Virgil Mayor Apostol introduces Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions
(North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 2010)
ANCESTRAL JOURNEY INTO THE FUTURE
I come from a patrilineal and matrilineal bloodline of healers. Rosa delos Santos (1890–1947), my father’s mother, was a healer from Alcala, Pangasinan, who later migrated to Camiling, Tarlac, to be with her husband, Maximo “Simon” de Guzman Apostol. Although I never had the opportunity to meet her while she was still walking the earth, her knowledge was nevertheless passed on to me through my father, an advocate of natural healing cures who familiarized me with important principles of healing.
I was also blessed to grow up in the same home in which my maternal grandmother lived. Her name was Alejandra “Allang” Melandrez Miguel (circa 1897–1996) of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, a province located in the north-western part of Luzon. Her husband, Lucio Respicio Mayor (?–1950), also of Laoag, was a healer and expert in the native fighting art of Arnis de mano. My grandmother’s mother, Susana Melandrez, died in the process of giving birth to her, due to complications of my grandmother being breech (suni).
It is a common belief in the Philippines that a breech birth will produce a great healer and midwife. In my grandmother’s case, fate was determined not only by the passing of this gift through the bloodline but also by cultural and social expectations. It was as if through the sacrificial death of my great-grandmother, hundreds of lives would be born or healed at the hands of her daughter, my grandmother.
“Apo Allang,” as I will refer to my grandmother throughout this book (Apo, a title of reverence for an elder), was an accomplished healer and midwife who gained the skills from her father, my great-grandfather, Leon Miguel (?–1941), who was popularly known as “Ama Lakay,” a title for a venerable elder. Ama Lakay was from Agunit, Dingras (now Pacifico, Marcos), located near the foothills of the Cordillera Mountains that extend throughout the eastern part of Ilocos Norte. As a traveling healer who provided indigenous medical services to the people, Ama Lakay had his daughter accompany and eventually assist him during his healing sessions and midwifery.
Alejandra Melandrez Miguel Mayor (ca. 1897–1996),
my maternal grandmother, was a distinguished healer,
bonesetter, and midwife.
Apo Allang practiced healing and midwifery in Laoag until she and her husband, Apo Lucio, migrated to Isabela in the 1930s. Her practice continued in Ilocos Norte and flourished in Isabela during their frequent trips between the two provinces. In Isabela they first settled in Vira, which is now Roxas, adjacent to the eastern central region of Mountain Province, where they became intimate with people who called themselves Allai and who occupied the mountain foothills. Apo Allang consequently extended her healing work to this ethnolinguistic group. With the coming of World War II, they resettled in the town of Naguilian where she was responsible for pioneering traditional medicine and midwifery.
By 1965 Naguilian had a population of about 10,000. In spite of the fact that her two assistants gained sufficient skills to practice on their own, Apo Allang was still in great demand for her services, being the senior healer and midwife. With her reputation, it was often required for her to be in two to three places at one time.
The Gift of Healing Revealed
The bulk of my early teachings came through visual transmission when I would observe Apo Allang working with people who had come to her for treatments. I guess you can say that I was her assistant, holding a bottle of coconut oil in one hand and a bottle of liniment in the other. I was always fascinated with her skills, and I never failed to take the opportunity to witness her in action. With patient after patient, her various maneuvers I observed ingrained themselves deep in my subconscious mind and into my superconscious mind, as would be revealed later in my life. I never learned the midwifery skills that were passed on to her, and although the treatments that I witnessed only called for Ablon, a form of traditional manual medicine (neurovascular and musculoskeletal manipulation and stimulation combined with bonesetting), assisting Apo Allang never lost its appeal for me.
Growing up as a child, I would spend hours in my father’s vast vegetable garden, observing and catching bugs and lizards. I also held a reverence and fascination for stones. As my mother put it, I had rocks in my head. This part of my childhood steeped in me a love for a jungle atmosphere and an interest in the metaphysical properties and esoteric uses of things found in nature.
With my sister, Vilma, and holding a staff, 1968. My first and last names root from
Latin and Greek and mean “one who bears the staff of a messenger who follows
in the teachings that come directly from the source.”
