“Rashani’s non-sectarian offerings are rooted in nature, the direct approach, ancient perennial wisdom traditions and several contemporary psycho-spiritual teachings. Her way is seasoned with the wisdom, warmth and compassion of one who, “coerced by grace” at a young age, has traversed the pathless journey since the age of twelve.
She invites people to befriend the unwanted circumstances and unpredictable conditions of life, to discover That which is beyond brokenness and conditioning; to relish the simple miracles in the most ordinary and unexpected places… She shows others how to make nectar out of poison; how to find the gold within what has previously been perceived as pain.
Through a natural blend of genuine curiosity, transparent communication and sustained inquiry, she offers a rare combination of meta-skills honed from several decades of experience. Rashani demystifies the art of alchemy by encouraging others to directly experience their own alchemical transformation. With unconditioned Presence, she reminds us how to dissolve the veils/deconstruct the stories that often hide the intrinsic wholeness, radiance and boundless compassion abiding in all beings. Through example she joyously reminds us how to undo the knots of suffering so that every moment becomes an opportunity for awakening.”
Born into a family of artists, Rashani was given the choice to write poetry or wash dishes as a child. She began writing poetry and studying sumi-e brush painting at the age of 8. A collection of her illustrated poems was published in Contact magazine in 1964 when she was 12 years old.
A year later, after marching with Martin Luther King Jr, Rashani began donating artwork to local exhibitions which were held as benefits for the Civil Rights movement. This was the beginning of her impassioned journey as a social/eco-activist.
Inspired throughout childhood by the art and calligraphy of Sister Corita and by the collages of Matisse and Yanko Varda, a family friend, Rashani studied collage and calligraphy with Sister Monica Julie, a colleague of Corita’s, in 1966 and ’67.
During the summers of 1968 and ’69 Rashani lived and worked at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico. It was there that she was introduced to group council, discovered meditation and a love of building, spent time with the Pueblo people, and joyously washed dishes for 25 to 30 people.
In 1969 and ’70, Rashani raised money for war-injured Vietnamese children through ‘The Committee of Responsibility’ and for a school on the Rosebud Indian reservation in Carter, South Dakota. In protest of the war in Vietnam, Rashani and her family moved to Europe in June of 1970 and settled in Hampshire, England. On several occasions she attended talks by Krishnamurti at Brockwood Park. After 3 years in England, studying pottery, training as a Montessori teacher and teaching in a Summerhill-like school, Rashani moved, with her family, to the south of France.
During the 70′s Rashani was involved in the feminist movement in France, England and Denmark and her life was impacted by several prominent feminist theologians, activists and writers. Rashani also discovered herbal medicine and homeopathy in the mid 70′s when her son was diagnosed with incurable eczema. She was introduced to a grassroots natural healing community among the older French peasants, elders with whom she spent considerable time.
In 1974, Rashani’s brother entered a Zen monastery in Japan and this deeply influenced her life. Throughout the 70′s and 80′s she was ignited by the resurgence of women’s spirituality, shamanism and Buddhism and spent time at Tibetan Buddhist centers in France, Italy, Scotland and India, visited women’s collectives in Europe, Canada and North America and spent time with Native American teachers throughout North and South America. She was adopted as a sister by Brooke Medicine Eagle in the early 80′s and a year later by Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, into the Wolf Clan Teaching Lodge. Also throughout the 70′s Rashani was involved in Gestalt training, bio energetics, co-counceling and the “Unlearning Racism” work of Ricky Sherover-Marcuse.
Rashani was based in France for 19 years where she and her son, with the help of many friends, renovated a 17th century stone farm house. Her home became the first Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Shanti Nilaya (Home of Peace) center in France. During the 80′s Rashani worked with the terminally ill and assisted Dr. Kübler-Ross at her “Life, Death and Transition” workshops. For several years she spent summers at Plum Village and also sang during Thich Nhat Hanh’s U.S. retreats and public talks. In 1992 she was ordained into the “Order of Interbeing”.
