t even need a paypal account, you can use a credit card!) and sign-up to receive the free almost-monthly enewsletter. This Paul edits, featuring his reports as well as the articles and correspondence received from people all over the world. Each newsletter is added to the online archives. To better serve our international community, we now have pages listing teachers in the US and abroad, and pages listing workshops and events not just at CI, both here and abroad. Thanks to Dee Doyle for transferring the old website over to WordPress, and getting us going.

We were fortunate to work with long-time teacher Barbara Clow and her husband Gerry, formerly of Bear & Co Publishing, to design a matching funds campaign. They donated $5,000 and the community matched it for a total of $10,000 raised.


Paul returned to CI in April of 2013, and had several projects underway by the time I joined him a few weeks later. He hired local kids to scrub and seal the brick floors of the main building and to give the floors of the shower stalls a new coat of epoxy. In the bunkhouse, Paul found new metal screen doors for the bunkhouse, and installed glass in the windows where there had been only screens. Volunteer Michael Ward Bailey painted and patched the old adobe bricks of the interior floors and walls. Michael introduced Paul to Dave Fazzenbach, a carpenter versed in the traditional building methods of the Southwest, which proved key to several projects. Dave replaced the temporary beams on the bunkhouse porch with carefully-fitted traditional poles, and carved corbels to match the existing ones. He also added rustic wood trim around the new windows, and carved whimsical door latches.

Mindful of the upcoming workshop season, Paul also wanted to make the Kiva more comfortable. First the existing roof fan was cleaned and balanced, so it now works nicely. The existing roof vent was leaking and permanently closed, so Paul took the opportunity to get more air circulation going by having Dave remove the old casing and build a new box, on hinges, that can be opened. Dave added shingles to prevent leaks and he carved decorative sticks to prop it open, as well as rustic hand-made wooden shutters for the Kiva windows. Dave’s experience dealing with wood rot on the exposed ends of roof viga s came in very handy as well. For the Bunkhouse and Kiva, which had extensive deterioration, his solution was to cut off the bad wood and inject a resin that stabilized the wood and halted the rot. Meanwhile, Paul designed and installed new pathways around a central plaza that connects the kiva to the bunkhouse and casita.

When Paul purchased eight new foam mattresses to give more options for a comfortable night’s sleep, volunteer Lena Kraler and I sewed up cases for them. Lena was visiting CI to research the work of Dr. Goodman for her thesis work at the Mozarteum, a University of Music and Dramatic Arts in her home town of Salzburg.

On the grounds, we placed new eight-foot picnic tables, hand-built from recycled cedar, in shady spots. Paul noted the erosion, and took steps to better deal with the occasional torrential downpours. New french drains were added at strategic places to better direct the runoff and leave pathways intact. Lynn Brewer had moved a lot of earth around with his bobcat. He plowed the arroyo adjacent to Kiva East which had filled in over the years, to help prevent storm rains from burying the entrance in mud. He shored up the narrow path that separated the cottage from a deep arroyo, and he widened the path past the Student Building so equipment could get onto the site where Paul was heading up a construction project. First working with a generous and anonymous donor for a dance platform, Paul proposed at last year’s board meeting that adding walls and a roof would create a multi-purpose space, for larger gatherings, drumming dances, and other events, in addition to its original purpose. The donor thought it was a great idea, too. Paul and his crew worked around the clock, from April through July. The new structure blends right into the landscape and blends nicely with the rest of CI.

2013 was another event-filled year at CI. The Board of Directors held a week-long retreat, where we visioneered, discussed, and focused on where CI has been and where CI is going, inspired by daily sessions in the Kiva. Paul and I held more Open Kiva days for those interested in touring CI and becoming acquainted with the Cuyamungue Method. Paul and I conducted two Initiatory Training (introductory) workshops along with a Masked Trance Dance and Teacher Training. Ki Salamen brought a group of Germans for a series of events, including two long-time teachers who knew Felicitas. Rae LeCompte, Jackie Haworth, and Stephanie Stephens, assisted by Cynthia Devlin, conducted an “Art and Spirit” workshop. Sue Bannister held the first-ever “Gathering of the Grandmothers” workshop. Jill Schumacher and Meredith McCord brought back their popular “”Experience the Dendera Zodiac through Ecstatic Trance Postures” exploring ancient Egyptian mysticism. Paul finished the workshop season with The First Annual Men’s Conclave. When if it was worth doing a men’s only workshop at CI, all agreed that yes, there was something special in the opportunity for men to just be men.

Early on, the new, second-largest structure at CI earned its name ”Hall of the Thunderbirds” due to a series of synchronistic events; see Paul’s story in this newsletter. Before it had a roof or walls, workshop attendees were enjoying the platform during free time for yoga, stretching and visiting, and we held drumming dances and celebrations under the Full Moons there. With its proximity to the dance court, it was a natural site to include in the Masked Trance Dance. The acoustics of the building are wonderful, making our time with the Whistling Vessels all the more profound.