No Doctor in the House
My first experience as a healer took place in 1982 when I was eighteen years old and a freshman at the Adventist University of the Philippines, which was then called “Philippine Union College.” I was quietly reading a book in my dormitory room when my roommates rushed in carrying another roommate who was apparently injured. They were playing basketball when one of them sprained his ankle. Since neither the campus doctor nor nurses were on duty, they turned to me and asked if I knew what to do. Visions of Apo Allang treating her patients flashed my mind. With a calm composure, I examined my roommate’s ankle and then asked for a bulb of ginger, which was quickly retrieved from the campus store.
After crushing the ginger and squeezing the juice on his ankle, I began to systematically apply Ablon to the ankle as Apo Allang had done in such cases. It was as if her spirit was running through me. My injured roommate squirmed in pain at my touch, while a couple of others threw teasing remarks at him, stirring everyone into laughter. Not paying attention to the distractions around me, I continued with full concentration, while my roommates slipped into curious silence, watching every maneuver with anticipation of what was to follow.
As a freshman at Philippine Union College when I first took the role
of a healer. Silang, Cavite.
While maneuvering his ankle into its range-of-motion, I was surprised at myself for executing healing skills I didn’t realize I possessed. The movements that had been ingrained in my superconscious mind were now emerging. When I ended the treatment, my roommate responded, “Nalaingen!” (It is better now!). I was proud of myself, sensing that I had accomplished a great deed.
When afternoon came, my recuperating roommate informed me that he had visited the campus doctor. Immediately, I felt crushed. I thought that “I” had already healed his sprained ankle. Did he hold some doubts in what I did? The praise that I received from my other roommates disintegrated in my mind. My ego burst. While trying to keep a straight face and accepting what he was admitting, he continued with an unenthusiastic look and said, “Isu met la isu” (Just the same). Upon examination, the doctor had merely manipulated the ankle. After hearing this, my ego began to mend. Realizing the gift of healing had passed down within my family bloodline, I was struck by something more important for its development: a lesson in humility.
Our zoology class had an excursion at a marine sanctuary, which was home to sealife, such as fish, octopus, and sea cucumbers. One of our fellow classmates accidentally stepped on a sea urchin, embedding some of its spine in his foot. Our teacher told us that if we urinated on his foot, the urine would act as an antidote, so three of us males stood above his foot attempting to release a flow of urine. Unfortunately, none of us had a full bladder, and our classmate had to wait for someone else to urinate on his foot. As funny as it may have seemed, we walked away with a new-found knowledge of using urine.
In My Blood
About a year after my first healing encounter, a woman came to me and asked me to Ablon her leg. “Why was she asking me?” I thought to myself. I told her to see Apo Allang, but she insisted that I do it because her problem required stronger hands. Despite my attempts in passing on the job, she told me that I had the skills because it was in my blood. As if a lasso had been flung around my body, I knew that I could no longer escape and hesitantly accepted. After going through the motions on what I thought was right, she responded by saying, “O, kitaem . . . mayaten!” (Oh, you see . . . it’s okay now!). I later learned that within a lineage of healers, it is strongly believed that someone down the genetic line is sure to inherit the same talents, similar to a family of musicians in which the gift of music is passed down through the descendants. I have heard of other similar cases of people in need going to certain individuals for healing, knowing that the gift of healing runs in their blood in spite of these individuals being unaware that they had any potential to heal.
The numerous spiritual encounters, stories, myths, legends, the various healers healing both physical and metaphysical ailments, and the events that took place, all contributed to my outlook in life. These incidents, among others, eventually launched me into the physical and spiritual worlds of healing as practiced in my motherland, the Philippine archipelago.
The Archipelago’s Early Names
Historically, various names have been cited for the archipelago. Some are accepted among scholars, while others are disputed. Ironically, non- Filipinos assigned the majority of these names. An island group of what is now known as the Philippines was known among the early Chinese and Japanese merchants as part of the Liu-kiu (Liu-chiu, Loo-choo, Lu-chu, Lieu-kieu) island chain, which partially extended from northern Taiwan to the southern tip of Luzon. Liu-kiu was probably the same location described by the Japanese as Mishima, or “Three Islands,” that included Taiwan, Luzon, and a third, which is possibly the Visayas. Spanish chroniclers spoke of discovering the Lequios Islands. In Relación de descubrimiento y conquisto de la isla de Luzon y Mindoro, written in 1572 by a chronicler in an earlier expedition to the northern coast of Luzon before that of Captain Juan de Salcedo, it is stated that “there is a province called Iloguio, which they say is very rich in gold. The Spaniards have not seen it yet.”