In 1982, Rashani took refuge with Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, in Dharamsala, India, and has since been inspired by several Buddhist teachers including Toni Packer, Joanna Macy, Peter Fenner, Pema Chödrön, Taitetsu Unno, Thich Nhat Hanh, Gen Rinpoche, Reginald Ray and Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.
The following year she began studying psychosynthesis with Tom Yeomans who opened an important door into what became an in-depth exploration of transpersonal psychology. Rashani has also been a student of Faisal Muqaddam since 1993. Other influential teachers include her son, Matthew Giuffrida-Ruggeri, Dorothy and Jim Fadiman, Vimala Thakar, Ma Anandamayi, Emilie Conrad, Pua Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, Brooke Medicine Eagle, Ann Thomas, Marija Gimbutas, Byron Katie, Arnold Mindell, Eligio Stephen Gallegos, and Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan.
The strong sense of social awareness Rashani has shown since her youth is inseparable from her art. Her work is “engaged art.” Between 1986 and 1993, Rashani gathered songs from around the world and recorded 14 albums of songs, chants and poetry, three of which were produced in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Four of her albums are poems and songs inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Her first album, a tribute to the Goddess, was recorded in 1986, in French cathedrals and churches, including Rocamadour. In 1987 Rashani met Buffie Johnson who at the time was completing her book, Lady of the Beasts: Ancient Images of the Goddess and Her Sacred Animals, published by Harper & Row in 1988. Rashani worked and cared for Buffie on several occasions and was greatly inspired by her wisdom, creativity and devotion to the Great Mother.
Rashani’s fascination with dreams led her into Jungian analysis and to studying with Arnold Mindell for many years. In the early 90′s she was invited to co-facilitate councils with John Seed in Australia and New Zealand. Discovering the Dreamtime was a turning point in Rashani’s life. She returned to Australia and New Zealand every year for the following eight years to offer councils and spend time with Maori and Australian aboriginal teachers. She became increasingly aware of the struggles of indigenous people worldwide.
In 1999, Rashani spent two weeks with Byron Katie and underwent “the great undoing.” The following three years were a time of profound deconstructive inquiry and inner focus which included ongoing sessions of Peter Levine’s somatic experiencing work.
Rashani’s cards were originally created as larger collages and were part of her personal healing process, following the deaths of four family members. Encouraged by a dear friend, Rashani began making her collages into cards in 1989. She presently has more than 350 different designs. Two of her large collages can be seen at Spirit Rock meditation center in Woodacre, California and at the Unitarian Church in Berkeley, California.
Since the mid 80′s Rashani has facilitated councils and retreats throughout the world and currently resides on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. From 1992 until 2006 Rashani’s home was Earthsong, in Kaʻu. Earthsong was a unique Dharma-Gaia sanctuary to which hundreds of people from diverse spiritual and cultural backgrounds came throughout the year to share, co-inquire and assist in the creation of a remarkable vision. Rashani held monthly councils at Earthsong for the first eight years, sharing her love of the deep feminine, self inquiry, song and poetry, mindfulness practice, dream body exploration, the enneagram and deep ecology. In January, 2003, Rashani offered her first 4 week retreat/intensive and continues to offer 4 or 5 per year.
Rashani began creating Kipukamaluhia in the Spring of 2003. For eighteen months her main practice was rebuilding ancient stone walls. In February 2006, Kipukamaluhia became her home. During that same year, she attended Peter Fenner’s “Radiant Mind” training and in 2010 participated in Peter’s Nondual Teacher Training.
Her interest in combining nondual wisdom and process oriented psychotherapy continues to deepen and her main practice for the past several years has been “Natural Release: The Practice of Non-interference.” This simple method is found in the Mahamudra tradition, Dzogchen as well as Taoism.
Rashani still travels occasionally to share retreats, concerts and councils off-island. Her main focus is stewarding the land and creating individual and group retreats at her home/sanctuary in Hawaiʻi.