• Jenna Stanton

    Jenna Stanton
    Please introduce yourself & give us a glimpse into your world. Where are you located? What are you currently creating?

    Bozho (Hello), my name is Jenna Stanton and I am an Eastern Woodland Artist perforating the veil to connect with my ancestors, the other than human and
    the spaces between. You may see me referred to as Barred Owl, who is a special guide to my family and myself throughout the years. Gokok’o (Barred Owl) is a
    spirit guide though not my spirit name. She teaches me who I am and I’m one who is akin to the dream world and liminal realms. I could be described as barred- shy, reserved, and protective of my world. I’m very crepuscular.
    I come from the Ozarks in southern Missouri and currently live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, previous home to the three fires alliance of Potawatomi, Odawa and
    Ojibwe, the Shawnee, Huron, Sauk, Fox and other tribes. Before them, mound builders, and before them...woodland spirits.
    My work is highly intuitive and much of it relies on a pulling, the direction is relative to my path and that path is searching for ways to create a world for myself, and others, through ceremonial tattoos, handmade baskets and visual art that holds great power because of the intention I put into it. I only harvest when I am given consent and strive to only create authentically. To create through intuition with handwork that typically is without modern tools or materials is quite special and powerful for the beholder.
    I am currently creating a design for a special project that will honor my native ancestors who fought to protect their homelands during the early days of this
    country. It incorporates Eastern Woodland patterns and weapons and is hand drawn. I have great interest in older tools and weapons of my ancestors so this project has been intriguing to study and create. Now that I am focusing on creating as a primary means of living, I’m finding that I have a lot of unfinished things like arrows and knife sheaths. My favorite things to create are utilitarian but made from the land. Even better if I can learn to create without metal tools or
    modern crutches like store-bought glues or dyes. I suppose one would call my passions technologically primitive. Carving a traditional longbow out of Osage
    orange was a highlight in my creative endeavors. I love making cordage, tanning hides and bone tools and that’s what I’m going to do this cold season.

    hand made dream catcher suspended from a tree branch

    Can you tell us about a childhood experience that was profound or life changing? Or a memory that still resonates with you today?

    I’ve always been someone connected to the dream world and the unseen.
    As a young person I have a memory where I am floating above my body while I am walking outside. I can see the top of my head and I feel very tall as I look in through the window of my home that I want to open since my family and I had accidentally been locked out of the house. Somehow this dream came up in conversation later in life and it turns out that the memory I had from a dream was from an actual experience in my childhood where I am out of body.
    I’ve had many of those experiences throughout my life and most of them have been unintentional and they were terrifying but I have learned more about that
    ability and I now have a better handle on it where I feel I have authority and control. In a way, it can empower me.

    Dreams are crucial for me to understand my innate ability to be connected with my energy body as well as my physical body. I have had dreams about plants I knew nothing about and then found that particular helper the next day on a hike. It’s still bizarre to me but whatever ability it is that I have is one that I believe was critical to my ancestors’ survival- an intuitive relationship with all things. And this gift translates to my waking life. I am not just a dreamer but my dreams guide me when I am awake.

    What daily rituals or practices, if any, connect you with the spiritual realms?

    Recalling my dreams and the feeling behind the symbols helps me understand the underlying current in my life. Smudging myself with kishki (cedar) or wishkpemishkos (sweetgrass) and making my intentions for the day. I also do this before working on a basket or tattooing or anything I create. I have found that literally setting intentions will bring about that intent so I have been making a habit of it. Literally, creating my world.
    Hiking is typically a daily habit. I practice walking slowly, being led and leaving an offering, typically of food or sema (tobacco), for the natural world and all that it provides for me. When I do this a conversation happens between me and the land and I receive gifts and insight. Maybe that gift is a feather or maybe I remember I am where I need to be. It’s grounding and rejuvenating for me.

    What parts of the world do your ancestors come from? What inspires you most about your ancestral cultural background?
    My ancestors are Eastern Woodland, Celtic and Germanic people. They are Citizen Potawatomi and Cherokee (unenrolled), French (fur traders), German from Hamburg, Germany and immigrant Scottish farmers are as much as I know at the moment.

    I am mixed blood and that can sometimes be confusing to people who do not have the experience of being Native and European settler in the United States, but
    what I find so fascinating and I think people of European descent sometimes forget, is that all of our ancestors know how to live with the land and that is the
    most crucial knowledge. This is why I chose the name boneawl for instagram because that is a tool used by all cultures, we really are all connected and it is through living with the land that we can find common ground.
    I have lived in Ann Arbor for 3 years now and in that time I have found that I had spent much of my adult life traveling back and forth on the Potawatomi trail of
    death where my ancestors were forced to leave their homelands of the southern Great Lakes area in the early 1800s towards Indian Country (Oklahoma.) It wasn’t
    my intention at all to travel that path. I was pulled from the Ozarks to the Great Lakes. I feel that it’s my path to retrace my steps to the old ways.

    How do you stay connected to your ancestors?

    Listening and being on the land. By learning how to live without modern tools and materials and only take what is needed. The land provides everything we need and being able to revive those skills and connections strengthens my bond with my ancestors who needed the land and knew how to obtain what they needed
    while living in balance. I want to honor the richness we are all inherently born into. I ask them for guidance and leave gifts. I steward the land by weeding, planting,
    removing trash and studying the intricate relationships between all things to help me be a better relative.
    My dreams connect me to my ancestors. Passed ones that I knew in this life visit me from time to time and guide me. Smudging and meditation also connects me to them. Really, being on the land is it. I will have a thought or question that needs an answer and somehow it appears. I wouldn’t say that I even intentionally do this- it just happens. I suppose my strong connection to the natural world is really a partnership that I strengthen daily.
    Where in nature do you seek inspiration / healing /refuge? In other words do you have a “spot” or an activity? Please describe.

    Typically off path and somewhere hidden. I search for solace. Sometimes it’s a field where I lay in the grass or a stone or tree that calls to me to sit by it but I like to be alone for hours feeling the energy of the earth. Although I use technology it’s very minimal and it drains me quickly. The natural world is still as mesmerizing as it was when I was young. It’s all about the feeling, like in a dream, that tells me what I need to know and that I am a part of it all. Magick is at every turn and the land satisfies me in a way that the modern world cannot.

    What is the last good book you read?

    Toltec Dreaming: Don Juan’s Teachings on the Energy Body by Ken Eagle Feather. Can you tell that dreaming is important to me? The Toltec path described in that
    book along with the Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda shows how one can harness their dreaming body with their waking body to achieve higher
    consciousness. Don Juan’s teachings show that death is a great advisor to find what matters most and to be a warrior in spite of fear because we are already
    considered dead so what’s left to stand in our way?
    The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks has helped to change my life dramatically. Universal laws are very real. The Law of Attraction has helped me
    move into a place of personal power I hadn’t previously known about. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to deliberately create their own world.

    Where can people find you & your work?
    On the land. I’m tattooing in Ann Arbor and hopefully I will be able to travel and possibly do a guest spot next year. I am working on a website and wanting to find a way to share my creative work through more professional boundaries.
    Although instagram is extremely helpful for artists and connecting with like minds, I am looking for more secure ways to connect and I have always found blogs, newsletters, classes and tactile connections to be helpful in learning so I hope to share some insight into ways to live like our ancestors in a context outside of
    social media. Until then, I can be reached at jennastanton@gmail.com for art and tattoos. With my focus now on creating as a primary means to make a living, you’ll see this little scorpion transform with the swiftness and vision of a raptor.
    Migwetch (Thank you) Ancestral Thread for this interview and for all who have read it and support me. Bama pi. (Until we meet again).