The Philippine archipelago consists of islands located in Southeast Asia, north of
Indonesia, east of Vietnam, south of Taiwan, and northwest of Micronesia.
Map courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
The Spanish had variants to the name Iliukiu: Yllocos (pronounced “Il-yo-cos” in Castilian Spanish), Yloquio, Ylocos, Ilocos, and Ylucos. When the “i” prefix is added to the root word, this indicates the place of origin. Hence, Iliukiu means “from the Liu-kiu district.” This also points out why almost all the ethnic nomina in northern Luzon begin with the letter “i” prefix, such as Ibaloi, Ibanag, Ifugao, Ikalahan, Ilokano, Ilongot, Iraya, Isinai, Isneg, Itawis, Itbayat, Itneg, Ivatan, Iwak, etc.
A Negrito woman of Palanan, Isabela. Note the ornamental scar patterns that are
still in vogue among certain Philippine Negritos, the people of Papua New Guinea, and
the pygmies of Africa. In her left ear is medicine for a headache, and the medicine around
her neck is for a sore throat. National Geographic, September 1912.
Whether or not Liu-kiu once referred to the island of Luzon is a question of debate. In modern times, however, Liu-kiu refers to the three principal Ryukyu Island groups of Anami, Okinawa, and Sakishima, and not to Taiwan or Luzon. Ryukyu is perceived as a rope with several knots floating on the open sea or as a string of pearls, the latter actually being a fitting title for the 7,107 islands and islets of the Philippine archipelago, which was once popularly called the “Pearl of the Orient.”
Other names assigned to the islands in the past were ma-i or ma-yi; Liu Sing, Lui Shing, or Lu Sung (Lands adjacent to the Mainland, and most likely the precursor to what is now Luzon, the biggest island in the archipelago); San-hsii or San Tao (Three Islands); Haitan, referring to the Aeta or Negrito ethnic groups believed to be descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants; Islas del Poniente (Islands of the Setting Sun); and the Sanskrit Panyupayana (Lands Surrounded by Water).
The name “Philippine Islands” comes from Las Islas Felipinas sometime after Spain claimed part of the central archipelago (Samar and Leyte) and named it accordingly to honor Prince Felipe II of Spain, who would later become king (1556–98). As a result the people, whom the Spanish referred to as indios (Indians), were eventually called “Filipinos,” a title that was originally reserved for pureblooded Spanish born in the archipelago.
Asian neighbors of the Philippines all have changed their names for political and spiritual reasons; hence, Formosa was changed to Taiwan, Dutch East Indies to Indonesia, Siam to Thailand, French Indochina to Vietnam, Burma to Myanmar, Kampuchea to Cambodia, Chosan to Korea, East Pakistan to Bangladesh, and Ceylon to Sri Lanka. Following these examples, an official attempt for a name change was filed as Parliamentary Bill #195 in 1978 in the Interim Batasang Pambansa for the Philippines to be changed to the Republic of Maharlika. The main motive was to help heal the psychological and social affect of the people resulting from 333 years of colonization, which is still reflected in modern society, and the underlying historical stigma associated with the current name.
A group of Negritos, two of whom are wearing top hats. From Alden March,
The History and Conquest of the Philippines and Our Other Island Possessions, 1899.
As documented by Eddie U. Ilarde and the Maharlika Foundation, Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (Shrii Shrii Anandamurti), an Indian scholar, philosopher, spiritual teacher, philologist, and linguist, says that “Maharlika” comes from the following Sanskrit derivatives: Maha, which in Sanskrit means good; La means a cup or container; Lik, meaning small; and A, which is a feminine gender suffix. Together, they mean “a small place of great people” or “a small container filled with great things.” Maharlika also breaks down into Maja, or great, as in Taj Mahal, Mahatma Gandhi, Mahayana, Mahabharata, and other noble names; and Likha, which means to be born or created. “Maharlika” therefore means “nobly created” or “born great.”