The Hall was also the perfect setting for a visit by the musicians of, who brought out their sound equipment, computers, singing crystal bowls, digiridu, and other instruments. We began the evening with a brief introductory lecture and posture session, with Paul rattling. In sharing their vivid and detailed trance journeys, this group of twenty-somethings demonstrated to us again how powerful the Cuyamungue Method is, even with the briefest of instructions! And their transcendent and evocative “sound-show” showed us yet more ways in which sound and vibration are powerful tools for journeying in various ways.

A month later, we met Michael Nisley and Anouk Fusco who also offered to put on a sound-show, with an even more eclectic set of acoustic instruments. They set up three huge gongs, dozens of crystal bowls, and Peruvian pan pipes, flutes, and small wind roarers. Next to the crystal bowls were various colors of silk scarves; each vivid color offers its own unique vibrational frequency.

And the building proved a blessing during the summer’s unusually wet monsoon season, especially for Sue Bannister’s Grandmother’s workshop. When torrential rains reached record levels both in New Mexico and Colorado, the he only flooding at CI was the floor of the partially underground kiva. When covered with a couple of inches of water, and later, drying out, Sue simply moved her posture sessions to the new hall.

CI is looking forward to working with Jill Schumacher and Meredith McCord, both masters-prepared nurses with doctorates in Bioenergetic Medicine, on new research studies aimed at measuring the natural, safe physiological shifts that take place during practice of the Cuyamungue Method. They arrived at CI in September to conduct their workshop on postures and Egyptian mysticism, bringing along a suitcase full of biofeedback equipment. They stayed on a few days afterwards, inviting Paul and myself to be their first test subjects. They hooked us up to instruments measuring breath rate, heart rate, galvanic skin response, EEG, skin temperature, and capnometry. When they showed the results to their professors, who designed the equipment, they were so intrigued they expressed interest in coming back to CI with additional equipment for a more expanded research project. Look for upcoming reports from Jill and Meredith as this work progresses.

Paul and I met with potential donors regarding programs to further CI in academia, brain mind science, and other fields, as well as an attorney to understand how best to gather, protect and promote the Intellectual Property gifted to CI by its founder. Hella Cascorbi chose CI as her case study for her online course on professional fundraising, and attended a workshop to get better acquainted with what we do. I worked with Hella on the case study, and we plan to continue developing an overall fundraising program.

Belinda Gore continues to host conference calls with Instructors, and she traveled to Chile to conduct several workshops, including Instructor Training.  Nick Brink published a book “The Power of Ecstatic Trance” and will a soon to be released second book”Baldr’s Magic.”

CI has been blessed with the contributions of so many, making it stronger, better, and more viable for the future. If you have made a contribution and do not find yourself on the following list, please drop a quick note to Paul for inclusion. On behalf of the entire Cuyamungue Institute community, we wish to express our gratitude to the following people.

Those Who Volunteered Their Time:

Lynn Brewer
Dave Fazenbaker
Michael Bailey Ward
Peter Lipa
Joi Jencuyah
Ryan Headrick
Cynthia Devlin
Duane Marcus
Dee Doyle
Lena Kraler

Those Who Shared Their Expertise:

Alexander Smith
Tommy Thompson
Dave Shank
Bob Schwartzberg
Hella Cascorbi
Barbara Cox
Ken Sharples
Torin Andrews
Cathy Cavanaugh
Kate Walker

Those Contributed Items for CI:

Laird Hovland
Kim Miller
Alfonz and April Viszolay
Lynn Brewer
David and Sherry Nighteagle
Dave Sharp
May Hsi
Nick Brink
TJ and Terry Walker
Joi Jencuyah
Meredith McCord
Jill Schumacher

Those Who Made Financial Contributions:

The Lester and Bernice Smith Foundation
Barbara and Gerry Clow
Belinda Gore
Hermine Brzobohaty-Theuer
Dorte Bergmann
Eva Maria Bergmann
Abby and Alan Ismond
Jackie Haworth
Cynthia Devlin
David & Sherry Nighteagle
Nick Brink
Peter Lipa
Gina Yoli
Lynne Stokke
Sara Gall
Marianne Carroll
Diana Scott
Jana Fasbender
Gary Heine
Tannis Hugill
Deborah Neff
Stephanie Stevens
Lisa Woodside
Zarin Zazar
Jackie Haworth
Rae LeCompte
Paul and Laura Lee

We also want to thank the CI Board of Directors for their volunteer service: Rae LeCompte, Jackie Haworth, Stephanie Stephens, Cynthia Devlin, Alan Ismond, and Paul and myself are the board members.

What are you doing for CI? There’s so much going on all over the world! Please keep us all informed with reports for inclusion in this newsletter.