Map of the Philippine archipelago. Map courtesy of The General Libraries,
The University of Texas at Austin.
Indonesian scholars of the Yayasan Kawi Sastra Mandala Foundation attest to the findings of the name Maharlika through their efforts in restructuring Asian history and culture prior to Western colonization. The Indonesian word Merdeka, which means freedom, came from the Sanskrit Maharddhika, which can be considered the mother word of Maharlika. Therefore, a Maharlikan is one who is born noble and free.
As with any political endeavor, this attempted name change has been met with both acceptance and opposition by either those who are ready to elevate above and beyond the suppressive effects of the colonial mentality or those who are pessimistic worshipers of the “half-empty” glass, pointing toward the faults of others while not grasping the idea of potential positive change.
Animism and Spirit of a People
We all strive for our basic needs: food, shelter, and clothing. We attempt to live in harmony with nature, and we seek for an understanding of a greater source of power that oversees us. Being part of that greater power, we express ourselves in limitless ways. Human ideas give form to diversity, while this same diversity gives form to new ideas. When diversity and ideas are set in time and space, we create an even greater puzzle, where not one single piece is missing. This is not a three-dimensional puzzle but a fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-dimensional puzzle, a multidimensional puzzle that sometimes extends beyond our average capacity for understanding mysterious and wondrous things.
In the Philippines, as well as many other countries that evolved from an animistic culture, Spirit takes the role of expression for the unknown. This is evident in the perception of certain phenomena, such as the interpretation of natural occurrences leading to certain events; illness attributed to an ancestral, elemental, or some mischievous spirit; and even signs coming from animals or revealing spirits dictating future events. For example, while I was driving home from work, a feather that I hung on my rearview mirror somehow detached and fell on me. I knew that it was an omen. When I arrived, I was given word that my grandmother, Apo Allang, just passed away. Another example was while with a patient, I suddenly slipped into an altered state and received a vivid vision of a blue and orange salaksak or “kingfisher” fluttering on the ground, a bird that forewarns people of illness or death of a close one (see plate 28). A week afterward, one of my uncles passed away.
At times certain phenomena that take place must be paid attention to. Kuniong was a close friend since my preteen years. One day he called, sharing his plans to vacation with his family in Hawai‘i and that he was looking forward to seeing me there in a couple of weeks, not realizing that I had just relocated back to California. A couple of weeks finally had passed when during one quiet evening, the lights in the house began to flicker, and the music on my computer was skipping, stopping intermittently, and playing different music at will. In fact, the entire computer system went haywire and continued even after rebooting the system. Sensing a spiritual presence, I called out for the disorder to stop, but soon was overcome by the need to pay attention. Turning off the music and lighting a candle, I played my bamboo flute and announced that if there was a message of goodwill to be relayed, the spirit was most welcome. I then closed my eyes and slipped into a period of silence.
The following day, I received word that my dear friend, Kuniong, unexpectedly drowned while on vacation. I was in total shock. But when I recalled the electronic disturbance the previous evening, I broke down and cried, realizing that it was he who paid a visit. Upon sharing the news with my brother Vidal, he too expressed having experienced some odd malfunctioning of his computer about the same time.
I am reminded of another event in the Philippines when the coffin lid was being closed, I felt the spiritual presence of the loved one who passed away. All the hairs on my body stood on end, accompanied by a comforting sensation. When I shared this experience with one of the church members, she paused for a while and replied, “The devil will reveal itself in many different ways.” I was in total disbelief with her response, but soon realized that it was my fault for opening up to just anyone.
Although certain Christian doctrines teach that such events are the work of the devil, from an indigenous perspective, this is not the case. It is a reality that merely points to a transition from the physical plane to an etheric one and that visitations from departed souls are not unheard of, especially when ties are close or people are receptive. If seen from this context, it provides a hint of how our ancestors were truly in tune with the spirit world.
The term anito derives from the original Austronesian ani for “soul” or “spirit” and the Malay to or toh for “resident of the head.” Thus, Spirit, as a central theme, developed with the Philippine anito, the Malaysian antu, the Indonesian hantu, the Micronesian aniti, and the Polynesian aitu. Within Taiwan, aboriginal ethnic groups from Taiwan that are ethnically and linguistically related to Filipinos recognize Spirit as anito (Tao or Yami), hanido (Bunun), utux (Seediq and Atayal), and hicu (Tsou). Interestingly, among some of the First Nation peoples, the Odawa, Ojibway, and Potawatomi, in particular, who inhabit the Great Lakes region bordering the United States and Canada, “Great Spirit” is known as Manitou.
It is also found in the Ilokano term aniwaas, one of the four souls of man according to ancient Ilokano belief. Interestingly, the Endo-European Latin words anima and animus represent the feminine and masculine soul or spirit principle, as well as the breath. In Icelandic, spirit is andi. This reflects the relationship of languages and how certain words or concepts span the globe.
The Challenge in Categorizing Animistic and Healing Practices
An “animist” is one who believes that natural objects, natural phenomena, and everything else in the universe possesses a spirit or soul. Something that is “animated” is full of life and vigor. Animism is very alive in the Philippines for it is deeply rooted in the consciousness of the people, serving as a base for personal and communal perspectives in life.
Various attempts have been made by Western cultural anthropologists to identify and categorize various animistic and healing practices from an “etic” perspective. In other words, the lens of the viewer is looking in from the outside as would often be the case of those studying the culture and making observations and conclusions based on a foreign model. Another approach has been attempted to understand the culture via an “emic” perspective, or viewing the culture from within.
In Western societies, it is possible to distinguish medical practitioners based on their college degree and licensure. Attempts have been made to label certain cultural healers as a “shaman,” “priest” or “priestess,” “medicine man” or “medicine woman,” “medium,” and “faith healer,” among others. There is, however, a very thin line that categorizes whether a healer is one of these, and therefore inappropriate or limiting, because many of the healers possess several, if not all, of the above skills. For example, my grandmother was a mangngablon (one who deals in conditions that call for manual medicine), mangngilut or mammaltut (traditional midwife), mammullo (bonesetter), mangngagas (medicine man or woman), and mangngallag or baglan (shaman priestess whose duties include spiritual healing, divining, and counseling) all tied into one. Although it is more appropriate to address individuals with such titles according to the specific needs as they arise, it will suffice to use them as specialties in this book.
During the 1950s researchers agreed that the Western approach to fieldwork could not account for all their anthropological data. Mikhal Polyani then initiated an inquiry into a wordless, inferential style, which he called, “tacit knowing” or a knowing-through-feeling. By the 1990s constructivist psychology was born, with Vittorio Guidano and Guiseppe Liotti of the Center of Cognitive Therapy in Rome suggesting two distinct ways of knowing: tacit and explicit knowing. The introduction of explicit knowing explained a secondary process of recognizing contrasts and differentiating parts when making linear, rational decisions.
Virgilio Enriquez, who earned his PhD in social psychology from the Northwestern University in Illinois, introduced tacit knowing into what is now Sikolohiyang Pilipino or Filipino Psychology, which is rooted in the history, language, arts, and common experience of the people of Malayo-Polynesian and Asian heritage. The theory of tacit knowing is crucial since many Filipino skills cannot be explained by standard academic psychology. It is assumed to be the older way of human understanding because it works with the primary processes of sensing, intuiting, and feeling.
Katrin de Guia, who backs up Enriquez’s view in her book, Kapwa: The Self in the Other, provides examples of how Filipinos find directions without maps, read body gestures, and participate in the feelings of others regardless of distance by interpreting metaphors, dreaming of places and events before they happen, and deriving signs from complexities in nature, among others. She further points out the Igorot small-scale miner who knows where the gold is without any assaying, and faith healers who feel the locations of clients’ sores before examinations.
Feeling as a way of knowing taps into the systemic memory of the mythic man. It draws on the memory of nature. Connectedness is the precondition for this feeling as a way of knowing. Such feeling can be overwhelming at times and sometimes hurt, as it is not as easily controlled as thought.
De Guia further wrote that feeling-through-knowing also requires surrender with a sense of vulnerability and other infantlike qualities. Feelings as a way of knowing offer no blueprints, but instead understanding from experience. The theories of tacit and explicit ways of knowing are explored in this book throughout the Filipino traditions discussed.
Spirit Mediums and Shaman Priests
Mediums around the world are known as channels to the spirit world, acting as vessels in receiving information and wisdom. The mangnganito (spirit medium) is known to communicate with spirit guides, such as ancestral spirits. In a Christian perspective, these spirit mediums receive dialogue with angels or various saints.
When the mangnganito goes into a trance, he is bound to the actions of the spirit and sometimes emerges out of this trance not knowing what took place or what was said. For this reason, an assistant is usually present to transcribe everything the spirit channels through the medium while in a trance.
As for the mangngallag as shaman, animistic practices serve as the archetype foundation. It is this very reason why parallelism exists between shamanic cultures around the globe. Classic practices include soul journeying into cosmic worlds, soul loss, soul retrieval, soul theft, and extraction of entities. Unlike the mangnganito or spirit mediums, the mangngallag is aware of everything transpiring and is in full control. When in an altered state of consciousness, the spirits communicated with are commanded to follow specific instructions or demands.
In his book, Shamanism, Piers Vitebsky cites Roger N. Walsh, MD, PhD, who explains that shamanic states of consciousness should not be confused with meditative and yogic states. Walsh disputes the belief that shamans, yogis, and Buddhists all “access” the same state of consciousness and that shamanic states of consciousness are intensely concentrated with the experiences being coherent and highly organized according to the purpose of the journey. Yoga and Buddhist vipassana “insight” meditation is based on concentration and focus of awareness of one’s bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts, and mental states, whereas shamanic consciousness is a highly aroused state flying between cosmic worlds and battling with spirits. I have experienced the dilemma of attempting to describe my shamanic encounters with nonshamanic practitioners of yoga who naively interpret my experiences from a pranic or meditation point of view.
Throughout the book, practitioners, such as the mangngallag or mumbaki, are sometimes referred to as a “shaman” or “shaman priest” in an attempt to provide a more thorough description, since the practices of shamans and priests can overlap. For example, both may offer prayers and move into altered states of consciousness, travel to cosmic worlds, or counter acts of sorcery. In the dilemma of categorization, there is also a very thin line that separates a shaman and priest.
With such a complex background of influences that lead to the development of the healing arts, it is important to document and comprehend the origins and traditional practices of not only the Filipino healing traditions but also all the ancient healing practices. In so doing, we would be able to better comprehend their role in today’s society and their future implications and contributions to the greater pool of healing knowledge. Let us continue this ancestral journey into the future.
A species of the banyan, locally known as balite (Ficus Benjamina), is considered
an abode of spirits, which is why both children and adults alike fear and respect
the tree. Maria, Aurora.
[Editor's Note: Not all of the images presented with the Introduction in the book are included. You are encouraged to peruse the book which contains 355 photographs.]
 Manansala, Quests of the Dragon and Bird Clan, 162.
 National Media Production Center, Region 1, 10.
 Some researchers have attempted to correlate the word Iluko with “luek” or “luok,” which are coves found throughout the coast. Other researchers, however, affirm that these place names derive from Ilukong, describing people of the plains, valleys, and lowlands.
 Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera’s Etimologia de los Nombres de Roxas de Filipinas, quoted in Gagelonia, The Filipinos of Yesteryears, 453.
 P.R. Sarkar quote in Ilarde, The Philippines at a Glance, 10-11. The Maharlika Foundation is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, sociocivic, values-oriented organization supporting spiritual endeavors for national renewal and moral renaissance.
 Gagelonia, The Filipinos of Yesteryears, 465.
 De Guia, Kapwa: The Self in the Other, 226.
 Ibid, 25.
 Ibid, 226.
 Vitebsky, Shamanism, 146, 148.
Virgil Mayor Apostol, BBA, B.MSc, HHP, who goes by the moniker "Nagabuaya," descends from a maternal and paternal bloodline of indigenous healers, and has also been blessed to receive the teachings of other respected elders. He has dedicated himself to the research, development, and promotion of his ancestral traditions. His background includes: founder of Applied Sciences of Indigenous Healing; author of Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions (North Atlantic Books, 2010); co-author of Healing Hands of Hilot (1997); instructor of Didya Mudgara: Warrior Club Calisthenics; educational speaker; and workshop presenter. In March of 2015, Apostol was bestowed the honorary title of “Open Eye Master” from the School of Pyramids, thereby initiated into the International Circle of Masters. He is based in Southern California.